Ten years ago, critics of America’s mad rush to war were right, but it didn’t matter.
Within hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it was clear that political leaders were going to use the attacks to justify war in Central Asia and the Middle East. And within hours, those of us critical of that policy began to offer principled and practical arguments against aggressive war as a response to the crimes.
It didn’t matter because neither the public nor policymakers were interested in principled or practical arguments. People wanted revenge, and the policymakers seized the opportunity to use U.S. military power. Critical thinking became a mark not of conscientious citizenship but of dangerous disloyalty.