Thirty years late, but better late than never.
Defensive rationalizations and intellectualizations are used to keep us from knowing uncomfortable things about ourselves. In the 1960s, in order to avoid any feelings of fear and attendant anxiety over masculinity, the war effort needed to be demonized. The original idea of “speaking truth to power” required minimal bravery. The level of danger the anti-war protesters faced was a tiny fraction of the real danger truly brave people living under brutal governments faced in Eastern Europe, or that our military men faced in Southeast Asia. Yet in order to avoid feeling scared, the war protesters needed to see themselves as bravely facing a quasi-fascist regime (LBJ and then Nixon); our protests were heroic efforts to establish and support peace and justice. In reality , the protests were nothing of the sort and millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians paid the price of our rationalizations. By demonizing the war as based on lies, immoral, imperialistic, etc (which all had a grain of truth but were clearly exaggerations and hardly the exclusive reasons for our involvement in Vietnam) the logic of our defensive edifice required the eventual cut-off of funds to the South Vietnamese, who until the military aid cut-off were more than holding their own.
We see the same need to rationalize today in Iraq. The anti-war movement, as if to re-confirm their essential morality and bravery, continue to “speak truth to power” at no real risk to themselves. In order to avoid the deeply hidden questions, maintain consistency in their rationalizations, and continue to retroactively justify their anti-Vietnam War beliefs, the anti-War campaigners are willing to once again abandon people who trusted us. Millions of Iraqis will be killed but they will feel morally superior and will continue to support the edifice of rationalizations that have sustained their image of themselves as brave rebels since the glory days of the 1960s.
I’d bet that this projection thing accounts for the spluttering, outraged “chickenhawk” assertions from a lot of these yellow-bellied blowhards, too.