Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Humanitarian intervention and wisdom in foreign policy

So I have never been very shy about shifting my political opinions as I evolve intellectually. I have juggled them quite a lot as new evidence or better arguments comes to light. I try to think of things deeply, without the fetters of ideology to too tightly constrain my thoughts(though this is not entirely possible all the time, one can certainly be less ideologically influenced if one tries).

The problem, all too often, is that good ideas are quashed by the ideologues. Yes, at times one needs to stick to ones principles. At other times, though, one needs to reevaluate them.

For instance, I once identified as a neo-con. Perhaps I jumped into those shoes too quickly. I was upset with the Left's willingness to abandon the Iraqi people, and supported finishing what we started, even though I was vehemently opposed to the invasion in the first place. I also supported military action for humanitarian purposes. Somehow, I guess, this made me think I was a neocnservative.

I'm frustrated to no end by the Iraq War, however. We are entangled worse than ever before in the quagmire of mid-east politics. We have emboldened and strengthened Iran. We are in a worse position to help Israel. The only bright light is that things are improving, that Saddam Hussein is dead and gone, and that we might be out of there soon, and while I don't consider it a victory, at least we won't have left Iraq in the throes of all-out civil war and genocide.

One unintended consequence of the war has been the way it has hamstrung any efforts the US may have made to intervene in crises of humanitarian nature that are fast approaching or may already have become genocidal. Like Darfur.

For a glimpse as to my meaning, check out these photographs of the current strife in the Congo. Here is a place that really does need outside help to stabilize. Well, between the disaster of this economy and the Iraq war, the twin failures of nation building and supply side economics, of democracy by force and trickle down economics, we have no ability to effectively intervene. Nor can we even flex the tiniest of muscles when an ally like Georgia is attacked by the Russians.

We have effectively out-sourced our industrial and manufacturing capabilities, and if the auto industry fails then we can kiss this era good-bye. I'm not a fan of bailouts, but come on people! Who will make our tanks? The Chinese? Who will bankroll them? The Chinese? What if we need them to fight the bloody Chinese? I doubt this is in the cards, but who knows?

I think along with the bankrupting of our financial system by greed and foolishness and ego; the off shoring of our manufacturing base; and the massive growth of the Federal government, defense spending, entitlements, etc. we also have seen a shift away from the American Tradition--that being an amalgamation of individualism, hard work, family, community, honest government, fiscal sanity, and moderation. Remember our grandparents? They were frugal--not perfect by any means--but they understand modesty, and simplicity, and hard work. My grandfather was a carpenter, built his own house, and along with my grandmother raised eight children, all of whom have been absurdly successful both in their marriages and in their careers.

What has happened to this generation? Coaxed along by a Government awash in debt, a capitalism of hyper-wealth, of derivatives and subprimes and a class of investment bankers who produce no goods or services, nothing tangible, but only profit endlessly through a series of magic tricks, the best and last being that magical house of cards we see crashing down around us now...

Can we be blamed for our high credit card debt? Our shallowness? Our apathy or materialism? These are the values that have been laid at our feet. Even our most prominent ministers, those heretical televangelists, have given up the old message of simplicity, of casting off our worldly possessions--the whole "first shall be last, and the last shall be first" has become an antiquated notion, I suppose.

And thus we find ourselves, a country wobbling. We are uncertain of our values. Our families have become disjointed, fractured--our divorce rate is higher than ever before--yet we focus on the subject of gay marriage, plucking that tiny speck of dust we see in our neighbors eye out before we see to the log in our own.

So I no longer consider myself a neoconservative. I started this blog because I think in the end, I am an independent--conservative to a point, and liberal to a point, and always searching for more knowledge, more truth, more reason and compassion and grace. There is not a sure answer anywhere. As Freddie said yesterday "I have a deep aversion to those who believe in one truth or one mechanism to advance human kind."

Indeed. And that's a good thing.


GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Amazing. Unforseen - though it is human nature. As 911 recedes into ancient memory, the hard costs of tackling problems, remaining steadfast are tough.

So is wishing for the best.

A live and let mindset is exactly what got us 911, the T shirt and the war on teror and all the messy attributes that try patience and resolve.

The real quiz is exactly what Douglas Murray taught in "Neoconservatism and why we need it"

"For left and right, neoconservatism has laid down the case which needs answering. Ideologically it has few competitors and there is no school that unifies people from such a wide range of the political spectrum. That said, we might have to avoid flaunting the term around for a while. There’s no doubt that the willful misrepresentations and misunderstanding of what neoconservatism is, as well as the desire to pin the strategic mistakes made in Iraq on the neocons have combined to blacken the term. But it doesn’t really matter what we call it. There’s never much point in arguing over nomenclature. What matters is that the case for democracy and universal rights as well as the refutation of the lies and misunderstandings of our enemies – at home and broad – continues. Most people who engage in this will not call themselves neoconservatives. Many of them will not realize that is what they are. That is fine. What matters is that the case is made – unashamedly, unapologetically and by as many people as possible."

E.D. Kain said...

Douglas Murray's brand of neoconservatism doesn't really fit into the currently commonly accepted version of neoconism. Nor does my view of necessary humanitarian intervention. I believe in the careful exercise of caution so that we don't end up in the impotent position we are in now. Iraq has been an utter failure, even if we succeed. It has not done any major damage to the Islamists, and it has tied up our troops incapacitating them from intervening in Africa, in Korea should shit hit the fan there, and possibly in Iran should they make the stupid, bold move of attacking Israel. The neocons of the Bush admin have been abject failures, and the Kristol camp has revealed its irresponsibility in the reckless Palin debacle which they pushed so hard for. Appalling.

So while I still believe that the Murray version of neoconism has much merit, I don't really believe its neoconism. I think what has turned me off so much is the paleo-neo-conism--the dogmatic belief that only militarism in the name of democracy can make changes. I don't think this is the case. I think there is much to be said for utilizing patience and wisdom.

And yes, permission to speak freely granted... ;-)