Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Joe Klein and Two New Liberal Canards:
(a) We Should Not Impose Freedom By Force
(b) We Should Only Go To War If Attacked

GodDAMN it.

This kind of bullshit really pisses me off. (Via/at Sullivan's digs--I keep that link b/c he excerpts the two most important graphs).

This is an example of the common tendency to grasp at obvious objections even if they are stupid. The problem with neoconservatism is NOT that it advocates going to war on moral grounds. NOW FECKING HEAR THIS: LIBERALS BELIEVE IN GOING TO WAR ON MORAL GROUNDS. In fact, that has been one of the major bones of contention between liberalism and conservatism in my lifetime, during which conservatives have simultaneously (i) dislocated our national arm patting ourselves on our national back because our cause was just in WWII, and (ii) argued that we should never go to war for mere justice. (Of course some liberals are pacifists, unfortunately...but I'll ignore them here.)

Clinton's interventions in the former Yugoslavia were particularly clear examples of liberal interventionism--we went in and stopped genocide because it was the right thing to do, even though the likely costs to the U.S. exceeded the likely benefits to us.

It is simply not true that national self-defense is the only legitimate reason to go to war.

And the decision to go into Iraq was stupid NOT because it was not in response to an attack (er, well...who knows what was really going on the the minds of Bush and Cheney...). Rather, it was stupid for rather complicated reasons. It had nothing really to do with 9/11, though Bush may (or may not) have thought that it did, the moral case for the war was shaky (largely because it was the wrong time to do it, and because there was inadequate planning for reconstruction), and the moral and strategic cases were hopelessly conflated. Oh, and: we were lied to about all of this.

I've said all this many times before.

I've also noted that IT IS PERFECTLY FINE TO IMPOSE FREEDOM BY FORCE. That's what we did in the Revolution. That's what we did in the Civil War. That's what we did in WWII. Freedom is often imposed by force, and permissibly so. Again, although the criticism sounds good if you don't think about it, it is not the correct criticism of the Iraq war. The relevant problem in this vicinity is that we chose a stupid target for the imposition of freedom. In such cases, likely consequences and probabilities matter. We went to war on false pretenses, on the basis of lies and other deceptions by the administration, on fabricated links to 9/11, against an unrelated enemy of bin Laden, distracted ourselves from Afghanistan, etc. Then when the strategic case became an obvious failure, the Bushies started pushing the moral justification for war. But if we were going to wage a war on moral grounds, we should have (i) gone for lower-hanging fruit, e.g. Sudan, or (b) done actual planning for the reconstruction so that we didn't make matters worse in Iraq...which we seem to have done.

Jesus, this crap pisses me off. Don't just grab any old objection you find laying around just because it sounds good. Think about the implications of the objections that occur to you. When you commit yourself to stupid objections like these, you thereby commit yourself to stupid policies.


Blogger lovable liberal said...

The whole liberation aspect was marketing, though it's not a shock that the big media swallowed it.

Duhbya's administration was filled with neocon signatories of the PNAC plan, and the frankly imperial purpose of that was to project American power into the crossroads of the Middle East in order to secure the benefits of oil and, so they fantasized, a stable region. Bzzt!

2:56 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


And all the more reason to reject the two claims at issue.

3:31 PM  

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