Trust Me, Kids — Peace Is Actually Pretty Awesome

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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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  1. Avatar Alex Greenberg
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    says:

    I take dispute with one of your comments; that “In new wars, the United States never loses. It’s just a question of how much we feel like exhausting and embarrassing ourselves.” 

    The long-term impact of forcred intervention in countries where we perceive current governments as having inimical policy goals is unclear and can be disastrous (see our prior regime change in Iran in the 1950s).  On a long enough scale, wars can be lost well after the last combat brigade leaves the country.

    Maybe this is pedantic and beyond the scope of your work with these school kids.  But I think explaining longer-term impacts on our military adventures might help with your explanation of Cato’s mission.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Alex Greenberg
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      says:

      I did talk about those longer-term impacts — new wars are still expensive and deadly, and they sow ill-will around the globe.  Believe me, as I talked yesterday, I never spoke the words “we never lose” or their equivalents.

      In the above post, I meant only that we aren’t forced to sign a peace treaty dictated by the other side, not that the new wars are always (or ever) a good thing for us.Report

  2. Avatar BlaiseP
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    says:

    The definition of war has not changed:  only its parameters.   We are still at war on the Korean peninsula and have been for as long as most of us have been alive.   The Large Wars have been attenuated by nuclear weapons but it’s only served to compress the waveform below a certain threshold.   The area under that curve has not diminished.   Weapons have evolved:  young people sit in cubicles and fly their drones over hostile territory but the U2 and SR-71 pilots were not much different.

    The only Wow in this mess is the Newspeak from the warmongers and their equally idiotic opponents.   America has always had enemies and no amount of peacemongering will change that fact.   If the warmongers preach and amplify the undying hatred of our enemies, furthering their conclusion with trumped-up evidence like the Dodgy Dossier, the ridiculous peacemongers lie to us with equal facility, telling us America just beats up on a country that did not and cannot attack us, blithely ignoring what may be easily proven from what facts are not trumped up.

    Lions will not lie down with lambs unless it is to eat them:   Iran is murdering its Baha’is and Kurds and I have yet to hear a Peacemonger admit as much without some tremulous But-ing, always the hallmark of the self-deluded.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      Iran has a murderous government. No argument there.

      I simply reject the idea that it’s our duty, or in our best interests, to be continually at war with any and all such governments.Report

      • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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        says:

        Agreed. The Iranian government is a bunch of murdering scumbags.

        I’m still against an invasion war.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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        says:

        We?   At war with them?   Who has declared Death to America and does so every Friday after prayers?   Do you think Iran is our friend?   Do you think Iran’s influence on Syria or Lebanon has been of no consequence?

        America ought to stand up for the rights of men and women to live under governments of their choosing.   Those governments which believe otherwise are our enemies, or ought to be.   Whose interests are thus advanced?   Not ours, but theirs.

        There are an infinite number of forms and combinations of battle tactics, as Sun Tzu taught mankind.  There is more to war than gunfire and bombs, especially in an era where a few operators are perfectly willing to attack us without scruple or restraint.   Our enemies are clear enough cut and different enough from each other to warrant a close examination of how we might advance the interests of the Rights of Man.

        If you do not believe the rights of man are important enough for us to stand up and defend them, you ought to remember that war is the reality and peace the much-desired artifice.   That artifice requires constant maintenance and a thoroughgoing awareness of its artificiality.Report

        • Avatar Katherine in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          Iran has not attacked the United States.  There’s a lot of space between “our friend” (which Iran is not) and “country which has levied war against us” (which Iran also is not).

          No, we don’t have a right to start wars on the basis of “the rights of man”.  Do you really think the people in Iran who are oppressed by the regime wish for America to attack them?  And yes, I say attack them, because that is the nature of modern war.  We cannot attack governments and armies alone.  If we attack, we attack civilians.  There is no form of modern war that will not involve us murdering some of the people we are purportedly seeking to save.  There can never be a guarantee that we will not kill or harm or drive from their homes more people than would have suffered such fates had we refrained from attacking.

          In such a situation, there must be one overriding moral law guiding our actions on intervention.  First, Do. No. Harm.  There are many problems and evils in the world that can be addressed.  If you truly seek the well-being of others, let us focus our blood and treasure on methods of saving and improving human lives that do not require the killing of innocents as a corollary.

          Many of the evils of the world, imperialism not the least, have been perpetrated by people who claimed, and some who genuinely believed, they were advancing the cause of humanity.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Katherine
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            says:

            in some of those cases, they were genuinely advancing humanity. even at gunpoint.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Katherine
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            says:

            Very well.   I do not propose to invade Iran with guns and bombs and recapitulate our idiocy in Iraq.   I have said there is more to war than guns and bombs.   Preez to read comment.

            Iran is not our good buddy.   My friend Rich Higgins was a UN peacekeeper in Lebanon.  He was pulled from his vehicle, tortured, hanged and his body dumped like a dog on the Beirut streets.    Do not expect me to believe Iran’s support for Hizb’allah had nothing to do with his death.    What I “really think” has nothing to do with it, it’s a matter of what I know.

            As for what you believe about the Rights of Man, it seems clear enough they are completely dissociated from reality.   You don’t believe they’re worth defending.   Discard them, that’s my advice for you do not “really think” they’re worth anything.

             Report

            • Avatar BradP in reply to BlaiseP
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              says:

              As for what you believe about the Rights of Man, it seems clear enough they are completely dissociated from reality.   You don’t believe they’re worth defending.   Discard them, that’s my advice for you do not “really think” they’re worth anything.

              This is even worse that what you are accusing others of doing.  By saying this you are “blithely ignoring” the collosal cost of war, the collosal cost of the societal shift we would need to work for to acheive amicable relations, and the significant risk of completely failing to advance the rights of man.

              And for better or worse, neither you or I will be advancing this fight for the RIghts of Man, but a political structure that has shown a marked inability to stay true to that honorable goal.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BradP
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                says:

                This makes me think of, of all things, the faith healing people.

                By what right do we have to intervene? By what right do we stand idly by?

                If we see something that is *THIS* immoral happening, aren’t we obliged to go in?

                What could possibly go wrong?Report

            • Avatar Katherine in reply to BlaiseP
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              says:

              I think that the rights of man (and women) are valuable, but so are the lives of men (and women).  I will not defend policies that use claimed sympathy to the former to justify the destruction of the latter.Report

            • Avatar Jak in reply to BlaiseP
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              says:

              Unless a man has invited us in his house, to help him stand up against his oppressor, I doubt he will welcome us when we knock in the door and kill-shot the man’s oppressor, and maybe one or two of the man’s relatives.

              My point is this: there is *value* in achieving freedom from oppression on your own without foreign intervention. The US would not be the US if it had simply been the case that the French moved in and kicked out the British for taxing our tea…

              The absolute best way to promote democracy and human rights in the world (and incidentally at home) is to practice those things at home, and invite the rest of the world to join you in the brotherhood of the enlightenment. OBL didn’t attack us because we’re a constitutional republic, but because we have military bases in their holy land, i.e. Saudi Arabia, and more generally have usurped the imperialist role that Britain held in the region formerly.

              On only a semi-related note:
              If you’ve read much history of the Roman Republic’s involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean, you will know that Rome was frequently called in by the warring states of Alexander’s crumbled empire as an impartial arbiter of their disputes. However, as Roman business interests in those regions became of vital importance to Rome’s elites, Rome simply could no longer tolerate the constant turmoil in the East, and so imposed Rome’s peace by force of arms, and well, all kinds of the monstrosities they were particularly good at. It is something to ponder.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Katherine
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            says:

            First, Do. Nothing.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to BlaiseP
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              Not a bad first commendment for a lot of things, especially things with regards to foreign policy if you ask me.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to North
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                says:

                Heh.   It’s Hobbit Syndrome to be distrustful of the Rangers who insulated them from the realities a bit farther afield than the Shire.

                 Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to North
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                says:

                And it’s Gandalf Syndrome to think he could hide the Ring of Power in the Shire, thinking he could conceal it from the agents of Mordor indefinitely.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I’d submit, humbly, BlaiseP that our modern world is happily short of Sauron level threats. The terrorists would barely qualify in my mind as much more troublesom than the trolls on the road to Rivendell. A problem, assuredly, but one that requires proper highway patrolling (or cockpit door securing) rather than large war campagins to occupy the wilds.

                As for Iran and Afghanistan et all; intervention hasn’t borne much fruit so far as I can see. I don’t see why non-intervention doesn’t merit a shot.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to North
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                Oil? Don’t you think all this stuff makes more sense when viewed thru the neocon filter of establishing and maintaining control of eurasion oil/natural gas reserves? Personally,  I don’t think the neocon argument has been answered. I’m not sure it can be answered.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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                Er … Of course the neocon argument can be answered. I meant the premise: that if the US wants to maintian its status as the worlds sole superpower, we (not me, of course) need to control Eurasian oil/gas resources.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Stillwater, I don’t see why that arguement holds. All the US needs to assure is that oil flows into global markets and the supply isn’t disrupted. Based on that goal neocon interventions into the Middle East have been a debacle.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                All the US needs to assure is that oil flows into global markets and the supply isn’t disrupted.

                Exactly!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                I dunno.   Much has been made of No War for Oil previously.  It is all a load of jejeune and simplistic nonsense.  America has come to the rescue of some hideously undemocratic regimes.  It tolerates their wretched tyrannies and corruption, preferring the Devil it Knows to any better alternative.   I would argue the exact reverse, that Oil has served as a monstrous impediment to any semblance of a foreign policy which might advance the rights of man anywhere in the world.

                The fact remains, oil has proven a great curse to most of the nations who have any.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to North
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                says:

                You just go on pretending Sauron doesn’t exist.  All this happy-crappy wishful thinking along the lines of Peace is Awesome.   Peace is transient, the veneer of culture is very thin and it requires constant maintenance.   And it won’t last while some folks go on pretending we don’t face real threats.   There’s a lesson to be had from Gandalf’s imprisonment on the roof of Isengard: there’s no negotiating with evil.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Evil exists, I shan’t deny that.. though in the Tolkien universe that’d be akin to saying Melkor exists (still, clawing at the dark outside the walls of time) but Sauron? An evil force powerful enough to threaten to upend all that is good and happy in the world? I don’t see him about Blaise.

                I see the canny old Putin fleecing the Russians while bedazzling them with memories of Soviet importance in the mid 1900’s.

                I see the miserable old Mullahs in Iran sitting uneasily on top of the cauldron of their own country and selling out their faith and empowering their own IRG thugs to retain grip on power just a little longer so their friends and relatives can get rich off the rigged system before it all goes kablooey.

                I see that doughy son of the crazy little dear leader troll squatting on top of the poor poor crushed people in North Korea. It’s too soon to get much of a gist as to what his position on much is or if he’s even got the reins in his hands at all.

                I see the cold pragmatic party officials in China trying to figure out if they can land their country on a modern economy before their demographic, political and ecological clocks run down.

                But malevolent Saurons with both the desire and the power to throw us all down? I don’t see em. Unless they’re us. Am I missing something.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Doesn’t this logic lead to escalation of tensions and violence rather than peace?Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                It’s probably putting a lot of strain on an analogy that it can’t bear, but I have to admit, watching the LOtR films, that I kept seeing a small, agrarian, isolationist culture being threatened by a great, industrialized, militaristic power.

                So, who is Sauron?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                The greatest evils arise from the best of intentions.   If only the Neocons had believed in democracy and self-determination, our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan would ring down through the ages as triumphs of democracy. Of course, the Neocons didn’t really believe in democracy.   They didn’t understand either of these countries.    They truly thought they could destroy the village to save it, never listening to the villagers themselves.   They filled their ranks with ideologues and gave credence to liars and bullshit artistes like ol’ Curveball and Chalabi. America tolerated and positively encouraged ethnic and religious divisions in the lands we invaded at great cost of American lives and treasure.    Both Iraq and Afghanistan are asymptotically corrupt, reflecting our own intellectual and political bankruptcy, that we would allow such monstrous regimes to arise.

                The Neocons were only disaffected pinkos, alienated from their previously-Liberal stances.   They should have read more of their great hero Trotsky, “not believing in force is akin to not believing in gravity.”    They were great advocates of Force, with no conception of how to use it for good in the world.Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I hear you, MrP. And it doesn’t take much effort to replace the word “Neocons” in your post with names like McNamara and Rusk to take it back a few decades.Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I guess I’m just having no trouble accepting that there is great evil in the world, and then trying to talk myself out of the notion that, to some extent, I’m part of it — and that by taking up arms when I did, I promulgated it.

                Is my only defense that fact that others have done worse?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                The Shire fell from within, though you’d never know it from Peter Jackson’s facile reading.   Nobody invaded the Shire, Saruman/Sharkey turned up and the Hobbits turned on each other.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                The status quo is our enemy. chaos our only friend.Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Well, crap. You’re just tying it in closer and closer to what I’m seeing around me. 😉Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                North,

                if evil exists, and It does, it dwells mostly in the wisened hearts of the CEO. Back about when Lehmann Brothers went down…. we almost lost the world.

                But, hell, almost losing the world is fucking routine. the bp disaster, another “almost lost the world”

                And the tsunami nearly cost us the third largest economy (and our flat screen tvs)Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                And just to change the subject a bit (and perhaps start some good flaming), from my first reading back in the 60’s on, I always thought that Tolkien totally messed up a pretty fine tale with “The Scouring of the Shire.” Sharkey??? Are you kidding me?

                Favorite literary quote: “Christ, John, not another fishing elf.”Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Darn, I keep get “inter-posted” with Kimmi. Sorry.

                And Kimmi — obviously you have never seen any chaos, or taken time to appreciate your status quo.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                But don’t you all see? We must, simply MUST grasp the Ring of Power and use it to defeat Sauron!

                Only by arming ourselves with the awesome strength of Precious can we field an army or Orcs to serve our noble purpose!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Evil really does triumph while good men do nothing, you know.   It is a question of what we can do in the context of our own times.   The object of our struggle, and I sincerely believe this task has been put upon us in these times, is the creation of a better world, one where humanity is governed with the consent of the governed.

                There has always been an effete strain of isolationism within the worst elements of American foreign policy.   As a nation, we slam back and forth between inaction and over-reaction, varying between the paralysis of indecision and the fallout of unwise decisions.   In short, we do not take the long-term view of anything.   This I believe to be a product of our constant electioneering and the ever-shortening news cycle.

                Without a vision the people perish.   We don’t eat our own dog food anymore.   For all this rhetoric about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, we don’t actually believe these things anymore as a people or a nation.   We have no real friends in the world, no coalition of democracies who act in the defense and promulgation of the rights of man.   We have no such friends because they know our motives are insincere.    They have seen what we have done, not only abroad but at home.

                And now, to top off this mountain of mendacity,  the weed of isolationism reemerges.   It doesn’t matter what happens in other countries, it will never affect us as a people or a nation.   Let them fall into the abyss of anarchy, our inaction will have no consequences.   It has and it will, as it has every time before when the isolationists have sung their siren song about how Awesome is Peace.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                rex,

                that’s a quote. the reference may provide a bit more illumination as to where I’m coming from.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Blaise,

                Evil triumphs, over and over again, until the good men rise up from their slumber.

                Doughboys seems more and more an accurate name for the United States. Fat and complacent, even as the world rots around them.

                Know what a forever home goes for these days? Back in the day, they used to all be forever homes…Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Kimmi —

                googled — ahhhh, it’s a gag. ok.

                Evil triumphs, over and over again, until the good men rise up from their slumber.

                Doughboys seems more and more an accurate name for the United States. Fat and complacent, even as the world rots around them.

                Lets try a repurpose:
                “Good triumphs, over and over again, until the evil men rise up from their slumber.
                Activists seems more and more an accurate name for the United States. Lean and intrusive, trying to prevent the world from rotting around them.”
                Doesn’t that fit just as well?

                Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
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                rex,

                good only triumphs when evil is scared shitless. sorry, but it’s true. Of course, my perspective on evil is informed by who I know — those I know who have committed evil…Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Kimmi —

                good only triumphs when evil is scared shitless. sorry, but it’s true.

                99% of the people alive on the planet today are going to have an o.k. day. Isn’t that good?

                My life (and yours, I’d be willing to bet, given that the only thing that I know about you is that you are using a computer) is spectacularly better than most lives lived by most people through history, which at least strongly implies an awful lot of progress through the years.

                Other than the basic human need to over-emphasize our own suffering so as to compete with those who are truly having a bad time, what have you got to support your statement above?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
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                rex,

                prove it.

                http://www.wfp.org/hunger/malnutrition/types

                I’ve got nearly 1 billion people suffering malnutrition, including types that cause mental deficiencies.

                You got stats on malnutrition in China, over the course of the empire? Cause I sure don’t! But feel free to cite ’em — or the equivalent in India or Europe or Africa.

                 Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Kimmi —

                yeah, busted. I certainly overstated with that 99% business. Your point forces me to back off to far more safe 75%. O.k.

                How about your proof that good only triumphs when evil is scared shitless?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                bonddad had a link up on his blog, about how the great depression made capitalists into keynesians…. worth reading.

                What that man smith’s been saying about Goldmann Sachs vastly understates the poisonous culture at the company.

                Insurance companies be runnin’ scared, thinkin’ they’ve overplayed their hand on preexisting conditions. So they rewrite the whole game — still gonna make a profit, sure nuff. But less evil-like.

                Crash the economy, and the Rich get Richer. What the devil do you think that teaches ’em?? Bubble bubble toil and trouble.Report

              • Avatar Katherine in reply to BlaiseP
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                I’m with North; as analogies go, the prescriptions of neocons and liberal interventionists read more like advocating wielding the Ring to deal with a band of ruffians or a few orcs.Report

        • Avatar dhex in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          [quote]America ought to stand up for the rights of men and women to live under governments of their choosing. [/quote]

          we must destroy their country in order to save it!

           Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          There is more to war than gunfire and bombs

          Since I’m working on your requested “what should the CPS look like” post, I’d like to see Blaise’s “war without guns and bombs” post for what the U.S. should do about Iran.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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            Pretty simple, really.   We’ve won other wars, the Civil War, WW1, WW2 and the Cold War by simple economic muscle.   We won the Cold War with the television advertisements which reached East Germany.    We had a better dream.

            My strategy for Iran?    Stop embargoing them tomorrow.   The mullahs would lose all credibility in a matter of weeks.   The merchant class has always run Iran, time out of mind.   Get those merchants on our side and the old crust of the Islamic Revolution would peel off like a scab in the shower.   Iran’s just chock full of little satellite dishes, we’ve already won the ideological war and we don’t even realize it.Report

            • Avatar Matty in reply to BlaiseP
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              Is this meant to be different from what Jason would advocate?

               Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Matty
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                Diametrically opposed.   Peace and Nonintervention are just convenient Newspeak labels for Isolationism and tolerating the Devils We Know.

                The Libertarians are all about the Individual.   Well so are the tyrants.   They like the idea of picking off troublesome Individuals without having to worry about the consequences of other societies taking any affront to their policies.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to BlaiseP
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                I’m glad Matty saved me the trouble of digging up my post on sanctions.

                 Report

              • Avatar Matty in reply to Matty
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                Lets unpack a little here are the various strategies I see discussed re Iran.

                A . Status quo eventually sanctions will force the regime to negotiate their own demise

                B. End sanctions and let the Iranian people sort themselves out

                C. Violence by outside parties to force the regime from power

                and then there’s your position which seems to be doing B but calling it the same name as C.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Matty
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                Let’s rephrase this in practical terms.   We must fight with the weapons which actually win battles.   This is a war of ideas, fought on the battlefield of the human heart.   It will not be won with guns and bombs:  these are only symptoms of politicians losing control of the battlefield, ceding it to the military.

                We have always won our wars with economic supremacy and the moral superiority afforded us by the rights of man democratic ideals, freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.  Freedom from tyranny can only begin when mankind no longer lives in fear of it.   Apply these principles and we shall win this war for the hearts and minds of the human race.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
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                fighting this war with blenders and Air conditioners and Televisions seems like a good plan.Report

              • Avatar Matty in reply to BlaiseP
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                I am absolutely in favour of using economic and moral force to advance the cause of humanity. What I deny is that this position is closer to those who advocate violent action than to those who oppose it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Matty
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                says:

                C’mon now.   The entire gist of Jason’s position is centered on the proposition of nonintervention.    It begs an entire family of questions, starting with the premise of the struggle itself, the nature of the enemy, our potential options and what victory might look like.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                You seem to be implying that our goal is not merely to defang Iran as a threat to us, but to convert their populace to one which views America favorably.

                What is left unspoken is how you would get them- in your battle of ideas- to be both Islamic as they are now, and view us favorably.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Liberty60
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                Good Lord, man.   India’s got more Muslims than Pakistan.   Curiously, they’re not our enemies.   We’ve got loads of Muslims right here in the States.  We came to the rescue of the Muslims in the Balkans. See, our enemies have tried to use Islam against us.   We have a grip on the linchpin of their rhetorical little red wagon.   Buried at the heart of Islam is the notion of the equality of man, al-ummah, the very core of the rights of man is based upon this concept.   Islam was not always such a reactionary force in the world.   As with Christianity, it has been perverted into the tool of maniacs and tyrants. I repeat myself in saying this is a war for hearts and minds.   Perhaps a few million dollars spent on effective advertising might just win this battle.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Liberty60
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                I agree with this- it sounds like what you are really suggesting is a sort of Cold War between secular Western culture and fundamentalist Islam, where we find ways to alienate the hard liners from the population, and sway them to the notion of peaceful coexistance.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Liberty60
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                Weirdly, I’d agree with it too.  If Blaise will let me.

                I would add only two other points.

                First, this is absolutely not what the neoconservatives want.  They want a shooting war.

                And second, it does the cause of peace no favors to insist that to be authentically pro-peace you must, in your heart of hearts, support war.  Of course I support some wars.  Not, however, as they have been waged recently, and not with Iran for any reason short of an imminent attack.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Liberty60
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                says:

                Further, there are plenty of people allied with the neocons who want not only a shooting war but a Clash of Civilizations End Times Reckoning! sort of conflict; not having one thing to do with Blaise’s points about finding a better way to acheive peace.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Liberty60
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, sure.  I just get my fur rubbed the wrong way by the notion of Peace and Nonintervention.   These are terribly offensive to me.   I believe in democracy and the rights of man.   I believe Peace is an illusion, a beautiful illusion and one well worth preserving, but a terribly fragile thing.   The only substance Peace shall ever have is framed in the scaffolding of its strong defenders and the Non Interventionists are not its friends.   They are its worst enemies

                I should like to expand on Liberty’s point:  those whose first solution to any problem is a shooting war do not understand its destructive power, nor did they contemplate the nature of the war they were fighting.   None of the Neocons ever went to battle:  it was their own stupidity and insecurity and lack of command experience which goaded them to fight.   In their idiocy, the Neocons gave our enemies a rich prize.

                Clausewitz’s first dictum says the statesman and the commander must first establish the sort of war they’re about to start.

                So, what sort of war is this?   A War on Terrorism?   So far, so good.  What are the goals of terrorism?   To provoke a larger entity to a war he cannot win.

                How can terrorism be opposed?   By following the Dictum of Mao, that all guerrilla war is a matter of destroying the political unity of the enemy.   If this is a guerrilla war, and I believe it is, how shall we destroy our enemy’s political unity?   By separating him from the people by virtue of a superior message, one of self-liberation and not merely replacing one hated tyrant and his ideology with another equally-tyrannical ideology.

                This is all common sense, people.   We have lost sight of the objectives whereby all such wars are won.  Abandoning these critical conflicts with cheap talk about Peace and Nonintervention merely cedes the battlefield to yet another iteration of tyranny.   If Peace is what we desire for all, it will not be through Non-Intervention.   The opposite of Love is not Hatred, but Indifference.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Liberty60
                Ignored
                says:

                The only way to win the war on terrorism is to not fight it, to rise above it and respond only when attacked, but then respond with terrible force and remove ourselves as quickly as we struck, giving no advertising to the terrorists or their cause. A true policy of non-interventionism, one which says we will allow all countries and regions to deal with their own problems, but will respond with force if we’re attacked, is the only way to deal with terrorism. If we withhold what they crave, attention and interaction, then they’re defeated. Besides, it’s true — we have much more important things to do than play head-games with backward freaks who love violence. The people among the terrorists who want more will quickly see that  they’ve been left behind.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Liberty60
                Ignored
                says:

                So just to restate the BlaiseP position, to try and make sure I understand it:

                *Iran’s culture should be destroyed by war.

                *Exposing Iran’s culture to America’s culture is an act of war.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Matty
                Ignored
                says:

                D. Extragovernmental action. Best done by someone the American Gov’t is known to hate/loathe and be gunning for. (so that Amerika won’t get blamed for the ensuing problems).

                You’d be surprised how much stuff you can pull…Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh yeah.   This dovetails with everything else worth doing in America:  see if you can farm it out to some substandard offshore operation.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                NGO need not be offshore (nor substandard. do you have any idea how many bored people are in the US). Governmentally unsanctioned is a must, however.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
              Ignored
              says:

              We could release a 25% documentary of Freddie Mercury (AWESOME) and 75% Queen concert with Urdu subtitles and do more damage to the Mullahs than would be done with a 3-week “shock and awe” campaign.

              Our cultural weapons of mass destruction could end this crap in less than half a generation.Report

  3. Avatar BSK
    Ignored
    says:

    As has been noted in several places in regards to general (as opposed to teen-specific) support for the war, the way in which these most recent wars have impacted the average American citizen who is not directly affiliated with the military is close to nil.  If you or a friend or a family member didn’t serve during these past years, the most palpable way that you were impacted by these two wars was gas prices, which probably would have gone up anyway (due to increased demand internationally).  There was no rationing, no bomb raid drills, no draft… it’s been War Lite; all the deaths, none of the costs*!

     

    *Of course, the fine print at the end of the commercial would list all of the various short- and long-term costs of this war that people are unlikely to feel/realize or attribute to the war itself…Report

  4. Avatar Ethan Gach
    Ignored
    says:

    Excellently put.  Having a generation grow up surrounded by background images of war (only a few actually experience it first hand through family or neighbors who serve), is a subject that hasn’t been discussed enough.

    The bannalization of war–a growing numbness to war’s consequences and the possibilities afforded by not being in it–is one of the worst things to come out of our extended folly in that region of the world.Report

  5. Avatar Will H.
    Ignored
    says:

    New warfare is different. There are no networks of trenches with a “No Man’s Land” between them.
    It’s more automated, more mechanized.
    Drones and robotics will become more standard vehicles.
    Soldiers are reserved for doing those things that a machine can’t be trusted to do.
    The satellites are the weak link to any communications system.
    As long as our satellites hold up, we can Missile Command on Iran for a long time.Report

  6. Avatar Katherine
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s a more than a little disturbing how much consensus has been built around the idea of a war with Iran.  Even during Bush’s presidency, attacking Iran was the kind of thing that I feared radical neocons would do.  Now it’s somehow become an option that the Obama administration is seriously considering.  It’s madness.  It’s madness to think that the US, or Israel, or any other nation, has the right to attack a foreign country that hasn’t invaded them, on the sole basis that it engages in inflammatory rhetoric and might possibly be building a weapon that the attacking nations already possess.  There’s an utter contempt for the lives of foreigners implicit in such a view.

    The single most destructive thing done by the Bush Administration was to entrench as normative policy the idea that the US has the right to launch aggressive wars to advance its interests.  Not in response to an attack on itself or on any other nation, but as a means to force other countries to act in accordance with US foreign policy aims.  That’s a perspective that’s been utterly rejected by the nations of the world since the end of the Second World War at latest.  In 2003 it was a crazy fringe idea, that went through due to a crazy fringe administration and lies about WMD.  Now?  It’s accepted, centrist, moderate, policy.  And that is the single greatest failure of the Obama Administration.

    This puzzled me — until I realized that these kids probably don’t remember not being at war. The oldest of them were seven years old on 9/11. Some, presumably, were three. If so, then war is the only thing they can recall…

    This ought to be regarded as a singular national failure, one that we had somehow never yet managed to commit — or even dream about. I mean, sure, kids grow up during war. But to be entering adulthood, and not to remember anything else? Wow.

    I’m not sure if this accurately reflects the situation.  They may not be able to remember a time when the US was at “peace”, but they also don’t have any true knowledge of war – not like people who grew up during the World Wars or Vietnam.  The wars which America is now fighting have had relatively little impact on the everyday life of the average citizen.  Perhaps that’s why the new generation is so cavalier about.  War is something that happens on the television screens, far away, to people you don’t know.

     

     Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Katherine
      Ignored
      says:

      Why are still mumbling about Bush? Barry has been president for how long now, yet folks like you still bring up his ghost instead of holding Barry responsible for his own actions and policies.Report

      • Avatar Katherine in reply to Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        I hold Bush and Obama each responsible for their own actions.  Bush is responsible for Iraq, and for the precedent it set for the launching of aggressive war.  Obama is responsible for accepting that new norm and precedent, and for failing to bring the crimes of his predecessors to light and to justice, and for treating war with Iran as an acceptable or legal policy option, among other things.Report

        • Avatar Scott in reply to Katherine
          Ignored
          says:

          Sorry but that is BS. There is nothing requiring Barry to adopt Bush’s view about the use of military force. He is president when he wants to be and other times everything is Bush’s fault. Sadly folks like you enable Barry by accepting his pity poor me excuses.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Scott
            Ignored
            says:

            Scott old boy you’re demonstrating some horrible reading comprehension failure here. Katherine is specifically blaming Obama for failing to correct Bush’s abominable policies. But none of Obama’s failures absolve Bush (the very minor) ad his chorus line of conservative war-mongering clowns from their historic failures in entangling the country in these foreign quagmires and squandering the country’s blood and treasure on these fools errands in the first place.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        Because lord knows we simply hit the reset button every 4th or 8th January…Report

      • Avatar Jeff in reply to Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        By The Power of the Clenis!!!!Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s wacky. If you had asked me back in 2003 whether abandoning the draft was a good thing, I don’t think I would have hesitated before arguing about how a military draft violates the 13th Amendment. If you had asked me if abandoning it might have unintended consequences, I don’t think I would have hesitated a second before sneeringly asking “like what?”

    Oh. Like that.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      When did you register?  When you registered, did you know you’d be a C.O. if you were ever drafted?

      ‘Cause lemme tell you, on July 12th, 1989, I started thinking about foreign policy a lot different than I had before.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Patrick Cahalan
        Ignored
        says:

        I was a senior in high school. I given that my relations were all grunts in the army, it did not occur to me that I would be anything but. Looking back, I have reason to suspect that my test scores would have landed me in the Navy or Air Force and I would have been part of the tail rather than the tooth (like 90% of the military) but, at the time, I assumed that I’d be jumping on barbed wire so that my friends could walk across my back.Report

  8. Avatar dexter
    Ignored
    says:

    If America decides to attack Iran two things should be done.  The first is reinstate the draft and the other is to pay for the war upfront with a very heavy surtax on the people with money.

    Potential points to ponder:  How many well trained fanatics does it take to overpower six chemical barges on the Mississippi River and ram the bridges?  How many bombs in trash cans in America’s malls does it take before the system shuts down?  How long would it take to cause a huge explosion at the Exxon plant in Baton Rouge.  How much would a gallon of gas cost after Iran sent jets into KSA?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to dexter
      Ignored
      says:

      How many bombs in trash cans in America’s malls does it take before the system shuts down? 

      If this starts happening I’m investing in Amazon stock.Report

      • Avatar dexter in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        How many surface-to-air missles does it take to shut down the UPS hub?Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to dexter
          Ignored
          says:

          That’s a finite number, but higher now that the post office has shut down many of its processing centers. While they’d be more costly to run (better climate control as well as other things), UPS could reroute to alternate hubs.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to dexter
          Ignored
          says:

          Maybe if the terrorists could demonstrate even the competance necessary to teach their bombers how to properly ignite their panty-bombs and shoe-bombs I’d give credence to their potential to smuggle in, position and launch STA missiles at UPS hubs. But they haven’t and I don’t.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer in reply to dexter
          Ignored
          says:

          “How many surface-to-air missles does it take to shut down the UPS hub?”

          The fatal flaw in terrorism is that if it works, it fails. If terrorists seriously attack America in such ways that terrorize us and cause existential fear throughout the country, and if those with power and money are truly threatened, the world will see just how powerful the modern US military has become. This is not bragging about our weapons superiority — it’s just a fact that we have the weapons to destroy the entire world many times over, and no country or region is willing to experience the enraged wrath of an America that fears for its existence. So, I don’t think any terrorist group is going to terrorize America like you see on the tv programs — maybe a hit here and there to keep us spending large sums of money to continue the War on Terrorism — but nothing to really terrorize us. Plus, the State will also play up all threats to ensure that their violations of civil liberties are not questioned too closely or rejected in widespread protest.Report

  9. Avatar BSK
    Ignored
    says:

    “Starship Troopers” continues to be amazingly prescient.Report

  10. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Agreed in general, though I have a certain (possibly false) optimism that Obama can’t possibly be seriously considering actually commencing an additional war. Of course the whole point of bluffing is that you can’t let your opponent know you’re bluffing; so obviously neither I (nor anyone else) can be certain an invasion (or strike) is going to happen unless it happens.

    I remain hopeful that Obama, who has demonstrated a significant and consistant pattern of cautiousness when it comes to policy (his supporters call it prudence, his detractors cowardice) would be unwilling to go this far with Iran.Report

  11. Avatar Katherine
    Ignored
    says:

    Was the Libyan intervention cautious?  Was the raid on the bin Laden compound cautious?  I don’t disagree with the latter decision, but it was undoubtedly a risky one with serious implications – both for international relations and for the fate of the Obama presidency – if it failed.Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to Katherine
      Ignored
      says:

      Gah.  That was supposed to be a reply to North.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Katherine
      Ignored
      says:

      I’d submit Katherine that the Libyan intervention was indeed quite cautious. Obama was studious in not putting boots on the ground and dragged his feet on intervening at all until the eleventh hour. Policy wise I would submit that it’s been in keeping with Obama’s general foreign policy posture which is cautious.

      Osama on the other hand was daring, I agree, but I would submit was not so much a matter of general policy but one specific (highly unique) decision. I would agree that Obama took a risk in choosing the method he did but I rather uncharitably suspect that he has several ass covering plans in mind that mitigated the risks of failure in his mind. Osama was, again, a very unique and special opportunity. It is to Obama’s credit that he took the chance and it paid off but I still don’t feel that it’s indicative of his overall policy posture which both domestically and on foreign policy has been over all very incrimental, lead from behindish, deferential to the status quos and cautious.Report

  12. Avatar Derp
    Ignored
    says:

    Could our willingness to get involved in another war have something to do with the amount of American casualties – as in there not being that many?Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Derp
      Ignored
      says:

      The only livs that matter are american. Browned skinned people can go to hell since they live there anyway.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        If God wanted brown people to live, he would have looked like one himself…
        [returns to staring a blue eyed, blonde haired Jesus picture]Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes, yes.   When a brown-skinned despot shoots anyone who dares to criticize him, the brown skinned world says nothing.   But let an American do something about it, this is just terrible, terrible.   Silence gives consent.   If the brown skinned world gave a damn about their fellows, they would say something.   That they say nothing speaks rather louder than their finger-scraping about what Americans do in their ignorance and rage.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          What is the proper response to injustice in foreign nations? and why?

          My own view is very simple.

          1. Most governments in existence today ae still at least marginally better than a Hobbesian war of all against all. But such is precisely what would happen if their government was toppled either by force or by sanctions. And there is no guarantee that the new government that forms will be better than the previous one.

          2. Normalising relations with despots works towards moderating the cruelty and nurturing the benevolence of despots.

          3. The key to long lasting peace is mutual respect between nations. That means treating with whoever is the de-facto sovereign, not with whoever is politically favoured by foggy bottom.

          What’s your’s Blaise?Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Murali
            Ignored
            says:

            So make peace with Allende? With Stalin? With the monsters? I doubt anything would have quashed Stalin’s paranoia. And it’s a paranoia that’s surprisingly common in despots. The job selects for it, you see.

            So, sure… walk away from the disappeared. Perhaps you, coming from Singapore, have more of a moral right to do so — for a variety of reasons.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
            Ignored
            says:

            Nonsense.   Hobbes gives us many sorts of states, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages.    Every time someone drags Hobbes into this sort of debate, I really must make that point.

            Yes, your point is very simple.   America only values its own lives, to the exclusion of brown skinned people who matter not at all.   I have listened to enough jumped-up scolds of the brown skinned variety to know rank hypocrisy when I see and smell it.

            Let your fellow brown-skinned people go to hell.  You live there too and watch them go to hell.   Since they live there anyway, why not at least say something?   Oh, that’s right, it’s always America’s fault, very goddamn convenient for everyone concerned.

             Report

            • Avatar Murali in reply to BlaiseP
              Ignored
              says:

              Since they live there anyway, why not at least say something?   Oh, that’s right, it’s always America’s fault, very goddamn convenient for everyone concerned.

              Who says I’m not saying anything? My initial comment was aimed at warmongers who by their rhetoric seem to think the value of people’s lives depend on which side of the border they live. I’ve laid out my reasons for my preferred course of action. Did I  in my reasoning say anything about other people’s lives not mattering? No, I am all about the long game and unintended consequences.

              Also, given your comments, our views on the proper course of action (on Iran) are not that different. You just like the muscular rhetoric of the neocons.

              Finallly, it is not like you can deny that america’s actions over the past few decades has often served to make bad situations even worse.Report

              • Avatar Derp in reply to Murali
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not a mind reader, but I don’t think he adores the muscular rhetoric of the neocons, so much as he recoils at the moral relativism of liberalism.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Derp
                Ignored
                says:

                so much as he recoils at the moral relativism of liberalism.

                No, the fact that he thinks that moral relativism is such an easy charge to level when there are in fact good moral justifications for non-intervention. It also rests on the faulty premise that the fact that something wrong is going on necessarily obligates us to stop it.

                The problem of humanitarian interventionismparallels certain issues with act consequentialism. The act of publicly binding oneself to a rule can often have good consequences especially if we are talking about the right rule. However, binding oneself to a rule often means that one forgoes the right to make exceptions to that rule in cases where making exceptions would produce better consequences. (Laws and the judiciary are a key example) The point of binding oneself to a rule is that it makes one predictable and builds order and creates trust. Predictability, order and trust in the right kinds of rules are  fundamental in producing the right kinds of consequences in the long term. Therefore, even if it is tempting to break the rules in any one instance, we should avoid doing so because not only will that erode trust at the margins, when we think of what will happen if we allow ourselves to break the rule every time it would seem to improve the consequences, we would find that we haven’t really bound ourselves to a rule at all and would therefore forgo the long term benefits of such a binding.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
                Ignored
                says:

                Insofar as one man will judge another and call him a Warmonger and advocate instead for Normalisation of Relations with Despots, he might think twice about Consequences.

                 Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                If you are saying that my understanding of how regimes actually respond to economic sanctions etc is flawed, then we can have that conversation. That is not the conversation we were having earlier.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Derp
                Ignored
                says:

                but I don’t think he adores the muscular rhetoric of the neocons, so much as he recoils at the moral relativism of liberalism.

                This is an interesting claim. Nooks and crannies everywhere. It assumes that the neocons aren’t moral relativists because of the strength of their moral commitment. But to deny moral relativism, you need alot more than emotional commitment. Absolutism doesn’t refute relativism. In fact, emotional comittment is part and parcel of moral relativism.

                On this flip side, I don’t think you’re right at all that liberals are moral relativists. What’s the evidence for this?

                 Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
                Ignored
                says:

                The only livs that matter are american. Browned skinned people can go to hell since they live there anyway.

                I really must take you at your word when you say such things.   Now, perhaps you’ll see fit to square up this little matter of Normalising Relations with Despots.   We have seen the fruits of such Normalisation and it has not moderated their cruelty nor nurtured any benevolence in their black hearts.

                I have previously said Silence Gives Consent.   The silence of the rest of the world in the face of despotism does not give me much hope we shall ever see any speaking up for the rights of man from any other quarter.   Orwell said in such times of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.   The rest of the cowardly world feels brave enough to tell America what it ought not do.   What they ought to do remains an open question and should anyone point out their silence in the face of deceit and tyranny, oh well, I was only talking about the warmongers.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                There was a guy (Nietzsche? Maybe, I’ve not yet outgrown him) who made a comment about something about the difference between not having claws and not using the claws that you have… and about how the use of claws, under any circumstance, is seen as sinful by the clawless.

                Oh, the 19th Century was another country.

                Anyway, despite my libertarianism, I can’t help but look at the government and think “YOU HAVE SO MUCH POWER!!! YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO BETTER!!!”

                I suppose I can’t blame people from other countries when they do similar. Perhaps even in despite of their own libertarianism.

                (And, when I’m drinking, this makes me feel sorry for whatever benevolent gods might exist… because we expect so much from them and, really, they can’t do anything right, at the end of the day. Just like us.)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I believe ol’ Friedrich observed we never hate arrogance more than when it appears in those with merit.   I tell you true, Mr. Jaybird, we no longer believe in our own foundational truths.   We don’t dare make our own case.   Every two-bit scold gets to call us every nasty name in the book and we stand there like so many sheepish morons, obliged to hang our heads and miserably acknowledge our manifest failures.   It’s all a sham and a lie:  these petty little scolds should be laughed off the stage.

                Didn’t ol’ Friedrich say something about those who fight monsters should be careful not to become monsters themselves?   That’s what’s happened to us as a people and a nation.   Our fearful, craven leaders have allowed us to descend to the level of our enemies.   Not only that, they’ve elevated our enemies from brazen criminals to brave warriors.   Seems this monster-creating business is contagious, eh?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Silence Gives Consent?

                If so, silvery laughter revokes it.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Please spare us the reflexive American exceptionalism.  Other countries are sick of American military interventions, but it’s not because they’re all effetely tolerant of despots.  They’re skeptical of American military power, because it has so often been used to prop up the indefensible.  The mullahs in Iran are not nice people, it’s true.  But neither was the Shah — and neither is the Bahraini monarchy, or the Saudi regime, or the people who oversee Palestinian apartheid.  Yet all those people have long been the beneficiaries of American military dominance.

                 Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Robert Greer
                Ignored
                says:

                That much has already been said:  do pay attention.

                America has come to the rescue of some hideously undemocratic regimes.  It tolerates their wretched tyrannies and corruption, preferring the Devil it Knows to any better alternative.   I would argue the exact reverse, that Oil has served as a monstrous impediment to any semblance of a foreign policy which might advance the rights of man anywhere in the world.

                Just how often do I have to repeat myself?   If America has propped up all these wretched little dictatorships, these Other Countries have connived with them as well.   Let those whose mouths can keep up with their asses get on their hind legs to accuse us this and that.   Let all the others decry someone else’s crimes and abuses for a little while, starting in their own back yards.   They might cease their pusillanimous recommendations of Normalising Relations with Despots.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                I just don’t understand how this worldwide democracy thing is supposed to work if Americans are the only people saintly enough to have noble reasons for their violence.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Don’t be obtuse.   You’ve hardly distinguished yourself with any demonstrated ability to read.   That you don’t understand Americans ought to stand up for the rights of man alongside all people of goodwill, regardless of their nationality, concepts of which you remain obviously and blankly ignorant, well, I am not entirely sure I’m up to the challenge of being the Clue to the Clueless in this specific situation.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re talking as if a criticisms of economic sanctions and threat of military invasion amounts to a moral defense of despots. Other than accusing me of lacking standing to criticise america (because it is supposed to be somehow morally problematic that my country has engaged in peaceful relations with dictatorships) I’m not criticising america for propping up dictatorships. Rather, I’m criticising  america for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Not only do I have well founded arguments for my position on this, I have no knowledge of Singapore actually interfeing in other countries’ internal affairs. (The closts it has come to doing so is by participating in UN peacekeeping missions and being part of Bush’s coalition of the willing and sending trrops to Iraq to assist in reconstruction and provide aid)

                 Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                That you don’t understand Americans ought to stand up for the rights of man alongside all people of goodwill, regardless of their nationality,

                BP, I don’t think he disagrees with the ‘ought’ part of it, he disagrees about the ‘do’.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re talking as if a criticisms of economic sanctions and threat of military invasion amounts to a moral defense of despots.

                Um, yes.   They are equivalent.  Especially when combined with criticism of America when at long last it actually does something about a despot.   Your criticism was framed in terms of America not caring about the lives of Brown People, a nasty slur, a dog you seem to be walking back all the way to the starting line.

                Other than accusing me of lacking standing to criticise america (because it is supposed to be somehow morally problematic that my country has engaged in peaceful relations with dictatorships) I’m not criticising america for propping up dictatorships. Rather, I’m criticising  america for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

                Distinction without difference.   Those who would criticise ought to at least offer an alternative to what they’re criticising.   Despots will be despots, eh?   And who are we, or you, or anyone, to criticise them?    Internal affairs seldom stay that way, as the farting man said to his wife in bed.   She made him sleep on the couch anyway.

                Not only do I have well founded arguments for my position on this, I have no knowledge of Singapore actually interfeing in other countries’ internal affairs. (The closts it has come to doing so is by participating in UN peacekeeping missions and being part of Bush’s coalition of the willing and sending trrops to Iraq to assist in reconstruction and provide aid)

                Singapore is hardly alone in its skirting of Iran sanctions, but Kuo, a Singapore oil exporting firm, has been sanctioned by the USA for violating UN sanctions.   It little matters if other countries don’t abide by these sanctions:   I don’t believe they work.   My approach would be radically different, a full court press on Iran’s religious authorities, using economic and cultural power to drive a wedge between the dictator and his stooges and the people thus governed.

                Earlier, you mentioned Hobbes.   Hobbes thought an absolute monarchy the most efficient form of government, for it harbored within it the least possibility for dissent and internal contradiction.   Hobbes even recognized the problems of graft and nepotism and thought the Monarch could keep that to a minimum, too, only rewarding his friends.

                But I have lived under military dictatorships and know this isn’t the case.  Hobbes had only seen the absolute monarchy of France:  he did not foresee the current apotheoses of absolute monarchy in the form of the tinhorn dictator.

                A modern dictator must not only control his people and economy, he must sow dissent and fear among his enforcers, periodically exhibiting a bit of madness, just to keep the scheming lieutenants in the barracks on the Qui Vive, for he arose from just such barracks and knows he will surely be deposed from that direction if he doesn’t keep them both in fear and awe of him, drawn to him by their lust for power and kept in check, not by the dictator and his secret police, but by their fellow officers who will rat each other out for the right price.

                The modern dictator is the scourge of the world, a magnet for evil.   Those who would do business with him are only serving to further oppress his victims.   Even now, Mrs. Assad in Syria orders up bejewelled flub-dubs from Paris and Iran sends helpful advice on how to tell more effective lies.   If Singapore sent a few troops to Iraq, well, that’s just fine, a small price to pay to be in America’s good graces.   Meanwhile, its oil exporters and bankers serve as Iran’s bagmen and corporate cutouts.

                I couldn’t care less what Singapore does, let its two-bit moneygrubbers work at cross purposes to the UN and everyone else.   Just do us all a favour, eh?   Keep your scolding to yourselves.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Um, yes.   They are equivalent.  Especially when combined with criticism of America when at long last it actually does something about a despot. 

                 

                So anyone who disagrees with you about how to rid the world of despots is morally in league with them?  Seems a little Manichean.  Do you really think it’s impossible for people to have prefer alternatives to 1)  sanctions (which inevitably hurt the populace first and hardest, and often strengthen the rulers’ political power anyway) and 2) yet another violent intrusion into the Middle East?  We tried this exact strategy in Iraq, and that only accelerated persecution of minorities in that country.  We’d do better to give the Green Movement a nudge here and there instead — the transition to a post-mullah Iran would be more organic and less suspect.

                These Kiplingesque moral crusades you favor have rarely helped their supposed beneficiaries.  Yet curiously, they usually improve the geopolitical dominance of the countries who start them.  Why do you think would this time be different?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Your criticism was framed in terms of America not caring about the lives of Brown People, a nasty slur, a dog you seem to be walking back all the way to the starting line.

                That was a cheap snark aimed at people who’s cost-benefit calculations of foreign incursion only accounted for american lives and money. I believe I’m allowed to make snarky comments once in a while right?

                Distinction without difference.   Those who would criticise ought to at least offer an alternative to what they’re criticising.   Despots will be despots, eh?   And who are we, or you, or anyone, to criticise them?

                I did in fact offer an alternative. The fact that you disagree with the alternative does not mean that I didnt offer one. In fact, apart from the snark you have basically said that you don’t like my option. Also, we can criticise them all we want. I’m jut saying that we shouldnt attack them or use economic sanctions against them because they wouldnt work. And I believe that you agree with me on this point as well.

                modern dictator must not only control his people and economy, he must sow dissent and fear among his enforcers, periodically exhibiting a bit of madness, just to keep the scheming lieutenants in the barracks on the Qui Vive, for he arose from just such barracks and knows he will surely be deposed from that direction if he doesn’t keep them both in fear and awe of him, drawn to him by their lust for power and kept in check, not by the dictator and his secret police, but by their fellow officers who will rat each other out for the right price

                If this is indeed the case, then actively trying to destabilise a dictator is just going to make him more paranoid*. Since it is his paranoia that fuels his cruelty, trying to destabilise a dictator only makes him more cruel. In that case, normalising relations i.e. normal flows of trade and migrants between countries will bring prosperity and over time make the dictator look good. Few people will have reason to over throw him etc etc. i.e. If there is a vicious circle between paranoia and cruelty, we should aim at breaking that vicious circle rather than contributing towards it. Instead, we should try to create virtuous cycles that would stave off cruelty and paranoia.

                *I’m not sure it counts as paranoia if  they really are out there to get you.

                 Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                So anyone who disagrees with you about how to rid the world of despots is morally in league with them?  Seems a little Manichean.  

                Greer, we’ve long since established you can’t read.   I have said those who would invoke the spectre of Brown People going to Hell should at least have the decency to recognise those Brown People are already in a Hell created for them by those Dictators.   Their only solution seems to be some variant upon fellating those dictators in hopes it might put a grin on their faces.

                As for your little points, I have already addressed them.  Sanctions are exactly the wrong approach.   A military solution to a dictatorship would require a long-term strategy, complete with some fairly ruthless tactics, to replace the dictator with some more democratic form of government, a task no outsider can possibly accomplish without buy-in from the people.   This isn’t impossible, just exceedingly difficult and never a short-term endeavour.

                There are other modes of opposition to dictatorships beyond a military approach. I strongly recommend getting some Madison Avenue types involved in a war for hearts and minds and other parts of people’s anatomies.

                The rebellion against Saddam failed because the Shiites never really united against Saddam.   You forget (or more likely never knew:  there’s no much you by your own admission don’t understand) that Saddam didn’t hold with religious identities.  Saddam knew Iraq was sorted out along tribal identities.   He had loyalists from all the tribes and controlled them through their clan structures.

                Shiites fight among themselves over the most startlingly petty issues, rather like the Satmars and Lubovitschers feud internally here in the States.   Shiites are widely hated throughout the Islamic world for this tendency to feud.   For Shiite identity is a matter of which religious leader you follow, exactly as the Hasidim, to the disgust of their fellow Jews.

                Oh, to be as clever and insightful as Pangloss Greer!   Stabbing like an oiled rapier into the gristly carcase of geopolitics, you have concluded the best of all possible worlds is one where the USA does nothing at all.   For this is the best of all possible worlds.

                And spare me that Kipling bullshit.   I believe in the rights of man, self governance, the rule of law, freedom of the press, independent judiciaries and the like.   I am a Liberal.   The world is measured from the ground up:  as goes it with the poor and defenseless, so goes it with all above.   It’s all too clear to me those who most praise Liberty have the least idea of the price at which it is acquired.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I did in fact offer an alternative. The fact that you disagree with the alternative does not mean that I didnt offer one. In fact, apart from the snark you have basically said that you don’t like my option.

                Yes, you did offer an option.   Appeasement.

                Also, we can criticise them all we want. I’m jut saying that we shouldnt attack them or use economic sanctions against them because they wouldnt work. And I believe that you agree with me on this point as well.

                I hardly see how appeasement is criticism of any sort.   I have said, far too many times now, that I would work to end dictatorships by attacking them where they are weakest.  The enforced loyalty of their citizens comes at a price.  I would raise that price considerably.

                If this is indeed the case, then actively trying to destabilise a dictator is just going to make him more paranoid*. Since it is his paranoia that fuels his cruelty, trying to destabilise a dictator only makes him more cruel.

                Dictators require a cadre of enforcers whose loyalty comes at an even higher price than the ordinary citizen.   Look at your own country, Singapore, led out of the weeds by one of history’s oddest dictators, Lee Kuan Yew, a man who worked assiduously to create an economically powerful nation state with a pitifully bleak set of prospects when he began.    Authoritarian dictator that he was, routinely repressing his enemies, especially journalists, Lee understood the absolute necessity of keeping the people loyal to him.    He really had no other options open to him.

                Thus are self-righteous little bastard dictators obliged to enact reforms.  Remove their options.    Nobody had to remove any such options for Lee, he was a curious combination of Confucian ethos and pragmatic reformer.    I suppose we should be glad Chee Soon Juan is still alive:  a stupider dictator would simply have shot such a man without compunction.    Still, Singapore has a long way to go before anyone will call it a genuine government of the people.   That Singapore has done as well as it has to date means only that Lee Kuan Yew decided to work for the betterment of his people.   Top down reform is never real reform.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise, I’d like to see you point out where I said America should do nothing in the face of despotism, or where I foreclosed the possibility of a “Madison Avenue” anti-mullah campaign.

                This is why your criticism of the peacemongers is so inapt — you seem to think none of them could be in favor of regime change by nonviolent means.  Don’t you think that’s awfully uncharitable?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Robert Greer
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                says:

                “Other countries are sick of American military interventions”

                They are?  Everybody from the TNC and the Arab League, to NATO and the UN, seemed quite pleased to use the US Navy and Air Force to bomb the snot out of Qaddafi’s forces.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Kolohe
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                says:

                No one wants america to interfere in their own country though.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Kolohe
                Ignored
                says:

                Just because American firepower was used doesn’t mean it was a strictly American intervention.  If all those countries favored the strike, and if America had to be dragged in after weeks of international outcry (including from inside Libya), then it’s hard to characterize the strike as merely American.  Right?

                 Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe
                Ignored
                says:

                Really no point of arguing over the meaning of ‘is’ (or other conjugations of the verb ‘to be’) is there?

                Anyway, I’ll give you credit for not being fake like the last supercilious anti-American Euro-tosser was.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Kolohe
                Ignored
                says:

                Where do you think I’m from, Kolohe?  Just curious.Report

        • Avatar Jeff in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          Dammit!  No Muslims have condemned 9/11 today!  Let’s kill them all.

           

          Not worthy of you, Blaise.Report

  13. Avatar Christopher Carr
    Ignored
    says:

    “Which is not to say that we would lose the war.”

    Wait, what!?!

    “We wouldn’t, for the very simple reason that the terms “win” and “lose” are obsolete. Both were rituals of old war, and we aren’t fighting old wars anymore.”

    Ah, yes. That’s totally right. We’ve won Iraq twice now, right? Is winning a war nowadays kind of like winning the Internets?

    That being said, not to expose myself to having Godwin’s Law called on me or anything, but this segment…

    My talk had emphasized Cato’s commitment to peace and nonintervention, and possibly as a result most of the questions centered on foreign policy. Almost all of these were based on three premises: (1) We will attack Iran very soon (2) Attacking Iran will be in our national interests (3) There’s nothing morally wrong with attacking Iran, either.

    This puzzled me — until I realized that these kids probably don’t remember not being at war. The oldest of them were seven years old on 9/11. Some, presumably, were three. If so, then war is the only thing they can recall, and a new war is to them maybe something a lot like a new transportation bill or a new federal bureau: momentarily newsworthy, but also kind of banal.

    …reminded me very much of this classic Disney cartoon: 

    Report

  14. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m with the reader who said the bureaucrats don’t want this war. And when that’s the case there tends to be a lot of momentum behind the scenes in the machinery of government to keep it from happening. Sometimes a labyrinthine bureaucracy can work in favor of good outcomes. The American public tends to be a lot more trigger happy than the average DoD operative, much less their bosses. I don’t think a full-scale land invasion or even an air strike is in the picture.

    The Israeli bluster is just that, bluster. When the IDF is actually in the mood to strike, they don’t talk. The fact that they’re talking means they’re not going to act any time soon.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Nob Akimoto
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      says:

      Fron your lips to God(ess?)’s ear Nob.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        No one in the press knew the slightest thing about Operation Orchard or Operation Opera before they happened. There wasn’t even a conversation about bombing or attacking. They just happened.

        An equivalent Iranian operation would’ve just happened as well, without Israel talking or blustering or puffing out its chest. The fact that there’s this much talk means that Israel’s not gonna be the one to make the first move.

        Meanwhile, US war weariness is high enough and the economy fragile enough (and likely the President’s NSC insufficiently convinced of Iran’s danger as a nuclear power) that it’s not likely to be the one to make the first move, either. Donilon’s been adamant that as strike’s not the right  move. I don’t think Clinton, Rice or Biden are particularly keen on it, either. Panetta isn’t a war concielerge for DoD, either, he’s there to help slim it down.

        The national security apparatus moves are just plain pointing in the wrong directions for an attack to be seriously on the table…now I could be wrong. I’m no Apollo, but I’d be willing to put a fair amount of money on the wager that short of an Iranian miscalculation like a boat attack on a US destroyer, it’s not going to happen.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Nob Akimoto
          Ignored
          says:

          even then, if they kiss enough ass, they can make it go away (some stupid commander doing something really really dumb)Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto
          Ignored
          says:

          Of course, I also thought Michelle Bachmann would win the Iowa caucuses, and actually bet money on it. (She won the Aimes Straw Poll, dammit!) So maybe my political predictions aren’t worth that much….

          Though I did say that Obama’s plan was: “Kill Bin Laden, then find a way out of Afghanistan” back when he “escalated” in 2009…so…not totally off…*cough*Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to Nob Akimoto
          Ignored
          says:

          From my side of the world, it looks like they are kind of slowly drumming up for war. The language and the way the rationale (nuclear iran/WMD) is used especially bears no relation to the realities on the ground (no nukes/no WMDS) The US knows that Iran has no WMDs or else it wouldnt casually talk about attacking it. The fact of the matter is that America and Israel pose a far more immediate existential threat to Iran than the other way around.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Murali
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            says:

            From my side of the world, it looks like … America and Israel pose a far more immediate existential threat to Iran than the other way around.

            Well said, brother. It looks like that from my side of the world as well.

             Report

        • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Nob Akimoto
          Ignored
          says:

          I think you’re right that the American bureaucracy doesn’t want this war, but unfortunately that’s not the only decision-maker here.  I’m not sure we should belittle Israel’s recent saber-rattling — sure, Israel often feigns belligerence to extract non-military concessions from Europe and America  But the current government in Israel really does believe that an Iranian nuke is an unacceptable scenario: A nuclear umbrella for Hezbollah is fatal to the Likudniks’ Greater Israel plans.

          I think the reason Israel hasn’t just gone and done the deed is that it doesn’t have the capacity on its own (hence the bunker-busters from America).  But even more military hardware likely won’t be enough to scrub Iran of nuclear weapons because of how they’re distributed through the country, and an Israeli air operation would be risky anyway because of how far Israeli planes would have to travel.  The U.S. has air strike capabilities much closer to Iran, as well as troops in the region that are probably about to be freed up.  The U.S. doesn’t want anything to do with an Iran strike, but Netanyahu has been extremely effective at    getting the U.S. to commit to Israel’s military interests by exploiting U.S. domestic politics.  Obama has been boxed out of the containment option, and has made enough public statements about “having Israel’s back” that if he didn’t assist Israel in a strike (or help defend against a counterattack), he’d fatally undermine his own credibility.

          I don’t see a way out of American involvement in this war unless an enormous anti-war movement makes military strikes electoral suicide.

           

           Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Robert Greer
            Ignored
            says:

            Lalalala. I can’t hear you!

            I think there’s a bit of a difference here between backing a strike and actually helping Israel defang Iran in the event of a counter-strike. It’s definitely splitting hairs, but I don’t see there being a huge appetite for the sort of disastrous Iraq type embroligio unless Romney/Santorum is President come Jan. 2013. (In which case we’re all screwed anyway, but that’s just my biases showing)

            I’m still skeptical that Israel will do anything as self-destructive as a first strike without US approval. And I don’t think that approval is coming.Report

            • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Nob Akimoto
              Ignored
              says:

              Plenty of people are saying that American approval for an Israeli strike has already been given.  Of course there’s room for debate there, but I think it should be uncontroversial that Obama would be in a politically fraught position if Israel launched an unsuccessful strike against Iran that would require clean-up by a superpower.

              I think the difference between backing a strike and helping Israel defend against a counterstrike is less than you think.  Iran would really rather not get the Great Satan involved in the Iran-Israel blustering, which is why the Supreme Leader was so quick to praise Obama’s overtures to peace.  But the Israelis benefit from being seen as inseparable from the Western superpower, which is why Netanyahu pressed Obama to assent to statements about how the two countries act unitarily in the region.  Unfortunately for the peaceniks, Obama had little choice but to nod his head.  So now an Israeli strike will be seen as America-approved no matter the actual level of American involvement.    Obama has little incentive now to not assist in a strike on Iran: if he’s going to get blamed for it anyway, he might as well make sure it’s done cleanly.  That’s exactly the calculation Netanyahu has been trying to get Obama to make for months.  Barring some unprecedented grassroots anti-war push, it looks like the hawks have won.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto
      Ignored
      says:

      The Israeli bluster is just that, bluster. When the IDF is actually in the mood to strike, they don’t talk. The fact that they’re talking means they’re not going to act any time soon.

      I think that was true even a couple years ago when J Goldberg wrote that propaganda piece arguing for a  US strike against Iran. The whole piece was pretty much a ‘Israel is pissed and upset about this nuclear reactor thingy, and the US better do something now cuz if they don’t they’re responsible for whatever crazy shit we might be forced to do!’ They don’t want to instigate a ME war, but they’re not opposed to it, either.

      At least, so says J Goldberg.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s the other part of the calculus for me…when even Jeff Goldberg says a strike is a bad idea, and seems to be pondering that it won’t work, then you’re on a level where the real policy makers are probably convinced that a strike (short of full scale invasion) isn’t going to work.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto
          Ignored
          says:

          And just as an aside, wasn’t that one of the most interesting propaganda pieces you’ve ever read? He basically says exactly what you attribute to him – that an air-strike is a bad idea. He then follows that claim with a serious of ‘and yet!’s and ‘but!’s, laying out an entire argument as if the decision to strike is entirely reasonable and justified. And then he reminds the reader – preemptively! – that, no I’m not advocating for a first strike, I’m just saying that if it happened, and if the US took the lead, then a bunch of horrible consequences would follow, but it’d be good for Israel.

          ‘So, Jeffrey, are you advocating for a first strike?’

          ‘No, of course not! But…’

          It was about the finest piece of propaganda I’ve ever read.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Stillwater
            Ignored
            says:

            I’m pretty much in the camp of “I hate Goldberg”ers. Have you ever noticed that his stance is basically the same as Walt/Mersheimer when he’s actually talking about Israel, but the former two are terrible, horrible antisemites? I mean…

            But yes/…Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Nob Akimoto
              Ignored
              says:

              Odd, I never got that from any of the Goldblog reading I do. What’s to hate about Goldberg? He is an adamant supporter of the two state solution and vocally condemns the Israel right settlement entanglement policies.Report

  15. Avatar Chris
    Ignored
    says:

    Jason, I had an unfortunate encounter with a baseball, which led to an unfortunate encounter with a dentist, which means that I’m now fairly well medicated and therefore can’t say much in reply, but I did want to say that, whatever I think of libertarians, I’m glad someone is out there talking about peace and nonintervention to young people. They’ll get it when they go to college, of course, but I’m afraid that so many of them don’t hear it before then that when they get to college they’ll just associate it with lefty loonies and dismiss it. So getting it earlier, and from someone who’s obviously not a lefty loony, is a damn good thing.Report

  16. Avatar Kenny Bee
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m no fan of death or war or bombs or the US sticking its nose into some other countries business; it has usually (recent history and probably near future) just lead to us outstretching our neck onto a chopping block. That being said, Iran scares the crap out of me. They’re a theocracy, and while I’m generally opposed to nuclear weapons, I am particularly opposed to theocracies possessing nuclear weapons. When the state is of the opinion that dying in a blaze of glory ensures you virgins and paradise, maybe they shouldn’t have the ability to create said blaze. My question to the more well informed is could we just bomb them? No declaration of war, no boots on ground, no nothing, just some bombs in strategic locales to cripple their nuclear program for the foreseeable future. Then we leave and they’re pissed, but what can they do in response that the wouldn’t be able to do had we invaded?Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Kenny Bee
      Ignored
      says:

      From everything I’ve heard their weapons programme isn’t out in the open.  The Iranians are well aware of the American propensity for airstrikes.

      And I’d be a bit careful about assuming the Iranian government is staffed with fanatics just because they’re a theocracy.  It’s very important to separate what politicians say they believe form what they actually believe.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kenny Bee
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m no fan of death or war or bombs or the US sticking its nose into some other countries business; it has usually (recent history and probably near future) just lead to us outstretching our neck onto a chopping block. That being said, Iran scares the crap out of me.

      The first part of this statement is a ample, meaningful, maybe overwhelming reason to reject the second part. How is it that Americans fall for this old story every time the TPTB hit the refresh button?Report

  17. Avatar beejeez
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    says:

    Iran’s mullahs can be pretty awful, KB, but they are not suicidal. Even if Iran geared up a very ambitious nuclear weapons program, Israel will remain decades ahead of them in its ability to deploy offensive nukes — let alone what Iran would face from the U.S. arsenal if it tried to rough up Israel. The whole Iran “threat” is the invention of domestic Israel and U.S. politics.Report

  18. Avatar Jak
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    says:

    I’m more worried about Pakistan nukes.Report

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