Punished for Being Right?
Writing about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq can be a frustrating experience. On the one hand, the boundaries of “reasonable debate” are so narrowly construed within the popular media as to make the discussion of any genuine alternative points of view virtually impossible; on the other, the polarized and polarizing orthodoxies of American political discourse require that any criticism of the wars be accompanied by so many qualifications and caveats as to render genuine argument meaningless. On the political right, this requires creedal affirmations of the goodness and justice of the American cause, full-throated avowals of American exceptionalism, and unqualified statements of support for the troops. In some environs of the left, it requires condemnations of American empire, coupled with declarations of our complicity in every dastardly deed of international malfeasance since the sinking of the Maine.