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What Happened to the Left’s Fascination With Iraq and Afghanistan?

August 21, 2009

If you’ve noticed the lack of anti-war protests since Barack Obama was elected president, you aren’t alone.

For years, websites like the Daily Kos and bloggers like Markos Moulitsas have thrived on their anti-war rhetoric.  In 2006, the DailyKos sponsored their first annual yearly convention, the “Yearly Kos”, which focused great attention on promoting anti-war candidates and formulating tactics and strategy aimed at bringing about an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What a difference party affiliation makes.

This years Kos convention, now named “Netroots Nation”–or, as I like to call it, “Moonbat Nation”–polled the attendants on what their priorities were.  The results are telling:

In 2006, DailyKos held its first annual convention, called YearlyKos, in Las Vegas. Amid the slightly discordant surroundings of the Riviera Hotel casino, the webby activists spent hours discussing and planning strategies not only to defeat Republicans but also to pressure Democrats to oppose the war more forcefully. The gathering attracted lots of mainstream press attention; Internet activism was the hot new thing.

Fast forward to last weekend, when YearlyKos, renamed Netroots Nation, held its convention in Pittsburgh. The meeting didn’t draw much coverage, but the views of those who attended are still, as they were in 2006, a pretty good snapshot of the left wing of the Democratic party.

The news that emerged is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have virtually fallen off the liberal radar screen. Kossacks (as fans of DailyKos like to call themselves) who were consumed by the Iraq war when George W. Bush was president are now, with Barack Obama in the White House, not so consumed, either with Iraq or with Obama’s escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. In fact, they barely seem to care.

As part of a straw poll done at the convention, the Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg presented participants with a list of policy priorities like health care and the environment. He asked people to list the two priorities they believed “progressive activists should be focusing their attention and efforts on the most.” The winner, by far, was “passing comprehensive health care reform.” In second place was enacting “green energy policies that address environmental concerns.”

And what about “working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan”? It was way down the list, in eighth place.

Perhaps more tellingly, Greenberg asked activists to name the issue that “you, personally, spend the most time advancing currently.” The winner, again, was health care reform. Next came “working to elect progressive candidates in the 2010 elections.” Then came a bunch of other issues. At the very bottom — last place, named by just one percent of participants — came working to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s an extraordinary change in the mindset of the left. I attended the first YearlyKos convention, and have kept up with later ones, and it’s safe to say that for many self-styled “progressives,” the war in Iraq was the animating cause of their activism. They hated the war, and they hated George W. Bush for starting it. Or maybe they hated the war because George W. Bush started it. Either way, it was war, war, war.

If the war were so morally repugnant as liberals claimed it was for almost six long years, one would think that the anti-war left would be as vocal as ever, with an Iraq war draw-down a long time in the future and no end in sight in Afghanistan.  Perhaps, at least for many on the left, it was never about the war to begin with.

If war is suddenly last on their list, what’s changed about their principles?  If their principles haven’t changed, they ought to be as obstreperous as ever they were about bringing home our troops.  Perhaps their principles never changed, but merely who was in office.

This was always about hating Bush.  I’ve long supposed that the irrational, impassioned hatred the left held for Bush was born of their crushing loss to a man they worked tirelessly to paint as a dummy.  Liberals innately believe that their worldview makes them intelligent, and anybody not sharing that view is, ipso facto, a total dummy.  Couple that with the fact that they thought Gore would ride effortless into the White House on B.J.’s coattails, and their kooky tinfoil hat conspiracy theories about John Ellis and Fox News somehow “throwing” the election for Bush, and you have a toxic group of people willing to oppose a president on any (or no) grounds whatsoever.  The Iraq war offered a perfect opportunity to do just that.  Nothing is so conducive to pedantic bumper-sticker sloganeering as war.

To be sure, there are plenty of good and reasonable people out there who opposed the war and continue to do so on principled grounds.  The heinous losers at the Kos, however, are altogether a different breed.

It now looks as though a sizable portion of the left demagogued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan purely for political reasons.  Led by the lying, treasonous, effete little weasel Moulitsas, the Kos railed against the wars using all the formulaic leftist canards and sing-songy imprecations: Bush lied, kids died!  No war for oil!  Halliburton!  Bush is worse than Hitler! Now that Congress is packed with liberal Democrats and a liberal Democrat is safely ensconced in the White House, radical leftists are free to focus on their true raison d’etre: getting even more liberal Democrats elected to positions of power.

This is the worst sort of betrayal.  Whether intended or unintended, there is little doubt that the constant posturing and undermining of the anti-war left provided at least some level of encouragement for the insurgency in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan.  For nearly six long years, these people berated the president, day in and day out, making preposterous claims at every turn.  They demagogued not just Bush, but the entire Republican Party, Republican voters, and, worst of all, the country itself.  For those leftists using the war merely as a rhetorical hammer with which to bludgeon the previous administration: you’ve betrayed the troops and your country.  Congratulations.

I would hope no self-respecting leftist ever visits the Daily Traitor again.

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