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Americans To Their Leaders: Stop Intervening Overseas

military-soldier-sunset

One of the more interesting items to come out of the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is the finding that a near-majority of Americans want the United States to take a less active role in the world:

Americans in large numbers want the U.S. to reduce its role in world affairs even as a showdown with Russia over Ukraine preoccupies Washington, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

In a marked change from past decades, nearly half of those surveyed want the U.S. to be less active on the global stage, with fewer than one-fifth calling for more active engagement—an anti-interventionist current that sweeps across party lines.

The findings come as the Obamaadministration said Tuesday that Russia continues to meddle in Ukraine in defiance of U.S. and European sanctions. Pro-Russian militants took over more government buildings in eastern Ukraine, while officials at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said satellite imagery showed no sign that Russia had withdrawn tens of thousands of troops massed near the border.

The poll showed that approval of President Barack Obama’s handling of foreign policy sank to the lowest level of his presidency, with 38% approving, at a time when his overall job performance drew better marks than in recent months.

(…)

The poll findings, combined with the results of prior Journal/NBC surveys this year, portray a public weary of foreign entanglements and disenchanted with a U.S. economic system that many believe is stacked against them. The 47% of respondents who called for a less-active role in world affairs marked a larger share than in similar polling in 2001, 1997 and 1995. (See poll results over time about America’s role in the world.)

Similarly, the Pew Research Center last year found a record 53% saying that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally” and let other countries get along as best they can, compared with 41% who said so in 1995 and 20% in 1964.

“The juxtaposition of an America that wants to turn inward and away from world affairs, and a strong feeling of powerlessness domestically, is a powerful current that so far has eluded the grasp of Democrats and Republicans,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducts the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “The message from the American public to their leaders in this poll seems to be: You need to take care of business here at home.”

The poll results have broad implications for U.S. politics, helping to explain, among other developments, Mr. Obama’s hesitance to have the U.S. take the lead in using military force in Libya, the reluctance of Congress to authorize force against Syria and the ascent as a national figure of Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), a potential 2016 presidential candidate who has called for a restrained foreign policy.

Suadpport for Mr. Obama’s handling of Russian intervention in Ukraine slipped to 37% in the new poll from 43% in March. But at the same time, a plurality agreed with the statement that Mr. Obama takes “a balanced approach” to foreign policy “depending on the situation,” with smaller shares rating him as too cautious or too bold.

These numbers aren’t entirely surprising, of course. Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, or perhaps even since the latter years of the Bush Administration, the American public has shown a large distaste for foreign intervention of any kind, In no small part, of course, this is due to the disaster that the Iraq War and, eventually, the Afghanistan War, became over time. But I think that’s only part of the explanation. Historically, there has always been a reluctance among the American public to get involved in international affairs. This is something that exhibited itself from the earliest days of the Republic, when the factions that would eventually become the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans argued, sometimes quite vehemently and violently, about whether or not the new nation should support the revolution in France. For the next 100 years or so, the United States did its best to stay away from involvement in affairs beyond America’s shores. The obvious exception to this, of course, relates to Mexico, Central America, and South America, but of course those areas were exceptions to the general rule carved out by President Monroe in an effort to prevent European intervention in nations close to the United States.

The 20th Century brought somewhat of a change to American’s attitude’s toward foreign policy. Thanks in no small part to a tremendously successful propaganda campaign by the Wilson Administration, the American people rallied around the idea of sending American boys off to die in what, in reality, was nothing more than just another European tribal war. And, while there was a brief period between the two World Wars in which Americans “turned inward,” that quickly changed once the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. After World War II ended, of course, the United States inevitably became the leader of the free world and everything changed. Domestically, the Cold War had a significant impact on political opinion on foreign policy pretty much until it ended in the late 1980′s, although the Vietnam War era and the anti-nuclear movements during the Reagan era were certainly a reflection of prominent, although in some cases minority, opinions in that area.

Once the Cold War ended, public attitudes about foreign policy seemed to return to the pre-World War One historic norm. It took a lot of good public relations work for the George H.W. Bush Administration to make the case for the Persian Gulf War, for example, and there was little public support for the adventures that the Bush 41 and Clinton Administrations in places such as Somalia and the Balkans. That all ended, of course, with the September 11th attacks, for rather obvious reasons. Not only was the initial mission in Afghanistan entirely justified given the attacks, but it’s undeniable that the credibility that those attacks gave to a case for war in Iraq that was, in retrospect. rather weak is undeniable.

In any event, in those intervening years, and thanks in no small part to bitter experience, the American people have, quite understandably, become quite reticent when it comes to interfering in the affairs of other nations. Perhaps it’s time that our leaders listened to the people.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    As a good NeoCon, I tend to believe in a certain level of interest under the principle of “if you do not take an interest in the world, the world will take an interest in you” and I’d rather deal with such situations before they get to our shores. But I am actually becoming more and more of an isolationist, under the theory of “the Obama administration has shown that it will eff up anything they try to do, so let’s just stall until we can get someone else into office.”

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Figures. What, you were distracted during W’s tenure?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  3. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: If you can spare an eye to peek at a calendar, Bush has been out of office for over six years. Obama’s accomplishments (or, more precisely, lack thereof) have to stand on their own.

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  4. mattbernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    As a good NeoCon

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, you are the *perfect NeoCon*. Lets review

    * No Military service (of course, there’s some good excuse that prevented you from your patriotic duty), [check]

    * Yet more than willing to send others to fight and die at the drop of a Republican hat. [Check]

    * Hates any Democratic Military Engagement. [Check]

    * Obsessive Tom Clancy Fan (Most likely where all of his military “knowledge” comes from). [Check]

    * Wants more [Republican] Military Excursions and More Tax Cuts (at the same time). [Check]

    * Complete and total Islamophobe. [Check]

    * And still willing to call himself a NeoCon after all the extended disasters NeoCon policies have wrought. [Check]

    * Probably does not actually understand NeoCon policy, but still wants to be a part of it because everyone else hates its. [Check]

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  5. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mattbernius: Gosh, I’m so flattered. You completely blow off Doug’s posting just to talk about little ol’ me. I’m positively blushing here.

    Just a warning, though: sweet talk will only get you so far with me…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Not only was the initial mission in Afghanistan entirely justified given the attacks,

    It was no more justifiable than kicking yourself in the balls because you got your girlfriend pregnant. Understandable? Yes. But I said it was stupid then and that the inevitable result was quite predictable. And I am no genius.

    In any event, in those intervening years, and thanks in no small part to bitter experience, the American people have, quite understandably, become quite reticent when it comes to interfering in the affairs of other nations.

    As to this, no they haven’t, they have just decided that bullets and bombs are not the way to do it. Money works much better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Yes, it is completely Obama’s fault he has not fixed all of Bush’s screw ups. Add to that it has been 6 years and he STILL hasn’t invaded any Islamic countries. What is up with that? He could at least do like the Great and Wondrous Ronaldus Maximus and invade a small Caribbean island or some such place.

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  8. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Given Afghan GDP, we could have quite literally bought the place for what we’ve spent blowing it up.

    And if, for the sake of argument, we concede Doug’s point, that only covers the original mission to get bin Laden and cripple al Qaeda, not the ill defined swamp it was allowed to evolve into.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08:

    And if, for the sake of argument, we concede Doug’s point, that only covers the original mission to get bin Laden and cripple al Qaeda, not the ill defined swamp it was allowed to evolve into.

    But we did not have to invade Afghanistan to get him, we had only to be patient. Having invaded Afghanistan we became responsible for it and the ill defined swamp it evolved into became inevitable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Obama’s accomplishments (or, more precisely, lack thereof) have to stand on their own.

    One other thing before I have to leave, having no “accomplishments” on the world stage is not a knock against any President as usually the most any one can hope to do in a place as complex and variable is to not screw anything up.

    Obama has come close a time or two but there have been no major f’ups, IMO anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  11. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    If you can spare an eye to peek at a calendar, Bush has been out of office for over six years.

    Our occupation of Iraq only ended two years ago (Dec 2011), and we have yet to withdraw from Afghanistan, so I think Bush’s mistakes are still relevant.

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  12. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    For what its worth, as a traditional (dare I say Paleo-) Conservative when it comes to Foreign policy (a la Larison or our own Dave Schuler), I agree with Doug’s take. I think diplomacy is always important, but military interventions rarely are a good idea.

    This of course runs counter to the NeoCon “philosophies” you support. It also runs contrary to the Liberal Interventionists in the current administration. What I found ironic about your “analysis” — beyond your standing up for the “look upon my [NeoCon] works, ye mighty and despair” — is the scorn you heap on the Obama administrations Interventions (which are, in many respects, not far off from the NeoCon works in terms of application, just with a different underlying philosophy).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  13. Matt Bernius says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Obama has come close a time or two but there have been no major f’ups, IMO anyway.

    On the scale of pre-emptive invasion? No. (For the record, I think any sitting president after 9/11 would have gone into Afghanistan, so I don’t lay that at either Bush or the NeoCon’s feet) Or engaging in “Nation building” as an active agenda. Thank god, no!

    Obama has been lucky that, relatively speaking, Libya went relatively smoothly (Benghazi-countdown starting now). And that we were spared direct military intervention in Syria.

    But I have a hard time calling the Afghanistan surge not a f’up. Perhaps not “Iraq Invasion” major, but still pretty big f’up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yes, it is completely Obama’s fault he has not fixed all of Bush’s screw ups.

    Quite true. He’s invested a lot of time and effort in making his own screw-ups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  15. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: But we did not have to invade Afghanistan to get him (Bin Laden), we had only to be patient.

    That just needed to be repeated. It needed to be dragged out and staked out for all to see.

    In fact, just to really drive it home…

    But we did not have to invade Afghanistan to get him, we had only to be patient.

    What kind of brain could actually give this any credibility?

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  16. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Having invaded Afghanistan we became responsible for it and the ill defined swamp it evolved into became inevitable.

    How so? We could have easily invaded, taken out Al Qeda, and then left, with a warning “Now don’t make us come back”.

    For what the occupation cost us, we could have invaded Afghanistan a dozen times until the lesson sank in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  17. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian #13

    Just a warning, though: sweet talk will only get you so far with me…

    So what you are trying to say is that you don’t mind public humiliation, as long as people pay attention to you.

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  18. anjin-san says:

    How so? We could have easily invaded, taken out Al Qeda, and then left, with a warning “Now don’t make us come back”.

    That’s more or less how I see it. Our Afghanistan mission should have lasted about 18 months.

    But how would that make the world safe for defense contractors?

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  19. @Jenos Idanian #13: Who was that guy that was responsible for murdering over 3,000 Americans? bin Laden or something like that? Didn’t the current President finally kill him after GWB went from saying “we will hunt him down” to “I’m not that concerned about him”?

    Didn’t the current President finally help bring Muammar Gaddafi, the murderer of at least 201 Americans, to justice after Reagan and GHWB did jackshit and GWB acted like he was a great guy?

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  20. Tillman says:

    The American people are very much like the European in this regard: we don’t like fights, we just want to make money. Unlike the Europeans, we are blessed with two friendly neighbors and two gigantic oceans to insulate us from conflict.

    Really, that we ended up becoming something like a global police is funny in and of itself.

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  21. John425 says:

    It is a quite recent poll and shows that Americans believe the Obama administration has made matters worse than when they inherited them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  22. Matt Bernius says:

    @John425, A source is always nice to back up a claim like this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  23. stonetools says:

    SOOOO..
    Is Doug Ok with the US moving forces east into Poland, and the Baltics to oppose Russian moves there? Because I thought he was OK with that.
    AmerIcans tend to oppose generally getting involved in foreign countries-until there is a specific situation where they agree that intervention is warranted, and then they’re fine with intervention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. michael reynolds says:

    It would be nice if we could avoid foreign policy and defense policy being driven like a car with two battling drivers, each forever yanking the wheel too far one way or the other.

    Following our minimal contribution to WW1, but witnessing what that war had done to Europe, the American people became isolationist. Isolationism existed then on both the Left and the Right, with the reasons sometimes overlapping and sometimes very different.

    The result was that the US was weak and detached all though the 20′s and 30′s as the dictators were rising in Italy, Germany and Japan.

    There is little question that had the United States possessed even, say, a third of its eventual WW2 strength, World War 2 would quite likely never have occurred and 60-80 million people might not have died. The vacuum that the US represented made the Pacific safe for the Japanese, and Europe safe for the fascists. We don’t have to guess about this, it’s all over Japanese and German documents of the time.

    There would have been no practical way for the Japanese to move against Indochina, for example, if a strong American fleet had stood ready. Likewise, had the US been willing to send half a million well-armed men to Poland in 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact would never have happened, the invasions of Poland never would have happened, and the war itself would never have extended beyond early moves in Austria and Czechoslovakia.

    Since WW2 there has been no world war. There has been no major war in Europe, no major war period, precisely because an armed and dangerous United States imposed a Pax Americana. 70 years that’s lasted. The benefits – material and moral – are staggering.

    Now many Americans want it to be 1920 again. This is foolish and dangerous.

    I think we are all in agreement that Mr. Bush and his neo-cons were too quick to draw their guns. Mistakes were made, if I may borrow from the political lexicon. The steering wheel was pulled hard in one direction and we drove into a ditch. Just as we should probably have stayed out of WW1, we should have stayed out of Iraq.

    But that does not justify an inward turn or new isolationism. American isolationism has killed far more Americans, Russians, Chinese, Brits, Frenchmen, Poles, Jews and so on than American cowboying has done.

    Going forward we need a foreign policy that is neither too hot nor too cold.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  25. Rafer Janders says:

    @John425:

    It is a quite recent poll and shows that Americans believe the Obama administration has made matters worse than when they inherited them.

    Yes, the world was a much better place when Osama bin Laden was alive, Quaddafi was in power in Libya, and the US was still spending men and money fighting in Iraq.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  26. george says:

    @John425:

    It is a quite recent poll and shows that Americans believe the Obama administration has made matters worse than when they inherited them.

    Kind of an odd interpretation. Most people seem to think the Iraq and Afghan wars proved the futility of getting involved in overseas adventures (ie nation rebuilding as opposed to simply punitive raids against something like the 9-11 organizers).

    Others seem to think pouring endless buckets into overseas military spending is a huge waste. You’re the first I’ve heard of thinking its a response to Obama’s efforts instead of to the better part of a century of getting involved in overseas campaigns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  27. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As I’ve said before I opposed both the invasion of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq but that doesn’t mean that I’m an isolationist. It means I have what I think is a more realistic view of American limitations and a different view of the role of the U. S. in world affairs than most Americans seem to have.

    I think that the most important role we can serve is as what’s behind the glass pane that’s labelled “In Case of Emergency Break Glass”. Add to that negative reciprocity and that’s about as far as I think our military interventions should go. For the last thirty or so years most of our military interventions have not been emergencies. I disagree with most American elites in that I think that we don’t need to possess the only strong military in the world to be secure. I think that lesser powers should be handling most regional problems.

    We have been in a very nearly continuous state of war for the last seventy years and a continuous one for the last twenty-four years. As Sun Tzu said 2500 years ago, “There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I agree with everything you said. I think we’ve fallen into the “if you’re a hammer the world looks like a nail” fallacy. We have this enormous army, why shouldn’t we use it every chance we get? The most useful thing military strength does is empower diplomacy.

    At very least, if we’re janissaries we shouldn’t also be paying the bills. We’re charity janissaries. Free janissaries.

    I disagree with Sun Tzu, though. Rome fought on its borders more or less continuously, so did the Mongols, both of which did pretty well for themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. @michael reynolds:

    no major war period

    Based on the UN definition, there’s 10 major wars going on right NOW:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_military_conflicts

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  30. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    No, those are not major wars. The Egyptian domestic crisis is not a war at all, let alone a major war. The others are quite local, they involve no first class forces, in fact no second class or third class forces. These are nasty little fights involving nasty little regimes, most killing their own people.

    Rome v. Carthage was a major war. Genghis vs. Everyone was a major war. Japan vs. the rest of Asia was a major war. Syrian #1 killing Syrian #2 is a tragedy and a horror, but by no means a major war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  31. Dave Schuler says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I guess that “major” is in the eye of the beholder. By that standard the Korean War was not a major war. Either that or Papua conflict is.

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  32. @michael reynolds:

    No, those are not major wars.

    The actual experts on the subject disagree, Jenos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  33. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    More pointedly, I don’t think that we’re benefiting by being continuously at war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. @Dave Schuler:

    By that standard the Korean War was not a major war.

    Eh? It was killing a lot more than 1,000 people per year from 1950-1953.

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  35. Dave Schuler says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I meant by Michael’s standard.

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  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Korea involved major powers – the US and China – as combatants. I suppose that makes it major in a way that Somalia is not. Obviously we need some better definition of “major war” because if we use their 1000+ deaths criterion Chicago is at war.

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  37. Tillman says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Those experts claim Afghanistan has been in constant war since 1978, and yet we would divide the periods of conflict the region has seen politically based on who was invading/who was slaughtering whom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It was a still a civil war. However, we are ferreting out your definition of a major war. It’s only major if a great power takes part, is that it?

    And as to Chicago being at war they’re not talking about “Chiraq” for nothing.

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  39. @Tillman:

    Their definition is “An armed conflict is a contested incompatibility that concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths in one calendar year.”

    Since there hasn’t been a single year since 1978 where that hasn’t been the case in Afghanistan, it’s all considered one conflict, even though various parties have been entering and leaving it at various points.

    (This is also why Michael’s Chicago example doesn’t hold. The deaths there aren’t related to a government or non-government party contesting the US government’s control of Chicago).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That sort of sounds like the Crips and the Bloods. Or most of Italy’s history.

    Maybe if we withdrew from everything and concentrated on fixing our own country again (particularly the infrastructure) the rest of the world would start to appreciate what we were doing for so long.

    I’m tired of being treated like the ever-benevolent parent continually looking out for the teenagers who insist on acting like four-year-olds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    For what the occupation cost us, we could have invaded Afghanistan a dozen times until the lesson sank in.

    What lesson? Inflicted upon whom?

    You only have three choices here:
    1. You can leave the Taliban in charge.
    2. You can occupy and dabble in “nation-building”
    3. You can leave nobody in charge.

    #1 leads to an infinite loop, because the Taliban is not going to learn the lesson you want them to learn. (You might eventually learn the lesson they are trying to teach you, which is that they don’t give a rat’s rectum what you do to the population of Afghanistan.)

    #2 leads inevitably to either the mess we have or the bigger mess of trying to actually administer a sizable remote territory populated by people who either already hate you or will soon.

    #3 leads to a failed state in which the parts of the Taliban (remember them?) that you missed, or someone even worse (like Al Qaeda) gains effective control through a combination of terror and perceived religious legitimacy. See #1.

    If you can suggest a path to a different outcome, even in hindsight, I’m all ears.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. @grumpy realist:

    That sort of sounds like the Crips and the Bloods.

    Except the crips and the bloods are attacking each other, not police stations (“at least one is the government of a state”). They’re not contesting state control.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  43. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But that does not justify an inward turn or new isolationism.

    As you note, isolationism and interventionism are the extremes of the scale. There are many intermediate positions that don’t have a convenient -ism label, but represent mundane international diplomacy. Having alliances and honoring them; having treaties and honoring them; having mutual defense pacts and honoring them. Perhaps also having principles, and being willing to invoke a consistent and escalating set of economic and military reactions to atrocities anywhere — but to stay out of disputes wherein there are no treaties in play and no atrocities being committed.

    That’s what I’m looking for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  44. @DrDaveT:

    Ultimately, the Taliban is free to mistreat their own countrymen, so long as they don’t harbor groups focussed on attacking the US. It’s not clear to me that if we’d wiped out Al Qeda and left, that the remaining parts of the Taliban would have been eager to invite “the next Al Qeda” in to replace them.

    They didn’t actually benefit at all from Al Qeda’s presence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  45. @DrDaveT:

    Perhaps also having principles, and being willing to invoke a consistent and escalating set of economic and military reactions to atrocities anywhere

    The idea our reaction to China commiting attrocities in Tibet is going to be any way consistent with our reaction to Sudan commiting attrocities in Dafur is unlikely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  46. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Ultimately, the Taliban is free to mistreat their own countrymen, so long as they don’t harbor groups focussed on attacking the US.

    Even if you believe that, so what? You don’t get to decide who the Taliban will harbor and support; they do. And we know the answer. If you leave them in power, it will continue. If you allow them back into power, it will continue. They are not corrigible; they have no self-interest that overrides this goal, given our impotence to eradicate them.

    The reason the invasion of Afghanistan was legitimate (unlike that of Iraq) was that the government of Afghanistan had committed an act of war against us. We really couldn’t let them get away with that, if only for the precedent it would set. That doesn’t change the Hobson’s choice we were going to face after punishing that crime.

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  47. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    the Taliban is free to mistreat their own countrymen,

    [I missed this the first time through]

    The Taliban don’ t have “countrymen”. They do not recognize any fellowship based on nationality, nor even ethnicity. Even when they were the government of Afghanistan, they also held sway in other places, and did not consider themselves a secular authority.

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  48. KansasMom says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: If you could spare a look at a 1st grade arithmetic primer you might notice that 14-9=5. Were you doing Republican math?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  49. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    At very least, if we’re janissaries we shouldn’t also be paying the bills. We’re charity janissaries. Free janissaries.

    Eh, please. We haven’t built a network of military bases all around the globe and don’t maintain the world’s largest military out of charity and the goodness of our hearts. We do it to project our power, to be the global hegemon. We do it so that we can be boss.

    And then we complain when the people whom we want to influence and control won’t pay us for it….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  50. mantis says:

    @KansasMom:

    If you could spare a look at a 1st grade arithmetic primer you might notice that 14-9=5. Were you doing Republican math?

    The right has convinced themselves that Obama was president in 2008 so they can blame him for the financial crisis, TARP, etc. This has been a depressingly successful effort.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  51. Grewgills says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    25 battle related deaths is a ridiculously low bar for a major war, for a war perhaps, but not a major one. By that definition has there ever been a minor war?

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  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    But I have a hard time calling the Afghanistan surge not a f’up. Perhaps not “Iraq Invasion” major, but still pretty big f’up.

    Agreed. I thought doubling down on the stupid was stupid times 2, but if nobody would listen to me the first time, why would they the 2nd?

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  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Tors Bora, idiot. Think about it. Did invading Afghanistan get us BL? Where was he when we got him? I ask you again, THINK ABOUT IT!!!

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  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: International law. I know that is a mere detail for some, GW for one, but you know what? It matters.

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  55. Tillman says:

    @Grewgills: So, two guys die a month and that’s a minor armed conflict?

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  56. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    * No Military service (of course, there’s some good excuse that prevented you from your patriotic duty), [check]

    I’d rather deal with such situations before they get to our shores.

    Matt raises a good point. Since you would “rather deal with such situations before they get to our shores” how is it that you did not volunteer for the armed forces?

    Are you the sort of man who really wants other men to deal with what you perceive as possible threats to your well being? They get shot at, you watch on TV and feel tough – is that it?

    Matt thinks so, and he is a pretty perceptive guy. I am inclined to agree with him.

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  57. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: And when Jenos says he’d rather deal with something, he means he wants someone else to do it for him, someone else to take all the risk, and no obligation for him at all except to sit home and whine about how everyone has screwed up.

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  58. An Interested Party says:

    Are you the sort of man who really wants other men to deal with what you perceive as possible threats to your well being?

    Why not? After all, it’s already been established that he’s the kind of man who really wants others to pay for his medical bills…

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  59. DrDaveT says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    It also runs contrary to the Liberal Interventionists in the current administration.

    To be fair, by any objective criteria the previous administration was also Liberal Interventionist, in the classical sense of Liberal. This point was independently discovered by students of every political persuasion in my class at MIT’s “Seminar XXI” national security studies program.

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  60. Grewgills says:

    @Tillman:
    Short answer, yes.
    The deadliest war in history, WWII, averaged over 10 million dead a year for 6 years.
    WWI averaged near 4 million dead a year for 4.5 years.
    The deadliest war for us, the Civil War, averaged almost 190K dead a year for 4 years.
    Vietnam averaged 88K dead a year from 1965-75.
    Korea averaged over 900K dead a year.
    The lowest estimate I have seen for the Iraq war was over 18K a year from 2003-2009.
    25 a year is a rounding error in any of those conflicts.

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  61. Matt Bernius says:

    @DrDaveT

    To be fair, by any objective criteria the previous administration was also Liberal Interventionist, in the classical sense of Liberal.

    Completely correct.

    BTW, that’s a syllabus I would love to see!

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  62. DrDaveT says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    that’s a syllabus I would love to see!

    I think I still have a copy at work; I’ll try to remember to post it Monday.

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  63. DrDaveT says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    BTW, that’s a syllabus I would love to see!

    The syllabus changes somewhat over time, based on hot topics. The 2005-6 syllabus was:
    1. Paradigms
    2. Ethnic and Religious Conflict
    3. Israel and Palestine
    4. Terrorism and Counterterrorism
    5. Realism, Liberalism, and the Future of World Politics
    6. National Economies in a Global World
    7. State Building and Iraq
    8. Democratization
    9. US National Security Policy

    The next year added a session on “Japan and Europe: US Allies Forever?”. The year after that replaced “Israel and Palestine” with “Iran and Turkey: Democracy and Islam”, and added a session on climate change and US policy. Etc.

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