Saturday, November 5, 2011

Libya and the Left

The left can be a lonely place for those of us who do not immediately hiss at the mention of deploying military force abroad. Libya was a case in point. Michael Berube brilliantly culls most of the hysterical criticisms hurled in the weeks leading up to the intervention, and in doing so reveals the few legitimate criticisms that could have been leveled as having gone largely unmade by an habituated left. Article here. To close with the challenge:
Ten years ago, surveying the post-9/11 landscape in the pages of Dissent, Michael Walzer famously asked if there could be a “decent left” in a superpower. It was the wrong question—or perhaps just the wrong term—and it has since been mocked with a mighty mockery: after all, for the hard left, who take as much pride in hardness and firmness as did any of George Bush’s most ardent admirers, “decency” is a prissy value, to be gauged and monitored by a Decency League made up of schoolmarms and busybodies. The question, rather, should have been whether there can be a rigorously internationalist left in the U.S., a left that will promote and support the freedom of speech, the freedom to worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear—even on those rare and valuable occasions when doing so puts one in the position of supporting U.S. policies. That, I think, is the question that confronts the American left after Benghazi, in the years following the Arab Spring.

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