I am not sketching out specific scenarios, but I’m just saying that the development of a civil war in Iraq is a horrible prospect, and I in no sense want it to happen.

But if one looks at it coolly, one sees that it’s not, from an American or for that matter Australian point of view, a disastrous possibility. It’s disastrous for those involved, but not necessarily for those of us on the outside. ~Daniel Pipes

Via Scott Horton at Antiwar Blog

Pipes sounds a bit like me discussing Darfur, so shouldn’t I let him slide on this one? Withdrawal from Iraq is the right policy, so shouldn’t we let this one go? No. Because Pipes’ comments reveal the moral hollowness and viciousness of the neoconservative vision of “liberation” in full. It is quite one thing to say that American interests should take precedence and guide our policy, and that American interests ought to have dictated not invading Iraq in the first place, and that they now dictate that we should leave, but it is something all together different to say that we had a moral obligation to “liberate” the Iraqis only to let them have at each other in bloody mayhem. That is the new neocon wisdom. This is the new line from neocon headquarters, echoed by the deeply moral Charles Krauthammer, who might as well have said this: “let them kill each other, and we’ll side with the winner later.” The difference is that those of us who advocate withdrawal do so knowing that it is an awful choice, but the best one for the United States in the long view, and not out of a perfectly inhuman disdain for the people whose country our government has destroyed. Krauthammer and Pipes had no qualms about destroying the country, nor about watching it be carved up into armed camps, as these are all part of the long-term strategy of dominating the region. Washing your hands of a foreign civil war is one thing–pretending that it has nothing to do with you, when you are one of the public figures who openly promoted the war that caused these things, is something very different and most despicable.

In a way, Pipes would be right that it isn’t our concern, except for the fact that the war that he supported and endorsed created the situation he now deplores (but doesn’t deplore too much). Then there is that little thing of an invading and occupying power being legally obligated under international law to establish order and security in the country it occupies. That has never been high on the list of neocon priorities–a secure Iraq is an Iraq with nothing for us to do.

There is something profoundly duplicitous about these people (no secret, that), meaning neoconservatives, that transcends ordinary dishonesty and hypocrisy. No principle, no truth is so great that it cannot be turned on its head to serve their turn. This is not news, but occasionally the moral vacuum that these people inhabit is so amazing and awful that it requires special attention.

Three years ago the serious claim that what went on in Iraq was none of our business would have been called “irresponsible,” “craven” and virtually traitorous. Indeed, it was called all those things when many sensible people declared that what went on in Iraq was Iraq’s business and not our concern. America First, national interest, realism–these were our watchwords, and the neocons mocked or distorted them all. We were reliably told, if not by Pipes himself then by everyone Pipes was allied with, that those ideas constituted appeasement and weakness and stupidity. Now the Iraqis–the Iraqis whom these charlatans have claimed to value and respect so much–can go to the hell of civil war with their blessings as a sort of national purgation. Of course, if there was ever anything certain to kill representative institutions and the mentality needed for a free society it is endemic warfare. Which only goes to show that their prattle about bringing democracy to Iraq was, as many of us have known, a fraud and a sham (which is not to say that it would be wise or desirable to make a success of such a project).