The Plank

Steal Ezra Klein's Lunch Money!

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Ezra Klein is "genuinely puzzled" by some of the negative responses to his "liberal hawk" column--particularly Kevin Sullivan's argument (or, as Ezra deems it, whinging) that

"Liberal hawks" are liberals that acknowledge the existence of very real enemies in the world, and maintain any and all options in dealing with those enemies. You thank God when you can avoid confrontation, but act swiftly and decisively when left with no other diplomatic options.

Ezra whinges back:

As opposed to...who? Who are these liberal doves who avoid confrontation when avoiding confrontation is impossible, and then seek to act sluggishly and in as muddled a fashion as possible when finally moved to act? Name names, please. I'd like to steal their lunch money.

But isn't Sullivan describing Ezra--at least as it relates to his views on Iran? So far as I can tell, Ezra really does believe that, in the case of Iran, the military option should be taken off the table no matter what.

For instance, he wrote in his original "liberal hawk" piece:

Iran raises several complicated questions, but also a simple one: Do you think military force is called for in preventing Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons? Some, like me, say no.

And in a separate blog post, he wrote:

As a sidenote on all the Iran hawkery, I'm pretty tired of folks touting lines like "military action really should be the last resort" as some sort of anti-war sentiment. "We'll go to war, but we won't enjoy it" is not the same as "bombing Iran is a foolish idea advocated only by unreconstructed neocons and horsemen impatient for the apocalypse." The issue here is not whether you want to accomplish their disarmament by peaceful means -- theoretically, we all do. It's whether you support war with Iran if you fail.

I, like everyone in theory, want to accomplish Iran's disarmament by peaceful means. And, although I'm not as convinced as Erza, I'm beginning to be persuaded by the case that a U.S.-led attack on Iran could have more dire consequences than a nuclear Iran. But I think it's crazy to take the use of force off the table--and it's unfair to accuse those who refuse to do so as warmongers, as Ezra does. Without the threat of force looming in the background, I don't think the diplomatic approach has much of a prayer. Carrots, sticks, etc.

--Jason Zengerle

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