Column: Liberals must not forget the bottom line

Head for the hills, Ann Coulter is actually right. Within the vast domains of stupidity in the author’s psychologically disturbed book “Treason,” there is one faint strain of logic. When railing against the anti-war movement, Coulter argues that even if Democrats disagreed with the Bush administration’s numerous justifications for the war on Iraq, we should have still gone along for humanitarian purposes alone. She writes “either we were removing a dictator who had current plans to fund terrorism against Americans or… we were removing a dictator who planned to kill and terrorize a lot of people.” And she’s right – how depressing.

Yes, as a Democrat I believe the war was over-hyped, the Bush administration could have practiced better diplomacy and that there was not enough planning to deal with the post-war trauma. However, the question must always be asked – are the Iraqi people better off today than when they were under a murderous regime? Make as many false accusations as you want about American “imperialism,” the fact of the matter is that the Iraqi people gained tremendously by American intervention. Before the war, Iraqis lived under a Stalin-like regime that brutally murdered its own people and committed daily atrocities. Today, the liberated citizens of Iraq live in freedom and have opportunities that would have never been afforded to them under the tyrannical Hussein regime. While some like to point out failures of the occupational force in winning the hearts of the Iraqi people, ask yourself, despite setbacks, can anyone make a valid argument that the Iraqi people are not better off today than they were a year ago? It is that simple.

Unfortunately, though, the humanitarian triumph of the war has been largely underplayed or overlooked by many liberals and some Democrats. The problem with the anti-war and “oops, maybe I shouldn’t have supported that” movement, is that it has been reduced to conservative style simplicity. In fears of being seen as giving their condolences to Bush’s failures, many liberals have ignored the vast amount of good that has been done for Iraq. Instead of taking a rational approach to the situation, which results in complexity, these liberals have painted themselves as simply anti-war, understandably so. It is a lot easier to hold an anti-war rally than a “we’re very happy that the Iraqi people are better off today, but we wish the UN was involved” rally.

But humanitarianism is what we “bleeding-hearts” are all about. If the weapons of mass destruction and terrorist rhetoric were dropped, we would be left with merciful intervention as the sole justification for the war. And here all liberals should climb on board. While we may disagree with Republicans’ personal justification for the invasion, humanitarian intervention is always a justified cause for bloodshed. Liberals supported compassion in Bosnia; we should support it in Iraq as well.

And thus, while Democrats and liberals have every right to decry the administration for its failings leading to and after the war, we must not forget the bottom line. If we reversed the clock and followed the anti-war movement, 25 million people would be enslaved to a regime from which they are now liberated. As liberals, we believe that the best route would have been through the UN, the war should have been held in more open debate, intelligence should not have been manipulated, and that there were more appropriate targets. But in the end, we are ecstatic that the Iraqi people are liberated from the Hussein regime and are looking forward to a free and Democratic Iraq.

Complexity will always be both the curse and beauty of liberalism. While we may have a difficult position to take, we should reject neither our fight nor the density of our argument. No, it may not sell number one best sellers, or fly for a national talk show. But always remember, if we were destined to make simplistic, broad arguments, they would have to call us Republicans.

-The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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