Dubya's Fellow Travelers: Left Intellectuals and Mr. Bush's War

Stephen Eric Bronner & Kurt Jacobsen



hat are “fellow travelers”? Once upon a time, during the 1920s and 1930s, the epithet referred to left-wing intellectuals who, while not members of the communist party, were sympathetic to its political project. No preening right-winger or proud moderate will let anyone on the left ever forget how writers like Lion Feuchtwanger, Romain Rolland, Lincoln Steffens, Beatrice and Sidney Webb traipsed off into darkest Russia where they received gracious NKVD-guided tours of the glorious Soviet future, and rhapsodized that, so far as they could see, it worked. Indeed, no one should forget this profoundly pathetic episode. True, many inquisitive visitors—like Andre Gide—were deeply shaken by what they experienced there as well. But it spoils all the fun to dwell on those who, in the words of Victor Serge, “had the courage to see clearly.” 

Better to deal with those who saw what they wanted to see, who trumpeted ideals that lacked any relation to reality, invoked “history” because they understood nothing of the present, and—whatever their good intentions—provided what the communists liked to call an “objective apology,” or what Karl Rove today might call good public relations, for an increasingly xenophobic, imperialist, and authoritarian regime. Those naifs of times past should be held strictly accountable. A similar standard should be set, however, for their contemporary left-wing counterparts who publicly endorsed what has become a monumental political disaster in Iraq and, in the process, helped legitimate perhaps the most reactionary administration in American history.

Most of today’s fellow travelers hitch rides with the Democratic Party. But where it was once assumed that critical intellectuals should aim to illuminate, or expose, the confusions of sly politicians, stand with the more radical spirits on the ground, and push and prod the establishment to the left, these truculent champions of progress adopt the same assumptions and the same fears as the candidates on the stump. Like the rest of the Democratic Party, with some notable exceptions, Dubya’s fellow travelers initially supported the war—a smart tactic up to the giddy moment that the President considered it safe to proclaim “mission accomplished”—and now, shocked and awed by the Iraqi debacle, shake their heads and ruefully say: “sorry.”

All these pragmatists, it seems, were woefully misled by (gasp) false information. None of them, apparently, could imagine how wretchedly the Iraqi war and occupation would be mishandled. It was inconceivable, of course, that the motives of the United States government should have been anything less than impeccable. But, in fact, the sobering information was always out there in abundance. There never was the wisp of a reason for trusting Commander Bush and his neocon Rough Riders. Administration officials like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, in fact, openly admitted to the seamier motives inspiring the invasion. It was always ludicrous to believe that a democratic domino effect would start in conquered Baghdad; that the United States had the right, the reason and the wisdom to unilaterally pursue a “preventive” war; or that the Iraqi population would welcome the invaders with open arms. Looking at the deteriorating situation now, it is appalling what grisly travesties this loose band of “moderate” social democrats and tepid liberals have aided and abetted, and even more appalling how little the sway of genuine self-criticism appeals to these self-styled political “realists” most of whom know as little about Middle East politics or Islam as the authors of this piece know about astrophysics or break dancing.   

Bush and his surly gang surely couldn’t believe their luck at the willing inflow of progressive acolytes or, what Lenin would have called, “useful idiots.” Here were finally some mature, responsible, and patriotic radicals ready to engage the “mainstream” or, to put it another way, ready to publish and speak and opine supinely in the mainstream media. The Bush boys must have died laughing at these raw recruits who showed so little savvy when the cynical call came to “rally around the flag” and who were so susceptible to the official exploitation of fear. Not all the fellow-travelers’ prior knowledge of the sour realities of “hard ball” politics, or the inveterate money-grubbing and power grabbing of the upper tiers, would dissuade them from jumping head-first into that blurry Huntingtonian universe of clashing civilizations. They never cared to notice that distinct whiff of the beer hall putsch that hovered over these feral Republicans whom they embraced as saviors.

Could any sentient human being fall for the sloganeering guff of this slavering saber-toothed pack occupying the White House? Nothing was more mystifying than the improbable Damascan conversion that major figures on the left underwent as the twin towers came tumbling so terribly down. Wasn’t it crystal clear that, from the start, there was nothing Dubya’s gang would not use to further their agenda? Come to think of it, isn’t that what all politicians at all times are supposed to do with events, turn them to advantage? Did this most elementary truism not dawn on Christopher Hitchens, Paul Berman, Michael Ignatieff, Mitchell Cohen, Todd Gitlin, Michael Walzer and other skittish strays away from the left? One suspects they may have watched too many Hollywood movies where a national emergency melts class and status lines to climax in the raising of musketeer swords for an  “all for one and one for all” common good. Or perhaps they were too obsessed with Israel and too distrustful of those categorical “Arabs.”  Was it really so difficult to see through the endless bullshit peddled by this administration? You didn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind was blowing, or a veterinarian to diagnose that a rabid bunch of right-wingers were steering the country over the nearest cliff.

These newly minted fellow travelers never dreamed that it could happen to them. The paragon pundits always believed that it was only the “radicals” and ultra-leftists who were eager to embrace hero cults and orchestrated deceits. But the Republican Party—incarnating Bob Dylan’s “superhuman crew who go out and round up everyone that knows more than they do”—was just waiting for the suckers. And this new batch was happy to oblige. They weren’t lunatics like Noam Chomsky or part of that nameless crowd who supposedly expressed “glee” that on 9/11 the United States got what it deserved,1 but rather mature, responsible, and—always conveniently—patriotic

What is the problem with Chomsky anyway? That he writes a lot of books? That the kids love him? That he has been uncompromising in confronting the goliath? That even his mistakes are bold? That he is far more often right then wrong? That he was a critic of Israeli territorial ambitions while many of its left-wing supporters were still dreaming of milk and honey? No one views him as an infallible prophet. But the fellow travelers seem obsessed with him. Certain of them, in fact, see the need to situate their milquetoast position “between” Cheney and Chomsky:2 As if, perhaps in the muddled realm of their own private world spirit, it makes sense to juxtapose the venal thinking of a Vice President—whose influence is paramount and whose clique has produced both the current catastrophe and an almost unimaginable decline in the world-wide standing of the United States—and a Professor at MIT, long outcast by the ideological mainstream, with no institutional influence whatsoever. Calling upon the “left” to position itself “between Cheney and Chomsky,” is possible only by ignoring the existing relations of power. But then, that’s not quite true: what results from this frisky exercise in critical analysis by the fellow travelers is yet another stale vision of a “liberal foreign policy” totally amenable to the Democratic Leadership Council.  

What is it about Chomsky? Even Adam Shatz of The Nation,3 who really ought to know better, accused him of “evaluating the war through the prism of anti-Americanism” by spending too little time on the assault staged by the followers of bin Laden and too much on the atrocities sponsored by the United States. A supercilious argument like that of Todd Gitlin, which rests on the belief that “the tone was the position,” really doesn’t amount to a palpable reason for burning Chomsky at the stake. If you strike the right reverential tone, we guess, you can say anything. The MIT maverick is apparently just not sensitive enough to appreciate that “patriotism is not only a gift to others, it is a self-declaration. It affirms that who you are extends beyond—far beyond—yourself, or the limited being that you thought was yourself.”

Snap off a salute to gung-ho Gitlin. After he hung old glory from his terrace in New York on 9/11, in what was surely hostile terrain rife with traitors and Islamo-symps, future generations will undoubtedly better be able to savor his thrilling insight that “lived patriotism entails sacrifice.”4  Not that his action should be construed as providing “support for the policies of George Bush.”  Oh, no. But let us not forget that that this is the same stalwart who, in his Letters to a Young Activist, called the McCarthy witch hunt “a mixed blessing,” urged leftists to hunt down “Islamic murderers,” and preached that there is no salvation outside the Democrats no matter how far to the right they scurry. Members of the chorus cheering on Mr. Bush’s foreign policy were probably driven crazy by Chomsky’s insistence upon viewing the attacks of 9/11 as a “crime against humanity” rather than an act of war—even though, of course, bin Laden represented no particular nation or people. But that is obviously a mere technicality.

So what do these latter-day fellow travelers offer instead? A standpoint that perfectly suits a Democratic Party whose candidate presents himself as the second coming of General George Patton, the proponent of even more funds for an infinitely centralized homeland “security” apparatus, and –just before smelly things started going completely down the tubes -- a belated opponent of the Iraqi War. No less than Gitlin, other fellow travelers have plenty of pompous advice to offer. They wish to make sure that the rest of us recognize the crying need to make “judgments” and not fall into hopeless relativism “because the refusal to make judgments is fundamentally undemocratic and fundamentally apolitical.”5  Did Allan Bloom climb out of his coffin? Thanks for that.


It would be nice, of course, to know just who constitutes this ubiquitous “left” that the fellow travelers beat up on so valiantly.  Well, of course, there’s Chomsky. But, then, he can be accused of every sin known to man with carefree impunity. Who else? We tend to doubt that “judgments” are evaded and “relativism” rules and “third worldism” is the rage among the bulk of writers for journals like In These Times, Mother Jones, Logos, Counterpunch, Z-Net, or any other left outlet with a serious constituency. Then too, unfortunately, just what political judgments the “left” should make—other than heed the advice of Michael Walzer and surrender its allegedly implacable “Third World-ism,” confess that the United States is not the “sole” bastion of “evil,” and recognize the all-absolving character of the “new” situation for the United States—always remains a bit foggy.

Luckily, our fellow travelers know what’s up. Michael Walzer and Jean Elshtain got a real firm grip on the situation when they signed the war manifesto, “What We’re Fighting For,”6 sponsored by the center-right Institute for American Values. It stands for “freedom” and, if the document explicitly equates freedom with the American understanding of it, no big deal. Enough that signatories should denounce the taking of life, urge aggressive self-defense and, after the posturing is done, banish any nagging suspicion that the crisis of 9/11 might be manipulated for imperialist purposes. Elshtain goes this one better. She primly alerts us to the seductive dangers of “appeasement,” ridicules the notion that any change in US policy will improve the situation, sternly informs us that the world is, you know, a dangerous place, and insists that the “humanist” preference for negotiating with fundamentalist fanatics—not, of course, the Israeli or Saudi or Louisiana sort—is fruitless.7

Never heard any of that stuff before? It’s always nice to encounter brash new arguments about the need to take up “the burden of American power in a violent world.” Silly cynics might wonder whether this dainty counsel amounts to a resurrection of the “white man’s burden.” Pay them no heed. No “realist” with liberal principles would ever abide the idea that foreign policy might have a racist component either. It does seem strange that the enemy du jour of the United States always seems to be a people of color or a nation with little taste for its brand of globalization. But, never mind.  

Interesting how the signatories to the rousing “What We’re Fighting For!”—half of whom are conservative enough to actually join the present administration—never bothered to consider that perhaps the fanatics are less enraged by the way Americans live in their own country than by the policies its government pursues in the Islamic world. No less than Elshtain, however, Walzer was probably contemplating higher things like the theory of “just war” and the ethical obligation to “reconstruct” what has been destroyed. Not that he was ardently supportive of the Iraqi invasion. Walzer cheered on the first Gulf War of 1991 to save Kuwait from the clutches of Saddam,8 though Kuwait was never exactly a shining ideal of democracy, but he has said any number of different things at different times about the second Gulf War. The stance of our hero is, shall we say, nuanced.

Ever the hand-wringing Democrat, to be sure, Walzer recognized that the administration of Bush the Younger never made its clinching case for the Iraqi War.9  In spite of that, however, the war apparently had to be supported and, though it has become ever more obvious that the American presence is only stoking the chaos and the Iraqis want us out, it remains ethically incumbent upon us to reconstruct this smartly devastated nation.10  Is the reader following Walzer’s lucid argument? Let’s try again. The war on terror should not excuse “indefensible” policies though, given a state of “supreme emergency,”11 an “emergency ethics” may be required even though it provides no criteria for either judging what policies are defensible or for examining the interests of those in whose name the policies are undertaken. Still don’t get it? One more time: Since a war is being fought against terror in the name of liberal principles under ill-defined emergency conditions it jolly well might be legitimate on ethical grounds to consider employing military courts and constricting civil liberties, which violate those very liberal principles.12  Okay, since these are “complex” arguments, let’s cut to the chase. Mature and responsible and patriotic left-wing intellectuals should tell the Bushies: do what you gotta do and, in the name of the national security and what Gore Vidal calls  “perpetual war for perpetual peace,” we’ll hold our noses and support you. Or, if that doesn’t fly, we’ll retreat into the great dusty documents of liberal Zionism and ponder deeply the reasons why its venerated values have eroded.

As for Mitchell Cohen, editor of Dissent, who knows what he is thinking after making the feverish claim that those who refused to support the invasion of Iraq would also surely have stood aside in 1941. His tender little missive, “The Real, Not the Comfortable Choice,”13 harked back to the Baghdad of 1941 and the specter of pogroms envisioned by the notorious anti-Jewish bigot Rashid Ali. Nothing like those good old days,  and, with them in mind, heady dreams of regime change can then be transported into the present. Justifications abound: Cohen highlights the hideous character of Saddam’s regime, castigates the hamstrung UN for its “many failures,” insists upon the sky-is-falling peril posed by Saddam, calls for a democratic Iraq and turning the UN into “an effective institution with real integrity” (by which he seems to mean a marionette of the United States), and emphasizes that the choice is not between “war and peace but, absent an unlikely coup in Baghdad—the use of force “sooner or later.”14 It’s remarkable, isn’t it, how he gets to the core of what is at stake?

Not a word about the constraints, the potential costs, or the regional implications of an invasion. And Mitch, believe it or not, 1941 is not 2004: there is no world war and there is no Hitler for whom Saddam is acting in proxy. Everyone knows now, even as so many knew before the bombings began, that Saddam posed no threat to the security of the United States and that ridding Iraq of the mustachioed monster through invasion would produce national resistance, a spur for real terrorists, a spate of anti-Americanism, and even greater chaos in the region. It also was never a question of war now or war later. Enough state department and intelligence analysts realized from the start that none of the guys we backed was in it for democracy including those American stooges in exile like Ahmed Chalabi and Ayed al-Allawi who played their neo-conservative cronies no less than you and your buddies for first class fools. Democracy? Whatever happened to the emirs in Kuwait? Still in charge? Our slick fellow travelers apparently never thought it worth the bother to consider the vulgar notion that this war was being fought for oil, for water, for military bases outside Saudi Arabia, and to provide a tart warning for what would happen to other states in the region—which Libya quickly understood—should they not toe the American line. Not to worry. No facile anti-Americanism, dogmatic Marxism, or anachronistic theories of imperialism would ever seduce our hardy fellow travelers.

The authors of this article visited Iraq with a peace delegation in January of 2003: we helped draw up an anti-war statement that both opposed the war and—easy to do—rejected Saddam Hussein.15  As soon as we returned we worked along with so many others on the left to expose the lies and the false assumptions deployed by the Bush administration in favor of invasion.16  Efforts of this sort were studiously ignored in the mainstream media, or even condemned there, on cue, by many of Dubya’s fellow travelers. A petition was distributed that got 33,000 signatories. Everyone sensed disaster in the making. The Internet was bursting with warnings, various military leaders and the CIA—for god sakes—advised caution, the much-maligned United Nations knew that Colin Powell was shilling for his boss, and the rest of the world realized that Bush the Younger and his gun-slinging gang had gone more than slightly nuts. According to Dubya’s fellow travelers, however, the critics—and especially those teeming demonstrators all over the world—were misguided idiots. Not that the erudite editors of Dissent and The New Republic weren’t trying to set them straight, mind you. Our new politerati were probably learning at the feet of Michael Lind, a one-time conservative who allegedly lurched left, about the importance of embracing that always elusive “center,” that the Vietnam War was darned well worth fighting,17 and that there was no need to worry about the endemic tendency of refreshingly mature, responsible, and patriotic social democrats to make fools out of themselves by blessing imperialist wars when waged in the fig-leaf name of humanitarian ideals.

One wonders: Did the fellow travelers—souls of political practicality—really swallow the soothing bromides that men like Bush “grow in office,” or “rise to the occasion,” or some other outright miracle? Or were they intimidated into their display of stunted, smarmy patriotism? What motivated these new cheerleaders? Was it really a “theocratic fascist” threat to the world’s mightiest superpower, always the innocent, which scared them? Or did a yen for protective coloration play a role? There was indeed a reasonable case for disagreement on the left, as earlier over the bombing of Serbia, or with regard to the need for a powerful response against the crimes of 9/11 by Osama bin Laden and the Taliban who were protecting him and his Islamo-fascist thugs. But there is no sane reason why support for the attack on Afghanistan had to turn into what amounted to unqualified support for a war without end and “pre-emptive strikes” against any nation defined as an enemy by a whim of the Bush administration.18  Instead of promoting an alternative foreign policy to punish the criminal act by concentrating on capturing Osama bin Laden and re-building Afghanistan, alerting the public to the insidious dangers of the Patriot Act and the looming unification of all intelligence agencies under one virtually autonomous political appointment, or even how the war in Iraq was the second front in the war against the welfare state, our fellow travelers rubber stamped the set of basic beliefs underpinning a neo-conservative foreign policy.


Christopher Hitchens is the most spectacular case. He is also the least apologetic. The former secretary of the Oxford University Labor Club, who grew up amid the sectarian strife on the British Left, humbly insists that history is on always on his side. A terrific essayist and a remarkably intelligent man, a writer who took on Kissinger and Mother Teresa, one still nurses a faint hope that he’ll snap out of it. One of us watched Hitchens in Chicago, just prior to the invasion, skillfully fencing with various dreary sectarian interrogators in the audience. Fair enough and well-deserved, but Hitchens dealt just as viciously with plainly “civilian” questioners. Some folks, like over-trained “killing machine” soldiers, just can’t turn it off. Their own acuity gets in the way of reality.

Maybe that is the problem. Hitchens, in an essay on Whittaker Chambers, chidingly wrote: “The Cold War was fought just as hard in France or Germany or England, but without the same grotesque paranoia or the chilling readiness to surrender liberty and believe the absurd [as in the United States during the McCarthy era].”19  Hey, no kidding?  Chambers’ tragedy is that he ultimately lent “himself to the most depraved right-wing circles, whose real objective is the undoing of the New Deal and the imposition of a politically conformist America.” One fervently hopes that Hitchens rereads his earlier works: they might spark some curative self-reflection.

For sure: he can still sling it with the best and worst of them. Hitchens’ Long Short War rails at those today who “do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all.” It notes how those who protested the war were nothing but “blithering ex-flower child[ren] or ranting neo-Stalinist[s].” All the critics are beneath contempt: the need for an Iraqi invasion was self-evident and, if the policy hasn’t worked, well then— surely—”history” will, sometime or other, make it turn out right. Just after 9/11, Hitchens wrote in The Nation that the reluctance by U.S. forces to carpet bomb Afghanistan showed “an almost pedantic policy of avoiding ‘collateral damage.’” Maybe the warping began then. Oh, yes, and any effort to understand the sources of terrorism can only “rationalize” it.  What sort of intellectual tells other people what is fit to think about? While one wonders at times whether Hitchens has literally lost his mind, it is still in many respects one to reckon with.

We keep remembering the old Hitchens. Take his zesty essay on Isaiah Berlin, which undermines Michael Ignatieff’s reverential take on the crusty old boy, a vain if exceptionally erudite fellow given to justifying Zionism and hanging around during the Vietnam War with the likes of the Bundys, William and McGeorge, perhaps because Sir Isaiah liked playing tough guy.20  It is the same with his acolyte. There are plenty of times to be tough: but the question is when to put up those fists. Ignatieff endorsed Bush’s escapades on the fantastic notion that “liberal interventionism”—led by the virtuous United States, whether or not in conformity with international law and with, or without, backing from the United Nations—would save the world from itself.21  In The New York Times, reflecting the febrile verities of Rudyard Kipling, Ignatieff stated that the Persian Gulf is “the empire’s center of gravity” where the United States must take up “the burden of empire.”22  Now, of course, he too is “sorry”: the war apparently was not carried out properly to his strategic satisfaction.

Let’s not forget Paul Berman. For this decorated veteran of the 1960s, who has turned into a solid citizen while fighting for space in The New York Times, it seems that—following 9/11—the “entire situation had the look of Europe in 1939.” When in doubt, follow the demagogue, and drag in Hitler: it may be a red herring but, what the hell, the tactic always works. Anyway, upon sagacious reflection, Berman, despite calling Bush “the worst president the US ever had,” undauntedly reached the conclusion that the new imperialism “is not a pure power grab; it is not designed to control territory.” After all, in spite of America’s ostentatiously mixed motives, there are “many peoples who owe their freedom to an exercise of American military power.”

Well, perhaps Bush really invaded Iraq to save its museums and libraries from the loutish locals. Ignatieff likewise says that, whatever the impure intentions and the mistakes of the United States, it would be so unfair to “discredit its humanitarian ideals.”23  The fact remains that there are “many peoples who owe their freedom to an exercise of American military power.” But, of course, there are also mass graves dotted around the planet, from El Salvador to Indonesia, which wouldn’t need to have been dug except for American interference. Or have they simply, pardon the expression, disappeared? In any event, under the banner of  “a liberal’s war of liberation,” the intrepid radical Berman let no opportunity slip to deride those prissy leftists who “worried about America’s imperial motives, about the greed of big corporations, and their influence in white house policy; and could not get beyond their worries.”24 How narrow their thinking was. How, by the way, did things turn out?

What on earth were these high-IQ dupes thinking? That a Bush-led “crusade” would stamp out religious fundamentalism around the world, and maybe even at Bob Jones University too? A pervasive plight, or ploy, is the same that John Kerry got himself into with his waffling reply that, knowing what he does now, he would have authorized Bush’s war, but not necessarily Bush’s actions. This dense mix of stubbornness and slyness is hard to penetrate. Everyone makes mistakes. But the difference is that when managers and coaches make them, and their teams suffer losses, they get fired while our unctuous pseudo left-wing pundits get another gig to explain why—if just those fools in office had done it differently—everything would be all right and justify a set of explanations that made no sense then and even less sense now.

“Few things are more dangerous,” as Eric Hobsbawm observed, “than empires pursuing their own interest in the belief that they are doing humanity a favour.” Or, for that matter, are as preposterous as liberal and leftist intellectuals who ride media shotgun for them. And in the name of what: belief in a “just war”? Time to recall that by now, in October of 2004, more than 1000 American soldiers have died, 7000 have been crippled for life, and 20,000 have been wounded. More than 30,000 bombs were dropped on Baghdad in the first week of the war, somewhere around 50,000 Iraqis have probably been killed, and no one really knows—or, in the heartland, probably cares—how many more have been crippled and wounded.25  Hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted, the ecological damage to the region is incalculable, an infrastructure has been destroyed, and a nation—perhaps even a region—stands on the brink of implosion. It was all obviously “necessary” say those who are now comfortably sitting in their offices and—while forgetting the famous dictum of Karl Rove, “if you want to win then mobilize the base”—pontificating about the need for young people to be mature, responsible, and patriotic so as not to piss off the “undecided” vote that may be slipping away in any case.

Nice to see that our fellow travelers have not shied away from taking a strong stand—and on such intelligent grounds. Seriously, though, it is precisely they who could have had a positive impact on the left and the Democratic Party. Almost all of the fellow travelers are well known public intellectuals associated with venerable journals like Dissent and The New Republic that, traditionally, acted as gadflies among the more left-wing elements of the political mainstream. But that time is now long past. Our fellow travelers aren’t interested in building a critical consciousness anymore. Quite the contrary. They actually helped create the ideological climate in which the Bush Administration could thrive and, in the process, gave its policies the type of intellectual cachet they did not deserve. This hindered the development of an alternative agenda. Looking down on the people in the streets, while sniffing the butts of the Democrats in office or grasping for it, the fellow travelers remain content to justify the compromises and vacillations of what Arthur Schlesinger, completely blind to the coming ideological onslaught of the right, termed “the vital center.” It is pathetic how far removed they are from the reality they claim to judge with such arrogance and authority. With their platitudes and cheap realism, indeed, they contribute to the further decline of what was once an estimable political culture of the left.




1. Michael Walzer, “Can There Be a Decent Left?” in Dissent  Vol. 49, No. 2 (Spring, 2002)  After a Hitchens article on 28 September 2001 suggested journalist John Pilger and playwright Harold Pinter were inclined to express just such glee, The Guardian the next month apologized to both men, who suggested nothing of the sort.

2. Michael Tomasky, “Between Cheney and Chomsky: Making a Domestic Case for a New Liberal Foreign Policy” in The Fight is For Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World ed. George Packer (New York, Perennial: 2003), pgs. 21ff. Note the stinging critique--that highlights the ignorance and prejudices of Paul Berman and other prominent contributors when it comes to the Middle East--by Anatol Lieven, “Liberal Hawk Down” in The Nation (October 25, 2004), pp. 29-34.

3. Adam Shatz “The Left and 9/11” in The Nation (September 23, 2002) and the searing response by Lawrence McGuire, “Eight Ways to Smear Noam Chomsky” in Counterpunch (October 9, 2002).

4. Todd Gitlin,  “Varieties of Patriotic Experience” in The Fight is For Democracy, pp. 109, 110, 126.

5. Susie Linfield, “The Treason of the Intellectuals (Again)” in The Fight is for Democracy, pg. 166.

6. The Manifesto has been published as the “Appendix” to Jean Bethke Elshtain, Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World (New York, Basic Books, 2003), pgs. 182-207.

7. Ibid.1ff.

8. Michael Walzer, ““Justice and Injustice in the Gulf War” in But Was It Just?: Reflections on the Morality of the Persian Gulf War ed. David E. Decosse (New York: Doubleday, 1992), pgs. 1ff. Note also the essay by Jean Bethke Elshtain who, though she never explicitly took a position, warned us against triumphalism and cautioned that judging the conflict is “complex” in “Just War as Politics: What the Gulf War Told Us About Contemporary American Life,” in Ibid. pgs. 43ff.

9. Because he was defending an authoritarian and aggressive regime, “Saddam’s war is unjust, even though he didn’t start the fighting.” By the same token, since other “measures short of full-scale war were possible .. . America’s war is [also] unjust.” What to do? What to do? “Now that we are fighting [the war], I hope that we win it and the Iraqi regime collapses quickly. I will not march to stop the war while Saddam is still standing . . .” Michael Walzer, Arguing War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), pg. 160-1. 

10. Ibid., pp.162-8.

11. Clarity is achieved, or so the author believes, once a sense of tradition and community is introduced. That will apparently help in interpreting the degree of peril posed by the perilous situation since “the license of supreme emergency can only be claimed by political leaders whose people have already risked everything and who know how much they have at risk.” Ibid. pg. 44.

12. Ibid. pgs. 138-142. See Ori Lev’s review of Walzer’s Arguing for War in this issue of Logos.

13. This is the condensed version of an article that appeared in the Winter, 2003 issue of Dissent. It appeared originally in an on-line symposium entitled “Writers, Artists, and Civic Leaders on the War sponsored by openDemocracy.net

14. UN bashing is mostly disingenuous or ignorant. There is usually little the UN can do independently of the Security Council, where the US wields its veto and its overwhelming influence. See the fine account by Linda Polman, We Did Nothing: Why the Truth Does Not Always Go Out When the UN Goes In (London: Viking, 2003).

15. This can be found on the web under “Iraq on Death Row: A Status Report.”

16. Check the four issues of Logos comprising volume 2, 2003.

17. Michael Lind, Vietnam: The Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America’s Most Disastrous Conflict (New York: Free Press, 2002).

18. Note the discussion by Stephen Eric Bronner in “Gandhi: Non-Violence and the Violence of Our Times” in Logos Vol. 1, No.1 (November, 2001), pgs. (?). www: logosjournal.com  

19. Christopher Hitchens, Unacknowledged Legislation: Writer in the Public Sphere (London: Verso, 2000), pp. 102, 105.

20. Hitchens, “Goodbye to Berlin,” in Unacknowledged Legislation, pp. 138-139.

21. Of his Vietnam antiwar days marching with distasteful pacifists, Ignatieff says, ‘Since I was anti-communist, I actually had more in common with the liberal hawks who thought they were defending south Vietnam against advancing communist tyranny. But I believed that nothing could save the weak and corrupt South Vietnamese government.” See his “Friends Disunited,” The Guardian 24 March 2003. There’s principles for you.

22. Michael Ignatieff,  “The American Empire (Get Used to It)” New York Times Magazine, 5 January 2003.

23. Michael Ignatieff, Empire Lite (New York: Minerva, 2003) , p. 23.  See Michael Neuman’s scorching essay “The Apostle of He-manitarianism,’ Counterpunch  8 December 2003. www.counterpunch.org/neumann12082003.html

24. Paul Berman, Terror and Liberalism (New York: Norton, 2002), p. 192.

25. The casualty figures too are sources of controversy. Even by ‘lowball” estimates the toll is shocking. See, for example, www.iraqbodycount.net.  On the dubious use of numbers from the start see, for example, David Walsh ‘Washington Conceals US Casualties in Iraq,’ 4 February 2004 , http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/feb2004/woun-f04.shtml


Stephen Eric Bronner is the senior editor of Logos and the author most recently of A Rumor about the Jews: Anti-Semitism, Conspiracy, and the Protocols of Zion’ (Oxford University Press) and Reclaiming the Enlightenment: Toward a Politics of Radical Engagement (Columbia University Press) and is currently Professor (II) of Political Science and a member of the Graduate Faculties of Comparative Literature and German Studies at Rutgers University.

Kurt Jacobsen is a research associate in political science at the University of Chicago. His latest books include Maverick Voices (2004) and, with Sayeed Hasan Khan, No Clean Hands: Skeptical Chronicles of 9/11 (forthcoming).