Tonight, the Newsweek web site is topped by a picture of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) with the words superimposed: "WHY JOHN MURTHA IS RIGHT: It's time to stop deluding ourselves on Iraq." The commentary by longtime Newsweek foreign correspondent Christopher Dickey begins with his attempt to buttonhole war architect Paul Wolfowitz on the war's aftermath, but he's unsatisfied. Bushies are ideologues unlike anti-war liberals like Dickey:
"So the big mistake in Mesopotamia, it would seem, was not following the grand plans of the best and the brightest who took us to war there in 2003. Others failed, not they. And maybe the armchair war-lovers of the Bush administration really believe this. Ideologues see the world through different lenses than ordinary people. From their perches in government or academe, they like to imagine themselves riding the waves of great historical forces. Faced with criticism, they point fingers at their enemies like Old Testament prophets and call down the wrath of heaven.
"But there’s no reason the rest of us should delude ourselves, which is one reason, I suspect, that Democratic Congressman John Murtha, a retired Marine colonel and long-time friend of the U.S. military on the Hill, spoke yesterday with such unfettered outrage. In some of the sound bites heard on the news, he seemed to be out of control. He was not and is not. His full statement, which I’ve posted on The Shadowland Journal is as well reasoned as it is passionate. The war in Iraq, he said, 'is a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion.' Unlike Wolfowitz, who once went before Congress without even bothering to check how many Americans had died at his instigation, Murtha makes frequent visits to Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals to talk to the maimed survivors of this conflict."
It's not surprising that Dickey, in his deluded idea that HE is no ideologue like Bush, starts really getting upset when the subject turns to Ronald Reagan and communism, another foreign policy he hated:
What’s the bottom line of what Bush is saying now? That we are now in Iraq and have to stay the course because … the terrorists want us there. As the White House transcript puts it, “Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power, so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.” But—the terrorists we’re fighting now didn’t have any power in Iraq until our invasion. Ideologues like to fight ideologues, so they tend to miss details like that.
For any of us who lived through the cold war, Bush’s attempts to equate the scattershot writings of Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, with the challenges posed by Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet empire are just mind-boggling. In his Veteran’s Day address to troops at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania (Murtha’s home state), Bush started four paragraphs with the phrase “like the ideology of communism.” He longs transparently for the challenge of an Evil Empire, like the one his idol Ronald Reagan confronted, whether or not it exists.
This is nuts, but alas, not that unusual in the annals of American policy.
Dickey concludes that liberals were right on the Cold War all along the path to "peaceful coexistence" and detente and the right-wingers were lunatics desperate to mangle human rights:
But the transparent envy that America’s right-wing ideologues conceive for the tactics of their enemies, the enormous temptation to fight them by using their methods, is much worse. They subscribe to some higher truth than ascertainable facts, divining the intentions of their evil adversaries and turning them into the stuff of paranoid fantasy. My colleague Fareed Zakaria pointed out in the summer of 2003 the way Wolfowitz and his ideological allies made a habit of vastly overestimating the Soviet threat to the United States, beginning in the 1970s. Then they overestimated the Chinese menace in the 1980s. And in the 1990s they turned their hyperbolic lens on Saddam.
Dickey, meanwhile spent his time practicing the art of moral equivalence, as you can see in this review of a Contra-bashing classic from Notable Quotables in 1991:
"More than any of the other conflicts of the last decade, the struggle for Nicaragua was a contest in which the Administration seemed sure of the good guys and the bad guys, while on the ground it was almost impossible to tell the difference." -- Former Newsweek Central America reporter Christopher Dickey reviewing Stephen Kinzer's Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua in the April 28 Los Angeles Times.