Charles Krauthammer’s column this morning really revs up as it proceeds: “What’s left? Shame.” Here’s the last half:
It is not just that the ramparts of Euro-snobbery have been breached. Iraq and, more broadly, the Bush doctrine were always more than a purely intellectual matter. The left’s patronizing, quasi-colonialist view of the benighted Arabs was not just analytically incorrect. It was morally bankrupt, too.
After all, going back at least to the Spanish Civil War, the left has always prided itself on being the great international champion of freedom and human rights. And yet, when America proposed to remove the man responsible for torturing, gassing and killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, the left suddenly turned into a champion of Westphalian sovereign inviolability.
A leftist judge in Spain orders the arrest of a pathetic, near-senile Gen. Augusto Pinochet eight years after he’s left office, and becomes a human rights hero — a classic example of the left morally grandstanding in the name of victims of dictatorships long gone. Yet for the victims of contemporary monsters still actively killing and oppressing — Khomeini and his successors, the Assads of Syria and, until yesterday, Hussein and his sons — nothing. No sympathy. No action. Indeed, virulent hostility to America’s courageous and dangerous attempt at rescue.
The international left’s concern for human rights turns out to be nothing more than a useful weapon for its anti-Americanism. Jeane Kirkpatrick pointed out this selective concern for the victims of U.S. allies (such as Chile) 25 years ago. After the Cold War, the hypocrisy continues. For which Arab people do European hearts burn? The Palestinians. Why? Because that permits the vilification of Israel — an outpost of Western democracy and, even worse, a staunch U.S. ally. Championing suffering Iraqis, Syrians and Lebanese offers no such satisfaction. Hence, silence.
Until now. Now that the real Arab street has risen to claim rights that the West takes for granted, the left takes note. It is forced to acknowledge that those brutish Americans led by their simpleton cowboy might have been right. It has no choice. It is shamed. A Lebanese, amid a sea of a million other Lebanese, raises a placard reading “Thank you, George W. Bush,” and all that Euro-pretense, moral and intellectual, collapses.
Krauthammer’s column must be supplemented by the reporting in David Ignatiius’s companion piece: “The Syrians slip away.” Ignatius writes:
The most frightening spot in Beirut over the past 20 years was Syrian intelligence headquarters at the Beau Rivage hotel. This was a place most Lebanese mentioned only in whispers. When the local newspapers had to discuss something controversial involving the Syrians, they would often refer to them with circumlocution, “a regional power,” say, for fear that the men from the Beau Rivage would come and get them. Or worse, come and shoot them.
So you have to imagine what it must have felt like Wednesday morning when Lebanese citizens saw that the Syrian intelligence officers had packed up and left the Beau Rivage before dawn — tiptoeing away from a city they had intimidated for so long and from a people who had grown to despise them.
Had Ignatius previously reported on the Syrian presence at the Beau Rivage hotel?
UPDATE: See also Austin Bay’s comment on Krauthammer’s column: “The millenium era: After Iraq, will a bi-partisan foreign policy re-emerge?”