War and Peace

WAR AND PEACE….Atrios quotes Lawrence O’Donnell’s scathing denunciation of pundits who think we need to say in Iraq:

I’ve reached a Rangel-like breaking point with my TV pundit colleagues who championed the Iraq war and now say we can’t leave even if we went there for the wrong reasons. For every one of them, I have a simple question: Why aren’t you in Iraq? Or why did you avoid combat in your generation’s war? The one unifying characteristic that all of us men in make-up on political chat shows share is fear of combat. Every one of us has done everything we can to avoid combat or even being fitted for a military uniform. Just like George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Dick Cheney, we are all combat cowards. It takes a very special kind of combat coward to advocate combat for others. It’s the kind of thing that can get you as angry as Charlie Rangel.

Look: I get what O’Donnell is saying, and the chickenhawk argument is alluring to liberals for obvious reasons. What’s more, regular readers know that I agree wholeheartedly with him that it’s time to get out of Iraq. But this attitude is still pernicious. When nations decide whether to go to war ? or whether to continue an existing war ? everyone in a democracy is entitled to a view and everyone is entitled to be taken seriously. But if non-veterans, by virtue of having never served, are denied the moral authority to advocate in favor of war, their views will quite rightfully be entirely marginalized. After all, why should anyone care what they think if, as O’Donnell suggests, their non-serving status predetermines their only honorable opinion?

I’m not willing to leave decisions on the use of military force solely to combat veterans, but that’s where this sentiment leads us. It leads to a place where military veterans are put on a pedestal and anyone who hasn’t served is ipso facto less qualified to hold an opinion on isssues of war and peace than someone who has. Let’s not go there.