Tuesday, August 30, 2005

In a nutshell (viewpoints edition)

Peter Daou posits a fascinating key difference between how the left and the right approach our involvement in Iraq and our foreign policy generally, different frames by which they judge success and failure. In essence, he claims that the left is concerned with our moral standing relative to the world, while the right is concerned with our material success and strategic standing.
The right (broadly speaking) can’t fathom why the left is driven into fits of rage over every Abu Ghraib, every Gitmo, every secret rendition, every breach of civil liberties, every shifting rationale for war, every soldier and civilian killed in that war, every Bush platitude in support of it, every attempt to squelch dissent. They see the left's protestations as appeasement of a ruthless enemy. For the left (broadly speaking), America’s moral strength is of paramount importance; without it, all the brute force in the world won’t keep us safe, defeat our enemies, and preserve our role as the world’s moral leader.

War hawks squeal about America-haters and traitors, heaping scorn on the so-called "blame America first" crowd, but they fail to comprehend that the left reserves the deepest disdain for those who squander our moral authority. ...
I felt that the assumptions were different, but couldn't quite put my finger on it -- this feels about right. No wonder we are so often talking past one another . . .

donkey and elephant, head to head
He makes some useful diagnoses of how these differences play out in rhetoric, and also how they explain the heat surrounding particular controversies:
If the left values moral strength over material strength and the right values material strength over moral strength, the common ground between the two, and the place where Bush would find his widest base of support, is a case where material strength is put to use for a moral cause. Bush et al want desperately to prove that Iraq satisfies both conditions. That’s why the Sheehan-Bush battle revolves around the words "noble cause."
This seems like helpful fodder for those thinking about how to make the case against the war more persuasively, as well as how to understand their opponents in that effort. Digby makes the point that many feel that Democrats need to be more comfortable in using the language and notions of faith; this certainly presents itself as a natural application.

(via Hullabaloo)

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