Anyone who doesn’t think Saddam would have delighted in nuclear weapons, and in the post A. Q. Khan world was only a phone call or two away from them, is not thinking straight. Who does Mr. Douthat believe was going to monitor those calls? The United Nations?
The problem is that Douthat et al have no answer other than the snide to [Michael] Ledeen’s optimism because they have no answer, no proposal, at all. They offer fashionable hard-boiled realism which, in the end, is only laziness. Whoever said democracy would be easy in those places? … We are in this for the long haul, the very long haul. I would suggest Mr. Douthat suck it up and give the optimists their due. They’re the ones driving the car forward… unless he has a better concrete suggestion.
This is, of course, the fundamental political debate of our time. It is between those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and try to make the world a better place, and those who offer no alternative but prefer to stand on the sidelines and sneer.
Roger is one of the most interesting people I know, and he offers what I think is a highly relevant personal observation:
Special note to Mr. Douthat: I was fairly involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties, went down South on all the Freedom Ride stuff. (Yeah, I’m that old.) As I recall that took a long time, but it was worth it. Give the Iranians a shot too. They’re worth it. Remember John Donne… No Man is an Island… I know it’s optimistic, but think about it. Or as they say in zen–you don’t get there by trying, but you can’t get there if you don’t try.
It’s always easy to throw stones at the optimist, but at the end of the day, what’s the alternative?
BIG TRUNK adds: Pejmanesque also comments on Douthat in “The growing political apathy.”
UPDATE: Michael Ledeen has posted a reply to Douthat on The Corner.