Times are tough for the pro-Iraq war left,
with supporters of the debacle, from Francis Fukuyama to The New Republic, now
denouncing the thing as a disaster, a crime and a lie. So no wonder the
remaining stalwarts get a little trigger-happy.

Take Pamela Bone, former Age
columnist/editor. In the most recent edition of Arena Magazine I wrote an article on the “Euston Manifesto”, a
statement of beliefs largely drafted or publicised by pro-war leftists such as
retired Marxist academic Norm Geras, and fake-Rolex Hitchens, Nick Cohen. Bone,
as the most high-profile Australian signatory, I referred to in passing as “our
own imperial feminist”.

Within days, there came back a blistering
reply from La Bone (quoted in full at leftwrites),
which we duly slotted in for the August issue, together with my reply to her
reply presuming a storm would then break over our heads.

Little did we know we’d be the last to publish
it, since within days, the reply – often without the original article – had
been released (I wonder by who?) on a range of pro-war sites, both respectable
ones and spite-slums alike, before being kicked into touch in Tim Blair’s “Continuing Crisis” column in the Bulletin.

Aside from a few irrelevancies, the main hook
of Bone’s reply (and her supporters) is mystification that she should be
mentioned, given: “I have written very little for six
months, having retired from The Age last year after having been diagnosed with
terminal cancer.”

It concludes:

Guy Rundle cannot forgive me for pointing out
three years ago what many others are now pointing out: that the idea of
international humanitarian intervention rightly belongs to the Left. Yes, that
stance took some courage. However, I may be old, weak and sick, but I have one
thing Mr Rundle will never have: guts.

Cowabunga! What can you say to
that? Well principally you can say that anyone who wants to retire from the
fray due to illness has the perfect right to be left alone. But if you want to
participate – by, for example, signing manifestos – then your opponents have a
right to criticise you. (It should also be noted that Bone, in her sign-off article
from The Age, said the doctor gave her a prognosis of between one to eight

With all due respect to Bone’s
self-description, bravery is, these days, stepping out your front door in Baghdad, not writing a
few controversial articles for The Age, and I suspect Bone’s confusion of the
two indicates why she could support a war the violence of which was always
going to be beyond anything it purported to remedy. Given that disaster, to not
call fantasies such as the “Euston manifesto” to account would be, well,

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey