Bigwig lambasts Howard Dean for hypocrisy for supporting military action to oust Milosovik but not Saddam. That seems fair enough. But he goes quite a bit further, quoting both Teddy Roosevelt and our Declaration of Independence to make the argument that we have a moral obligation to fight for freedom everywhere.

Humanism is dead in the Democratic Party. How else does one explain their lack of regard for basic human rights when it comes to foreigners?


It’s funny, how President Bush, with his suspect motivations and questionable goals has still managed to do more for the cause of Iraqi freedom than any other American, ever. Saint Howard, on the other hand, would have perfectly content to let them be tortured and murdered indefinitely.

I don’t suspect Bush will go on to do the same for others in the world who yearn for freedom, even though I’d like him to. Nothing would please me more than to see the leadership of Myanmar, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Syria, and Cuba suffer the same fate as the Iraqi Baathists. Some people need to be bombed just on general principles.

That’s a nice sentiment but certainly not one I’d like to see enacted into public policy. Our Declaration of Independence was written smack in the middle of a war we launched for our own independence. While I believe humans naturally yearn to breathe free, I think it’s generally something they’ve had to fight for. Themselves. As the saying goes, freedom isn’t free.

Indeed, I’m the opposite of Howard Dean here: I didn’t support our wars in Bosnia and Kosovo because they were wholly unrelated to U.S. national interests. The world is full of crazy dictators victimizing their own people; we can’t take them all out. I supported the war to oust Saddam because he was a dangerous man in a vital region; that it also liberated the Iraqi people was a wonderful, happy bonus.

(Hat tip: Susanna Cornett)

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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. lefty skeptic says:

    Isn’t it possible that Dean was against the war in Iraq because it ran counter to US national interests? That the two of you could be in agreement about why we should go to war but disagree about the particulars of a specific case?

  2. James Joyner says:


    I’m not sure how you could argue that taking on Milosovik was in our interest but taking on Saddam wasn’t. Clinton and Co. argued that it was necessary on humanitarian grounds, which is a defensible enough position that I happen to disagree with. But if you’re going to take that position, you would seemingly have to also buy into liberating Iraqis, since that was explicitly part of the case for going–albeit a secondary part.

  3. lefty skeptic says:

    I think you could argue it based on there being much less blowback from Bosnia and Kosovo than there will be from Iraq. That is, given that there are humanitarian reasons in both cases, and that it is good for US national interests to pursue humanitarian goals all other things being equal, nonetheless the downsides of the Iraq operation (much greater US casualties, more difficult exit plan, increased terrorism, and so on) outweigh the humanitarian considerations, while the Bosnia and Kosovo operation were relatively clean.

  4. tc says:

    But the Kosovo war wasn’t fought to oust Milosevic; it was fought to get the Serbians out of Kosovo. It certainly contributed to Milosevic’s eventual fall, but it was certainly more like Gulf War 1 than 2 in its objectives.

  5. James Joyner says:


    Except that in GW1, we were trying to get someone out of a foreign country. In Kosovo, we were intervening in a civil war.