Jonah Goldberg

Perhaps such applause is mere grace on the cheap. Democrats know they can count on their beloved United Nations to prevent serious intervention in Sudan's civil war. Or maybe the Democrats really want action in Darfur, even though that would put us smack dab in the middle of a civil war, which Jack Murtha, Joe Biden, and other war critics invoke as a classic blunder the way Vizzini referred to land wars in Southeast Asia in "The Princess Bride."

The 11th Commandment for liberals seems to be, "Thou shalt not intervene out of self-interest." Intervening in civil wars for humanitarian reasons is OK, but meddling for national security reasons is not. This would explain why liberals supported interventions in civil wars in Yugoslavia and Somalia but think being in one in Iraq is the height of folly. If only Truman had called the Korean civil war a humanitarian crisis, Ike might not have called the whole thing off.

None of this explains why Democrats are so eager to support continued U.S. fighting against the Taliban as part of NATO forces in Afghanistan, even though that puts us between two sides in what amounts to an Afghan civil war. But maybe Afghanistan is a humanitarian crisis too. Or maybe it's an excuse for Democrats to prove they are still tough as far as foreign policy. Or maybe Democrats simply think the war in Iraq is lost, while there's still hope in Afghanistan ... assuming there's a principle in there somewhere.

There seems to be only one hope for persuading the Democrats to support staying in Iraq. Let's just beat the rush and call Iraq a humanitarian crisis now. It surely is already. And if we leave prematurely, Iraq will undoubtedly give Darfur and Yugoslavia a run for their money as a humanitarian horror show. Why wait for calls to return to stop the bloodshed?

It's even possible that an Iraq left to fend for itself might become a national security threat on a par with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Not that national security should factor into it.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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