John Hawkins has some interesting views on why many on the left support using troops in Liberia even though they opposed going into Iraq:

. . .the American left has a very different approach to using the military than the American right. Liberals believe that using America’s military to further American interests is immoral. Moreover, the idea that an American President would decide to use American troops to further American interests is so repugnant to the left that any good that might come out of that exercise of American power seems insignificant by comparison. So to lefties, using America’s military in places like Bosnia & Liberia is good because we have no real interests there, while using our military in places like Iraq & Grenada is bad — even if we do good work there as well — because we also benefit by our actions.

I’m sure there’s more to it that this, but Bill is surely on to something. Democrats lined up behind Bill Clinton when he wanted to use force in Somalia (round 2), Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and other places that posed no threat to US vital interests but many of these same folks thought taking out Saddam was a bridge to far.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kelli says:

    If I might suggest why liberals are so gung-ho on THIS type of intervention as opposed to “evil” intervention like in Iraq. It is all of a piece with their prevailing victimology–look at the poor suffering Liberians! We must help them (well, not “we” so much as the right-wing jerks who enlist in the military). This perspective allows liberals to absolve Liberians (or Haitians, Kosovars, etc) of any role in their own destruction–it’s always someone else who caused the problem (usually the U.S. itself). It is also a way of atoning for other sins of the U.S. against the EUnuchs who American lefties so desperately wish to appease–look, we can shame even Bush into acting multilaterally! It is probably also a way to punish the “wrongthinking” military–you thought Baghdad was ugly, wait’ll you see Monrovia!

    One more thing. An argument I haven’t seen yet deployed against intervention in Liberia is the one of inflated expections. Sure, we could send a few hundred marines in to quiet the fighting, but the place would still be a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Would the Liberians (like the Iraqis) not assume we could quickly (magically) rebuild a prosperous land for them? Would the lefties who urged us to send troops not begin beating a drum for more, more, more aid to be sucked into THAT bottomless pit of despair?

    Bush, run don’t walk away from this commitment. It smells BAAAD.