Friday, May 03, 2013

War is war

Some warmongers never quit. A lot of the same neocons who gave us the glorious Freedom War in Iraq, which was lead by Bush the Magnificent, Scourge of the Heathen and Liberator of Peoples, now want us to get more involved in the civil war in Syria.

The "liberal hawks" like Anne-Marie Slaughter are at it, too, arguing for American involvement in the war on putative humanitarian grounds. Aren't our motives always selfless and humanitarian when we got bomb a country and kill a lot of people there?

As Jordan Smith puts it, "The humanitarian impulse is a noble one, spurred by good intentions. But good intentions, even if they don’t pave the road to hell, can sometimes take us a good way there. Those calling for intervention in Syria should seriously consider the possibility that outside interference may be counterproductive." (The real reason not to intervene in Syria Salon 05/03/2013)

Also, what Stephen Walt says (Sloppy journalism at the New York Times Foreign Policy 05/01/2013):

The overwhelming majority of people who have doubts about the wisdom of deeper involvement in Syria -- including yours truly -- are not "isolationist." They are merely sensible people who recognize that we may not have vital interests there, that deeper involvement may not lead to a better outcome and could make things worse, and who believe that the last thing the United States needs to do is to get dragged into yet another nasty sectarian fight in the Arab/Islamic world. But many of these same skeptics still favor American engagement in key strategic areas, support maintaining a strong defense capability, and see some U.S. allies as assets rather than liabilities.

Hawks like to portray opponents of military intervention as "isolationist" because they know it is a discredited political label. Yet there is a coherent case for a more detached and selective approach to U.S. grand strategy, and one reason that our foreign policy establishment works so hard to discredit is their suspicion that a lot of Americans might find it convincing if they weren't constantly being reminded about looming foreign dangers in faraway places. The arguments in favor of a more restrained grand strategy are far from silly, and the approach makes a lot more sense to than neoconservatives' fantasies of global primacy or liberal hawks' fondness for endless quasi-humanitarian efforts to reform whole regions.

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