If progressives believe, or know whether they believe, that exceptional measures were justifiable, but went wrong, then an entirely different replacement regime and set of reforms might make sense than if they believe common rhetoric about rule of law mattering more than all other concerns, whatever the costs or risks. On the other hand, if they believe the War on Terror was in fact a self-obviating success, then they might wish to replace the AUMF with a new legal and administrative regime that acknowledges and learns from authentic successes – successful warmaking against a real and legitimate, not simply ideologically constructed enemy – as well as from errors.
The word “hero” in contemporary usage is an unambiguously affirmative, but anodyne, secular-sounding term for the conversion of the “fallen” from tragic victims into celebrated martyrs within a long tradition, indeed within a trans-generational chain of sacrifices all the way back to the founding of the nation in revolutionary war. To deny access to this form of transcendence, as Hayes and many like him seem to want to do – are in a sense ideologically compelled to do – is to reduce whatever act of war into killing and mayhem merely, the conduct of a state possibly unworthy of allegiance at all, much less of even one individual’s life, liberty, and happiness. It is to convert the martyr symbolically into the pitiful dupe at best, the murderer or war criminal at worst.