Hawks are cool. Doves are…

… well, doves aren’t that much different from pigeons. Maybe, if we could re-structure the metaphors, the anti-war crowd would come out looking better. We could scarcely come out worse. Tom Englehardt, whose work I frequently recommend, has posted a new essay on this topic; it deserves your (perhaps rueful) attention. A few extracts:

A Falcon of Peace

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, those few who suggested that the appropriate response might be intensive, determined global police action, not the loosing of the might of the U.S. military on Afghanistan, were derisively hooted from the room. It was so obvious that an invasion was not only a necessity, but couldn’t fail against the ragtag Taliban and their al-Qaedan allies, not given the military might of the planet’s “sole superpower.” Even now, when it comes to that invasion “lite” and the subsequent occupation of Afghanistan from which unending disaster ensued, no mea culpas have been offered; nor does anyone in the mainstream pay the slightest attention to those who worried about, or warned against, such an approach.

Nor was serious attention paid when, before the invasion of Iraq, millions of people worldwide poured into the streets of global cities to say loud and clear: Don’t do it! It’ll be a catastrophe!

Instead, they did it. It was a catastrophe and both the antiwar crowds and the critics of that moment have been largely forgotten — those who weren’t simply discredited — while the enthusiasts for the invasion, military and civilian, now often transformed into “critics” of how it and its aftermath were handled, remain the “experts” on what the U.S. should do next. Counterintuitive as it might seem, they are the ones whose assessments still count — and that’s par for the course.

I remember clearly my own reaction after 9/11. An invasion of Afghanistan was inevitable. I did not support it, did not think it was a good idea, but given the realities of the (even then apparent) hawk-dove dichotomy, I could not imagine we would not do it.

And so I did not speak loudly or write angrily against an invasion of Afghanistan, which will surely influence my degree of elegance in the next world. I hope that some of the guilt for that inaction will be cancelled by my early and serious and continuing opposition to our Iraq adventure.

Read the whole essay. It’s history and political philosophy. Think of it as a fascinating course, with no examination. None but self-examination, anyway.

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