(Extended) quotation of the day

From some guy on blogspot:

There’s this attitude out there where one’s foreign policy abilities are judged by whether you supported the right wars, with people like Peter Beinart checking off their little lists. The foreign policy hawks see supporting wars as courageous acts, as if sending other peoples’ kids off to die and voting for massive defense budget increases requires courage instead of a healthy possession of sociopathic tendencies.

Wars are failures. A primary purpose of sensible foreign policy is to stop them. When wars happen, our foreign policy has failed. That isn’t to say there’s never a point when they’re necessary or justified, but that point is simply an acknowledgment that the people in charge failed.

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21 thoughts on “(Extended) quotation of the day

  1. Ananth

    the question is whose foreign policy failed, yours or theirs? Just because we end up in war doesn’t mean we are the the failures, it just means we reached a point that we could not compremise. Its easy to avoid war if you give the other side everything it wants.

  2. Ananth

    So by your definition it was our foreign policy that failed in Afghanistan, since we started that war?

  3. pedro

    Wars should be the last option for foreign policy. Afghanistan is only a failure in my eyes because we invaded it and we’ve yet to see any dividends from it. Presumably we invaded to capture Osama and tear down the Taliban. As I understand it, the Taliban is still functioning and even owns some territory there and last I checked, we don’t have Osama.

    That’s two failures, right?

  4. Ananth

    Pedro,
    you got to me kidding me. Again I am reading that the end results validate or invalidate an action. Yet you don’t seem the think that about other things ie torture.

    Anyway, are you going to make a serious argument that we have been better off doing nothing? Even if we haven’t killed Osama, are you going to say that we would be better leaving their unfettered to do whatever he wanted.

    Yes the Taliban is still around because after they were removed from power most of them went home only to raise thier mugs from time to time. And yes they took a town, for about 1 day before they got run down by Nato and US forces.

  5. Steve

    Again I am reading that the end results validate or invalidate an action.

    Not “an action.” Killing thousands and thousands of people, and supplanting their previous way of life. That’s what we’re talking about here. So all those people are violently dead, and their country as it exists is no more, and your results are what? You’ve replaced it with what?

  6. Ananth

    Right, cause the Afghani’s were so much better before. Especially the women. You can disagree with war in Iraq, but you are going to say that Afgahnistan too was something that we should have avoided or was somehow our failure that caused it, you really have lost any place to argue about this stuff. I guess must anti iraq war people lie about supporting Afghanistan, I guess you get credit for being honest.

  7. pedro

    I don’t understand Anath…how do you judge any of the wars we’re in a success if we haven’t accomplished anything we set out to do?

    So where are the successes? That’s all I’m asking. I judge, with my limited knowledge, Afghanistan and Iraq as failures. Much like I think Vietnam was a failure. We went to war to accomplish some sort of task and we have not achieved them….and in the case of Iraq, we seem further away from a stable Middle East than we were five years ago.

    As for the ends validates the means, like anything else, it’s shades of gray. I’m not against war, but I do see it as a failure of foreign policy. On occasion, with every peaceful avenue exhausted, a country has got to do something. I don’t think the invasion of Afghanistan was entirely necessary, nor was I against it based on the goals the adminstration had presented to me. We’ve yet to achieve any of them, so I see the war as a failure. Is that clear?

  8. Ananth

    Thats a little clearer. But the orginal point was the war was a failure of foreign policy. I just said that was true, but it doesn’t mean it was our foreign policy that failed.

    We gave the Taliban 4 weeks to hand over Osama Bin Laden and others. I am not sure how long you negiotate with people on things like that. We weren’t discussing water rights. We wanted a man who was responsible in some form for 3000 murders in our country.

    Now if you want to talk about the wars, again this is a seperate arguement. You can absolutely judge those things based on the outcome. However, by your defintion everything is a failure until the point in time that it isn’t. The Civil War was failure until the Union won. WW2 was a failure until D-Day.

    I will reserve my judgement of failure and success untilwe are no longer attempting the mission.

  9. pedro

    I see what you’re saying. That our foreign policy wasn’t a failure regarding the Afghan war and the Iraq war. I think I disagree since there were many other policy options we could have pursued with the international community before committing troops…especially in the case of Iraq. But I think we’ve gone over that to death and we’re not in agreement, so it isn’t worth rehashing.

    But yeah. Foreign Policy can fail on either side of the equation. Chamberlain made deals with Hitler until war happened anyway. No amount of foreign policy could have stopped that war…was it Britain’s failure or Germany’s failure. I don’t think it matters as much, since I think we can both agree that in that case, foreign policy failed, right?

    So by extension, any war is a result of foreign policy’s failure. And going a bit further, I think Steve and I are both thinking that, in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, the US bears the price of that failure. Regardless of who failed, we’re still at war, no?

  10. Ananth

    Actually I wasn’t discussing the foreign policy on Iraq. There I think its quite reasonable to have differing points of view.

    Yes, everyone pays a price for foreign policy failure. But absolutely it matters whos policy failed. If you cannot have good faith negotitions if one or both sides are unwilling to move. And on somethings which are sometimes moral absolutes, one side cannot move no matter where the other side will meet them. But that doesn’t make the absolutist wrong. Abolitionist would never be happy with any compromise that left slavery legal, does that make them wrong or failures for having the position?

    But what would be the price be if we had nothing? In the case of Chamberlain wasn’t the price paid anyway, and that only the different outcome would have allowed one side to bear the the full burden (IE Britain surrendor completely and allow the Germans to take them over). In the case of Afghanistan, no one but Al Qaeda would have paid a price if the Taliban had agreed to hand them over.

    I kind of feel that the foreign policy failed arguement is not fair, because it implies that there was some alternative that would achieved a desired state and avoided the conflict. I think there are some things that can only be reached through a price of blood. I am not saying these cases are examples of them, but there are throughout history examples of this.

  11. pedro

    I don’t disagree with you. I don’t know that it’s fair either. I really don’t think it is supposed to be though. The point being made is that, once again, on both sides of the table, the governments have failed to find an alternative to war…and here we are with civilians and soldiers dying. I think Steve doesn’t really care who didn’t capitulate to who or who refused to bend on what. The end result of Foreign Policy that fails is war. War is the result of a failure in foreign policy. Am I right on this, Steve? Even the extended quote mentions that there are times where war is necessary or justified.

    North Korea comes to mind. If/when we deal with the situation there, here we are with an impossible government making demands that may very well lead us to war. Foreign Policy, in this case, seems to be failing. The US (along with many other nations) has made several attempts to make it work…unfortunately due to our own national interests, there are certain demands we cannot back down from…and North Korea being run by a crazy man means they won’t back down from their own. So war may be the outcome. Is it N. Korea’s failure or the US’s failure? Does it matter? Foreign Policy failed and war may very well be the result.

    At the end of the war, the victor gets to dictate who was wrong at the onset…but foreign policy failed to prevent the war. Therefore, War is the result of foreign policy failing.

    Now that I think about it, I don’t this particular quote is all that insightful. What the fuck, Steve? You going to post something from Lewis Lapham next?

  12. pedro

    That last line should read “I don’t THINK this particular quote….” All other typos are probably intentional.

    St00pid lack of a preview button.

  13. Ananth

    I know… Steve get on it and add some new features!!!!

    But I agree with what your saying. I just felt like that quote was being put up to say . See here is another way that this Administration are failures…..

  14. Eric

    “I just felt like that quote was being put up to say . See here is another way that this Administration are failures…”

    It was and they are. Just because a war in Afghanistan may have been justifiable does not mean it was necessary. This administration seems a little too anxious to go to war because it’s a sexy show of strength. I think that’s what the quote was getting at. Republicans can’t run their campaigns saying 3,000 Americans were killed and we retaliated with some of the meanest trade sanctions the world has ever seen.

  15. Ananth

    I’d like to think that a Democrat in Office would have done the same thing if not at the same time frame. I really believe that no President could have not responded with military force if UBL was not handed over and AL Qaeda was no longer given free run. And if they did choose not to respond militarily, It would be almost certain that they would not have gotten a second term.

    I am curious as to the amount of time that would have had to have passed, and the level of concessions you would offer before you felt it became neccessary?

  16. Eric

    A Democrat in office probably would have gone in to Afghanistan. They’re looking to retain power, too. I said Republicans in the previous post because they’re in a position of power now and are the ones acting. I don’t believe in the premise that any action by a Republican is bad/evil and Democrats are perfect (or that we should be speaking about them as homogenous groups at all).

    However, it didn’t stop in Afghanistan and Iraq’s a different story. Which I think speaks to the quote saying this administration is trigger happy and takes pride in it (not exactly what it said, but you get the point). Even if we win and the world is better off it doesn’t mean we went in for the right reasons (as has been stated by you earlier).

    I can’t provide you specifics of how long I would wait or what specifically would have to happen for war to have been inevitable. I don’t know enough, but I don’t get the feeling all possible options were exhausted to avoid the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

  17. Ananth

    I don’t see it as an issue of retaining power. I think it is about doing what is right to mantain a society. (Again I am talking about Afghanistan, but abstractly this applies to Iraq). I think a lot of people are under some kind of misconception as to how society got civilized. The reason that we have a society that functions under the rule of law is that the small minority of people who would take advantage of those who would not take advantge are curtailed by societies proxy force (law enforcement etc). There is an implied contract that allows for the use of force against those that do not agree with societies rules and laws as they have been defined. This further reduces the number of people willing to take advantage, but still we are left with a small number of people who do not care. And instead of individual citizens defending themselves, our proxies, with our full sanction, use force to enforce our laws.

    Now the reason I bring this up, is that there is no proxy force, or really even agreed upon laws when it come to nations. I wish there were. So any action taken against another nation ends up being done by individuals instead of a sanctioned force. And what passed for sanctioning is the number of nations taking part, as opposed to a standing force that enforces the laws regardless of individual nations interests.

  18. Steve

    I know… Steve get on it and add some new features!!!!

    Every once in a while I look into a preview button. Since I know nothing of Java (I’ll crack that book open someday, so swears Doom), I am reduced to trawling the Internets for one, and I ain’t found one that works with my platform yet.

  19. pedro

    Alternately, I could just start posting from Firefox2.0 instead of posting from work…which uses like IE4 or something.

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