WaPo's Cohen: Saddam the Necessary, America the Ignorant

What's become of multiculturalism? Isn't it an entrenched tenet of liberal dogma that all cultures are to be "celebrated" as equally worthy? Yet in recent weeks I've noticed a countervaling trend in the liberal establishment. Western values are exalted, as here and here. Then, even Thomas Friedman, bien-pensant hero of the foreign policy establishment, indulged in some negative Arab stereotyping that would have had the PC police screaming had the author not been, well, Thomas Friedman.

Today comes another certified MSMer, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, suggesting that Iraqis might be fundamentally different from Americans, so much so that what they require is a brutal dictator. Muses Cohen in his column of today, Our Tunnel Vision .
"Would things have turned out differently if we had done everything right? Was Iraq so 'broken' we never could have fixed it? Was Hussein's despotism an avoidable tragedy, or was it, instead, a tragic necessity? I wonder about all these things. I tend to think now we never could have made it work."
Cohen certainly clearly leans toward the view of Saddam as "tragic necessity." If he's wrong, hasn't he engaged in some unfair ethnic stereotyping? If he's right, what are the implications for the multicultural crowd?

There's one theme in Cohen's column entirely in line with orthodox liberal thinking: a view of America as naive and ignorant. Cohen makes the argument that in Iraq, as in Vietnam, we are not so much idiots as simply as wrong, wrong, wrong. Concludes Cohen:
"America is still America -- and we still don't know what in the world we're doing."
Ah yes, America the ignorant. That hapless, naive country that managed to defeat the Axis and a couple generations later brought about demise of the Soviet Union and with it the threat of Mutual Assured Destruction. We really don't have a clue, do we? Good thing people like Richard Cohen are around to remind us of that fact.

Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.