Monday, October 27, 2008

War, What is it Good For?

Writes John Schwenkler:

The reasons to disown the Iraq war and the kind of foreign policy thinking that got us into it go far beyond a desire to restore the Republican Party’s electoral hopes, however. For this war was also a profoundly unconservative war — a tremendously costly attempt at “democracy promotion” that was enabled by a “Trust us, we’re the executive branch” approach to decision-making that probably had the Founders rolling over in their graves. There’s a reason, too, why it was so widely opposed by Christian leaders: for war is indeed, as Pope John Paul II argued in 2003, a defeat for humanity, and the willingness of so many professed Christians to acquiesce in the unnecessary invasion of a foreign country and the consequent deaths of soldiers and civilians alike marked a profound moral failing. Is the prospect of admitting a mistake so horrifying that basic moral principles count for nothing?

As exciting as I would find a broader rethinking of American foreign policy, perhaps along the lines proposed by Andrew Bacevich, the proposal on offer here is nowhere near as radical as that. Copping to failure in Iraq does not mean repudiating the Cold War legacy of Reagan, nor does it mean abandoning the fight against terrorism or even the push to spread democracy. All that it is, to borrow a much-abused turn of phrase, is a matter of sensitivity to conditions on the ground. The sooner conservatives admit to their mistakes, the better their chances of being heard from again.

Short of such an admission, it’s hard to see why they’d deserve the hearing.
I agree. If we hope to maintain a robust armed forces capable of humanitarian intervention, and capable of applying pressure to dictatorial regimes we need to stop invading countries like Iraq when the situation doesn't merit it. If it is not a clear and present danger or genocide that we can prevent, or the an escalation that needs to be stopped, we should not engage. Iran could become a clear and present danger. Darfur is a genocide we should prevent. Kosovo was an escalation of events that we were able to stop. Iraq? Iraq was stable enough. We could have used other means.