Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jim Henley: War Is Bad.

While I'm doing Saturday quickies, CT points to this golden post by Jim Henley on why he got the Iraq war right. The entire post delivers a high laugh-to-paragraph ratio & is therefore worth reading, but I will spoil the ending for you by quoting the conclusion he arrives at:

. . . you didn’t have to be a libertarian to figure out that going to war with Iraq made even less sense than driving home to East Egg drunk off your ass and angry at your spouse. Any number of leftists and garden-variety liberals, and even a handful of conservatives, figured it out, each for different reasons. . . .

What all of us had in common is probably a simple recognition: War is a big deal. It isn’t normal. It’s not something to take up casually. Any war you can describe as “a war of choice” is a crime. War feeds on and feeds the negative passions. It is to be shunned where possible and regretted when not. Various hawks occasionally protested that “of course” they didn’t enjoy war, but they were almost always lying. Anyone who saw invading foreign lands and ruling other countries by force as extraordinary was forearmed against the lies and delusions of the time.

In short, War Is Bad. Its badness is, very rarely, the only alternative to something even worse, but you can get pretty far in life and in foreign policy by simply avoiding violent conflict, and especially avoiding initiating violent conflict. This rule of behavior is devastatingly simple, and therefore available to anyone with two brain cells to rub together, including e.g. the ubiquitous "Dirty Fucking Hippie" of left-blogger rhetoric; which, of course, means that it's intolerable to people whose self-image — and even professional survival — hinges on being more sophisticated than the unwashed rabble. But, ultimately, it's a good rule.

War Is Bad. Shout it from the rooftops, and one day you too may be as right as Jim Henley.

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