Buck Up, America! We Must Have More War!


I read this piece yesterday by Eliot Cohen and felt tempted to nominate him for Asshole of the Year. He’s upset that Americans claim to be “war-weary”:

The families of the fallen are entitled to war-weariness. So are those wounded in body or spirit, and their loved ones. The mother who has sent her son to war has a right to war-weariness, as does the father who prepares to send his daughter to battle again and again. But for the great mass of the American public, for their leaders and the elites who shape public opinion, “war-weariness” is unearned cant, unworthy of a serious nation and dangerous in a violent world.

The average American has not served in the armed forces, as a diplomat or intelligence agent in a war zone. Neither have his or her children. No one has raised our taxes to pay for war. Americans can change the channel if they find the images too disturbing….

Tired of war? Just change the channel, crybaby, and let the rest of us get on with the business of running the world.

With the benefit of a night’s sleep, I still think Cohen should get a nomination. This was really one of the most offensive columns I’ve read in a long time. Cohen is simply apoplectic at the thought of anyone in America thinking they have a right to be tired of war merely because we’ve been at war for 12 continuous years for virtually zero observable gain. “President Obama knew he was going to be a war president,” Cohen lectures us. “If that duty was too trying for him, he should not have run for reelection, because, as he has discovered, he might have to fight new wars and not merely end old ones.”

This attitude is nothing new, obviously. There’s a strong belief among the Beltway pundit class—even among a lot of liberals—that a true commander-in-chief is someone who is always and everywhere ready to go to war without doubt and without misgivings. Even if the war is wrong, you need to keep up a steely facade.

I sometimes wonder how it is that so few people seem to recognize just how insane this is. Even speaking as someone who thinks Obama handled Syria pretty poorly, I don’t have the slightest problem with the fact that he was obviously conflicted about it. He should be conflicted about it. This isn’t self-defense. We’re not defending democracy. We’re not responding to any danger to Americans. It’s a close call. And it would be something like our eighth—or tenth, or twelfth, depending on how you count—overseas military action in the past two decades. What kind of person doesn’t look at a record like this and at least consider the possibility that a full-bore bloody shirt campaign by the president might not be in order yet again?

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