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A Good Consequence Of The War

I don't quite understand Hendrik Hertzberg's argument is this week's New Yorker Comment. Hertzberg wants to tally up all the costs of the Iraq war, which he thinks include a lost chance for peace in the Middle East and lost respect for America around the world. But most of the column is devoted to detailing the political death faced by all of President Bush's war allies.

And regime change, it turns out, is infectious--a militarily transmittable disease, almost invariably fatal, so far, to any political party or head of government so careless of hygiene as to have had intimate relations with the Bush Administration’s Mesopotamian misadventure.

Hertzberg then goes on to list fallen governments in Spain, Britain, Poland, Italy, and Australia. Four of these five governments were conservative--and each of the four was replaced by a less conservative, usually center-left party. In the fifth country, Britain, Tony Blair's premiership has been handed over to the marginally more liberal figure of Gordon Brown. Aren't these developments that Hertzberg should be happy about? Now, it's absurd to say we should get involved in misguided wars because as a consequence we might see the Silvio Berlusconi's of the world lose power. But it's strange for a liberal like Hertzberg not to find something to cheer about when one of the reactions to Bushism is more left-leaning leadership around the world.

--Isaac Chotiner