Why there was no moderate anti-war movement

Matt Yglesias (April 17 and 18, “Were Anti-War Arguments Wrong”, no permalinks) has recently published a piece admitting that he was wrong when he initially supported the Iraq war. He distinguishes his own confession of error from the expected flood of weaselly fake mea culpas, of which David Brooks’ supremely weaselly piece is presumably only the first. (“I was wrong but I was right anyway”: Matt’s paraphrase).

Matt, who is anti-dove, then asks why mainstream anti-war voices were so few before the war. His own answer and those of his commenters miss the point, however.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, or 1980 at the latest, not being a dove has been one of the criteria for being part of the mainstream at all. Before the decision on Iraq War II had been definitively made, there was in fact a great deal of mainstream anti-war opinion (look here and here.) But when crunch time came, those opponents all folded — because if they had not done so, they would have become pariahs. (As Scott Ritter and, more recently, Richard Clarke have seen).

This consensus also probably accounts for a great deal of the media’s writing-to-a-script, as repeatedly exposed by Bob Somerby. Up-and-coming young journalists learn what kinds of things they must say in order to continue to be up-and-coming.

Nothing has changed. The policy-makers and opinion-leaders who were wrong are still in place. No one either in the media or in government has lost his job or suffered a demotion because of his mistakes. So you should plan to see the same old opinion-leaders, in endless parade, passing the buck and covering their butts at a dollar a word.

But don’t even hope to hear from the ones who were right all along.