This argument over who has the right to comment about the war, or the endless philosophical discursions into the relative merits of anti-malarial nets -- an issue that hardly anybody ever brought up until it was discovered as a foil against intervention in Libya -- is a bizarre distraction. Look, the substantive arguments against intervening in Libya are pretty compelling. They could well be vindicated. I come down on the side if intervention but I certainly see the merits of the case against. I don't understand why war critics are obsessed with making their case in ad hominem terms, and it's all the more bizarre when the ad hominem arguments are made by people who would themselves be disqualified them.
But Chait misses my point entirely. I am not arguing that supporters of the Iraq war should now be disqualified from further commentary. As Jon points out, that would also exclude me. All I ask is that they wrestle with their own past misjudgments and explain why they support another military intervention in Muslim countries after the ongoing fiascoes of Iraq and Afghanistan. This isn't ad hominem as such. It's just asking for some accountability from public intellectuals - some reckoning with their previous misjudgements in the face of this new adventure in intervention. But they feel no need to account for their past. In fact, they never mention it. To debate a new war in the Middle East without any reference to Iraq and Afghanistan, even as those two wars continue, is amnesiac to the point of delusion.
But if Chait wants an ad hominem, try this on for size:
Blogging is a notoriously time-consuming vocation. Surely there is a kitchen for the homeless where [Ezra] Klein lives. If he were to tear himself away from his laptop, he would not solve the hunger problem, but it would help.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.