Sunday, March 23, 2003

Another Liberal Nationalist in Support of the War

Michael Ignatieff, whose excellent analysis of America's current "imperial" position in the world remains required reading, has written a fine, fairly personal little piece explaining why, when it comes to Iraq, he is siding with an administration that he has little sympathy for and, strictly speaking, doesn't even particularly trust. His point is to defend the idea that one can believe that, as he puts it, "the president is right when he says that Iraq and the world will be better off with Saddam disarmed, even, if necessary, through force," without necessarily becoming a "Cheney conservative." I'm not a fan of everything Ignatieff has written, but this a good essay, and deserves a thoughtful reading.

I'm not privy to the inner workings of Ignatieff's mind and memory, of course. But on the basis of this article, as well as the essay "The Burden" linked above, it seems plain that for Ignatieff the difference between the Vietnam War (which he marched against) and this one is that, however Cold War imperatives and communist ideology may have warped the former, it was ultimately too much of a civil conflict, too much of a competition between nation-building strategies, to justify America's wholesale remaking of it into just another domino in our 1960s anti-communist foreign policy. Whereas in the case of Iraq, he believes that the intervention of an "American empire" may plausibly (though he admits by no means assuredly) serve to enable a stable nation-building project, something which Iraq desperately needs. An interesting and, I think, even persuasive argument.