The Pro-War Left is Still the Left

by | Apr 5, 2003

FrontPage mag published leftist Nat Hentoff’s piece explaining what he did not march to protest the Iraqi war. In his article he quotes himself from a newspaper interview: “There was the disclosure . . . when the prisons were briefly opened of the gouging of eyes of prisoners and the raping of women in front […]

FrontPage mag published leftist Nat Hentoff’s piece explaining what he did not march to protest the Iraqi war. In his article he quotes himself from a newspaper interview:

“There was the disclosure . . . when the prisons were briefly opened of the gouging of eyes of prisoners and the raping of women in front of their husbands, from whom the torturers wanted to extract information. . . . So if people want to talk about containing [Saddam Hussein] and don’t want to go in forcefully and remove him, how do they propose doing something about the horrors he is inflicting on his people who live in such fear of him?”

I did not cite “weapons of mass destruction.” Nor do I believe Saddam Hussein is a direct threat to this country, any more than the creators of the mass graves in the Balkans were, or the Taliban. And as has been evident for a long time, I am no admirer of George W. Bush.

Pro-war though he might be, he is the enemy.

The fundamental issue is America’s right to self defense: that is why the war against Iraq is justified. Iraq is part of an Islamic-based world war against America, and America needs to retaliate in self-defense, in refusal to let this war continue unopposed.

Yet this is what Hentoff is opposed to, or at least doesn’t care about. All he cares about is Iraqi victims of Saddam Hussein, and he thinks America has a duty to save them.

The American government has no duty to anyone but its own citizens. Tortured Iraqis should not be its concern. It is immoral for our government to spend our resources, to expend our military, to sacrifice our soldiers’ lives, for citizens of other countries.

Hentoff doesn’t believe that Saddam Hussein is a direct threat to the US? That’s his opinion, and I think it is horribly ignorant. However if it were the case, then our government is wrong to be at war with Iraq. If I believed there were no threat to the US, I would condemn our actions–not because Saddam’s regime doesn’t deserve to be toppled, but because it is not in America’s self-interest. America is not the servant of the world.

The fundamental issue is egoism versus self-sacrifice. A nation’s right to self defense is a derivative of egoism. A nation’s “duty” to serve the people of other nations is a derivative of self-sacrifice. The only difference between Hentoff and the marchers in the anti-war movement is superficial. Both sides has no respect for America’s right to self defense. Both sides believe America should sacrifice itself. The only difference is that Hentoff thinks we should sacrifice our country by serving the Iraqis, whereas the marchers think we should sacrifice ourselves through passive capitulation (or, as some would prefer, by actual suicide).

(To be philosophically precise, Hentoff is advocating altruism, i.e., sacrificing oneself for others, whereas the marchers are advocating nihilism, i.e., sacrificing oneself for nothing.)

For anyone who believes America should not sacrifice itself, that it should stand up for its values, Nat Hentoff is as much of an enemy as the marchers.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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