A Man with a Flashlight


The right vs. the left on terror
May 4, 2007, 1:38 pm
Filed under: Hell, Let's Call it Torture, The War on Terror

Andrew Sullivan on the Republican presidential debate:

Conservatism now means simply projecting something called “strength” rather than articulating something called strategy. On the question of thinking through the lessons of Iraq, they seemed frozen. On the question of Iran, they never seemed to include any understanding of what constraints Iraq has placed on us. Just bomb them and kill them and we’ll “win”.

All this is true, but the Republican position on the War on Terror would still be superior to the Democratic position, if not for one thing: torture. Torture could lead to us losing the struggle, and it is about the only thing which could.

Yes, for the moment America’s military and industrial strength has no rival, and that is a necessary component of the leadership position in the world we have enjoyed since the great war. But it was never sufficient by itself. It was essential that we had won the admiration of the world, quite rightly, by standing for freedom, first against Hitler and then against the Soviet Union.

Too many Americans these days see our military strength, and our global stature, and think that one flows necessarily from the other. They forget that America became the leader of the free world by the free world’s consent, indeed its demand.

Dismiss it as touchy-feely, liberal mysticism. But the fact remains that our strength flows from our ideas; we lead the world because we inspired it. Are we inspiring it today? And will we lead tomorrow?

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