Aggressive Prudence > Unserious Warmongering

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” -Jose Narosky

Andrew Sullivan posted up a great reader’s response to recent pieces by the terrifyingly inept duo of William Kristol and Leon Wieseltier. They have recently been cheering on the idea of injecting American troops into Libya while tut-tutting Obama for being a limp-wristed pansy who wastes his time researching the best answer to a thorny and complicated problem. Real American Patriots send young American troops in to die at the drop of a hat! Their recent articles are essentially the same trope they trotted out back in 2003 when each of them was so eager to quit the messy process of diplomacy and get on with the fun: War! In Iraq! Guns! Explosions! Freedom! Isn’t it all so much fun?

That’s not to say that their hearts aren’t in the right place. The situation in Libya is tragic and heartbreaking, and it certainly is worth our time to do all we can to help. But, Kristol and Wieseltier are deeply unserious men. The fact that they were beating the war drums loudly during the run up to the Iraq war is bad, but it can be forgiven. There are many people who look back on that time with a feeling of horror and shame for how easily we unthinkingly succumbed to the push towards war. We are human, we err, we find ourselves driven by powerful emotions like fear and anger that press us onwards. We were also quite misinformed by our own government about the true costs and difficulties. But in Mr. Kristol and Mr. Wieseltier you see two men who are unrepentant about their positions. They see no wrongdoing, no better way we could have steered towards. The tragedy of the Iraq experience seems to place no burden upon their hearts.

This is what makes their babbling incoherence about Libya all the more shameful. If we as America have learned anything of value from this past decade, I would hope we’ve learned that war is one of the most awful things a country can undertake. Even when done for the best of intentions, we are trafficking in an eternal evil when we unleash our armies. Of course, the cost of Iraq (and Afghanistan) was never born by the William Kristols of the world; it was born by our young servicemen and the poor Iraqis who found themselves on the wrong end of our our nation’s grand hubris. Perhaps the situation in Libya will deteriorate to the point that a no-fly zone will need to be implemented. Perhaps we might even need to go further than that? If that time comes, we would certainly be well-served to have spent our time in intense discussions with our allies and with ourselves about the true costs of such an endeavor and how to accomplish our mission without jeopardizing the nascent Libyan resistance. It’s the only serious way forward.