Thursday, September 25, 2003

Highly recommended reading: Matthew Parris, "The Iraq blunder will make Americans say, 'Never again!' And that's a pity" (via Pragueblog).

In Iraq, the neocons got it wrong. There was nothing wrong in principle with an argument for pre-emptive action to forestall danger, but everything wrong with its application in this case. The risk now is that next time America may shrink from intervening when she should....

And the awful danger is that failure in this instance has discredited a noble argument: the general case for American internationalism. US isolationalism has been the long-term beneficiary, and we may all live to regret it.
That was the danger from the beginning, and my fear is that it's already coming to pass. I've long called myself a liberal interventionist. I think that Western powers can and should, at appropriate times, intervene in other nations' affairs on the grounds of human rights. I supported NATO intervention in Kosovo and Bosnia. I didn't even hesitate with Afghanistan, because the case was simply overwhelming: Not only was there provocation, but the Taliban were the worst scum to rule a swath of territory on this planet since Pol Pot.

But what's happening in Iraq right now is making even me think, in fleeting moments, that maybe we should just mind our own damn business next time. Something comes to mind about good intentions being used as paving stones.

I fear the damage George Bush has done is irreparable. Not to Iraq; they'll turn out fine in the end. But to American's credibility in the world and its stomach for foreign intervention. Indeed, if he were the slightest bit cunning, I might suspect George Bush launched this war to bring about his touted "humble foreign policy," much the way Reagan enacted his program of "small government" by spending the government into the ground.


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