Columnist Mark Steyn has been disheartened by desertions from the Armchair Warmongers Club. ‘Where’d everybody go?’ he asks.
Steyn’s Telegraph piece details desertions in the Fleet Street branch of the AWC, but there have also been notable ones on this side of the Atlantic. “I think it’s a total nightmare and disaster,’ said newly anti-Iraq war pundit Tucker Carlson, ‘and I’m ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it. It’s something I’ll never do again.’ Even the stalwart Andrew Sullivan went wobbly for a moment in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, though he ultimately righted himself and proved a stouthearted soldier of the AWC. Inky here has not wavered, despite being saddened by Abu Ghraib.
“The bleats of ’Include me out!’ from the fairweather warriors isn’t a sign of their belated moral integrity but of their fundamental unseriousness,” writes Steyn.

“With moulting hawks all around squawking their forlorn chorus of ’I’m No Longer Such An Ugly Duckling’, it’s tempting to join the mass ecdysis,” he writes. “But this is one leopard who won’t be changing his spots. Fourteen months ago, there were respectable cases to be made for and against the war. None of the big stories of the past few weeks alters either argument.”

“Anyone who votes for the troops to go in should be grown-up enough to know that, when they do, a few of them will kill civilians, bomb schools, abuse prisoners. It happens in every war. These aren’t stunning surprises, they’re inevitable: it might be a bombed mosque or a hospital, a shattered restaurant or a slaughtered wedding party, but it will certainly be something.”

Steyn concedes that “a freaky West Virginia tramp leading a naked Iraqi round on a dog leash with a pair of Victoria’s Secret panties on his head and a banana up his butt” perhaps “wasn’t so inevitable,” but that even this ‘innovation’ doesn’t affect the important question, “Is it worth doing?”

As Steyn points out, Iraq has improved–most of its thousands of towns are pacific (if they weren’t you know the media would be telling us), and elections are coming. In fact, as members of the AWC are going AWOL in droves, John Kerry is turning up the anti-terrorist rhetoric. 

“Winning the Presidency isn’t like winning the Palme d’Or,” writes Steyn, “and Kerry, the ne plus ultra of weathervane politicians, seems to have figured there aren’t enough votes in sounding like Michael Moore, Howard Dean or even Al Gore. With an eye to her own political viability, Hillary Clinton the other day demanded an expansion of the army.

“Does Kerry mean it? Probably not. The tough talk’s a cover for what would be a return to the ineffectual reactive national-security policy of the 1990s — ‘I have here a piece of paper from Kim Jong-Il,’ etc. If the media manage to drag the Senator, a very weak candidate, over the finishing line, it will be seen as a humiliating verdict on Bush’s war. There will be no stomach for further neo-con adventuring. The House of Saud can relax and resume its buying off of al-Qaeda. Pakistan’s ISI can get rid of General Musharraf. The IAEA can go back to sleep.”