L. Neil Smith's
Number 209, February 3, 2003


Cry Havok! And Let Slip the Lickspittles of War
by Joel Simon

Special to TLE

Until recently, I'd have said "conservative" commentators were more fun than "liberal" commentators. You know both are shoveling manure, but one load always seemed a little less painful to bear than the other. I've had my favorites for years. Sobran, Krauthammer, Will, Sowell, Charen - I could name dozens. The list seems almost infinite.

In fact, until recently I hadn't noticed how much time I devoted to these chatterers. When a background noise rises gradually, you're often not aware of it at all until it stops abruptly. And in my life, the chattering has abruptly stopped.

I had to stop. I couldn't hear myself think for the hammering of the war drums. From the unanimity of the "conservative" gasbags, it's pretty clear they don't think at all. Here's a representative sample, post-presidential address:

Ross Mackenzie, in a column titled "Start Counting Your Days, Saddam" dismisses anyone who might have reservations about "regime change" in Iraq as "Arab 'moderates' (or) ever-fickle continental Europeans - (or) inconstant nellies on the American left ..." Well, that's the first time I've ever been called that. We're talkin' pistols and coffee here.

Mona Charen says, "There is no other way to take the battle to the enemy than to take on the regimes that permit terrorists to operate. Do the Democrats believe that liberating Afghanistan finishes the job?" Setting aside the small fiction about Iraq sponsoring terrorists, has anyone noticed whether Afghanistan has gotten any more 'liberated' in the past few weeks? I seem to recall that the Soviets 'liberated' Afghanistan back in the late seventies, by capturing Kabul and installing a puppet regime. I believe that's about as much progress as the Americans have made. But after that, the Soviets never had a day's luck in Afghanistan. You might be a little premature with that 'liberation' talk, Mona.

Thomas Sowell says America has to disarm Iraq because Britain didn't disarm Germany in the 'thirties, and look at all the trouble that caused. I can picture Lloyd Bentson putting ol' Saddam in his place: "I knew Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler was a friend of mine. And Mr. President, you're no Adolf Hitler."

Cal Thomas speaks of his privilege to be invited into the Oval Office prior to the State of the Union address, so that he could be fed lies personally: "I was impressed by how comfortable he is with being in charge. George W. Bush has a hide stronger than an armadillo and a vision that what he is doing and wants to do is completely and undeniably right." I don't really want the Commander-in- chief of the American armed forces to think of himself as "completely and undeniably right" very often. In the presence of that much physical power, a certain level of self-doubt seems appropriate.

Michael Ledeen says, "(Bush)'s got it right: We're bringing freedom to the oppressed peoples of the terror tyrants. It's about time. He could even do it faster..." Will someone please, for the sake of my suffering national pride, point out to me one single oppressed person who's been brought freedom - however you choose to define the word - by the United States since maybe 1945? Bombs, yes; lots of bombs. But freedom?

One thing these people all have in common - other than their "conservative" moniker - is that none of them plan to personally fight this war they're all so hot for. "Let's you and him fight!" No bombs will be falling on their heads; no way. I'd venture to guess that their children are all in safe occupations, too. Other people will suffer for their view; the warmongers will only gain.

The other point of unanimity is the big lie. Why do "we" so badly need to go to war? Well, it's to.bring freedom to the oppressed peoples of terror tyrants. It's to...disarm a madman of his weapons of mass destruction. It's to...say, what are you? Unpatriotic?

Never mind that even the most distantly objective view of what's been accomplished by the "war on terror" so far shows no hint of any such salubrious outcome. Judging from the increasing attacks on Special Forces units, a good number of Afghanis don't seem to feel themselves liberated. The new President of Afghanistan - you know, the one that represents all that new 'freedom' - is constantly surrounded by a bodyguard of American SF soldiers, because everyone knows that otherwise his life expectancy could be measured in minutes. (How do invaders find people willing to take that job? I've often wondered.) The "WMD" argument studiously ignores a growing body of evidence that there aren't any such weapons in Iraq, and haven't been since a certain Western superpower stopped selling them there. In fact, if we were going to disarm a madman of his weapons of mass destruction, it's possible we could start a lot closer to home.

We could start by taking away all his syndicated sycophants.

Postscript I: I mentioned Joseph Sobran in the list above, but on reflection I don't want his name mentioned in the same breath with the chicken hawks of conservatism. I first became aware of him in 1998 when he wrote his 'get a load of that' column in response to Clinton's big Monica speech. I liked his writing immediately, but lumped him for several years with the rest of the conservatives. Gradually, though, his writing has changed until he is positively anti-state. It's the biggest philosophical shift I've ever witnessed, and if genuine he deserves to be saluted for it.

Postscript II: In my last column I complained that I was currently working steadily, but that that could change tomorrow. Sonovagun, it did, too. I submitted the column on Monday. I was out of the office Tuesday, and put on waivers Wednesday. My (soon to be former) work partner gave me a sly look and said that job offer was still open. I awarded him a Dirty Look with stars and clusters, and grabbed my Rolodex.

Joel Simon's new book The Staff of the Nameless God is poised to take its place among the great unpublished American novels. Anybody know a good agent?


Laissez Faire 
Laissez Faire Books

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