Iraq

Decca Aitkenhead explains it all to you, again

In the course of a Guardian article about Christopher Hitchens and his new memoir, Decca Aitkenhead writes:

When the invasion of Iraq was first debated, one couldn’t fail to notice the preponderance of left-wing men of a certain age who came out in support of the war. Radicals as adults, but often from conservative backgrounds, now beginning to confront their own mortality, and preoccupied by masculinity and legacy, their palpable thrill about military might suggested that, deep down, they secretly feared progressive principles were for pussies. Now here was their chance, before it was too late, to prove their manhood.

I think that paragraph– and especially the use of the word “one” in the first sentence– tells us quite a lot more about Ms. Aitkenhead than it does about the “left-wing men of a certain age.”

Norm Geras reminds us that this is not the first time she has propounded this particular theory of middle-aged male support for the Iraq invasion. In 2007 she wondered about the same group of men:

Does it have something to do with a midlife panic over masculinity and mortality? These are, after all, men of a certain age, and they did seem to find Bush’s shock and awe disproportionately exciting.

Anyway, Norm is brave enough to ‘fess up:

As I return in my mind to late 2002 and early 2003 it comes back to me that, when considering the projected invasion of Iraq, I would experience vague stirrings that I didn’t then understand in the… er, nether regions. What gained my support for the war wasn’t the fact that Saddam Hussein was a foul tyrant whose regime had presided over genocide, torture and other crimes against humanity; it was, rather, a concern about the size and potency of my penis.

Norm mentions that among the liberal supporters of the invasion were Julie Burchill and Ann Clwyd who– being women and all– can’t easily be fit into Aitkenhead’s explanation.

In fact if you read or listen to Ann Clwyd’s testimony at the Chilcot Inquiry last winter, you will notice that her support for the invasion was based on a deep concern for the Iraqi people and a powerful desire to end their decades of suffering under the cruel regime of Saddam Hussein– that is, based on what I suppose Aitkenhead would consider a female sense of caring and compassion rather than a middle-aged male sense of needing to prove that one is not a pussy.

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