Tom Hayden Reminds Us What Really Matters (to the Left)

Via Instapundit comes a link to Hayden’s advice on how to get the U.S. to abandon Iraq.

Hayden doesn’t actually use the term “abandon Iraq” — his essay is titled, “How to End the Iraq War” — but his meaning is clear to anyone who knows the code. For everyone else there’s this paragraph, which removes any doubt:

The important thing is for anti-war activists to become more grounded in the everyday political life of their districts, organizing anti-war coalitions including clergy, labor and inner city representatives to knock loudly on congressional doors and demand that the $200 billion squandered on Iraq go to infrastructure and schools at home. When trapped between imperial elites and their own insistent constituents, members of Congress will tend to side with their voters. That is how the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia were ended in 1975.

Got that? What happened in South Vietnam and Cambodia — concentration camps, boat people, genocide, continued war — after the U.S. cut and ran is of no importance. The fact that the post-war horrors might have been averted if the Congress, empowered by the post-Watergate Democratic landslide in the 1974 elections, hadn’t denied further aid to South Vietnam, is of no importance. All that matters is that our war ended, and that people like Hayden helped to thwart U.S. policy. High five, dude! What a great victory for the cause.

In Hayden’s view it’s always about the U.S., because the Left sees the U.S. as a destructive force in international affairs. If only U.S. actions were blocked, then things would be better. Needless to say, the only way to hold such a view over a long period of time is to ignore most of what happens in the rest of the world. But hey, movement politics are so much more interesting and meaningful than world history.

Remember that, the next time some lefty panjandrum dispenses political advice or tells Americans that they don’t care enough about what happens in other countries.

20 thoughts on “Tom Hayden Reminds Us What Really Matters (to the Left)”

  1. Apologists for Stalin in the thirties and the Khymer Rouge in the seventies were in good training to become (or mentor) the apologists of bin Laden in the 21st century. This is willful blindness to history, human nature, and the dictates of loving your brother (a love that apologizes for any one of these three is not one that fits any but the most ironic definitions of “love”).
    Thanks for the post; however,it brings up a disturbing grimness – and sameness over the years.
    Right now, I’m swimming in dissonance: Webb’s Born Fighting; The Grapes of Wrath movie; a Presbyterian service arguing against invading other countries and for the ecumenical nature of the national organizations. And now Gerwitz’s contribution. This is more than I can sort out in one day. But I’m pretty sure Gerwitz has the perspective that will be closest to history’s.

  2. Perhaps I overstating jonathon’s point, but
    the thought that all past US military involvements where only failures due to the fact that the liberal lefties didn’t allow us to finish the good work the good ol U.S. of A started doesn’t work for me. To jump into a war where the citizens are not strongly supportive (vietnam, IRAQ to name two) no matter that we feel its right and just doesn’t work. Also, I have a major problem with the fact that the reason that we are now at war with iraq is substantially different that the one that we started with. I realize such ‘nits’ don’t bother the psuedo intellectuals like ‘rummy’ or bush, just showing I am out of touch and hence why bush got his ‘mandate’:-)

    btw, I thought this blog used to be relatively interesting and I liked reading it for different points of view. Now I feel like I can get the same point of view I can hear on the radio from Rush L.

  3. Pat, I wish you’d stick around. We need people like you to give us a different perspective – and I’ve got to say that describing Bush as a pseudo-intellectual is one of the most refreshingly original complaints about him I’ve heard.

  4. Has something changed since the “bridge too far” post a few days ago?

    Maybe I’m missing some good news from the battle field.


  5. In Hayden’s view it’s always about the U.S., because the Left sees the U.S. as a destructive force in international affairs.

    There’s a very good reason for that: from their point-of-view it is. Cast your mind back 30 years or so to Hayden’s salad days. From 1918 to 1968—just 50 years—Marxism had gone from a theory a few crackpots held to taking over a European country (Russia) to ruling half of the world’s people. During the 1970’s that rule would continue to expand. It’s only the tenacity of the U. S. the stopped this.

    And don’t tell me that economic failure killed the Marxist regimes that have passed from the scene. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the (object) lesson of North Korea it’s that economic failure alone won’t bring a Marxist regime down.

  6. Apologize for the Khmer Rouge? Hey, I can do that!

    Apart from Khmer Rouge records of executions, 100,000 or so if I recall, little is known about how many died, or how, in those terrible years. There is a lot of anecdote about the brutal methods of the Khmer Rouge, all of it generally credible, I would think.

    The numbers come, in part from a demographic analysis of a census taken, I think, around the end of the sixties, and another taken a decade or so later. Seems the later count came up a million or two short of what would have been expected by birth and death rates and so forth.

    But execution and brutality kill people by the thousands. To kill millions in a short space of time requires something more, like the industrialized death camps of the Nazis, or the artificial famine visited on the Ukraine by Stalin. Or war.

    Before the advent of the Khmer Rouge and the American bombs that followed them. Cambodia was a large exporter of rice, as well as other agricultural products. All that changed in the first half of 1973, when extensive bombing throughout the country destroyed many of the delicate rice paddies and much of the rest of the country’s infrastructure, and sent millions of peasants fleeing into the cities.

    When the Khmer Rouge took over two years later, everyone, including those same peasants, was driven out of the cities into the countryside and put to work repairing the bomb damage and getting the paddies back into production, all under the draconian discipline of a truly evil regime. By the time of the Vietnamese invasion, Cambodia was again exporting rice.

    Much of the anecdotal evidence suggests that many, if not most, of the victims of those years starved. If so, does that make the Americans responsible for genocide through the destruction of their agriculture? Not from our point of view. Hey, if the Khmer had only surrendered, we would have given them all the rice they could eat.

    As a side note, a similar demographic hole opened around the same time in Laos. A smaller number, but larger in proportion to the population. And similarly, the Plain of Jars started out as a rich rice bowl full of paddies and home to a million people and ended cratered from one end to the other and home to a few thousand. But without a Khmer Rouge to point to, we simply never talk about it at all.

    So you can argue both sides of the issue, and conclude that one side or the other is all bad or all good or something in between, and you’ll come up with an answer that falls in line with what you already believe. But at least the exercise can help you understand the other guy’s point of view. War is unimaginably horrible, the great evil that afflicts humanity. We’re not very good at dealing with it. Committed opponents of war, which I take Tom Hayden to be, think that war itself is an unmitigated evil, to be avoided or stopped in every case. I don’t agree, but I can understand where they’re coming from.

  7. Jody,

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Khmer Rouge perpetrated a genocide; or that the Vietnamese communists murdered and imprisoned people, if not on a genocidal then at least on a very large scale. I don’t see how one can argue both sides of this point. Without American involvement the communists might have subjugated local populations with less war, but they would have subjugated them nonetheless.

    I also think that you give Hayden too much credit for good intentions. His opposition to war seems to be focused on wars the U.S. is involved in. I don’t remember him making an issue of Iraq when Saddam Hussein was murdering hundreds of thousands and committing acts of aggression against Iraq’s neighbors. Nor have I seen any indication that Hayden cares about the bloodbath that would likely ensue if the U.S. withdrew precipitately from Iraq. His behavior is consistent, however, with hatred of the U.S.

  8. Mark, I don’t think things have changed. The differences on this blog are more those of pessimism and optimism. It may turn out that one side is more realistic–and I suspect that the pessimists are hoping they are wrong. (That’s the difference between them and Hayden.) I doubt it will be easy, but I’m hoping it will, in the end, bring an openness to Iraqi economics, presses, and, above all, politics. I may well be wrong. I suspect that most of us are not sure of our opinions – though some know more, have more background. (I will admit I probably have the weakest background and commenting requires chutzpah on my part – but that is, after all, what the open market place of ideas is all about. And it isn’t that we don’t all have a vote and a past.)

    We may be to the right and believers in a pretty open market, but our opinons are various–as are our interests. Some good news is coming out of Iraq; some bad news is. We are coming from different backgrounds and look at the world from different perspectives.

  9. Fascinating post, G ewirtz. Makes you wonder if Hayden and his pals are taking up a collection to send to the Sunni convicts who are mutilating their fellow Iraqis. Hayden’s kind of people if ever there were.

  10. Wow a Khmer Rouge Apologist. Far out man! Nice try. Complete rubbish. I am old enough. I was in grad school at the time. I sat in the quad at U of Michigan and read the NYTimes every day that summer. and read every stomach flipping detail. There is no apology. There is only the bitter truth:

    Marxism = Mass Murder. At All Times. In All Places.

    It was’nt the United States. It was the Khmer Rouge. Deal with it.

  11. Robert:
    Marxism = Mass Murder. At All Times. In All Places.

    Fascism = Mass Murder? It has happened.

    I wonder if the formula isn’t: Fundamentalism = mass murder. I’m not talking fundamentalism in the evangelical biblical inerrancy sense, but in the sort of mentality that says if you don’t tick like I tick, you’re a heretic. (One of my grandpa’s favorite sayings.)

    For example you have your jihad, and you have your crusade. You have your fundamentalist political groups, too. You have fascists and communists killing people now and again. Maybe the safe characterization is that totalitarianism leans to mass murder.

  12. Don’t these murderous regimes have in common a desire to impose a simplifying template on human nature? While I did not find The Handmaid’s Tale powerful, a current A&L note on a dystopian article in the Chronicle is useful. Dutton points to it with his quote from 1984: “Human nature will never oppose us, said the torturer O’Brien in 1984. ‘We create human nature.'”

    Of course, the real despots didn’t see it in terms of creating but rather quite simply controlling – but controlling the will as well as the acts. Of course, all cultures control (and certain modern Western does) and a damn good thing that is. But the simpler and more complete the template, the larger the state, the harsher (and deadlier) the controls.

  13. “Fascism = Mass Murder?” No one is making excuses for fascism. That’s why it bears repeating: “Marxism = Mass Murder.”

  14. Judy suggests that Tom Hayden believes that “….war itself is an unmitigated evil…”. Maybe so, but more likely he simply uses that stance to gain some moral purchase in order to advance his real goal.

    Political leftists like to adopt a popular sentiment (ala the Vietnam/anti-war movement) as a way to ingratiate themselves to susceptible portions of the population and push forward their agenda – power. It doesnt’ much matter what the sentiment is as long as it is anti-establishment.

    The goal is power and the coloring of the sentiment adopted is whatever advances toward the goal.

  15. I would be hesitant to apologize for any totalitarian group-fascist or communist, christian or islamic. I’ve seen the communist thing close up, and it isn’t pretty. This interests me though–the paranoia about communism. Do we actually have very many communists here in the states? I keep getting that straw-dog feeling that this battle has already been fought and won. The terrorists aren’t viewed as communists are they?

    I can understand the view that war is horrible no matter how righteous the cause, or how great our fear. My dad served in War 2, as mom calls it, and it broke something in him, though he did get on over to U Chicago for his graduate work. War just doesn’t seem Christian to me.

  16. Mark, IM opinion, not many communists but quite a few thoughtless, inexperienced people without much historical perspective who are attracted to leftist ideas.

  17. Mark,

    It’s not paranoia. We all know that the Cold War is over. The reason to bring this subject up is to call attention to the Leftist reaction to Communist atrocities (none) – and to imply that something similar is going on today.

    The point is that the Leftist “tail” is very good at wagging the Liberal “dog” with fake humanitarian concern. This is still true today, and that’s why it’s still worth mentioning.

    BTW, here are some good links:

    20th Century Genocide

    Cambodian Genocide

  18. I’m having trouble with the way that Mark is trying to counter charges that Marxism leads to mass murder by pointing out that Fascism has the same result.

    The problem I’m having is that I don’t really see any great distinction. One totalitarian Leftist philosophy seems much like another, I suppose.


  19. James,

    I wasn’t trying to counter charges, but to expand them.

    My point is that fundamentalists of Marxist, Fascist, Jihad, and Crusade persuasions are all birds of a feather. It doesn’t seem wise to ignore any of them when the problem is raised, especially if we’re looking in the mirror.

    My daughter’s working through Craven’s Coming of the Civil War. When democracy fails things can get bloody.


  20. Hayden says things like ‘Bush turned Fallujah into a slaughterhouse’, ignoring the actual slaughterhouses that caused us to go in. He’s not even anti-war…he fully sympathizes with with those who warring against us.

    Hayden is now his favorite epithet: a pure reactionary. Compared to Hayden, Archie Bunker was a Philosopher-King.

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