The Contradictions of Liberation

by , June 01, 2004

Glenn Reynolds – or rather, one of his farm team all-stars – was kind enough last week to “fisk” an article from this site. Michael Totten:

“Pat Buchanan is being an ass again. …

“Pitchfork Pat has a new piece up at antiwar.com called What Does America Offer the World?

Nice to know Michael’s reading. (I hope he chipped in his fair share this quarter!) He quotes from Buchanan’s piece:

“‘This war … is about – deeply about – sex,’” declaims neocon Charles Krauthammer. Militant Islam is ‘threatened by the West because of our twin doctrines of equality and sexual liberation.’

“But whose ‘twin doctrines’ is Krauthammer talking about? The sexual liberation he calls ‘our’ doctrine belongs to a ’60s revolution that devout Christians, Jews and Muslims have been resisting for years.”

Totten responds:

“Sexual emancipation is our doctrine. I couldn’t care less that he and his old-right reactionary pals here and in the Middle East haven’t even caught up to the sixties yet. The radical left may be stuck in the 60s, but geez, at least they got there. Maybe he just needs to accept that he’s a museum piece like the burkha will be some day.”

Which raises some questions about the current Liberventionpalooza that we’ll get to later. For now, let me confess that I’m considerably less socially conservative than Pat (though anyone who has read Hunter Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt knows that Pat is hipper than he lets on). But I liked Pat’s article for two reasons:

1. It was internally consistent. It was a social conservative addressing other social conservatives in a socially conservative manner. I’m always amused to hear people who despise contemporary American culture – people who have much more in common with conservative Muslims than their state-induced bigotry permits them to see – supporting the imposition of said “rotten” culture onto others. (Note: such folks are far more numerous in the ranks of Bush/war fans than the Andrew Sullivans and Christopher Hitchenses are.) Pat pointed out this screaming contradiction. That alone made the article worth reading, whether or not you agree with the social views expressed therein.

2. Instead of hectoring Iraqis about how they should think, Pat dealt with the way many actually do think. Interventionists should try doing that once in a while.

But let’s relegate Pat to Reactionary Land for the moment. How is the libervention going? What’s become of democracy, whiskey, sexy? We know the first is faring badly and the last is coming out a little warped, but what about the middle one? Surely we’ve at least maintained the last regime’s rather liberal approach to booze, right?

Last week, three beer drinkers who were congregating with their fellows outside a coalition base in Basrah were shot dead by the Shi’ite Mahdi Army. The British soldiers responsible for the area did nothing to protect them. And why should they have? They’re biding their time until they can quaff a few pints back at their neighborhood pubs.

Such incidents have become common since the country was liberated. Under Saddam, Baghdad alone boasted over 2,000 liquor stores, and even Kuwaitis would drive several hours across the border from their liberated prohibitionist paradise to load up on the sauce. Today, alcohol sellers are targets for Shi’ite moralists who have plenty of pent-up repressiveness they need to release. If you thought that ax-wielding biddy Carrie Nation was scary, imagine an army of Kalashnikov-toting teetotalers ready to waste the wasted. Major buzzkill, dude.

As Pat Buchanan noted, it’s no secret that the Muslim world has a pronounced strain of such social hyperconservatism. That’s one reality our utopian warmongers assiduously ignored as they dreamed of Zurich on the Tigris. Ironically, though, many of the so-called conservatives who support this war are the same people who constantly bewail the nannying ways of our own government. Perhaps the Shi’ite radicals in Iraq have nothing to worry about after all. Note that the U.S. government officially forbids soldiers – our ambassadors of “freedom” – from drinking in Iraq, though it shipped in alcohol-free beer for the Super Bowl. (I haven’t gone over the Geneva Conventions with a fine-toothed comb, but I’m fairly certain that they say something about that gustatory/logical atrocity.) By the time we’re done exporting Bloombergism to Iraq, even Moqtada al-Sadr will be happy. And we Americans, of course, will be much freer than we were before.

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