Thursday, August 23, 2007
Those of us of a certain age remember William Shawcross as one of the premier left-wing journalists of his generation. His book on the American war in Cambodia, Sideshow, was once at the center of the anti-American canon. Today, he argues eloquently for the British to remain in Iraq. Power Line has the story of the redemption of William Shawcross.
Shawcross was not the only person whom Cambodia affected. I got Conscientious Objector (1-O) status during the Vietnam War, believing that I should refrain from doing evil by not joining the Armed Forces : organizations devoted to killing. In my freshman dorm I argued vehemently for Conscientious Objection, well before dropping out of school made my support for Conscientious Objection more than a theoretical issue. One factor in my attitude towards war and killing was a tragic event when I was 9 years old- the death of a friend in a gun accident with his older brother.
The United States and I washed our hands of Vietnam by first withdrawing troops, and then by cutting off funding to the South Vietnamese government. After the US and I refrained from doing evil, Soviet-built tanks strolled into Saigon, and millions were killed in Cambodia.
From Cambodia, I concluded that Conscientious Objection was a cop-out. The Conscientious Objector sits on the sidelines, refraining from committing evil, while a greater evil, such as what happened in Cambodia, can take over. There are lesser evils, and there are greater evils. Pol Pot helped turn me into an evil right-winger.
The best quote from that linked Power Line piece:
"It's very gracious of him, though I am not sure I agree with everything he says! In particular, I would say that Sideshow did not blame Kissinger and the US for the Cambodian genocide but for creating the conditions in which the KR were able to come to power. But maybe that is splitting hairs after all these years!"
Splitting hairs, indeed. Power Line, predictably, totally misses the irony in their piece. It's true that if you believe Indochina and Iraq are similar situations we should continue the occupation until Iraq is stable.
But maybe, just maybe, the "genocide in Cambodia and horrific tyranny in both Vietnam and Laos" are evidence that, I don't know, you shouldn't start a destabilizing regional war in the first place, and that if you do, maybe you should seriously and adequately plan for the postwar occupation.
While it's certainly convenient for hawks that this Shawcross guy "saw the light" and believes overthrowing Saddam was a great idea, only a real true believer could cite him in support of the occupation and totally fail to mention him when promoting the case for war in the first place. Or someone who was really just an intellectually dishonest warmonger. Hmmm.....