Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Why Men Shouldn't Decide National Policy...Oh Wait!

Some of the men who helped form national opinion after 9/11 are now revealing some of their emotions at the time. That's subject to the usual distortions of memory, of course, but males admitting to fear and confusion might be believed.

I've mentioned Andrew Sullivan already, and now here's Bill Keller of the New York Times:
But my prudent punditry soon felt inadequate. I remember a mounting protective instinct, heightened by the birth of my second daughter almost exactly nine months after the attacks. Something dreadful was loose in the world, and the urge to stop it, to do something — to prove something — was overriding a career-long schooling in the virtues of caution and skepticism.
Inadequacy, and, um, something about the timing of his daughter's birth. The need to do something. Very male.

In Keller's next paragraph, fearful Jeffrey Goldberg (still not really admitting it) and Andrew Sullivan as part of the "I can't believe I'm a hawk" club. Mnh-hmnh. And all the rest are men, some famously macho.

Keller whines
We now know that the consensus [on Saddam Hussein's WMD] was wrong, and that it was built in part on intelligence that our analysts had good reason to believe was cooked. Should we — those of us without security clearances — have known it in 2003?
Of course, it was his own reporter, Judith Miller, who supplied the probably Cheney-given "evidence" for those aluminum tubes. When I read that article, I wondered what the intelligence experts at DOE, WMD central, had to say. Evidently that didn't cross Keller's mind.

I'm not fond of psychologizing from afar, but some of these themes are so explicitly tied up with a male mentality that it's hard to avoid them. I would like to argue that women don't have the same sorts of needs to prove themselves sexually tied up with that extra testosterone that drives aggression.

But, yes, there is one woman mentioned in Keller's article: Samantha Power, who argues for "humanitarian intervention" and helped him to justify his desire for war with Iraq in that way. And, more recently, we have heard from Anne-Marie Slaughter on the same subject.

So I guess the question has to be whether people, male or female, who don't see war as the best solution for a multitude of problems would ever find a place in government.

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