Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Alex Massie responds to Michael Gerson's latest from the Congo:
I'm more sympathetic than some to humanitarian intervention, but where does Gerson actually think these troops will come from? Even if there was any great political or popular desire in Britain for intervening in the Congo - and there is, rather emphatically, none whatsoever - there simply aren't the troops to do it. The same might be said of the United States. We're over-stretched as it is. Gerson knows this, I assume, making his column more a matter of moral, concerned ostentation than any practical response to a ghastly situation.
We are running thin on troops, as are our only really formidable allies in Europe. This is the cost of foolish interventionist wars like Iraq. I believe that if we have the established political capital and military strength to intervene in Africa and elsewhere than we should, if it means protecting millions of innocents from genocide. We don't, however, thanks to the clumsiness of the Iraq war.

At this point, until our economy strengthens and until we finally pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we will not be able to pursue humanitarian intervention.

Lately I have steered further and further into the Realist school of thought with that one caveat: there are times when we as a civilization must rise up above our national interest to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Again, this is not an ideological matter, but rather one that questions our duty as human beings to one another. We cannot be world police, but at times there are reasons compelling enough for us to use our force to bring about stability.

As the world becomes more globalized this becomes more necessary, sadly. In the long run, such intervention will increase American national security. But we must not attempt nation building, nor can we continue the pipe-dream that is democracy spreading. Democracy is an organic thing, and it must grow on its own. In some places it may never grow, that's true. Then again, in some places it is perhaps best that it doesn't. (Gaza, anyone?) Security, on the other hand, is implemented. We can do that when absolutely necessary and still keep American first...