web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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
Chaye Zissel Braun Grave
Convicted Terrorists Still Have Drivers’ Licenses, But . . .
Latest Indepth Stories
Keeping-Jerusalem

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty


n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

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: