web analytics
November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Iraq Tragedy And The Death Of Idealism

     The failure of the noble American effort in Iraq marks the death of modern political idealism. Those of us who supported the war dared believe that our Arab brothers and sisters might finally have a better alternative to benevolent despotism, that Israel might finally have a long-term future in the Middle East based on the spread of human liberty and democracy, and that human nature might finally triumph in its eternal desire to live and breathe free.
 
      Sadly, all those conclusions have turned out to be uninformed wishful thinking. Now we’re back to most people believing that Arabs are too primitive for democracy, Israel is the source of all conflict in the Middle East, and that the idea that people want to be free is an ignorant dream of discredited neocons.
 
      I spend most of my time around people who hate President Bush – a legacy, I assume, of my many years at Oxford and my work in the TV industry, both of which are very liberal. Most of them gloated at Bush’s thumping in the mid-term elections. I explained to them that we had all lost, not just the Republicans.
 
      Does anyone believe that America, or any other country for that matter, is going to even consider invading another autocracy whose dictator is murdering his people? With the failure of the Bush Doctrine, we are back to Clintonism – the practice of countries standing by and watching as genocide after genocide decimates innocent people. Three genocides occurred while President Clinton was in office – in Srebrenica, in Kosovo, and in Rwanda. When it came to the latter, not only would the United States not send troops to end a slaughter that was killing four hundred Africans every hour, but Clinton refused to have a single meeting with his senior staff about the killings through its three-month duration. Only in Kosovo was he finally pressured to act.
 
      This is not to say that Clinton is an uncaring man, only that he did not wish for America to get involved in messy affairs from which it could not disentangle itself. Well, after Iraq you’re going to see this kind of thinking become so entrenched among the West’s political leadership that I shudder for the world’s future victims.
 
      And the biggest victim of all is going to be Israel. Just wait for the kind of pressure that Israel is going to face in the push to fix Iraq. How is it that Shi’a and Sunnis are killing each other in Baghdad, but James Baker and the Iraq Study Group highlight the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one of the points that will bring peace in Iraq? Is there any connection? Shi’a and Sunni have been killing each other for centuries. Yet even “friends” of Israel, like King Abdullah of Jordan, are telling President Bush that the only way to fix Iraq is to pressure Israel. So once again, the pressure will be taken off Arab dictators to democratize, and placed instead on Israel to give up what little land it has left.
 
      I’m amazed that my liberal friends are cheering Bush’s failure. Do they not realize that the failure of the war in Iraq has set back the cause of Arab democracy by fifty years, at least? Do they really want to join the ranks of Egypt’s Mubarak, the House of Saud, Bashir Al Assad, and Adolph Ahmadinejad of Iran with their chorus of “I told you so”?
 
      Our failure has emboldened all of these cruel autocrats. Do we really want to gloat with them?
 
      And how did we get here? It hurts me to say it, but the failure must be placed squarely on the shoulders of President Bush. I take no pleasure in criticizing a really good man when he is down, and President Bush is the ultimate idealist who ought to be supported rather than criticized. I still remember listening to his incredible second inaugural speech and his stirring words about freedom and democracy.
 
      But Bush knew what the stakes in Iraq were. He said it a thousand times. If Iraq succeeded then this would prove the ultimate victory of idealism over pragmatism in our time. A victory in Iraq would have been the deathblow to other cruel dictators like Assad and Ahmadinejad. And yet here we are, just a few years later, with James Baker and Co. pushing Bush to involve these abusers of human rights in the effort to repair Iraq.
 
      Given what the stakes were, why did Bush fight the war on the cheap? Why did we not go in with overwhelming force? If we sent 500,000 troops to fight Saddam in the first Gulf War, which did not involve an occupation, why did we send a fifth of that when we had to rebuild an entire country?
 
      I do not know the answer to these questions. Less so do I know how Iraq can be fixed. What I do know is that this is a difficult time to be an idealist. Which is why I turn back as my refuge to religion, with its eternal belief that man is created in God’s image; that he has no master other than the Creator; that he is born, and inwardly yearns, to be free; that even if he is unaware of that fact today, he will awaken to it tomorrow; and that one day, as the prophet Isaiah promised, the wolf will lie down the lamb.
 
      Our Arab brethren, who today prey on each other just as they prey on Israel, will one day return to their own religious idealism and choose to live in peace with their neighbors.
 
      In times like these we have to remember that there have always been times like these. And it is idealism rather than pragmatism – belief in the future rather than reconciliation to the past – that has gotten us through the dark times and brought us to the light.
 

      Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the host of TLC’s “Shalom in the Home” and the author of seventeen books, most recently “Parenting with Fire: Lighting Up the Family with Passion and Inspiration” (Penguin).

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Iraq Tragedy And The Death Of Idealism”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
What, me incite terror? Abba: "The Jews must be barred by any means possible."
Ex-Senior Justice Official Asks Homeland Security to Ban Abbas from US
Latest Indepth Stories
Jo-map

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

bulb

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

Medics evacuate the dead and injured after attack on Har Nof synagogue Tuesday morning.

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Kfar Kana Riots

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.

When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.

I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.

Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.

The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.

Tuesday, Yom Shlishi, a doubly good day in the Torah, Esav’s hands tried to silence Yaakov’s voice.

Because of the disparate nature of the perpetrators, who are also relatively young, and given the lack of more traditional targets and the reverence Palestinians have for their homes, one now hears talk of Israel returning to a policy of destroying the houses of terrorists’ families.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-iraq-tragedy-and-the-death-of-idealism/2006/12/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: