A breath of fresh air

But Mr. Gibson withdrew whenever the discussions grew heated. And by not intervening more forcefully early on in the Republican debate, he allowed much of their discussion to remain staid and uninformative — Representative Ron Paul, of all candidates, dominated the foreign policy debate.

NYTimes: He Came, and He Saw, but Did He Moderate?

The other Republican candidates seem out of touch with reality. Rudy Giuliani actually said that the past US Foreign policy had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. True, they were carried out by people with a choice; however our foreign policy in the region never has been one that thought of the people in the region. Rather we have sought outcomes which serve our interests, at the detriment of the people. And we wonder why the people of the Middle East dislike the United States. We have used these people for years as pawns in our grand game of world domination. And, now the bill for our misbehavior is coming due.

This philosophy of a ‘Just War’ that has been bandied about for the last few years is deeply flawed. Any unprovoked aggressive action is not just. Bullets and Bombs do not spread democracy , they spread hate. Think about it this way. If Iran were to bomb us, invade us, occupy us and tell us that we had to install a Islamic government, how would we react?

And yet, the warmongers in Washington keep bombing, invading and occupying other countries, and expecting them to suddenly become a ‘democratic’ country. Or, we get an election, and if the people elected are not the ones we want, we take actions which harm the people on the street.

A perfect example of this flawed policy is Palestine. They had a free and fair election. They elected the party that they believed in. We pulled all aid (which has been propping up their economy for decades). Their country crumbled; there were riots, civilian deaths, and street warfare. How is this fair? How does this engender the person on the street to the US?

We simply have to stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. We need to stop propping up governments that are expedient to our short term aims, and start to truly spread freedom by example. We need to become world leaders again, instead of bullies.

Whether the United States was trying to keep the shah of Iran in power or trying to prevent the rise of Arab nationalism and nonalignment, its policy was a blunt instrument applied presumptuously to subtle and complicated problems. One journalist has likened it to playing pool with a 20-foot cue stick. It would have been a miracle had the result not been chronic turmoil. The impracticality of the policy would have been a stumbling block even if the United States had not been on the side of injustice.

Cato: “Ancient History”: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention

It’s time to back away from brinkmanship and interventionist policy. It’s clear that it has not worked , the last 50 years of history have show that beyond that a shadow of a doubt. If we are to shake the image of a bully, and regain our good standing in the world, we must become a force for positivism rather then negativism.

7 thoughts on “A breath of fresh air”

  1. <blockquote>Let’s take Pakistan. How would you – a citizen of Pakistan – feel knowing that the US has given billions of dollars to your dictator?</blockquote>

    I’ve said many times that Pakistan is a tough call. But lets look at another dictator we stopped supporting, the Shah of Iran. If I was an Iranian, I would rather live under the Shah (although he was certainly not perfect) then the Mullahs.

    I certainly think we need to try and work to build stronger Democratic institutions in Pakistan. Clearly, Musharafah is an unreliable partner in that, but that doesn’t mean that just abandoning the situation and hoping that good will come out of it is the responsible course.

    <blockquote>Let’s hit closer to home. What if China were to give several billion dollars to some president that you do not like – say – Edwards or Ron Paul? What if another country were interfering in our country? Would you become endeared to that country? Or, would that create resentment, anger etc?</blockquote>

    What about Lech Wallesa and the Polish solidarity movement? We helped to support that, along with many others, and the Polish people are greatful for that. Throwing away the purpose and the starting situation and saying it is all the same just isn’t sensible. I do believe that we should support democracy everywhere, although I acknowledge that the exact steps to do so may not be equal. We should not interfere with a nations internal politics when those politics are based upon the legitimate will of the people, and as I believe that ours are, China should not interfere with ours. Should we be mad at the French because they helped to support the American Revolution? Of course not.

    Lets take another exampe, if I was a Jew in Nazi Germany or a Tutsi in Rwanda, would I be satisfied that even though the world was ignoring genocide it was ok because they were not ‘interfering’ with my nation? Obviously not.

    <blockquote>Let’s not start by shooting.</blockquote>

    Sure. That how we always start. Many violent criminals do in fact resist arrest. They fight back. If we had a magic wand that would remove oppressive dictators without any violence I’d certainly wave the hell out it. We don’t have that wand.

    We have to make choices between standing back and allowing violence or becoming violent ourselves to stop violent men. There isn’t a solution without violence in it.

    <blockquote>WWII – a perfect example of a war that did not have to happen. It was not in our control, so it was inventible, but still not just, nor right. It was a dark time for the entire world.</blockquote>

    Of course it was in our control, well not WWII but our involvement in it was. We could have surrendered to Japan after Pearl Harbor. We could have made it clear before then that we wouldn’t do anything to oppose Japan and Germany’s ambitions as long as they didn’t enter our territory. Saying we didn’t have choices is stupit.

    Now, no one is claiming that Japan and Germany’s wars were just (at least no one that I know.) Just War is pretty much explicity not just for both sides, if Side A is justified, then Side B is not and vice versa.

    If you believe that we should not have surrendered after Japan and Germany declared war upon is then you do indeed believe in just war. You might have a pretty high bar for when war is justified though.

    <blockquote>I would add – with strong international support.</blockquote>

    Why? Your previous contention has been that the main reason we should avoid interfering is because it makes us ‘hated’ but probably the two biggest causes of that hatred, the establishment of Israel and the first Iraq war and resulting sanctions, both had strong international support. International support doesn’t seem to be any defense against this hatred, and equally international support, in the case of the two above examples, doesn’t seem to lead to any perfect or even better solution.

    I’m not saying that I oppose having international support, but it doesn’t seem to square with your other points.

    <blockquote>I do not espouse hiding under our blankets – but rather getting out of the nation building business. Get the mindset that we know better</blockquote>

    If we aren’t going to build nations, what are we going to try and do? Simply support the status quo? Try and weaken nations? If we are going to be involved, we should be involved with a purpose, and that purpose should I think be to build, to advance freedom and prosperity around the globe both because it is the right thing to do and it is in our own self-interest to do so. Obviously the tools for that cause are varied, and certainly the military is a tool only for extreme situations, but nation building is indeed what we should be trying to do.

    As to believing we know better, we have to act on what be believe is correct. How else should be act? We should do what we don’t think is right?

  2. <blockquote>Asking how I would wish to be treated if I were a genocidal dictator doesn’t seem to provide any real wisdom.</blockquote>

    Asking how, as a people, you would like to be treated does. Why do so many of the radical, evil ideas spread in that area? I would posit that is is in part because of the foreign policy choices this country has made since the 1920’s.

    Let’s take Pakistan. How would you – a citizen of Pakistan – feel knowing that the US has given billions of dollars to your dictator?

    Let’s hit closer to home. What if China were to give several billion dollars to some president that you do not like – say – Edwards or Ron Paul? What if another country were interfering in our country? Would you become endeared to that country? Or, would that create resentment, anger etc?

    What if the US Government felt that it was necessary to find you an ugly, ill-tempered wife, and make you marry them? Send police in to ‘keep the peace’ by suppressing your rights?

    This is such an obvious linkage – we interfere, we prop up bad people, we get hated. It’s not rocket science, and any attempt to whitewash our past in the area simply makes it worse.

    <blockquote>But I imagine that our mugger in the above analogy would prefer that no one defend his victim as well.</blockquote>

    Of course. However, if he were going to be stopped, do you think that he would prefer to be

    a) tazed into unconsciousness
    b) shot in the leg
    c) beat into a bloody pulp
    or
    d) restrained, and taken in to custody?

    If I were to be that mugger, I would certainly prefer option d. There are sick people out there, and other circumstances that might arise, however I am simply saying – let’s start with the one that we would prefer if the roles were reversed and see what happens. Let’s not start by shooting.

    Now think about another country doing this for almost a century.

    How can an interventionist policy like what we have seen help?

    <blockquote>It seems to me that you haven’t really read up on what just war theory is,</blockquote>

    I have. I do not agree that any war is ‘just’. I feel that some are inventible, and that is a sad state of affairs. That is something that we need to work on as a world. WWII – a perfect example of a war that did not have to happen. It was not in our control, so it was inventible, but still not just, nor right. It was a dark time for the entire world.

    <blockquote>That doesn’t mean of course that any particular intervention is a good idea. What to do, and what not to do can be a comples question as well, but once again it is a question that must be answered with sober thought and a good deal of faith, not avoided because it is hard.</blockquote>

    I would add – with strong international support. I do not espouse hiding under our blankets – but rather getting out of the nation building business. Get the mindset that we know better then the rest of the world, and that we have some higher right to dictate to them how to live. We do not have any such authority.

  3. Asking how I would wish to be treated if I were a genocidal dictator doesn’t seem to provide any real wisdom. I should imagine that I would want to given lavish gifts and have no one interfere with my power over my people. But I imagine that our mugger in the above analogy would prefer that no one defend his victim as well.

    Just War theory was of course used to justify the war in Iraq, others used it to claim that the war in Irad didn’t meet the requirements of a just war. It seems to me that you haven’t really read up on what just war theory is, what variations there are to it, and how people think that it should be used. It is certainly something worthy of study, even if you decide that the basic tenets are not sound (although I suspect you will not, you will just disagree with some people as to how a particular set of circumstances relates to the theory.)

    I don’t personally believe in sovreign nations. That is an outdated concept. I believe in the sovreignty of people, and that governments are only legitimate if they reflect that sovreignty. That is though a seperate issue then just war, although it could have implications.

    I also don’t think it possible for us to not intervene in the Middle East. Things that happen there matter here, and things that happen here matter there even more. Isolation is an impossibilty given our place in the world.

    That doesn’t mean of course that any particular intervention is a good idea. What to do, and what not to do can be a comples question as well, but once again it is a question that must be answered with sober thought and a good deal of faith, not avoided because it is hard.

  4. Defending another <b>can</b> an excuse to get involved as it were. There is certainly a gray area about level of force which can be applied – and it really depends on the circumstances. I would suppose that we should apply the ‘golden rule’ to it – if circumstances were reversed, how would we like to be treated?

    In re the ‘Just War’ concept – I had heard it used to justify the War in Iraq. I have a pretty big problem with War being used to ‘solve’ anything. War should be viewed as a failure. Certainly there are times that it is correct to use force – however those circumstances are far and few between. Changing a sovereign countries style of government is not an appropriate use of force – military, economic or otherwise.

    The West (and America especially) has a long history of interventionist policies in the Middle East. We are now seeing what these policies bring about, and the crow does not taste good. We cannot undo what we have sown since the 20’s, however we can start to put the pieces back together.

  5. First off, I note that you accept my premise that defending another can be just provocation.

    Of course proportionality is always an issue in just war. One always tries to use the minimum violence to accomplish ones objective. Obviously though the scale of the mugger and say, genocide, are different and require different levels of force. Just as a large man confronting an unarmed mugger might simply be able to use his physical strength, while a small woman facing a mugger with a knife would probably need to at least threaten to shoot and possibly follow through on that threat. Of course the deliberate targetting of non-combatants is always wrong.

    Secondly, there is confusion between two terms: pre-emptive war and prevantative war.

    Preemptive war deals with the threat of an immediate attack. The classic example of this is the 1967 Six Day war. Very few people are oppossed to preemptive war other then complete pacifists. And of course we advocate shooting people who we think are going to murder someone all the time. For example, shooting a person who is holding a gun to a hostages head is generally considered by most to be justified, even though we can’t be certain that the gunman will pull the trigger.

    Preventative war is a much more difficult question. Rather then responding to an immediate tacticle situation, it is designed to prevent a future unfavorable strategic condition. Of course one of the reasons for the Iraq War was preventative (not preemptive.) Similarly the Israeli attack on Osirak was a preventative strike and Gen. Patton wanted to attack Russia at the close of WWII to prevent a future war with that nation.

    Clearly the judgements that must be made in choosing a preventative war are more complex, and less certain then either a preemptive war or a war in response to an attack. Certainly the certainty will be less, so one must expect the stakes to be higher. Most people, in hindsight, support the Israeli strike on Osirak. The Iraq war is much more controversial (although I would argue not so much for reasons of justification.) However, one can conclude that preventative war is sometimes proper without necessarily agreeing that it is proper in a particular circumstance.

    Of course this is a harder thing to do, and those that like simplicity are often unwilling to deal with this sort of hard question.

  6. If you see some one mugging another person – do you stop the mugging, or do you shoot them? Do you shoot them, or attack their home, killing their family?

    Several of the Republicans in the ABC/Facebook debate said that they supported preemptive action. By definition, a preemptive attack is unprovoked. We might <b>think</b> that something is going to happen, but – do you shoot people because you think that they are going to murder someone (to quote Dr. Paul)?

  7. "Any unprovoked aggressive action is not just."

    I doubt that anyone would disagree with that. The question is, in defining ‘unprovoked.’ As an example, if I see some being mugged, is it unprovoked if I intervene since I am not the person being mugged? Some say so, at least in how it applies to foreign policy.

    I think that it is part of the duty of the strong to defend the weak. Certainly, we can’t be everything to everyone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be anything to anyone.

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