Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

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James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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  1. Avatar Scott
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    says:

    More liberal propaganda, eh. Last time I checked, China didn’t belong to an organization like NATO that involved security guarantees to many other countries, not to mention the fact that no one calls on China to fix things when things go bad in some third world cesspool. Please get back to us when the two things are actually comparable.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Scott
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      says:

      No defender of empire indeed.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott
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      says:

      Scott,
      Thanks for the laugh. I’ve had a lousy morning, and I needed it.Report

      • Avatar mark boggs in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        It’s not funny, James. Bearing the white man’s burden is hard work. Certainly something no chinese man could do.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to mark boggs
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          says:

          If not me, who?

          If not now, when?

          lol jkReport

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to mark boggs
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          says:

          Since you brought it up, let’s read “White Man’s Burden” again. I love me some Kipling…

          Take up the White Man’s burden–
          Send forth the best ye breed–
          Go bind your sons to exile
          To serve your captives’ need;
          To wait in heavy harness,
          On fluttered folk and wild–
          Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
          Half-devil and half-child.

          Take up the White Man’s burden–
          In patience to abide,
          To veil the threat of terror
          And check the show of pride;
          By open speech and simple,
          An hundred times made plain
          To seek another’s profit,
          And work another’s gain.

          Take up the White Man’s burden–
          The savage wars of peace–
          Fill full the mouth of Famine
          And bid the sickness cease;
          And when your goal is nearest
          The end for others sought,
          Watch sloth and heathen Folly
          Bring all your hopes to nought.

          Take up the White Man’s burden–
          No tawdry rule of kings,
          But toil of serf and sweeper–
          The tale of common things.
          The ports ye shall not enter,
          The roads ye shall not tread,
          Go mark them with your living,
          And mark them with your dead.

          Take up the White Man’s burden–
          And reap his old reward:
          The blame of those ye better,
          The hate of those ye guard–
          The cry of hosts ye humour
          (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
          “Why brought he us from bondage,
          Our loved Egyptian night?”

          Take up the White Man’s burden–
          Ye dare not stoop to less–
          Nor call too loud on Freedom
          To cloke your weariness;
          By all ye cry or whisper,
          By all ye leave or do,
          The silent, sullen peoples
          Shall weigh your gods and you.

          Take up the White Man’s burden–
          Have done with childish days–
          The lightly proferred laurel,
          The easy, ungrudged praise.
          Comes now, to search your manhood
          Through all the thankless years
          Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
          The judgment of your peers!
          Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        I guess if you can’t refute what I said then claiming you laughed must be the best non-answer response in order to appear to be clever.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott
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          says:

          Feel free to believe that, Scott. But I’ll send you a bottle of decent scotch if you can free yourself from your ideological blinders long enough to work out the rebuttal on your own.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
            Ignored
            says:

            As someone who thinks that Scott does have a point of sorts hidden behind his laughably unenlightened world view, I’ll try to rephrase his point to see what the response to it is. (I’ll make it enlightened, though.)

            With great power comes great responsibility.

            While it is certainly true that the US spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined, the US has more international responsibilities than the rest of the world combined.

            People forget that, after WWII, there was *BY NECESSITY* a huge American occupation in Europe. West Germany (and certainly West Berlin) survived only because of this excess force we threw around. When it came to the Korean War and the Vietnam War, we were doing everything we could to fight against what we thought was an inevitable movement toward Communism.

            It’s easy to laugh at the idea of Communism now but, at the time, there were serious thoughts that this system was a threat to the world as a whole (how naive we were!).

            The aftermath of Japanese Rule of Korea (a story worth revisiting) had the Soviets in charge of North Korea and the Godless Capitalists in charge of South Korea… and an American presence is required in South Korea to this day.

            Vietnam had us intervening in a former French colony against the Soviets yet again… and we saw what happened after American withdrawal in 1975… where the argument is that the US didn’t get out quickly enough. In Vietnam itself, however, there was all of this collectivization, the Cambodian Killing Fields, and so on and so forth. I have seen it argued, seriously (and not just by right-wing dead-enders!), that these massacres are on America’s head.

            When it comes to natural disasters, one of the major questions is always “when will the Americans get here?” There are any number of such examples from the last 10 years, let alone the last 20. Going back further gets us well within the period of the cold war where, yes, the US was seen as the de facto responsible party for 50% of the world (and send food aid to the other half because, for some reason, collectivization wasn’t working).

            At the same time that this was going on, there was a group called The John Birch Society that argued, among other things, that the rest of the world wasn’t any of our freaking business and we should pull out of the UN and leave the rest of the world to rot (or succeed) on its own. This viewpoint was seen as completely unrealistic (to put it kindly).

            Why? Because with great power comes great responsibility. Even today, when some disaster hits, the US is criticized for not doing enough. When North Korea gets all antsy, the criticism is that the US should be engaging in one on one talks rather than the six-party talks it’s asking for.

            It seems that no matter what the US does, the US gets criticized for it.

            Now the Birchers having been exiled to crackpot territory… and the US is being criticized for taking too much responsibility for the rest of the world.

            Why is this surprising to anyone who has been paying attention?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Scott
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      says:

      So are you cool with the rest of the world freeloading on us? Because that’s the real problem that I have with U.S. military policy. We take our money, our talented young men and women, and ship them overseas to defend people who ought to be defending themselves, and who are perfectly capable of doing so.

      As a fun mental exercise, picture a welfare queen. Now picture every client state in our orbit, almost all of whom are receiving U.S. defense spending largesse. The U.S. isn’t the moral equivalent of China, but there is a moral equivalence here.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Personally, I’m pleased that isolationism is making a comeback.

    Let’s hope that it gets somewhere this time.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Because American isolationism worked out so well in 1914.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        I think it worked pretty well in 1914 and might have worked better if the US had continued it through the duration of that war. Of course, I’m eliding a lot of questions about whether WWI was a just war, whether the US should have entered (I personally believe the answer is, no, but your mileage may vary) and whether an earlier or more “proactive” (or at least more competent) intervention might have ended things sooner and with a more amicable peace.

        Of course, isolationism worked less well in the 1930s.Report

      • Avatar Fish in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        1914 had nothing to do with us. In 1914 we were a third-rate world power too busy supplying Japan with the raw materials they’d need to construct a navy so we could sink it in 1942.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Fish
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          says:

          There are historical records of German deliberations regarding hostilities and military buildups, and the general consensus was that Germany could probably beat Britain, but only if the United States didn’t get involved. Wilson declaring that America wouldn’t get involved in European wars was what allowed World War I to start in the first place.

          Oh, and for another triumph of American nonintervention policy, see the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

          I know it’s very satisfying to claim that the enlightened, intellectually- and morally-defensible position is to let all the woggies kill each other, but we’re well past the point in world societal development where America can close its borders and say “got mine, fuck you”.Report

          • Avatar Fish in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            I wouldn’t really consider myself an isolationist. I would, however, prefer that the United States use it’s military might a bit more…judiciously? Say yes to Bosnia and no to Iraq, perhaps?

            I’d argue that Germany was more concerned about Britain coming to the defense of France than they were the United States. I’d also argue that Germany backing Austria-Hungary’s invasion of Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was what started the Great War, but I’d have to acknowledge that as being a great oversimplification. The so-called “balance of power” in Europe, the Schleiffen Plan, France’s almost mystical belief in the superiority of the French soldier, etc. etc. Wilson was dead-set on keeping the US out of any European conflict, and even sat for two years after the sinking of the Lusitania before entering the war.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            I know it’s very satisfying to claim that the enlightened, intellectually- and morally-defensible position is to let all the woggies kill each other, but we’re well past the point in world societal development where America can close its borders and say “got mine, fuck you”.

            Please refrain from imputing racist terminology to your opponents. Even by your own standards, it does not apply, because “my” side in this debate, insofar as I even have one, opposed entry into World War I, a conflict where we helped one caucasian alliance defeat another caucasian alliance.

            As to closing the borders, I have never advocated any such thing. Indeed, my beliefs on immigration are such that you would probably condemn those too, not for being putatively racist, but for giving far too much to those who don’t share my pigmentational deficiencies.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            D. Duck,

            So it’s the U.S.’s responsibility to stop every invasion around the world? a) So why didn’t we throw our military in to stop Russia’s invasion of Georgia, and b) Who’s responsibility is it to stop us when we unilaterally invade, say, Iraq? Or Panama? Or Grenada?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              So why didn’t we throw our military in to stop Russia’s invasion of Georgia

              Maybe I was hanging out on different webpages but I saw many, many calls for us to do EXACTLY that.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                So did I, but that was a game our military industrial complex didn’t actually want to get into, was it? We’re all about easy wins here in the home of the brave. Little countries without nukes, watch your asses. Why do you think Iran wants nukes so bad?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                that was a game our military industrial complex didn’t actually want to get into, was it?

                Some of the calls for such (that I’m familiar with, anyway) came from people deeply entwined within the military industrial complex.

                It’s more complex than just a handful of editors at Redstate screaming for war with Russia as they dream of Reagan.Report

          • Avatar Barry in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            “There are historical records of German deliberations regarding hostilities and military buildups, and the general consensus was that Germany could probably beat Britain, but only if the United States didn’t get involved”

            Do you really think that the USA had the ground force power projection in 1914 to do this? And to do it quickly enough to make a difference in 1914?Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Barry
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              says:

              Are you seriously saying that WWI was an entirely ground-based affair, that no naval action of consequence occurred, and that naval issues were never more than a passing concern?Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        And what would have happened if the US hadn’t entered WWI? Sure Britiain would probably have lost the war, but why is that so terrible? Britain wasn’t in the right in that war, no one was. It was a stupid war without even hypothetical merits, and the US prolonged the stupidity by joining in.

        And I say this as someone whose country was still part of the British Empire at the time. Hell, if the war had ended sooner it would have given English officers less of a chance to kill my countrymen with their incompetence.Report

  3. Avatar Pierre Corneille
    Ignored
    says:

    Mr. Hanley,

    I’m sympathetic with the point you, via Mr. Bacevich, are trying to make. The hypothetical example you offer certainly gives some insight about how the rest of the world might view the actions of the U.S.

    But at the same time, as a couple others have pointed out, there are certain reasons things are this way, stemming at least back to WWII and earlier. Now that the US is in this system of power, largesse, obligations, and responsibilities, its actions are less egregious than the hypothetical actions of the PRC. The PRC, if it embarked on the policy in your hypothetical, would be viewed as an aggressor seeking to impose its hegemony on the world. The US already has its hegemony, which largely came about after a world war (although there were other precedents) in which it was the principal victor. Now, this hegemony may be unsustainable and immoral and arrogant in its operation–and the fact that the US “got there first” doesn’t make it right–but the current state of affairs distinguishes the hypothetical from what is the case for the US.

    I realize, of course, that every analogy is by definition imperfect, and perhaps I am stressing the disanalogies too much.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      Indeed, let’s put it a different way. Let’s say that some private citizen decided that they were going to start their own police and fire departments, with a full range of equipment and installations, and they claimed the same traffic-control and law-enforcement priviledges as the extant departments.

      Would we claim that this invalidates the notion of police and fire departments?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        D. Duck,

        I’ll take bad analogies for $100, Alex.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          Here’s the part where you explain why the analogy is bad and why its failures render it useless as an argument.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            Actually, as with Scott, I was hoping that the density isn’t so thick that I have to do all the heavy lifting.

            It’s apparently really easy to delude ourselves, as Americans, into thinking that all our involvement in the world really is well-intentioned, and we’re only doing it for the good of everyone, although why it’s still so easy half a century after Prez Ike warned us not to be such fools is a bit of a mystery to me.

            America’s actions are about world dominance. It’s about power and lust for control, no less than it ever has been for other empires. Sure, it’s always covered in a veneer of doing good for others, but then the Brits always managed to persuade themselves that they were bringing civilization to the savages, too.

            Or are you going to seriously argue that Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld had a benign and noble vision for helping humanity?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              “Actually, as with Scott, I was hoping that the density isn’t so thick that I have to do all the heavy lifting.”

              Does this work?

              I mean, seriously. Does this usually shame the people who disagree with you into stopping disagreeing with you?

              I tend to write essays and essays and essays in response in the hopes of tiring the opposition out (because, seriously, I think about this stuff all the time and I usually have an AND ANOTHER THING rolling around in my brain).

              Mocking the people who disagree with me seems like it’d take less effort.

              Does it work for you? (Personally, I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t result in pushback that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.)Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                No, of course it doesn’t work. But with certain types of people, serious argumentation doesn’t work, either. And anyone who automatically responds with “America, Fuck Yeah!” as their argument seems highly likely to be the type of person on whom serious argumentation doesn’t work. So if there’s a choice between two ineffective strategies, why not take the one that’s not only less effort, but more amusing as well?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Let’s say that some private citizen decided that they were going to start their own police and fire departments, with a full range of equipment and installations, and they claimed the same traffic-control and law-enforcement priviledges as the extant departments.

                Would we claim that this invalidates the notion of police and fire departments?

                This is an “America, Fuck Yeah!” argument?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Yes, it is, because it assumes without thought the very argument that Bacevich is critiquing, that America is just helping out the world as its kindly neighborhood policeman and putting out fires.

                “Gee, America is all good and can’t do no wrong” = “America, fuck yeah.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                That was a “Gee, America is all good and can’t do no wrong” argument?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                Yes, I believe it was.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                Duck? Can you weigh in on whether this argument was, in fact, an “America can do no wrong” argument?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                “Duck? Can you weigh in on whether this argument was, in fact, an “America can do no wrong” argument?”

                No, it is not. In the hypothetical I proposed, there are completely-functional and demonstrably effective police and fire departments.

                James Hanley’s argument…well, I’m not sure what he’s actually arguing. He seems to be inventing an argument that I didn’t make and responding to that argument.

                I guess if you insist on mapping my analogy one-to-one with consensus reality, then yes, I could be claiming that America fills the role for the world as a whole that is, on a local level, filled by police and fire departments. But…so? Is he saying that police and fire departments are unnecessary? Is he saying that the Chinese would do a better job of maintaining global order than America, and so we should let them do it? Even granting this extension, I’m left wondering where we’re supposed to go with it.

                Of course, the answer to my original hypothetical is “no”, and that pretty much blows the shit out of his OP, so I can understand why he wouldn’t want to engage it.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, saying “my country’s action X is legitimate, but your country’s action X isn’t,” sure sounds like a “my country, fuck yeah,” argument to me.

                But if Duck wasn’t saying America’s claim to police and fire protection authority was legitimate and China’s not, then I don’t know what the analogy was about.

                And if he is suggesting that I or Bacevich is arguing that intervention is never legitimate, well, that’s stretching the point well beyond recognition. Sort of like saying that someone who criticizes the police for brutality is arguing against having any police.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                And–just to make this absolutely clear–“policemen exist” is not an “America Fuck Yeah!” argument.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                Well, all I can say then, is that I apologize. I apparently misunderstood your analogy. I still do, so I won’t say anything more about it.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      Pierre,

      You’re halfway there. Indeed a major part of Mr. Bacevich’s argument is to get us to think about how the rest of the world looks at us. But the other part is to make us think twice about whether the U.S.’s posture in the world really is just an inevitable and beneficial outcome of WWII, or whether it’s actually a nefarious power grab. We certainly didn’t have military bases in something like 90 countries at the end of WWII–that all came later.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        James:

        Are you really so naive so as to see our stationing of forces around the world as a “nefarious power grab?” I seriously doubt that we would have except for the soviets and their violent attempts to spreed communion. If it hadn’t been for the commies I think the US would have stuck its head back in the ground and enjoyed the 50’s. What do you think the purposes of NATO and SEATO were?

        Maybe you and Bacevich missed it, but this country cut its military forces at the end of the cold war b/c we didn’t need them anymore and we cut back on the number of bases around the world. We would have continued to cut the military but we were attacked on 9/11.

        I for one would be happy if we quit sending our money and troops to every third world cesspool as I could care less if a bunch of foreigners starve or kill each other, unless our national security interests are at stake.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott
          Ignored
          says:

          Scott,

          a) Naivete is a good description of anyone who believes the U.S. hasn’t been engaging in power grabs.

          b) Bacevich is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army. I doubt he missed the drawdown of forces.

          c) You really think not drawing down our forces would have prevented 9/11? Thanks for my second good laugh of the day.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley
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            says:

            a)Sure, we grab power just like the commies have done, that a nice fantasy.
            c) When did I say such a thing, never, so please stop lying about what I did say. I only said that if 9/11 had not occurred that the US would have continued to draw down our forces as we had been.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott
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              says:

              And exactly how did a ragtag bunch of terrorists who got lucky create any real justification for expanding our number of troops again?

              And perhaps you didn’t notice that during our drawdown, the U.S. still had far more forces than multiple other countries combined, and large proportions of the American right wing howled about how Clinton was decimating American military readiness, and the neo-cons kept casting about looking for the next enemy so they could justify continued American military expansion? You have absolutely no way to prove that we would have continued to draw down our forces in the absence of 9/11, especially as 9/11 was such a weak pretext for a re-expansion of our forces that it demonstrates that a lot of people were just looking for an excuse.

              And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, when you start with a nonsense statement like, “liberal propaganda,” you’ve set yourself up with a real hard slog to ever persuade me that you’re not just a knee-jerk ideologue not worth taking seriously.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                “And exactly how did a ragtag bunch of terrorists who got lucky create any real justification for expanding our number of troops again?”

                In the days that followed 9/11, there were a ton of folks who were screaming for blood. I honestly suspect that the US, at least as far as its citizens were concerned, could have gotten away with the use of nuclear weapons for the first few days or so.

                Expanding the number of troops in order to go start two different wars at once was the USG acting with restraint.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                So your argument is, “we could have been worse, but we weren’t, so we’re good”?

                I’ll remember that the next time I only punch my wife instead of shooting her.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                To answer your question: No. That is not my argument.

                Additionally: You should not punch your wife. Nor should you shoot her.

                Addendum: You should not read my “Additionally” that my argument is that you should only slap your wife with an open hand. That is not my argument either.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Exactly, even greater restraint is called for, in my opinion, in both cases. My point is that I can’t praise the U.S. for “only” re-expanding its military anymore than I would expect someone to praise me for “only” punching my wife.

                I agree Bush might have–domestically–been able to get away with bombing Kabul. But that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that anything and/or everything short of that qualifies as restraint.Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                This sounds like an “America, Fuck Yeah!” agrument.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        I certainly have no problem characterizing post-WWII US hegemony as a power grab, and I’m sympathetic to anything that demonstrates contingency over inevitability.

        At the same time, I confess to an almost reflexive belief in the power of institutionalized norms to have a large, almost commanding influence on the set of policy choices that state actors believe open to them. The post-WWII world, and especially post Greece Revolution and post Berlin Blockade, US policymakers had made certain commitments that guided their successors. The US may not have had ~90 bases in 1945, but as quickly as 15 years later, it either did or was well on its way.

        I don’t write any of this to justify the decisions that were made that put the US in this position, but I do think that the persons grasping for power have a tendency to deceive even themselves in believing that their choices are constrained. (On the other hand, this assumes a certain amount of good faith among state actors, an attribute that didn’t necessarily apply then any more than it does now or during the Bush years.)Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Pierre Corneille
          Ignored
          says:

          I confess to an almost reflexive belief in the power of institutionalized norms to have a large, almost commanding influence on the set of policy choices that state actors believe open to them

          Oh, that’s absolutely true, and it’s really at the heart of Bacevich’s argument. But what he argues is that our interpretation of what those norms really are about is wrong. It’s absolutely the institutionalized norm that the U.S. must be everywhere, and must have the dominant position every place. But the public belief in the why of that is based on a great deception.

          Bacevich himself notes that throughout his military career he bought into this American paradigm, and it was only late in his career, post cold-war and after, that he began to see how much the real threat level didn’t justify our expenditures and investments level.

          For example, JFK running on a platform of closing the “missile gap,” when in fact the real gap was actually already in our favor. And the real weaknesses of the Soviet military, and their inferior equipment that no one in the U.S. could point out without being shouted down. Etc. Etc.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Farmer
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    says:

    James, can you give us some guidelines on how to disagree with what you write, so that we don’t have to be the recipients of your indignant sniffs? Do you require a short essay stating how your position is mostly brilliant, but a few minor issues are worth clarification?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Farmer
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      says:

      (We’ve established that this one doesn’t work)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Sure, make intelligent arguments (or at least funny ones). That is, don’t come across as just a thoughtless ideologue.

        Scott hasn’t said anything that appears to be more than a right-wing talking point, so I’m not that inclined to take him seriously.

        Density Duck actually only made one argument that I responded snarkily to, which was the silly analogy that treated the U.S. as a legitimate police force and fire department and any Chinese effort to do the same as illegitimate. I didn’t critique his other comments because they weren’t silly.

        Look at Pierre Cornielle’s comment. He’s seriously grappling with the issue rather than making simplistic claims. I argue a point with him, but I don’t indignantly sniff at him.

        I didn’t get into the WWI argument, because it was, I thought, an intelligent exchange to which I couldn’t add any value.

        And notice that I didn’t jab at Jaybird’s first long post about the inevitability and value to the world of U.S. involvement because, while I think he (she?) definitely overstates the case, he made good reasoned arguments–specifics, instead of simple rhetoric. (And it wasn’t clear that it was really Jaybird’s own argument, so attacking him (her?) for it would have been beyond the pale.

        Oh, and Mark Boggs’ comment was funny. Always a plus.Report

        • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          So we should use Cornielle’s response as a template to go from? But, what if Scott is a right-winger? Wouldn’t all his responses sound like a right-winger? Should he practice sounding like a No Labels member? And, what Jaybird and I noticed is not real?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Farmer
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            says:

            Cornielle’s, BSK’s, Jaybird’s, Jason ‘s.

            As to whether Scott is a right-winger, is it impossible for right-wingers to give a thoughtful, as opposed to a knee-jerk, response? If so, then I’ll never treat a right-winger politely. But despite the models presented by Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, etc., I’d like to think it’s possible for a right-winger to not be so reflexively pro-American militarism that they can discuss the issue thoughtfully.

            But if y’all are asking me to be nice in response to what I think are silly arguments, I’m afraid that’s just not too likely to happen. Out of respect for the rules of the blog, I won’t call people a**holes, f**ktards, dipsh*ts and the like, but I will indulge in indignant sniffs.

            In this case, though, my sniffs were really directed at the assumption that any criticism of the American international military domination paradigm could only be liberal propaganda, and what was a clear failure to pause to think about whether the world might ever look at us, and think there was reason to distrust us, just as we would if China followed our policies. There was, indeed, an assumption of “America good, China bad,” that smacks of simplistic jingoism, and there are few things I disrespect more than jingoism.Report

  5. Avatar BSK
    Ignored
    says:

    JH-

    Great post. I’m constantly bothered when America acts as if it gets to decide who does and doesn’t get nuclear technology. Who decided we got it? Does the fact that we dropped the first bomb give us the moral authority to determine who deserves it? Fuck no. It’s one thing if we decide we aren’t going to sell technology to a given country. But to demand that another country (such as Iran) must not develop nuclear technology (regardless of the intent) is the height of arrogance. It’s the epitome of “Do what I say, not what I do.”Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BSK
      Ignored
      says:

      An insightful response, BSK.

      (There, see? Call me brilliant. That works, too.)Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Actually. I take all that back. I forgot. We’re the GOOD guys. It’s different.

        See, when we dropped the bomb on Japan, we were good and they were bad. But now they’re sorta good and on our side. So, we’re not really sorry, but we probably won’t do it again.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BSK
          Ignored
          says:

          Mr. BSK—before I reply, I just want to make sure I understand your comments correctly. Are you really trying to draw a moral equivalency between the actions of Japan and the actions of United States during WW2? To me at least, this cannot be interpreted in any other way: “I forgot. We’re the GOOD guys. It’s different.” That sarcasm implicitly expresses moral equivalency and the idea that we are the good guys is just a lot jingoistic rah-rah-rah, cheerleading.
          And this: “See, when we dropped the bomb on Japan, we were good and they were bad.” Well, yes, we were the good guys. And yes, they were the bad guys. It really is that simple. I would very much like to hear how you’re able to your blinders on and dismiss this: The rape of Nanking. Men, women, children slaughtered in streets by the thousands– piles of corpses left to rot in the streets. In a six week period, 150,000 civilians slaughtered by invading Japanese. The Laha massacre: 300+ allied soldiers beheaded and tossed into a mass grave. Philippines Massacre: in Manilla 800+ men, women, and children machine gunned on grounds of St. Paul’s college. Calamba, civilians executed by the thousands. Town after town suffers same fate. All toll, 72 large scale massacres resulting in well over 170,000 murdered. Then you have the Bangka Island Massacre, the Parit Sulong Massacre, Tol Plantation Massacre, the Chekiang Massacre lasting for years–over 30,000,000 Chinese civilians killed. Yes, that’s right–thirty million civilians murdered. So you tell me, who were the bad guys and who were the good guys.Report

          • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger
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            says:

            BSK– Are there NO good guys and bad guys in your moral worldview? Is it your opinion that the liberation of Europe, and most of Asia during WWII, was just a display of breast beating jingoism?Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Heidegger
              Ignored
              says:

              Even if there are good guys and bad guys, are there no limits on the good guys pursuit of bad guys? And if you attack alleged bad guys everywhere with little restraint, can you remain a good guy?

              And given that we’ve actually aided coups against democratically elected governments and invaded others without provocation, can we unambiguously claim good guy status?

              I call New Zealand a good guy–they don’t look for other countries to muck with.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                James writes: “Even if there are good guys and bad guys, are there no limits on the good guys pursuit of bad guys”? Come on now James, are you really saying Japan’s conduct during WWII is a matter of moral relativism? You don’t think the massacres I just listed justifiably characterizes them as the “bad guys”? I was hoping the moral relativist tag could not be placed on your shoulders. Sigh…guess I’m wrong. “And if you attack alleged bad guys everywhere with little restraint, can you remain a good guy?? Yes. When your enemies are Germany, Italy, and Japan during WWII. What’s with this, “alleged”? Do you seriously argue that said countries committed unspeakable atrocities?Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                Heidigger-

                There definitely is right and wrong; the last thing I am is a moral relatavist. My larger point was that most folks start from an implicitly biased perspective of always being on the “right” side of things and whomever opposes them (or whomever they oppose) is inherently on the “wrong” side of things.

                How would Americans have felt if a foreign nation had invaded antebellum America to put an end to slavery? Oh wait. That sort of did happen, with the Civil War. Wait, I mean, the War of Nothern Aggression. See what I’m getting at?Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to BSK
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                says:

                And, the fact remains, even if we are starting from a morally superior position, that doesn’t change the morality of specific actions. Is it more okay for a priest to kill someone than a junkie (apologies for such a crappy juxtaposition of priest/junkie, but you get the point)? No. If an action is wrong, it’s wrong. It doesn’t matter who is doing it. Are there some actions that are context specific? Absolutely. I’d give a gun to an adult rather than a child, because of the responsibility that comes with that power. But I wouldn’t give either the right to commit heinous acts with that gun.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BSK
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                says:

                Phew. I was worried there for a moment, BSK. Not having heard from you for awhile, your comments somewhat suggested (to me, at least) that you felt the United States was on the same moral footing as Japan during WWII. Also, I would not characterize folks who believe they are on the right side as “biased.” It really is possible that they are, in fact, on the right side and their opposition is on the wrong side.Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                Heidegger-

                When I used “good guys” and “bad guys” as I did, I was referring more to the us vs them mentality than the actual moral distinctions present. Many people think it was right because it was us and everything we do is good. That is bias. I think most people are guilty of this bias, regardless of where they hail from. But I do think there is a unique brand of American arrogance and hubris.Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                Of course, that is possibly the result of a different type of “home team” bias.

                But, if you start from a stand point of being inherently on the “right” side, it is going to color your judgments. It doesn’t make you a bad person… it makes you human.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Heidegger
                Ignored
                says:

                Heidegger,

                You’re sticking to the easy cases. My interest is not what the U.S. did in WWII, but what they’ve done since then.

                But if you want to go there, while I don’t see any goodness in what Japan did, I’d point out that if we hadn’t decided we wanted to colonize south Pacific Islands, we wouldn’t have come into conflict with them. You do realize that Hawaii was an independent country that we invaded, occupied, and “anschlussed” (if I may be permitted such a grammatical perversion)? And are you aware of what we did in the Philippines post Spanish-American war? Can anyone who recognizes these facts honestly make a simple categorization of the U.S. as simply “the good guys?”Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                This is the problem with a simplistic good vs bad worldview. There are no good guys and bad guys. There are states that have engaged in a variety of behaviors, some good, some bad, some neutral. Have some engaged in more good than bad? Yes. Have others engaged in more bad than good? Yes. Ultimately, does it matter? Not really. When you’re right, you’re right. And when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Regardless of how often you have been right or wrong in the past. I don’t care if America’s reputation was impeccable up until a point… if we suddenly did something morally repugnant, than the actually would rightly be called so. Does it mean every American is bad? No. Let’s try to introduce at least a wee bit of nuance into our evaluation, shall we?Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BSK
      Ignored
      says:

      BSK writes: “But to demand that another country (such as Iran) must not develop nuclear technology (regardless of the intent) is the height of arrogance.”
      James responds: “An insightful response, BSK.”

      Judging from your response, I will assume, James Hanley, that you are in agreement with BSK’s statement that for the United States to demand that another country–Iran, in this case—not develop nuclear technology is the height of arrogance. Do you guys have any idea of how utterly reckless and irresponsible these statements are? I challenge you, Mr, Hanley, to begin the next class you teach, with the statement, that you think the United States’ demand to Iran, to not develop nuclear technology, regardless of the intent (i.e. produce nuclear weapons) represents the height of arrogance. Go ahead. I DARE you. I double DARE you. Oh, and by the way, gentlemen—THE WHOLE FREAKING WORLD is making the EXACT SAME DEMAND!! (including the UN whom they have repeatedly failed to cooperate with) Go ahead, read the IAEA. Go read the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; Go read the Biological Weapons Convention; the Chemical Weapons Convention. All, of which Iran is a signatory. Iran’s reply: “We don’t need no stinkin’ treaties”. And then there is the little problem that they’d like to wipe (incinerate) Israel off the map. Hey, in case you didn’t notice, this is a brutally repressive country. Just ask the students who participated in demonstrations in the streets. Thousands arrested, beaten, killed. And we’re the arrogant ones. Just NUTS. Really nuts.Report

      • Avatar Bucky in reply to Heidegger
        Ignored
        says:

        You DOUBLE DARE?

        Okay then.

        You win the argument.

        I mean, if you had only DARED then I might be suspicious of the validity of your comments.

        But since your DOUBLE DARED!

        I realize that obviously you have the superior argument.

        Good job, Heidegger.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Bucky
          Ignored
          says:

          Bucky, I should have known that you would have chimed in with such an absurd comment. Hey, just jump on the damn, DEATH TO AMERICA, bandwagon. America=EVIL. Iran=just trying to protect herself for Zionists and American Crusaders!
          Time to fire up the nukes and get rid of those shifty, sneaky Jews once and for all!Report

          • Avatar Bucky in reply to Heidegger
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            says:

            Yes, Heidegger, that is exactly what I said.

            Calling you out on your childish schoolyard taunts is the same as saying DEATH TO AMERICA.

            What are you, twelve?Report

          • Avatar Scott Hanley in reply to Heidegger
            Ignored
            says:

            Hey, just jump on the damn, DEATH TO AMERICA, bandwagon. America=EVIL. Iran=just trying to protect herself for Zionists and American Crusaders!

            In all seriousness, Heidegger: is it truly impossible to consider that the US can engaged in self-centered foreign policy, just like other countries? Or that other countries are looking out for their own best interests, just as the US does? Because you’re never going to comprehend this discussion — or the world, for that matter — until you can at least take a stab at putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott Hanley
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              says:

              If we assume that everybody is merely looking out for their own best interests, what’s wrong with what we’re doing?

              Hey, we’re just doing what everybody else would do.

              There’s an argument that we ought to be better than everybody else, I suppose, but that seems to have as its fundamental assumption that we *CAN* be better than everybody else. Is this assumption warranted? If so, why not push for us to be better than we are while still doing what everybody else is doing? Is it necessarily wrong to assume that, maybe, we are better than the other folks who have done similar? (For example, would it be fair to compare the Russian occupation of Afghanistan to the American occupation? Would it be fair to compare the American occupation of South Korea to the Japanese occupation of South Korea? If not, why not?)

              If it is the case that different folks have worn these shoes throughout history, why wouldn’t it be fair to hold ourselves up to the bar of “what has happened before” rather than to some idealistic bar that has never been reached by anybody, anywhere, ever?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                If we assume that everybody is merely looking out for their own best interests, what’s wrong with what we’re doing?

                Well, there’s that whole is/ought distinction, yes?

                Or as your mom may have said once upon a time, “if everybody else jumped off a roof, would that mean you should do it, too?”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                There’s an argument that we ought to be better than everybody else, I suppose, but that seems to have as its fundamental assumption that we *CAN* be better than everybody else. Is this assumption warranted? If so, why not push for us to be better than we are while still doing what everybody else is doing? Is it necessarily wrong to assume that, maybe, we are better than the other folks who have done similar? (For example, would it be fair to compare the Russian occupation of Afghanistan to the American occupation? Would it be fair to compare the American occupation of South Korea to the Japanese occupation of South Korea? If not, why not?)

                If it is the case that different folks have worn these shoes throughout history, why wouldn’t it be fair to hold ourselves up to the bar of “what has happened before” rather than to some idealistic bar that has never been reached by anybody, anywhere, ever?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Am I pushing for anything more than for us to be better than we are? I mean, even if we can actually be better than everybody, we have to pass through the stage of simply being better than we are before we can get there. And I’d just like to push us along that path and see how far it’s possible for us to get.

                But I think we can be better than others, and I think that assumption is warranted because, to use your example, I think an objective assessment of our occupation of South Korea would rate it as qualitatively better for the occupied people than was the Japanese occupation. But it’s not South Korea that worries me. It’s the need to have military bases everywhere, and the belief that we alone have legitimate authority to determine if our invasions of other countries are legitimate.

                As to your final paragraph, no, I just can’t agree. The essence of progress is striving to improve upon the best that has come before. Particularly if the standard is appallingly low, as it arguably is, we should not settle for it.Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                Aren’t we wandering into dangerous territory? Being the “best” at occupying might implicitly indicate that there was something desirable about what we did there. Honestly, I can’t speak to the specifics of South Korea, but the use of the term “occupier” makes me doubt the ‘goodness’ of our actions there.

                That would be like saying, “Yea, we were the nicest to our slaves.” Being the best at a bad thing (best as in doing it the least bad way, not the best at being bad) is still a bad thing. It’s LESS bad than how others did it, but still bad.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                And I’d just like to push us along that path and see how far it’s possible for us to get.

                And fair enough. How can you distinguish between inability to move further and laziness/wickedness/veniality resulting in insufficient will to move further?

                I, personally, look at what has been done in the past and compare us to that to get a baseline. I know of no other way to get a realistic baseline. Heck, as such, I say I’m a fan of looking at the US and think about why they are doing what they do and to think about what I would do in their position.

                Are these unreasonable things to think about when it comes to the US? If not, why not?

                It’s the need to have military bases everywhere, and the belief that we alone have legitimate authority to determine if our invasions of other countries are legitimate.

                How did those ubiquitous military bases get to be ubiquitous?

                Compare to other civilizations that had ubiquitous bases. Did we do better than they did? Compare to other invasions. Did we do better?

                The essence of progress is striving to improve upon the best that has come before. Particularly if the standard is appallingly low, as it arguably is, we should not settle for it.

                If my argument is not “that we should settle for appallingly low” but that “we are doing better than all that have come before despite ourselves”, is that not notable in and of itself?

                Indeed, if we look at, say, Iran and say “well, we can’t judge them harshly” and look at, say, China and say “well, we can’t judge them harshly” and look at, say, Russia and say “well, we can’t judge them harshly”, what allows us the ability to judge the US harshly?

                If we say “well, if we were Russia, we’d probably do the same thing”, why get upset when we do the same thing as Russia?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                Jaybird,

                Maybe we can’t distinguish, but that’s not a very good argument for not trying. “I don’t know if I’ve reached the limits of my abilities, or if I just need to work harder–so I guess I’ll just give up,” isn’t exactly the kind of decision that would lead us to respect someone.

                As to “how did those ubiquitous bases get to be so ubiquitous,” I think it’s because Americans have been convinced that they have a right to be everywhere. We’ve often bullied our way onto those bases, or outstayed our welcome (see, Okinawa).

                If my argument is not “that we should settle for appallingly low” but that “we are doing better than all that have come before despite ourselves”, is that not notable in and of itself?

                Sure, but does it mean that we should not point out when we do error? Does it mean we should not point out that other countries take offense at our actions?

                And I certainly haven’t argued that we can’t look at other countries and judge them harshly. I’m just saying that we ought to judge the U.S. by the same standards, not different ones, and not be surprised when others judge us by the same standards.

                And recognizing that if you were in someone’s shoes you’d do the same thing doesn’t mean you support their action–once again (for, what, the third time?), I’m not saying I support Iran having a nuke. But the point of recognizing why someone is doing something is so that you can make a more realistic assessment of a) how you can best change their incentives, and b) whether in fact your own actions are part of the cause of them doing that.

                I don’t see that as such a difficult concept, and I sure as hell don’t see it as being approving of Iran’s nuclear goals.Report

              • Avatar Scott Hanley in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                CAN we be better than everybody else? I think the response “not bloody likely” pretty much explains James’s hostility to all global hegemony, even American hegemony. Power is not to be trusted and you should never trust in the innate goodness of your people and your leaders.

                I see no contradiction in saying we are not inherently better than other people and also saying we should try to be better than the most historical examples. That’s why you take a humble, self-critical approach. The point is, if you want to do better, you’re sure to fail if you insist from the beginning that your inherent goodness justifies everything you do. This is what the “America, Fuck yeah!” outlook is all about, pretending that Dirty Harry is real life and that you can break all the rules of decent behavior because you’re the Good Guy and you’re only attacking Bad Guys.

                Americans went along with a pair of colossal, almost inconceivably stupid foreign-policy blunders, not because they were aspiring to be better than other global hegemons in the past, but because they unthinkingly assumed that they already were and that any decent person would see it, too. And that anyone who didn’t see it that way was, therefore, not a decent person. And then suddenly you have Abu Ghraib and wonder why people can’t tell the difference between your torturers and the Bad Guys’ torturers.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                My brother, he knows me so well. This can be taken as almost perfectly representative of my views.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Too bad you don’t love classical music like he does. And Scott—it’s the Big Fella’s birthday today (mine, too, although your brother is doing his level best to ruin it!)
                So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEETHOVEN!!!! Your notes are as alive, wondrous, gorgeous, miraculous as the day you put them pen to paper! Love, forever, The Human RaceReport

      • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger
        Ignored
        says:

        BSK and JH: Only a 100% retraction of your comments will save you. Otherwise, you lose all credibility and your knee-jerk inclination to see sinister motives in any and all national security actions taken by the United States will be transparently clear for all to see.

        What the hell has happened to you two? Please tell me you’re just playing devil’s advocate. I am profoundly disturbed by the illogical direction your comments are taking.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Heidegger
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          says:

          I challenge you, Mr, Hanley, to begin the next class you teach, with the statement, that you think the United States’ demand to Iran, to not develop nuclear technology, regardless of the intent (i.e. produce nuclear weapons) represents the height of arrogance.

          Well, you’ve already lost then, because I effectively have done this. The issue doesn’t always come up, but when it does, I ask students to put themselves in Iran’s position. Can you do that? Do you know how many solid allies Iran has? Try zero. Russia and Syria are mere allies of convenience, and Iran knows they can’t rely on them at all. And look what happens when a country does successfully develop nukes, the U.S. suddenly starts treating them with considerably more respect.

          Now tell me, if you were in charge of Iran, what would you do? If it was me, I’d be pursuing nukes with a fervor and hoping against hope the Israelis didn’t bomb our research facilities each time we got close, because if we could just be sure of delivering one nuke, then that’s the game changer.

          Yeah, Amadinejad is a mad man, and the world would be better off if he had a fatal stroke this very minute. But the U.S. has refused to rule out the use of nukes! We have told the world that we might use nukes on them, and then we insist that it’s all ok because we, the only nation that has ever used nukes, can be trusted, but that none of them should have nukes because they’re the ones who can’t be trusted.

          No, that’s not remotely arrogant at all.

          Only a 100% retraction of your comments will save you.

          Save me from what? Your condemnation? That’s pretty weak tea, old boy. You know exactly how much I respect your opinion.Report

          • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
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            says:

            JH, yes I know quite well how much you respect my opinion. I know quite well how much you respect anyone’s opinion that disagrees with yours. They really need to all be carted off to the Hanley Reeducatation Camps.

            This is just utterly hopeless. I need to be seen proof that you have successfully completed electroconvulsive therapy before I can comment any more.
            In the immortal words of R.P McMurphy, “A little dab will do ya!”Report

            • Avatar Bucky in reply to Heidegger
              Ignored
              says:

              Given that I doubt Mr. Hanley is about to undergo ECT just to make you happy, let me say that your comments here won’t really be missed at all.

              Adios and ciao and go with god and all of that.

              I wish I could say that you will be missed, but really you won’t.

              I respect your emotional feelings that you can not continue to comment here. I am sure that someone besides yourself is saddened by that.

              I can’t actually imagine who that might be, but surely someone must enjoy reading your bile.

              In the immortal words of R.P. McMurphy, “WTF?”Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Bucky
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                says:

                I am so humbled and moved by your kind and gracious words, Bucky, that I may just have to reconsider my decision to no longer comment at the League. It would be nothing short of inhumane, to put you through such an ordeal. Also, the decision of James Hanley to immediately undergo electroconvulsive therapy, is not something I can take lightly. He talks the talk and walks the walk! Consider me, REBORN!!

                And Happy Birthday, Beethoven!!!!! (Hey, I’m also lucky enough to be born on this day, too.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Bucky
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                says:

                Bucky, I hesitate to speak for the league but I think I speak for all of us when I say this:

                You should hesitate to speak for all of us.Report

              • Avatar Bucky in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Jaybird, I will refrain in future from making broad based assumptions.

                Color me simple but I imagined that telling someone who disagreed with you that they needed Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) might just be a bit beyond the pale on this forum.

                Apparently not.

                My bad.

                I am chastised and will be more understanding of others in the future.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Bucky
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                says:

                I am far more offended by poor grammar than I am by smack talk.
                I am far more offended by people speaking for me than I am by smack talk.

                If you encounter something that offends you, then, by all means, fight back against it!

                Just, please, don’t use poor grammar and don’t speak for me. Otherwise, have at it.Report

              • Avatar Bucky in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Sorry, Jaybird, to have offended your very delicate grammatical sensibilities.

                I am glad that you are here to police everyone’s mistakes.

                Oh wait … it seems that I am the only one you find grammatically offensive.

                Everyone else’s typos and grammar mistakes get a pass.

                Just me that you find so disturbing.

                Funny that.

                I am sure that it has nothing to do with the fact that you just don’t like my opinion.

                Because that would be wrong. Better to make fun of my typo.

                Anyway, Jaybird, I will make every effort to review my comments for grammatical errors that might offend you before I post them

                I hope that you will, in turn, make ever effort to try not to be such a fucking asshole.

                I suspect that I will be far more successful in my efforts.

                But one never knows.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I can’t believe I missed this response!

                For the record, I wasn’t criticizing your grammar. I was just noting (for the record) the two things that get me to go nuts.

                You didn’t do the grammar thing but you did do the other… which was the focus of my response to you. You’ll note that I did not tell you to stop posting nor did I talk about what we all would do if you did… such is not my place to do.

                I will, however, speak up when someone speaks for me in such a way that grossly misrepresents my POV.

                Out of curiousity, in the last day, which of us do you think did better on the two different rulers you set up for each of us?Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Heidegger
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              says:

              So no criticism of American over-reach is allowable in your red-white-and-blue world?

              And can we just dwell a moment on the irony of you calling “reeducation” my request that you engage in critical thought, instead of just blindly assuming America always is in the right? It’s a good thing I bought that extra-heavy-duty-super-strength Ronco irony meter from the Home Shopping Network last year.Report

          • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
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            says:

            JH: “Do you know how many solid allies Iran has? Try zero.”

            HA! And that’s a problem? Could it just be, that maybe most countries just don’t want to be be an ally to this thugocracy? And most incredible in your statement is that it justifies Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, because the poor little, lice-infested, Iranian president, Abba Dabba Ding Dong just wants and needs to liked! I say we provide nuclear weapons, forthwith, to Venezuela, Cuba, Hamas, Hezbollah, every country in Africa, especially Somalia–oh hell, every damn country that exists. That way , we can all hold hands, be happy, secure, and live in peace forever and ever! Imagine, humanity saved by every single country having (thanks to us) nuclear weapons. Just a breathtaking thought. And to think it all boils down to them all just wanting to be liked.Report

            • Avatar BSK in reply to Heidegger
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              says:

              “And most incredible in your statement is that it justifies Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, because the poor little, lice-infested, Iranian president, Abba Dabba Ding Dong just wants and needs to liked!”

              And now you’ve crossed the line from blind arrogance to outright racism. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re done.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BSK
                Ignored
                says:

                Shame on me. Insulting a Holocaust-denying, mass-murdering wannabe, and an altogether putrid little man–“lice-infested”. I guess I just mixed him up with that other lice-infested, brutal tyrant, Saddam Husein when he was crawling out of that rat hole. If you could only see and feel the guilty tears rolling down my cheeks, perhaps I would be able to get some redemption. Okay, I promise. NO MORE INSULTING MASS MURDERING TYRANTS! There. Does that do it? Abba Dabb…..er…I mean, Ahmadinejad, I am sorry and hope you’ll forgive me. To express the sincerity of my apology, I’m going to send you a box of Zyklon-B to take care of that scalp disorder.

                Oh, where do you get those, “Members Only” jackets. I thought they went out of style in the 70s. You still look quite dapper in them, Dear Leader!Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Heidegger
              Ignored
              says:

              Heidegger, You’re starting to seriously piss me off, to the point where I may ask for your banning.

              First, I have not “justified” Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. I’ve only asked you to think about why they are doing it, and to think about what you would do in their position. Fact/value distinction–is/ought–you get that, right?

              Second, your misrepresentation of Ahmadinejad’s name is just flat out racist. Insult Ahmadinejad all you want, but his evilness is no excuse for being a racist.

              Third, the shock-treatment statement was bad enough, but the zyklon-b statement is really over-the-top offensive.

              Why don’t you log off for 24 hours or so and come back when you can behave a little more rationally?Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                JH-

                Thanks for your measured response. I would have done far worse.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BSK
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, that’s where revising and rewriting one’s response several times before hitting the submit button comes in handy.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                “Third, the shock-treatment statement was bad enough, but the zyklon-b statement is really over-the-top offensive.”

                That’s offensive? To insult this repugnant little twerp? Zyklon-b was what the Nazis used to kill millions of Jews in concentration camps (a claim he denies) and killing all Jews is what this man wants and intends to do. What the hell do you stand for, anyway, if you feel great offense to me using Zyklon-B and Ahmadinijad in the same sentence? I’m just getting you at all, today.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger
                Ignored
                says:

                that’s “NOT getting you today at all, today.”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Heidegger
                Ignored
                says:

                Zyklon-B jokes just aren’t funny, period. Stooping to Ahmadinejad’s level doesn’t exactly make you look good.

                What the hell do you stand for, anyway, if you feel great offense to me using Zyklon-B and Ahmadinijad in the same sentence?

                Actually, you used them in the same sentence hear, and I don’t see this sentence as very offensive at all. So perhaps it’s not just the using of them in the same sentence, but the suggestion that Zyklon-B should ever be used that’s offensive.

                As to what the hell do I stand for–you’ve been reading me for, what, two years now? If you’d calm down, take some deep breaths, and do some actual thinking before you type your next reply, I think you’ll realize that you actually have a pretty damn good idea of what I stand for.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                It may seem like two years (probably seems like 20), James, but it’s only been about 8 months that you’ve had to endure my intemperate remarks.Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Heidegger
                Ignored
                says:

                I love the attempt to show our moral superiority to an anti-semite by denouncing him with racist comments. Well played.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                To my knowledge, only one person has ever been banned from the League.

                It was someone whose English presented as someone’s third or fourth language despite it being their first. In addition to this shudder-worthy fault, this person didn’t exactly engage in arguments. A question to expand was an opportunity to repeat what she had said before rather than, actually, expand. It was like arguing with a rudimentary ROM consciousness from Neuromancer.

                In any case, I was not a fan of that banning (though, indeed, I understand why it happened). I’m generally not a fan of banning folks at all.

                Heidegger, whatever his faults (which are legion), has demonstrated mastery of syntax and has shown himself (I presume it’s a guy) capable of independentish thought.

                His world view is one that ought be argued against rather than banned outright.Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Has anyone called for a banning?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BSK
                Ignored
                says:

                If you read the post that I was responding to, you’ll see that the post opens with, and I’m cutting/pasting here:

                “Heidegger, You’re starting to seriously piss me off, to the point where I may ask for your banning.”Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I glossed over that. Thanks.Report

              • Avatar gregiank in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Don’t feed the trolls is one of the best bits of intertoob blog advice.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Deep thanks, Jaybird–you’ve made my birthday!

                And yes, it is a guy. I try to not go off the emotional deep end, but today I slipped. My sincere apologies to anyone offended by the
                Zyklon-B remark. I would never, in a million years, make fun of such a deeply sensitive subject and understand that it is still an open wound. I am sincerly sorry and regret using the word. I hope you will understand that I was in no way expressing any anti-Semitic sentiments. I often think, of the great humanity and talent that went up in smoke in the human ovens of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Triblinka and thousands more. Great human beings, great fathers, mothers, children, great writers, violinists, pianists, all instrumentalists, composers, artists, doctors, architects, and on and on. Just gone. Forever. All, for some madman’s deranged mythological fantasy of Aryan purity. And to think there exists a president of a sovereign country that denies, to this day, that these unspeakable, horrific horrors ever took place. That it was all just a “plot” by Zionists to kick Arabs off their lands. Well, you know the narrative. Again, I’m very sorry, and most certainly no offense was ever intended. Shalom!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Heidegger
                Ignored
                says:

                Dude. Don’t be a dick. It undercuts any argument you may have.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Abgemacht, mein Freund!Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Heidegger
                Ignored
                says:

                The H-man cometh! Happy Birthday Heidegger.
                Personally, what can we say, poor Ahmadinejad doesn’t know any better, being educated in whatever sand dune he came from. Maybe someday those Persian saps will actually work on creating some crafting some culture and creating a civilization, rather than say things that aren’t true. Stick and stones might break my bones, but not the lies, oh holy God on earth, not the lies!!

                Of course it’s the Norman G. Finkelsteins of the world, walking around like they know something that status quo doesn’t, who do they think they are. Wait, maybe the Finkels are really just Iranian sleeper cells, infiltrating our Western citadel in order to populate it with lies and abominable untruths. Not the lies, oh please, no more lies.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to E.C. Gach
                Ignored
                says:

                E.C. Gach. Surprise, surprise, another friend here? Okay, that’s probably pushing it a bit. I’m astonished but grateful for the birthday wishes, E.C.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Heidegger
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, and happy birthday.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Thanks so much for the birthday wish, Jaybird! And I will certainly try and not be a dick…Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I also don’t think he should be banned… though if he starts calling people WEC’s I might reconsider.

                Oh and happy b-day H.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                Only if he persisted in racist comments would I ask for him to be banned. Fortunately, Heidegger’s one redeeming quality is his ability to come to his senses, eventually.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                I guess James, I’ll have to take back my ECT ultimatum. And one of these days, I’ll have to read my comments before pressing, submit. Promise, will try. Only one redeeming quality? Oh well, guess I have to take what I can get, especially coming from you!Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                Hey, we’re still on speaking terms? I’m glad, and thanks so much for the birthday wish, North!Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                Hey, we’re still on speaking terms? I’m glad, and thanks so much for the birthday wish, North!Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                As a mere historical note, there was one other banning. That party was present in these parts for a week, maybe two, but consistently refused to even attempt to address the substance of posts and instead did nothing but advance conspiracy theories that they were being silenced and that the contributors and commenters were utterly afraid of the truth and wisdom that he was sharing (even as he was sharing nothing at all; and by nothing, I mean nothing, not even so much as a worn-out trope). Also, their screen name was screwing with the readibility of the comments sections due to its absurd length.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, I thought his hummingbird attention span dragged him to some other shiny site.

                Pity.Report

            • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger
              Ignored
              says:

              Hey Bucky, don’t be mess’in with the Jaybird. Little do you know, that in the blink of an eye, he can become The Firebird and you will be most thoroughly, painfully, eviscerated. And a pretty sight, it will most definitely not be.Report

        • Avatar Scott Hanley in reply to Heidegger
          Ignored
          says:

          Only a 100% retraction of your comments will save you.

          Silly James. And you thought you’d skate by with just the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.Report

          • Avatar BSK in reply to Scott Hanley
            Ignored
            says:

            Did anyone argue that it is a GOOD thing for Iran to have nukes? I haven’t seen that put forth. My personal belief is that it is probably a good thing if they don’t. Then again, more groups having them probably means less threat of actual use. We used ours in WWII partly because we were confident no one could respond proportionately. But if we, and other wielding nations, know that dropping one on an opponent might mean one fired back our way, we’ll probably think twice about it.

            Regardless, I don’t think we get to decide for Iran. That is there decision to make. Should they start posturing that they plan to use the weapons against us or our interests, I definitely think it would be appropriate for us to respond with more force. Until they, when they’re just spinning subterfuges, let’s just let them be, okay?

            Remember, just because one is right does not mean that they are not arrogant. We are probably right to oppose Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons. But it’s not our decision to make. And given that we have used nukes against an enemy infinitely more frequently than anyone else, I’m not sure we get to be the bully on this.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott Hanley
            Ignored
            says:

            And you thought you’d skate by with just the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

            Well, at least it tasted good (thank God for the whole transubstantiation thing, though).Report

            • Avatar BSK in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              I feel the same way when people bemoan America’s fall from the tops of various rankings. “WHAT?!?! WE’RE NOT AT THE TOP OF EVERY LIST?!?!” It wouldn’t bother me so much if it came from a pursuit-of-excellence perspective, as in people would like to see us working hard enough to be at the top of lists. But if often comes from a, “HOW DARE AMERICA NOT BE THE BEST!” perspective. It’s okay if we’re 2nd best at some things. It’s okay if we’re crappy at things. It’s natural. It’s actually probably a good thing, as it encourages self-reflection and leaves room to improve. It’s okay if we’re not the best. We’ll all get by…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Heidegger
        Ignored
        says:

        Okay, Heidegger.

        What are your goals? Is your goal “let’s push the buttons of the progressives”? Is your goal “let’s bring truth to the misguided or perplexed”? Is your goal “hey, my world view deserves equal representation”?

        Because, lemme tell ya, in recent comments you’re failing at the latter two and succeeding only at the first.

        If you’re not capable of independent action, but only reaction, you’re doing your world view a disservice by arguing the way you are (or, perhaps, you’re a spectacular lefty doing everything she (or he, I suppose) can to discredit folks with world views similar to yours).

        If you are capable of independent action, you need to do a better job of not undercutting your arguments by acting like a stereotype of someone who holds them.

        Seriously. We’re talking about your behavior instead of your viewpoint.

        Quit inspiring that.Report

  6. Avatar BSK
    Ignored
    says:

    Addendum: My outrage is not limited to nuclear tech; I abhor arrogance in all its forms.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Here’s what gets me:

    The Kipling “White Man’s Burden” inclination (with or without the “white” part) has been a huge motivating factor in a great deal of American international intervention.

    Indeed, for most of the century, it *WON* the argument.

    It seems odd to dismiss it so easily. I mean, I don’t agree with it… but the fact that it pretty much carried the day for American Foreign Intervention for the majority of the 20th Century is interesting as hell.

    Why did it win?

    Did it stop winning or just suffer a setback when Dumbya tried it for a spin or two?
    Was the setback earlier when JFK tried it? LBJ?

    Is international intervention the only place it gets used? I mean, I see echoes of “Reconstruction” in the poem. Hell, I see arguments for why we ought to teach evolution to communities that vote for Young Earth Creationism to be taught in schools.

    Is “Smart Man’s Burden” similar, at all, to WMB?

    That’s the part of the argument that I think is meatiest.

    But, then again, I’m retarded.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, there’s some good questions. See, this is the kind of thing I can’t just respond snarkily to. It requires some thought, and I can’t make a pretense of fully answering the questions. At the moment, I could only say that a) “white man’s burden” winning the political argument to shape American policy doesn’t mean it was, objectively, the best policy, and I would hypothesize that the answer will be found in psychology, not political science; and b) “smart man’s burden” could (unfortunately) easily be argued to rule out the U.S. playing the role.

      But that’s hardly a complete answer, and I don’t intend to pretend it is.Report

    • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      And Iwould say Jaybird, in my admittedly awed attempt at engaging others that are far more thoughtful and learned than I, that part of the reason the white man’s burden thing has seen increasing diminishing returns (is that possible?) is that, militarily speaking, we don’t fight pitched battles where the guys with the biggest guns and the most men win. In addition to this, there becomes the moral quandaries involved with carpet bombing entire nations to root out a few bad apples (see Islamic terrorists, et al). Starting with Korea and Vietnam, it seems that we confronted a whole new type of battle. One that consisted of the threat of nuclear retaliation by bigger brothers i.e., China and North Korea and the Soviets with Vietnam. And this problem with limited warfare combined with guerilla warfare has made our presence more and more costly and less and less effective. Two cents and all.

      BTW, I think you could make up a whole host of terms to fit the modern WMB. Smart Man’s Burden, Holy Man’s Burden, Righteous Man’s Burden, etc.

      And you are awfully well written and insightful for being retarded. Just sayin’. But I don’t think retarded is very PC anymore.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Indeed, for most of the century, it *WON* the argument.

      This is exactly backward.

      White Man’s Burden (in the US context) kicked off in a paleolithic form with Monroe doctrine, ebbed and flowed from the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of, well, everywhere else in Latin America (Tripoli happened earlier) and reached its peak with a man, a plan, a canal. Wilson actually reversed the white man’s burden imperial impluse (despite being the reigning champion in the personnally racist department) with his general self-determination anti-imperial impulses that created the epononymous school of foreign policy. And then it was put to bed in the 30’s when we were out of money.

      Everything from 1938 to 1989 was *realpolitck* winning the argument. The enemy of my enemy was my friend. The relationship of the United States with any given country during this period was mostly, and many times exclusively, defined by that country’s relationship with Nazi Germany (from 41-45) or with the Soviet Union (from 47-89)

      It was only after the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union imploded 2 years later that, as last man standing, a different strain of thought become ascendent in the US: that the US is the inheritor of Rome and Britain as the Hegemon and the guarantor of the ‘Pax’ in a unipolar world. And these circle back to our man Monroe, but this time, for the whole earth.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kolohe
        Ignored
        says:

        But was a form of white man’s burden used as polite justification? Or was it all just blunt anti-communist national security state justification?Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to James Hanley
          Ignored
          says:

          The higher priority given to tolerating authoritarian right wing governments, over spreading ‘democracy whiskey sexy’, lends itself to the latter explanation. The only thing that arguably lends itself to the white man’s burden mindset was the creation and implementation of the Peace Corps. But was always a small fraction of the foreign aid budget, which itself is a tiny fraction of the ‘national security’ budget.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kolohe
            Ignored
            says:

            I wonder if the same thing happened as happened with reconstruction:

            As it turns out, we were *NOT* greeted with flowers. The Jacobins were, who would have thought?, wrong. Colonialism is, in fact, hard.

            Easier to turn a blind eye to the excesses of the folks who made stuff run. Easier to shrug and make realpolitik concessions.

            But then, next time, HOLY COW! WE WILL BE GREETED WITH FLOWERS!!! PICK UP THE ENLIGHTENED MANS BURDEN!Report

      • Avatar Scott Hanley in reply to Kolohe
        Ignored
        says:

        I think it’s a mistake to conflate Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine with the White Man’s Burden. The US never took up the WMB in the way that Britain did, creating colonies and governing their inhabitants directly. We dabbled with imperialism in the Philippines (very ugly affair) and Hawaii (not so ugly, but still just a land grab), but this is weak, Johnny-come-lately stuff compared to the European powers.

        I would argue that even the various Indian policies, from reservations to boarding schools to Allotment to Termination never had more than a smoke screen of civilizing purpose to them. It was always about getting inconvenient people out of the way.

        US “imperialism” took a different course. Instead of directly controlling a country and its resources, it was about maintaining open doors to US businesses and ensuring trade on favorable terms. Even the incessant meddling in Central American countries didn’t institute full-scale colonization the way India and Africa were colonized. It was, and is, a brilliant approach, because you gain the benefits without nearly so much ongoing investment in the other country. And, a few missionaries aside (and on their own dime), there’s never been much White Man’s Burden about it.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Farmer
    Ignored
    says:

    Reading Tony Judt’s Postwar, especially the part about Europe’s pitiful condition in 1947 and Marshall’s response, will give a good idea of how we got into this World Management situation. I’m a solid non-interventionist, myself.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Farmer
      Ignored
      says:

      And, ironically, I’m not a solid non-interventionist–I’m just someone who thinks we’ve indulged in far too much of a good thing.Report

      • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        My view is that we ought to close all bases, end both wars and bring all of our military home and use the savings to cut taxes and build the best defense possible. Then we ought to create a doctrine which states “We, the USA, are retiring from the job of World Police — we want to trade peacefully and openly with other nations. Our policy is now a policy of non-intervention. We are open to sharing knowledge, and we will cooperate fully to create a world of peaceful co-existence — however, if attacked, we will respond with full force, but then, after retaliating, we will leave. Our intentions going into the future are to concentrate on growing our economy, creating equal opportunity and offering the world a safe and free zone in which to come and prosper and express creativity. We recommend the rest of the world develope international associations to deal with conflicts which those invloved can’t successfully resolve — due to the nature of our military might and the global perceptions of our past interventions, we are not the appropriate nation to act as World Police. Thank you, and the best of luck, from America with love.”Report

  9. Avatar BSK
    Ignored
    says:

    This makes me think back to the Nacirema…Report

  10. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    Two disconnected musings

    1) The America Fuck Yeah! argument does not claim that America has no faults, just the opposite. Dick moves are tolerated as part of an imperfect scheme to try to achieve some stability and greater good (two things themselves which are hard to define and often in conflict with each other). All human institutions are imperfect, and one can argue (and I do in fact argue) that ordinal listing is a mathematical certainty – that is *someone* is going to be the most powerful country in the world, and I’d rather it be the US (getting by with a little help from it’s friends, as Rufus pointed out yesterday morning). But the argument also relies on the US not doing asshole things like invading Iraq (especially without a plan) nor being a pussy and keeping 100K+ troops in Afghanistan out of fear. And it also doesn’t detract from the fact that we can still be the most powerful country in the world even with expending less resources, and need to, because we are out of money.

    2) If the Bureau of Imperfect Analogy complaint department is still open, I’d like to submit this:

    partition Planet Earth into sprawling territorial commands, with one four-star Chinese general assigned responsibility for the Middle East and so on–to include a Chinese North American Command, charged with monitoring conditions on that continent

    The US does not have a “Chinese Command” or even an “Asian Command”, it has US Pacific Command which covers everything between 3 miles of the California coast to Madagascar.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      Kolohe,

      Are you sure there must, with certainty, be a “world’s most powerful” country? I think that’s a very important question, because I think the sense of being–or having the potential to be–the most powerful is the very cause of aggression. It happens even at the level of just wanting to be the most powerful country in a particular region.

      As to your analysis of the “America, Fuck Yeah,” position, I have to disagree. I think that position assumes that American can do as it likes, and the actions we take are made good by virtue of the fact that we’re doing them. That was certainly the Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld position.

      As to the imperfection of the analogy, I’ll grant that it’s not perfect. But I think it works pretty well when you consider that we regularly fly air patrols on the very edge of Chinese territory, and regularly run ships along the very edge of Chinese territorial waters, and in fact even inside what they claim for their territorial waters (although they claim more than is internationally recognized). How would the U.S. respond if the Chinese did the same off the coast of California?Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        James:

        “How would the U.S. respond if the Chinese did the same off the coast of California?”

        Why ask a stupid question in hopes of making the US’ actions seem sinister? Soviet and now Russian bombers violate American and Canadian airspace. The US and Canadian response was and is to send aircraft up to challenge them, no more no less. But unlike the poor misunderstood commies we’ve never shot down those bombers or recon aircraft, as they have. Not to mention KAL 007 which the Soviets shot killing 269 civilians. If the Chinese claim more territorial water than is than is internationally recognized, F@@k them. No one else recognizes their claim and the US doesn’t make outrages claims , so why should we give in to their bullying?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Are you sure there must, with certainty, be a “world’s most powerful” country.

        In any sense of ‘most powerful’, yes. It’s a relative measure. If a bunch of eight year olds run a 50 yd dash, someone is going to come in first, even though every one is going to take longer than Usain Bolt at twice the distance.Report

  11. Avatar James Hanley
    Ignored
    says:

    Scott,

    Not that I doubt Russia might do it, but can you please provide a citation for them violating U.S. and Canadian airspace, and evidence that we did nothing but challenge them (no diplomatic protests?)?

    Truman was, as far as I know, the first leader to claim exclusive control of the continental shelf, so I don’t think that it’s quite accurate to say the U.S. doesn’t make outrageous claims. While that has become internationally accepted, it was a rather audacious claim at the time, eh?

    And you obviously seek to make the worst of my argument. Where do I ever suggest we should “give in to Chinese bullying”? All I’m asking is whether you are unbiased enough to recognize that regular patrols at the edge of Chinese airspace are themselves a form of bullying, and that there is no reason the Chinese should give in to it?

    Oh, and as for shooting down civilian airliners, ahem.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to James Hanley
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, back in the day there was this. It went away when the Soviet Union fell apart and they didn’t have two kopeks to rub together, but this sort of stuff is coming back if not nearly as frequent. To be clear, it’s *not* violating airspace, but is coming within the air defense zone and there’s long standing treaty specifically with Soviet Union and now inheritted by the Russians governing these things (both on the water and in the air)

      There is no such specific treaty with anyone else the rest of the world, but there is several longstanding agreements (and if it gets ratified the UNCLOS treaty, but for a practical matter, the US already follows most of the precepts) and practices that ensure the relative professionalism of these encounters. And the US is not the only guy who plays this game. (It’s why there was a bruhaha between the Chinese and Japanese a few months ago)

      Martime claims are of several different sorts – coastal waters, territorial waters, economic exclusion zones. Some countries conflate these claims and/or claim rights under them that are not recognized internationally. And most everyone has in some aspect excess claims. (Most common? drawing a straight line between two penisulas or islands that are too far apart as your baseline, rather than following the coastline. Famously potrayed by Libya’s ‘Line of Death’ in the Gulf of Sidra.) Anyway, international law (or if one prefers international custom) is almost completely controlled by precedent and once something becomes customary, it becomes de facto and then de jure. (as you see in your Truman example) So everyone pushes their boundaries at every opportunity, and others always push back, lest they lose their perogative. It’s pretty much all adverse posession when it comes to international boundaries.

      But the important thing to remember: It’s not just the US that does it. But the US does it most often as it has the biggest Navy in the world. Furthermore, the US has been doing the freedom of navigation thing since 1803. It’s *the* long standing principle of US foreign policy consitently followed by everyone. I realize argument by ‘it’s always been done this way’ is some sort of logical fallacy, but well, it’s always been done this way.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley
      Ignored
      says:

      James:

      Below is an article from this year about Russian bombers testing Canadian airspace and the response. Perhaps the best line from the article is this, “Soviet aircraft regularly flew near North American airspace during the Cold War but stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Several years ago, Russian jets resumed these types of flights.” Even if I could give you proof of what you ask for, what would it prove?

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/aug/25/canada-intercepts-two-russian-bomber-planes/

      Who cares what Truman claimed before there was any international law on the subject? I’m sure if you have asked the Soviets they would have claimed the same amount of territory but yet you only focus on what the US did.

      I see, if we Americans fly close to Chinese airspace that is “bullying” but if the Soviets or Russians do it to us that is not bullying and ok? What kind of logic is that?

      Trying to compare KAL 007 and IR655 is pathetic. The KAL flight was shot down by the Russians without any provocation as they believed that is was an American spy plane, while IR655 was mistakenly shot down during a period of fighting between US and Iranian forces in the Gulf during the Iranians campaign to attack tankers as part of the Iran-Iraq war. Not to mention the fact that the the US did not engage in a massive cover up like the Soviets did and we paid damages.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        Scott,

        First, thank you for the link to the article.

        Second, you are being blatantly dishonest in implying that I have suggested it’s ok for China and Russia to do that, but not the U.S. If you could take off your ideological blinders long enough to read what I’ve actually written, you would recognize that I have been repeatedly arguing for a consistent standard–so there is either a purposeful lie or a pathetic ignorance built into your implication that I am arguing for different standards.Report

        • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          There is a consistent standard, we do it to then and they do it to us. What is inconsistent with that? However you seem intent on taking the tack that we (the US) is some how bullying these poor nations we we do.Report

          • Avatar Scott Hanley in reply to Scott
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            says:

            Scott, this is the consistent problem with trying to be honest about the US role in the world. It’s so hard to break people out of the habit of thinking either the US is either the Hero or the Villain, and anything less than the hero’s role means the US is being especially vilified and their rivals are being cast as the heroes. I wish I had some magic bunker-busting bullet to break through that mindset, but it does seem impregnable.

            A) When the US does something wrong, it’s still wrong.
            B) When Russia does the same thing wrong, it’s still wrong; but given A), you should at least be able to comprehend why they do it.
            C) If it’s not wrong for the US to do it, then it’s probably no more wrong for Russia (or whoever) to do it, even if it inconveniences the US.

            Where in that am I saying Russia good, US bad?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott
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            says:

            For fuck’s sake, we are trying to bully them! Do you think the U.S. never bullies?

            And when other countries do it, they’re trying to bully us (or whomever else they’re doing it to). Why is that so hard for you to get through your head?

            I suspect that perhaps you can’t grasp that I’m holding the U.S. and other countries to the same standard because you are incapable of conceiving of holding the U.S. to the same standard we hold other countries. The very idea perhaps is so inconceivable to you that you can’t actually grasp that someone might do it, so you automatically interpret a refusal to hold other countries to a higher standard as meaning I’m holding them to a lower standard. Only a blind ideologue looking at the world through his star-spangled beer goggles would make such an interpretation, but that seems to be what you’ve done.

            All you want to hear is somebody praising the U.S. and damning other countries. You seem to take offense at the mere suggestion of criticizing U.S. action. I have as much respect for that as I have for a parent who looks adoringly at their child and praises him for being such an angel while he’s taking a shit in the middle of the grocery store.Report

            • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              James, could you please name one single country in which we have our troops stationed, where we would not leave tomorrow, if asked? Thanks.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                JH. One other thing, could you please name one other country we have “occupied” that has ever been mandated to pay taxes to our treasury? Or any other agency of our government for that matter. Thanks, again.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                Afghanistan.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to E.C. Gach
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                says:

                not to the taxes question, to the if asked to leave question.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to E.C. Gach
                Ignored
                says:

                ECG–I’m not we’ve ever been asked to leave. When did this happen? I’m sure the Taliban has asked us to leave, in one way or another, but not the Karzai government. EC–not trying to be a smart ass. Plus, being involved in an intense state of war, we have to make sure our departure does not seriously affect the safety of our forces and allies forces, or the entire security apparatus that has been constructed since our entrance into this theater.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                Damn—that’s, “I’m not AWARE we’ve ever been asked to leave…sorry.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                IF, IF asked to leave. I’m not saying we have been. But if we were, definitely wouldn’t.

                And:

                “we have to make sure our departure does not seriously affect the safety of our forces and allies forces, or the entire security apparatus that has been constructed since our entrance into this theater.”

                Is the exact reason Washington will give. The “entire security apparatus,” once put in place, can never seem to be dismantled. No matter how long the time-line.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                Theoretically we could just pack up and leave any place we wanted with all possible haste, so I don’t see the point of the question. But if you mean literally “tomorrow,” there are damn few places we could actually leave on 24 hours notice. Probably only a few that we could leave on a month’s notice without abandoning boatloads of equipment.

                We have almost 70,000 troops in Germany. How would you quickly evacuate 70,000 people and all the equipment to support them? That’s like evacuating all of Saginaw, Michigan, plus a couple more villages.

                We have close to 50,000 in Japan, and over 30,000 in Korea. Moving them out is not exactly like organizing the Ottumwa, Iowa, 4th of July parade.

                I’m not sure of the significance about extracting taxes, either. Nor do I actually know the answer to it, but off the top of my head I think if you take a broad definition, we have extracted some dollars from a couple of the countries we’ve invaded, not as taxes but as a form of reparations, to partially cover our costs. After all, why shouldn’t the invaded country bear our costs of conquering them?Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                Perhaps James, I misunderstood your previous comments. The tone of them almost suggested that we were behaving in some kind of, “Imperialism Gone Wild” manner. As in, boot to the throat, with the countries where we have troops stationed. Obviously, logistical problems in several of these countries would make it impossible to leave on a 24-hr notice, but the reality is, as far as I know, every country where are troops are stationed WANTS US THERE! I don’t see any violent riots in the streets demanding our withdrawal in any of these countries, and if they decide they want us out, then we’re out of there. This is not some kind of Nazi occupation. I’m not suggesting you think it is, but can’t you bend a little and even acknowledge that our motives are not always a power grab and that we actually do help provide much needed security for some of these countries? I have absolutely no problem, by the way, with making massive troop withdrawals in several if not all of these countries–the sooner the better. It’s not like we’re dealing with Cold War, 1950s scenarios any longer.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Heidegger
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                says:

                as far as I know, every country where are troops are stationed WANTS US THERE!

                Oh, yeah, the citizens of Okinawa stage protests demanding that we stay on their island forever. Oh, wait, no, they’re regularly demanding that we leave. (Google: Japan protest u.s. military)

                Protesters in Kyrgyzstan don’t seem to want us, either.

                We’re not wildly popular in Yemen, either.

                And while Germans are relatively supportive of the U.S. military presence, they often object to our training exercises.

                Oh, our presence isn’t totally welcomed in Bahrain, either.

                And of course we’ve just been wildly popular in Iraq ever since we stormed in. Just as predicted, we’ve been greeted as liberat….oh, sorry, I was just channeling Donald Rumsfeld’s wishful thinking for a moment.

                “So far as you know,” eh? You don’t seem to know very far. Really, you seem to know no farther than the “America, fuck yeah” attitude I’ve been criticizing.

                can’t you bend a little and even acknowledge that our motives are not always a power grab and that we actually do help provide much needed security for some of these countries?

                Can’t you try exercising a little reading comprehension and see that I already have done this, multiple effing times? Really, just how many goddam times do I have to say that not every action of the U.S. is evil, that I’m not an isolationist, that I’m a bit of a hawk, and that I support our defense of S. Korea, before you’ll stop claiming that I oppose all U.S. presence abroad? Do you have any idea just how obnoxious your repeated misrepresentations of my views are? If you can’t argue honestly enough to even make an effort to represent my views honestly, why don’t you just shut down your computer and go back to trying to suck every last nuance out of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #1 in F major?Report

  12. Avatar E.C. Gach
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    says:

    It seems like somehow the two sides keep getting trapped into “the US doesn’t always do bad things” vs. “the US sometimes does bad things.” And I’m not sure the difference between those two is very vast, but apparently you all would disagree.

    Would those defending US hegemony (I mean the term as neutrally as possible), admit of certain examples where the US has done something wrong? I’m sure they would. Would they admit the US performed that wrong because of it’s unique managerial role in the world? That might be a more interesting question.

    Of course the argument is much clearer given particular instances. WWII had both good and bad, though seemingly more good (I say seemingly not because i’m skeptical, only because my knowledge of that history is to limited to pass a more definitive judgment). Korea? Well that was certainly a mixed affair. Our treatment of Cuba? Not so much. Vietnam? Well there were good intentions mixed in with chemical and ecological warfare the benefits of which many Vietnamese still reap.

    What I think becomes clear with all of these historical examples is that things were so complex at the time that its easy to pick out specific examples of wrongs and rights, but much harder to discern their effects down the line. And history is not deterministic. Things could have been otherwise. Chance always plays a role. So in the same way that we could seemingly say with categorical certainty that dropping the bomb on Japan was bad, who knows in how many alternate universes where that did not occur, Soviet Russia challenged the US and provoked a large scale war with much more devastating results. Or in how many alternate realities where the US did not enter into the Korean War, a Korea came out of the Cold War not flying U.S. banners, but with weaker ties to China and a more temperate political climate. It’s just hard to say. Given that it’s hard to say, do you error on the side of caution? And which side is that?

    One thing that relates directly to Hanley’s analogy. In Robert Kagan’s “Return of History,” I think he has some pretty insightful remarks about the autocratic/democratic divide.

    For instance would we feel as threatened by a militarized India with global ambitions? Or a Brazil that sought greater influence in South America?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to E.C. Gach
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      says:

      would we feel as threatened by a militarized India with global ambitions

      Sure–my whole point is that people should feel threatened by any militarized country with global ambitions. And I don’t see any reason why the U.S. should get a pass.

      Or a Brazil that sought greater influence in South America?

      Well, how are they going about gaining that influence? Funding anti-poverty programs (setting aside the irony) in French Guiana would probably gain greater influence, but shouldn’t lead to the same kind of nervous response that military influence would, or so I would argue.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to E.C. Gach
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      says:

      Maybe I should rephrase “global ambitions,” to make sure we mean the same thing. By global ambitions I mean having economic and security interests abroad and thus trying to influence certain international outcomes.

      How would we set limits on this,that is objectively recognizable limits, without just saying, it’s all national interest, everyone for themselves or that no nation may do this besides the US? Realism would tell us that it’s just going to be that way, and that the US would naturally respond negatively to any decrease in it’s own power relative to other nations.
      So in saying that we shouldn’t “do our worst,” in terms of following our national interests above all else (assuming that such interests best served by more actual power rather than less), where would the limit to our right to intervene lay, and would that be applicable to all other nations?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to E.C. Gach
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        says:

        E.C.,

        Let me preface this by saying that I’m thinking out loud, not making a fully considered statement.

        I think “global ambitions” are inherently dangerous, because they lead to the desire to control others and impose one’s will on them. A militarized state will inevitably, I think, try to do that militaristically. And “security” interests are inevitably militaristic interests, aren’t they? I have zero problem with domestic security interests–indeed it’s one of the few justifications for government that I find reasonably persuasive–but “global security interests” sounds to me like an empty phrase designed to be compelling by those who are seeking power. I just can’t see how the U.S. can have anything like global security interests. For example, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, there was a legitimate (whether persuasive or not is a separate question) claim for intervention on humanitarian grounds, but did the U.S. really have great security interests there? Obviously the common answer is that of course we did, but I’ve yet to hear someone say anything more than “oil” (which I argue Saddam would happily have sold–that’s why he wanted Kuwait after all) and “tip the balance of Middle Eastern power” (which sounds scary, but exactly how did it threaten the U.S.?).

        As for economic interests, neither the U.S. per se nor any other country has global economic interests. Constituents of those governments do. Microsoft has global economic interests, McDonalds has global economic interests, as do Krupp, Ikea, Hyuandai, etc., etc. But not “the country,” so I can’t really work off what I see as a false assumption for purposes of justifying particular actions.

        You’re right about realism, but of course that’s meant to be an empirical theory of state behavior, not a justificatory one. States will indeed act that way, and that’s what I object to.

        The question about limits…well, that’s always the tough one isn’t it? When the general approach gets down to the specifics, things get hard, and even people who agree on the general approach can disagree about the meaning of specific cases. And frankly, specific cases often leave me uncertain because I can’t always make satisfactory distinctions between them–is defending Kuwait from Iraq in the same class of cases as defending S. Korea from the PRK, or is it different? There are similarities and differences, and I think reasonable people could come down on different sides of that argument. But one thing both have in common is that in each case our support was/is for the status quo against another country’s efforts to over-reach its legitimate security claims. The same can’t be said for all our actions, because many of our actions are themselves over-reach of security claims.

        That is, when we’re trying to prevent others from over-reach, I’m inclined to at least give serious consideration to the claim that our actions are legitimate. When we’re in fact engaging in over-reach ourselves, or supporting another country that is, then I’m disinclined to do so.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          Do you have any guidelines for what would help in defining “over-reach?”

          I found Bacevich’s book very compelling, I loved “Limits of Power” too. But though his diagnosis of the symptoms and disease I find both accurate and makes sense, he’s not as helpful in defining things where it blurs. Like saying that poverty and malnutrition is bad and the ability to satisfy material needs and the liberty to pursue one’s benign interests good. But going from there, in a particular case it’s harder to say.

          Which is my question of how do we define error-ing on the side of caution? Not letting Iran have nukes, or pulling out troops from central Asia?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to E.C. Gach
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            says:

            Do you have any guidelines for what would help in defining “over-reach?”

            Good question. No, I don’t. But the underlying problem is not our action in this place or that place, as those are merely symptoms. It’s the belief that the U.S. ought to be every place, and that we can legitimately be wherever we want because we are the ones who define what is legitimate…that’s the problem. If we could chip away at that belief, then we might find it easier to discuss the realities of particular cases without running into the kind of “OMG, You want to destroy America!!!1!11!” responses I’ve run into here.

            If you and I disagreed on particular cases, it wouldn’t bother me much, because I have every reason to believe you’re coming from a viewpoint that doesn’t automatically accept American hubris as holy and good.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              Addendum,

              I think part of the error we make is assuming binary scenarios, like your last paragraph. Our having troops in Asia clearly isn’t doing much to prevent Iran from working to acquire nuclear capability, so clearly it’s not the simple either-or that might be posited.

              And I’d say that perhaps it’s time we recognize that we, the U.S., are in part responsible for Iran’s desire for nukes. We stage a coup in their country to prop up a nasty and unloved dictator. Then we support Saddam Hussein against them. Then we continue to support their enemy that does have nukes, and that has directly attacked Iran, even though Iran has never directly attacked them (although, of course, Iran funds those who do). Again, it’s not about saying “we’re bad and Iran’s good and we ought to just encourage them to have the bomb.” It’s about taking on Iran’s perspective, and seeing that they are in part simply responding to the perceptions of ourselves that we’ve created in their eyes.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to James Hanley
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                says:

                And I completely agree. With Iran, the US (or the “Washington Consensus”) has two priorities: Regime chance and nuclear nonproliferation. To many, including myself, those two goals are mutually defeating, that is, working towards one necessarily works us away from the other. For instance, the more we are concerned about a non-nuclear Iran, the more that solidifies the current regime’s legitimacy.

                And the even if we were to look for regime change, most Iranians, secular liberal or not, want Iran to secure nuclear weapons. And with all the continual saber rattling in the Senate, and the U.S. precedent in Iraq, it’s a completely rational position to take from their point of view.Report

            • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              Right, I didn’t mean to infer they were a binary set. I just plucked two examples out. For instance the troops in Afghanistan would apply to the whole, fighting terrorism thing. So for instance, with regard to that, does caution mean securing U.S. territory, or “taking the fight to them,” whether in Afghanistan (but really Pakistan), Somalia, Yemen, etc.?

              I myself would say that caution (that is, hedging against future terrorist attacks) does not require projecting power in those areas.Report

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