Christopher Hitchens does precisely that in Slate. His argument is too complex for easy excerpting, so I’ll simply refer you to the link. But what strikes me as particularly interesting is the intersection between the arguments of the so-called “neo-cons” on the right and the liberal internationalists like Hitchens. Their view would have the U.S. involved in interventions virtually anywhere tyrants were killing their citizens, whether Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Somalia, Haiti, and other places in the 1990s or Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Liberia, and goodness knows where else today.

While I find the moral clarity of that position compelling, such a foreign policy is not only too ambitious for my tastes but too fraught with complications. Even aside from the issue of finite resources, these interventions generally create enemies rather than goodwill. For those reasons, I opposed all of the interventions of the 1990s except for the purely humanitarian initial foray into Somalia (which was just to pass out food, not chase down warlords) and the mission in Mozambique.

If we’re going to employ violence, it should have some rational basis in terms of U.S. vital interests. If there is also a humanitarian justification for the mission, so much the better. For many of the reasons Hitchens outlines, I came to believe and still believe (although with more doubts than before) that the Iraq War was worthwhile. But we can’t invade every country with bad leaders; there are just too damned many of them.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor 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. tentshowrevival says:

    How about just invading countries that produce or can transport oil.