the national interest

Should Iraq Hawks Just Shut Up?

David Frum, columnist and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, speaks during a live taping of 'Meet the Press' at NBC studios March 15, 2009 in Washington, DC. Dr. Christina Romer, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Republican Whip, David Frum, Columnist and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, Katty Kay, Washington Correspondent for BBC World News America, Steve Liesman, Senior Economics Reporter at CNBC, Tavis Smiley, host of PBS's Tavis Smiley and PRI's The Tavis Smiley Show, appeared on the show to speak about politics and the US economy.
Shut up and sing? Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

One of the regrets I expressed, in my take on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, is that I didn’t write in opposition to the many bad arguments for a war I supported. In particular, the atmosphere was pungent with a kind of moralistic bullying, in which advocates of war used the victims of 9/11 and Saddam Hussein’s cruelty as a bludgeon against their critics, making a sober-minded weighing of cost and benefits impossible.

It’s one of the strongest points that opponents of the war have made. But some of the anti-interventionists pretty clearly don’t have a problem with moralistic bullying per se. They just want to be on the right end of it.

Here’s a prime example, though not the only one, from Charles H. Pierce. Where the hawks threw the suffering of Iraqi children in the face of the doves, Pierce throws that same suffering back in the face of the hawks (“You gambled with other people’s children in a game you’d helped rig”).

He objects to the very fact that figures like David Frum are even publishing articles at all, winding up to this righteous conclusion:

Shut up, all of you. Go away. You are complicit in one way or another in a giant crime containing many great crimes. Atone in secret.

Well. Nothing says “let’s have a more open and rational debate” quite like “shut up and go away.”

Should Iraq Hawks Just Shut Up?