CNN's Brian Stelter asked the former CBS News anchor on Sunday if he's heard a "drum beat to war" in recent weeks. The question caused Rather to shed his "journalist hat for a moment," before issuing a challenge to the pro-war voices who have only grown more ubiquitous on television lately.
Well, absolutely. Look, the war drums have been beating along the Potomac for some little while, accentuated in recent weeks and now in recent days. As a citizen — let me take my journalist hat off for a moment — but, as a citizen, this worries me a great deal. Because as a journalist who has seen war zones, I'm not padding my part here, but I've seen war up close not like the combatants do, but the savagery, the brutality of war once we put the nation at war ... All of these people on television — some of whom I have enormous respect for — but it unsettles me to hear them say, listen, we, the United States, we have to, quote, "do something" in Ukraine, we have to do something in Syria, we have to do something in the waters around China, we have to do something about what's happening in Yemen, we have to do something in Iraq, we have to do something about ISIS, what they are talking about are combat operations.
My first question to anyone who is on television saying, "We have to get tough, we need to put boots on the ground and we need to go to war in one of these places" is, I will hear you out if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war of which you are beating the drums. If you aren't, I have no patience with you, and don't even talk to me.
During an appearance on ABC, The Nation's Katrina Vanden Heuvel called on Kristol, one of the biggest boosters of the 2003 Iraq invasion, to take up the cause himself.
"I have to say, sitting next to Bill Kristol, man — I mean, the architects of catastrophe that have cost this country trillions of dollars, thousands of lives. There should be accountability," she said. “Because this country should not go back to war. We don’t need armchair warriors, and if you feel so strongly, you should, with all due respect, enlist in the Iraqi Army.”
Kristol dismissed the argument as a "very cute line."