Why Are People Grudgeful?

Timothy P. Carney weighs in on the “Cato purge”:

[Brink] Lindsey will be portrayed as a martyr, excommunicated for his heresies from the Right’s dogma. In this role, he joins neoconservative writer David Frum, who was driven from the American Enterprise Institute after praising Obamacare.

Lindsey and Frum followed parallel paths. In 2002 and 2003, Lindsey – contra most libertarians – prominently beat the drums for invading Iraq. Meanwhile, Frum played the conservatives’ Robespierre, trying to purge from the Right those who opposed the invasion, whom he slurred as “unpatriotic conservatives.”

Lindsey, when he admitted in 2006 that invading Iraq was a mistake, still billed himself as “extremely controversial” and open-minded in the face of dogma. Frum, today, basks in the Left’s praise as an independent thinker. But Lindsey and Frum, in backing Bush’s invasion then and supporting Obama now, were the opposite of dissidents: They consistently supported those in power who were fighting for more power.

This pattern doesn’t make Lindsey or Frum sycophants, but it undermines their claim to be dissidents.


The reason I keep banging on about Iraq War supporters – including the “born-again doves” – is simple: The road out of militarism and empire runs through the ruins of the Washington establishment that got us here.

First, there must be some penalty for supporting wars of aggression, even in a non-governmental role. I don’t mean a legal penalty, obviously, but shaming, shunning, boycotting, and the like. But everywhere you look, the very people who sold the Iraq War have not only not paid for their bloodthirsty idiocy, they’ve often been promoted. Second, as long as even “reformed” warmongers hold positions of influence, there’s always the danger of relapse. Clearly, the personality defects that contribute to the endorsement of monstrosities don’t go away quickly, if ever. For example, here’s one ex-Bushbot-turned-Obamaton sticking it to the White House’s critics:

Personally, I’m not satisfied with the job they [Obama & co.] are doing (unemployment is horrible, they’ve spent too much time negotiating with Republicans, the drone wars, the civil liberties issues, Lloyd Blankfein is still a free man, etc.), and think there have been some real failings and some real let-downs. But I will belly crawl over broken glass while someone pours lemon juice and rubbing alcohol on me to vote for the Democrats in November.

Note how drone wars and civil liberties fall behind “negotiating with Republicans” on this list of sins. To paraphrase Mick Jagger, could you use a lemon-squeezer, dude? I volunteer.

I could go on – there are so many targets – but instead, I’ll leave you with a thought experiment. Imagine that the invasion of Iraq had succeeded on the war supporters’ own terms, and the U.S. had crushed all armed resistance within a few months and set up some plausibly “pro-American” Potemkin democracy that didn’t need a foreign army to defend it from the citizenry (this requires a lot of imagination, I know). Let’s assume that the U.S. military had accomplished this by really taking the gloves off, as many war supporters urged in the days when the occupation began to implode. Thus, in our counterfactual, the Iraqi civilian casualty count is roughly the same as the actual count today, anti-American sentiment is inflamed throughout the Muslim world, and Iran is the unquestioned dominant regional power, all for a preventive war against a fabricated threat. Do you think that our born-again doves – much less the dead-enders who still think the war was a good idea – would have had any moral or even practical second thoughts? Or do you think they’d be doing a sack dance in the peaceniks’ faces and demanding the destruction of the next country on their list?

UPDATE: I think this sort of amends-making is a wonderful idea, but I suggest it for people who have abetted acts of mass destruction. How many prosthetic limbs could the Brinkster buy with his disposable income? Shoot, Andrew Sullivan could probably fund half a dozen orphanages across Iraq if he cut his personal expenditures back to bare subsistence levels. Let’s make this happen!


19 thoughts on “Why Are People Grudgeful?”

  1. "First, there must be some penalty for supporting wars of aggression…"
    A 'thought experiment'… how about a war crimes tribunal? That would be a "penalty" wouldn't it? I juxtaposition a lowly question. You know, on account of being "unworthy" to juxtaposition or supposing a question.
    Hmmm, is there anyway to get around one useless United States Attorney General (you know, that Holder servile chump) and hold a "peoples War Crimes Tribunal?" I juxtaposition an unworthy and lowly question again.

  2. I am grudgeful about the failure of democracy that the invasion represented. It opened my eyes to the powerlessness of the citizenry to control the government. Congress and the presidency are bought and paid for. I marched against the pending invasion in DC, Seattle, Port Townsend, etc… to no avail. Freedom of speech "corporate personhood" means that we don't have democracy. Congress never declares war anymore and we don't have the draft and that's why politicians fell free to prosecute wars like Iraq. As a USMC combat veteran I was appalled at the liberal and sometimes anti-military politics of a lot of the people that I marched against the war with. But I marched anyway and I'm glad I did, it helped keep me sane. Marching and rallying gave me a keep-it-cool-and-don't-assassinate-anyone knob to turn. Doing that kept me from fully experience my true powerlessness, it kept me out of prison and kept the smirking chimp alive and well. Semper Fidelis. I wrote this poem tonight called

    The surge worked.
    Announcing that we're leaving worked even better.
    Never going would have worked best. I love you and I'm sorry.

    You bled red into the earth.
    Happy Chinese pump black. Out of the earth
    over Sadaam's dead body
    over the sea, back to their home.

    You won’t be in the parade.
    Welcomed home unseeing
    by families grieving I love you and I'm sorry.

    1. Sorry Taymere, but ITS GUYS JUST LIKE YOU who sign up for the military that ENABLE Uncle Sam to carry out his wars of agression in the first place. By the way could you define what you mean by "anti-military politics". I was opposed to the war in Iraq. I was opposed to America's 78 day bombing campaign of Serbia. I want America to abandon its empire of overseas bases. I want America to leave NATO and South Korea and Japan. I want American troops deployed in America safeguarding our borders. Does this make me "anti-military"?

  3. "First, there must be some penalty for supporting wars of aggression, even in a non-governmental role. I don’t mean a legal penalty, obviously, but shaming, shunning, boycotting, and the like."


      1. If we're talking about government employees who deliberately lied or concealed information, sure.

        1. Pundits with undue influence who are discovered to have served as mouthpieces for a regime should not have the protections of the 1st Amendment, in my opinion.

      1. What legal penalty would you suggest Congress pass to punish pundits who support wars? Would a law criminalizing advocacy hold up in the courts? What are the odds that the state would pass a law against people supporting the state's actions? And so on.

        1. Not the pundits, unless it can be shown they deliberately lied perhaps. I mean the actual political persons who instigate the war. I consider the war in Iraq, the attack on Serbia in 1999 etc, as war crimes.

          1. Well, as I said in a comment above, I'm not against prosecuting government officials who lie us into wars. But that's not going to happen either, so I'd rather focus on the shaming, shunning, boycotting, etc.

  4. How exactly do we boycott the war? Or shame it, for that matter? The war is already unpopular; it's clear that money and lives are being sunk in the Middle East with no real benefit and no easy end in sight. And let's not lose sight of some of the real reasons we're in the Middle East: We're not just good sumaritans trying to weed out terrorism; a large portion of our own economy and well-being depend on one thing from the Middle East: The oil. If we didn't need the oil from the Middle East, maybe we wouldn't be in a mess as big as this one. It' s a shame the government doesn't put more emphasis on ecofuels. At any rate, this war is going to take some serious "boycotting" if we want to do anything about this war.

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