Hawks and Their Enablers

by Will on September 5, 2010

There are those who find war invigorating, exciting, and who consider support for it to be a surefire proof of True Manfulness. One more war has no apparent cost to them, since they will not be drafted, and they can pretend that the thing can be paid for by cuts in spending on the worthless poor. Willingness to bless the wanton taking of lives, the lives of innocent strangers about whom we know nothing, is taken by the news media to demonstrate a serene, stoic seriousness on the part of the speaker: he must be serious, to cheerfully urge such bold, consequential action. It is also common for Americans to be ill informed about foreign lands, and to imagine that their inhabitants are not self-interested, semi-rational actors who basically seek happiness but also sometimes fall prey to the chimeras of pride and false narratives, but instead are crazed demons bent on making others unhappy. This makes the average American vulnerable to thinking that the War Cheerleaders might be right, that some killing might be in order.

I would like to persuade the public at large and those with megaphones in particular, of the truth of Voltaire’s observation about war: if I go next door with a gun and shoot my neighbor, that is straightforward murder, and it is silly to think that my putting on a uniform and going and doing this in another country is somehow different. Maybe sometimes we just have to do this, but there should be a damn high standard, rather than a knee-jerk assumption that War Cheerleaders are right, that where there’s uncertainty we should go to war just in case. But the current dynamic seems pretty well in place.

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