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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Irony Overload

(Reprinted from the issue of February 8, 2007)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo for Irony OverloadSenate Democrats can’t muster the will to do what they would really like to do: pass a resolution calling for a full withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. And most Republicans who would like such a withdrawal are inhibited by party loyalty from openly opposing their president.

President Bush and his dwindling band of allies are relying on the argument that a call for withdrawal would “hurt the morale of our troops” and simultaneously “encourage the enemy.” But this is putting the cart before the horse. The chief question is whether the war is warranted by American national interests and morally right; if not, the morale of our troops is a secondary question. The war isn’t being waged for the sake of the men fighting it, after all. The problem is not that their morale is low, but that too many of them are being sacrificed for no clear purpose.

The war has become a hot potato that Bush can’t let go of. The “war on terrorism” has morphed madly into a war between rival groups of terrorists, “liberated” from Saddam Hussein but indisposed to enjoy the blessings of democracy we have tried to bestow on them.

Nor has democracy swept the Middle East as Bush assured us it would after “regime change.” Instead, Sunni and Shi’ite Iraqis, who appear to hate each other even worse than they hate Americans, are murdering each other by taking electric drills to each other’s skulls. Who is profiting most from this war — Halliburton or Home Depot?

As for encouraging the enemy, the enemy presumably knows from the polls and election results that the American public has decided that the whole war has been a disaster. It’s a little late for a rousing chorus of “Over There.” We have waged too many wars “over there.” The excuse is always that we might otherwise have to fight them “over here,” as if hordes of camel-riding terrorists were poised to invade if we display weakness.

But common sense is finally setting in, and Americans are starting to realize how dearly we have paid for the delusion that we are always facing foreign threats.

Even the once-hawkish weekly The New Republic has run an editorial lamenting our “overreaction” to the 9/11 attacks. That’s something even Democratic politicians are still afraid to admit, but it’s overdue. In the still-hawkish Wall Street Journal, my old friend Peggy Noonan, a loyal Republican but a sensitive observer, has expressed her dismay at Bush’s insensate stubbornness and praised Sen. Chuck Hagel for his blunt skepticism about this war. (I wonder how long the Journal will keep putting up with Peggy’s Irish Catholic wisdom.)

In public controversies of this sort, I like to apply a simple test: After time has passed and both sides have had their say, which way are the conversions and defections going? Countless people who once supported the Iraq war have changed their minds about it; even many neoconservatives have repudiated it. But it would be hard to find a single person who originally opposed it but has come to believe either that it is justified or that it is winnable. The evidence is in.

Bush and Vice President Cheney are responsible for many of the conversions. Their incessant dire warnings, optimistic predictions, and appeals to patriotism worked for a while to rally public opinion, but the facts have contradicted them too many times. The country is suffering from severe irony overload. Cheney’s intransigence and surliness would have made him a severe liability even without such grimly comic mishaps as his hunting accident and his lesbian daughter’s pregnancy.

The marvel is that these two men still expect to be taken seriously. And they continue to hope for a wider war with Iran. Somewhere, Colin Powell must be mopping his brow. It must be a huge relief that the duty of trying to defend this administration has fallen to Condoleezza Rice instead of him.

Bush has lost the allegiance of conservatives and even many of his former neocon defenders. One of the most startling and devastating attacks on him was written by Bruce Fein of The Washington Times, which all but questioned his sanity for pushing “a utopian agenda to free the planet of tyranny and violence.” The whole planet!

Don’t Ask Me!

Speaking of Dick Cheney, it is with great regret that I must confess that I have given up trying to understand, let alone explain, what the perjury trial of his former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, is all about. It would be easier to sum up the Watergate case in a single paragraph.

Washington is full of people who have followed every turn of the story and feel quite passionately about it. I, alas, am not among them, nor is anyone I have talked to, though I dimly recognize the names of the cast of characters: Libby himself, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, his wife Valerie Plame (illegally outed as a minor CIA agent), Richard Armitage, and of course columnist Robert Novak. And Ari Fleischer has now testified. Something about a leak, I believe.

Scooter feels he has been set up to take the rap, whatever it is. Apparently it’s peripherally related to the Iraq war. Cheney seems to have had it in for Wilson, who had written a piece embarrassing to the Bush administration in The New York Times: He said he had been unable to find the desired proof that Iraq had gotten uranium from Niger for the nuclear weapons it was supposedly trying to make.

Cheney isn’t being charged with any crime, but the key to this story, buried under the confusing details, is evidently his desire to punish Wilson for casting doubt on the administration’s rationale for war. Maybe it hardly matters at this point, except as an additional revelation of character, of the constantly conspiratorial nature of Washington, and of Cheney’s heavy-handed scheming.

A Quieter Sort of Holocaust

Hardly a day passes without denunciations of “Holocaust denial,” especially now that the government of Iran is sponsoring it. In the secular West, it remains the supreme thought-crime.Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes them!

As long as the Holocaust meant simply the Nazi persecution of Jews, there wasn’t much controversy about it.

But unfortunately, it has come to mean much more than that; it has become inseparable from Middle Eastern politics, as a justification for the state of Israel, for its oppression of Palestinian Arabs, and so forth; and it is also used to defame Christianity and particularly the Catholic Church. Such Jewish writers as Hyam Maccoby and Daniel Goldhagen have blamed the Holocaust and indeed all anti-Semitism on the Church. We are witnessing what might be called “Holocaust inflation.”

Meanwhile, we are also witnessing — though without noticing — a quieter sort of holocaust: the gradual depopulation of the West and Japan though contraception and abortion. This has been promoted by both governments and the media, which also promote the sexual immorality and perversion that make it possible. We are being subtly taught to exterminate ourselves.

The whole process is more insidious than war, but in the end, even more destructive.

“What James Burnham called ‘the suicide of the West’ is now far advanced in a way Burnham couldn’t have imagined.” Regime Change Begins at Home — a new selection of my Confessions of a Reactionary Utopian — will brighten your odd moments, and it comes with all new subscriptions. If you have not seen a copy of my monthly newsletter, SOBRANS, yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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