Dreams of Liberty
July 4, 2005 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Dreams of Liberty Who Are Americans to Think That Freedom Is Theirs to Spread? Op ed from Michael Ignatieff, Carr professor of human rights at Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; an edited version of which appeared in Sunday Observer 03 July. Ignatieff previously mentioned here.
posted by adamvasco (10 comments total)
Man, I'd like to put Ignatieff in a slapping machine and turn it to eleven. I've had enough of him. Boring, self-congratulatory asshole who, late in his life, discovered Jefferson and now seems to think that Bush's project in Iraq is somehow about spreading 'Democracy'. There are a number of scathing critiques of Ignatieff on the web, one directly addressing this article here:


But perhaps the most cogent demolition of Ignatieff is here:


posted by unSane at 10:51 AM on July 4, 2005

The piece by Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah is excellent. Thanks unSane.
posted by jenleigh at 11:07 AM on July 4, 2005

Not necessarily a bad article -- he seems to waver back-n-forth about America Good and America Not-So-Good, but seems just a tiny bit more optimistic than not.
posted by davidmsc at 11:30 AM on July 4, 2005

for some true insight: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/04/1318218
posted by wheelieman at 11:34 AM on July 4, 2005

this so explains why the u.s. is at war with saudi arabia.
posted by 3.2.3 at 11:41 AM on July 4, 2005

Ignatieff acknowledges the discrepency between the American rhetoric of spreading freedom and the reality of the American occupation in Iraq. He seems to hope that the underlying virtue of freedom and democracy will overcome the baser motivation of an American government who sold the world a bill of goods about Iraq's non-existent nuclear capabilities and Al-Qaeda connections.

I would like to share his optimisim but I can't. America went into Iraq with no solid plan for stabilizing and rebuilding the country, and that oversight created massive suffering for the Iraqi citizens as well as creating a beacon for terrorists all over the Middle East. It is by no means certain that the region will stabilize even if the U.S. military remains committed for years to come. In ten years, I wonder how people will look back at the first Iraqi presidential election. Will it be the birth of a new West-friendly democracy or will it be the beginning of a new Iran?
posted by rhiannon at 12:12 PM on July 4, 2005

It's all just so surreal, like no one ever took a high school U.S. history class...unintended consequences of idealistic crusades, etc.
posted by inksyndicate at 12:20 PM on July 4, 2005

The Globe and Mail ran a piece a few days ago suggesting that Ignatieff is positioning himself to run for a seat in the Canadian parliament, and with ambitions to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada (Canada's natural ruling party, for non-Canadians). The article backed this up with a reference to his big speech to the Liberal Party's national conference a few months ago.

Ignatieff's a curious fellow. He's a good, clear communicator and comes across extremely well on TV (sometimes too well - his TV series Blood and Belonging was much more interesting than the book that accompanied it). But his arguments reek of wishful thinking, and, as others have noted, he ends up providing (modest) covering fire for a much different world vision. There are some interesting parallels in this regard between him and fellow Carr Center luminary Samantha Power, another non-American who thinks the rest of the world can just trust the USA to do the right thing.

Then of course there's the whole "thinking woman's crumpet" crowd...
posted by senor biggles at 3:15 PM on July 4, 2005

I saw that G&M piece too. I can appreciate Ignatieff as a thinker. His argument isn't trivial: America is an empire, and this is an evil, but it's our only chance to stop worse evils, like genocides. Ignatieff started beating this drum during the Kosovo crisis, if I remember rightly.

I would not want to see him as a leader. He may even be right, but anybody who starts with deep respect for human rights and ends up apologizing for Gitmo is a little too intellectually flexible.
posted by brevity at 6:27 PM on July 4, 2005

I used to respect Ignatieff until I read his truly absurd defence of the Iraq war. And like all the foolish pretend liberals who exposed their true political inclinations in that way (hello, David Aaranovitch), he is now reduced to scrabbling around in the filth of Bush's leavings to try to salvage some self-respect. This embarrassing piece shows just how embarrassingly he's failing in that endeavour.

"And yet... and yet... What if Bush is right?"

Come on Mike, say it with more feeling... "I do believe in fairies! I do believe..."

Always a real tear-jerker to watch someone who can't let his foolish delusions die, ain't it?
posted by Decani at 6:25 AM on July 5, 2005

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