An Open Letter to Juan Cole

Today Juan Cole has written An Open Letter to the Left on Libya. In it, he urges …the Left to learn to chew gum and walk at the same time, meaning that it should support the UN Security Council/NATO/US bombing enterprise in Libya. (Among all these august agencies, it’s hard to know which is wearing the fig leaf — and which isn’t — but I suppose that rounding up all the usual suspects stands a decent chance of including the real actors in this latest morality play put on for us by the rulers of Oceania.)

Since my views make me more or less part of the Left, albeit not a very prominent part, I feel duty-bound to respond:

When I read of the The Responsibility to Protect, I’m reminded of the motto of the old Strategic Air Command: Peace Is Our Profession. There’s a sense in which that motto was perfectly true, and another in which it represented a ghastly moral inversion—Thanatos dressed up as Eros, complete with rouged cheeks and false eyelashes.

I remember too that the Pentagon found Dr. Strangelove insulting. Perhaps it was, but it was also a cry of desperation, which, now I come to think of it, had less to do with H-bombs per se than it did with the men who built and deployed them with such perfectly clear consciences.

I first wrote that elsewhere, for another audience, but it will do very nicely for Juan Cole today, or for anyone else overcome by such well-meaning delusions of grandeur in the future.