Fighting words

When the dismal history of the Iraq war is finally written, a special chapter of shame should be prepared for the those pro-war columnists and bloggers who, sitting comfortably in their homes and offices in the US, cheerfully egged on this administration to greater and greater heights of folly, cheering the deaths of innocent Iraq and Afghan civilians, downplaying the losses of US troops, attacking all those who opposed the war as terrorist sympathizers, and acting as if they themselves were courageous fighters instead of merely being vocal spectators. Not for nothing have these people been dubbed by blogger Tbogg as the “101st Fighting Keyboarders.” The 101st Fighting Keyboarders (also known as ‘chickenhawks‘ or ‘Keyboard Kommandos’) have an overwhelming sense to constantly reiterate that the fact that they are urging other people to fight is a sign of their own bravery.

The chapter will be long because there is a long list of such people, such as Ann Coulter, Jonah Goldberg, Andrew Sullivan, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, John Hinderaker, Charles Krauthammer, and the list goes on.

As an example of the kind of delusion at work here, take Jonathan Miller writes about Hugh Hewitt who was interviewing Time magazine’s Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware on his radio show. I think most people would concede that Baghdad is a very dangerous place to be for anyone, and reporters who are assigned that beat are showing considerable personal courage. Many of them get irritated with people back in the US who insinuate that they are living it up in comfort there while failing to report the “good” news, thus undermining support for the war. When Ware tries to remind Hewitt that the people in the US have little idea of what life is really like in Iraq, Hewitt takes offense.

The third-tier talk show host [Hugh Hewitt] strapped on his kevlar helmet and bravely reported from the front lines of the terror war while interviewing Michael Ware, a Time Baghdad correspondent:

MW: Let’s look at it this way. I mean, you’re sitting back in a comfortable radio studio, far from the realities of this war.

HH: Actually, Michael, let me interrupt you.

MW: If anyone has a right…

HH: Michael, one second.

MW: If anyone has a right to complain, that’s what…

HH: I’m sitting in the Empire State Building. Michael, I’m sitting in the Empire State Building, which has been in the past, and could be again, a target. Because in downtown Manhattan, it’s not comfortable, although it’s a lot safer than where you are, people always are three miles away from where the jihadis last spoke in America. So that’s…civilians have a stake in this. Although you are on the front line, this was the front line four and a half years ago.

I can just imagine how stunned Ware must have been to hear that someone in the Empire State building in Manhattan thinks that he too is bravely facing the war on terror, because a few years ago this was three miles away from what was once the front lines. Jonathan Miller continues:

I am in awe of Mr. Hewitt’s bravery. And just a few days ago, we hear, Hugh actually got on a PATH train that went RIGHT THROUGH Ground Zero. Somehow, some way, he survived.

As funny as the above exchange is (“I’m on the front lines, too!”) it opens a useful window onto the soul of the Keyboard Kommandos. See, when Hugh Hewitt is ensconced in a cushy office in the Empire State building, he actually imagines himself as a brave soldier on the front lines in the Universal Conflict Against the Evildoers. When he is on the airplane, he is an intelligence officer against fanatical Islamofascists.

These war-loving bloggers are constantly seeking a vicarious thrill. Having committed themselves to an immoral, illegal, and ultimately foolish and disastrous war, they now have to act as if they are also bearing some of its consequences. This is why they are the first to publicize and exaggerate, with an almost palpable shiver of delighted dread, any sign of anything that could be construed as a potential terrorist attack in the US. This enables them to swagger as if they are on the front lines of the war on terrorism while knowing full well that the odds of them personally being hurt or killed by a terrorist attack are minuscule. None of us really loses sleep at night worrying about whether a bomb is going to blow us up. None of us goes to work or school each day worrying if we will be killed by a bomb or sniper before the evening comes. And yet, this is how the people in Iraq live.

These Keyboard Kommandos were wrong about practically everything concerning the Iraq war but are still spewing out nonsense today. It is amazing that anyone still listens to them, let alone gives them prominent public platforms to spread their nonsense.

Paul H. Henry has created a beautiful piece of work that can form the basis of the future chapter to be written on the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. His War of the Words is a five-part series (each about 6 minutes long), with a new part to appear every Thursday. It takes the format of a Ken Burns-type PBS documentary and is very well done. The first three parts are up and can be seen here.


  1. Erin says

    I don’t know if you read Andrew Sullivan regularly, but at this point I would not call him a strong supporter of the war. He’s been an outspoken critic of the way it’s been conducted, and seems to me to be on the verge of calling for an end to it. One can still disagree with him on whether it was ever a good idea in the first place (I certainly disagree with him), but I think to lump him in with those who are “still spewing out nonsense” is probably an exaggeration. Unless you had some particular nonsense in mind?

  2. Dean says

    Erin, I was about to make that point as well. One of the things that makes me respect Andrew Sullivan quite a bit is that he has admitted he made a mistake early on. If more people in power could admit to mistakes, this would be a much better world.

  3. says

    Erin and Dean,

    I agree that Sullivan has turned against the war. So have some others and that is undoubtedly a good thing.

    But (and I will be writing about this in more detail next week) these same people do not still accept why the war was fundametally wrong and are essentially rewriting history to argue that the war would have been correct if “done right.” So I fully expect them to support the next war, whenever that comes, because they think it will be done correctly.

  4. Erin says

    Mano, I think a key difference between Sullivan and you and me is that Sullivan genuinely believed the WMD rationale for the war, which didn’t fool me and I’m guessing didn’t fool you. I’m not sure whether he would have wanted to start the war we’re currently fighting. It’s possibly worth asking him.

    In any case, I look forward to your future entries on the subject.

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