Gnome developer Miguel de Icaza pointed to Howard Zinn's editorial on war in next month's issue of The Progressive. In it, Zinn posits that the conflict in Iraq might be the last war that the United States takes part in. He claims that war is not the natural state of humanity, and armed conflict only occurs because governments use propanganda to convince their populations of the rightness and justice of the conflict. As if to ensure that his readers do not think that he is against the use of force in all circumstances, Zinn notes that he supports "the possibility of humanitarian intervention to prevent atrocities, as in Rwanda," but not the "the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people."

He then describes the influence of Vietnam on the American public view of foreign policy:

The war in Vietnam ended with a public fed up with war. I believe that the American people, once the fog of propaganda had dissipated, had come back to a more natural state. Public opinion polls showed that people in the United States were opposed to send troops anywhere in the world, for any reason. [emphasis mine]

I would assume that "any reason" would include humanitarian intervention. Zinn fails to recall that part of the reason that the United Nations and United States did not intervene in Rwanda was public opposition to the events in Somalia just a few months before. While I will agree with Zinn that governments often justify war to their populations while hoping gain completely different advantages from conflict, an isolationist United States would miss out on the opportunity to do good as well as evil. For better or for worse, throughout this country's history, we have claimed to be a protector of liberty and democracy. While recent events have shown that the threat of American military force is not a useful deterrent to many countries, it would be extremely difficult for the government to pursue a foreign policy which would adequately defend freedom around the world when its citizens pursue isolationism. It was the anti-war attitude of the populations of England and France in the 1930s that led to the appeasement of Munich and Hitler's domination of Central Europe.

Even more troubling is Zinn's claims that the Iraq war represents a watershed in the history of American support for military action, which have no foundation in reality.

The war in Iraq has revealed the hypocrisy of the "war on terrorism." And the government of the United States, indeed governments everywhere, are becoming exposed as untrustworthy: that is, not to be entrusted with the safety of human beings, or the safety of the planet, or the guarding of its air, its water, its natural wealth, or the curing of poverty and disease, or coping with the alarming growth of natural disasters that plague so many of the six billion people on Earth.

While the war in Iraq did invalidate the war on terrorism for many on the Left, it would be ridiculous to claim that it caused a shift in how the American people view government. If anything, the large minority of people who still support the war would feel validated in the safety of government. After all, it saved them from the nuclear threat of Saddam Hussein, who was behind September 11th.

It is also a large jump from believing that the Bush and Blair administrations misled the public to becoming an anarchist, at least in my view. One should remember that unlike in the United States, there was (and is) significant opposition to the war in Iraq in Parliament. Even more damning for Zinn's claim that Iraq will show everyone everywhere the true lying nature of government, the government of France, Germany, and Russia all raised significant opposition to the war. If anything, the citizens of these countries would gain substantial trust in their governments.