TNR: A Fighting Faith
There is currently a flurry of largely negative responses on DailyKos to Peter Beinart's article in The New Republic (A Fighting Faith: An Argument For A New Liberalism).
I actually think it is the best thing I've seen written on the subject of Where Do We Go From Here since the disaster of November 2, 2004. I say that not because I agree with it in its entirety, and not because I don't have reservations about it. I say that because it introduces some important arguments into the discussion -- arguments far more important, in my judgment, than who the next Chairman of the DNC will be.
I hesitate to make pronouncements such as this from my lowly perch, but I guess I will do it anyway: this is an important article. I intend to say more about it later, but in the meantime let me just urge my fellow Lefties to not dismiss this thing too quickly. Let me urge them to read it a couple of times before they give in to any urge they might have to toss it against the wainscoting.
...Islamist totalitarianism--like Soviet totalitarianism before it--threatens the United States and the aspirations of millions across the world. And, as long as that threat remains, defeating it must be liberalism's north star. Methods for defeating totalitarian Islam are a legitimate topic of internal liberal debate. But the centrality of the effort is not. The recognition that liberals face an external enemy more grave, and more illiberal, than George W. Bush should be the litmus test of a decent left.
Today, the war on terrorism is partially obscured by the war in Iraq, which has made liberals cynical about the purposes of U.S. power. But, even if Iraq is Vietnam, it no more obviates the war on terrorism than Vietnam obviated the battle against communism. Global jihad will be with us long after American troops stop dying in Falluja and Mosul. And thus, liberalism will rise or fall on whether it can become, again, what Schlesinger called "a fighting faith."
Of all the things contemporary liberals can learn from their forbearers half a century ago, perhaps the most important is that national security can be a calling. If the struggles for gay marriage and universal health care lay rightful claim to liberal idealism, so does the struggle to protect the United States by spreading freedom in the Muslim world. It, too, can provide the moral purpose for which a new generation of liberals yearn...
The war in Iraq was a stupid, misguided, ideological, expensive and deadly mistake. It has put us in far more danger than we otherwise would have been in. But a war, a smart war on Islamic totalitarianism is not a mistake. I'm sorry, it just isn't. Not to this Leftie.
And so let us proceed to thrash this thing out...