When all you have is a hammer…

Jesus Christ.

(via Unqualified Offerings)

UPDATE:  Robert Farley at LGM has a slightly longer and more thoughtful response than I:

Long story short, it’s quite likely that an invasion would cause a lot more people to die than are likely to die sans intervention.

The idea of a threat of an invasion in order to force SLORC compliance with international aid efforts is a little bit better on its face, but collapses when subjected to scrutiny. The primary interest of the regime is survival; it cares more about survival than the lives of the Burmese people. Allowing itself to be forced at gunpoint to accept international assistance strikes me as considerably more dangerous to regime survival than to simply allow the disaster to run its course. The regime, undoubtedly, also has a strong sense of the difficulties that any invasion would face, especially one with a humanitarian objective. In other words, SLORC has a) reason to believe that the international community is bluffing, and b) strong incentive for calling that bluff. Again, the threat of military intervention in the short term is likely to lead to more, not fewer, dead Burmese.

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14 thoughts on “When all you have is a hammer…

  1. eric

    “As the response to the 2004 tsunami proved, the world’s capacity for mercy is limitless. But we still haven’t figured out when to give war a chance.” … Vote John McCain in ’08.

    I’m also particularly fond of the term “coercive humanitarian intervention”.

  2. Tom

    I’m a-ok with this, actually. I’m not necessarily supporting ‘invading’ but why should the rest of the world sit around with their thumbs up their butt while potentially hundreds of thousands of people die? Storming a few border checks and violating sovereign air space is no big deal.

    It’s sort of the international equivalent of child protective services kicking in the door and taking the kids out of harms way. As a fan of aggressive social policy, I’m all aboard.

    Maybe they’ll send in Campbell.

  3. Ananth Sarathy

    This is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of things. Though I would think we would be able to go in, provide immediate relief for a few weeks, and then bug the hell out.

    Of course, this would all be viewed in the light of who is invading and what letter comes after their name…..

  4. Steve

    I’m not necessarily supporting ‘invading’ but why should the rest of the world sit around with their thumbs up their butt while potentially hundreds of thousands of people die? Storming a few border checks and violating sovereign air space is no big deal.

    I added a link to Robert Farley’s post on the subject up in the main body of the post. He goes into why invading is a bad idea, and links to an article about why airdrops wouldn’t be all that great either: essentially, the people who need food the most would be in the worst position to get it and use it.

    And as for this:

    Of course, this would all be viewed in the light of who is invading and what letter comes after their name…..

    I yearn for the blessed day when Republicans find a primary mode of political speech other than whining.

  5. Ananth Sarathy

    And I long for the day when democrats actually were concerned about implications of things rather than whether or not they score cheap points.

    that being said, its not whining, since it applies for both Democrats and Republicans (IE most republicans will lament any action a president obama may take, and all democrats will decry anything a president mccain will do).

  6. Ananth Sarathy

    Oh, and secondly where is the liberal concern for life…

    http://www.slate.com/id/2191311/

    What the hell, let’s let up to 1.5 million people die, because the world wants to avoid a scuffle and piss off the Junta. I find it hard to believe that a humanitarian aid invasion would cause more death than these projections…

    (not that I am advocating one way or the other, just noting the irony of some what convenient apathy of people so previously concerned about the deaths of people who are brown)

    Oh, one last note, the author of that is no neocon or republican, he used to work for TNR, and as far as I can tell no one is actually advocating it, but somehow this being tied to the republicans. Secondly, to act as if there are no case for when invasion for humanitarian reasons is silly. Of course there are, whether or not this falls into that category or not. But antiwar whining about the thought or discussion of this possibility of when and where these things might need to happen to just further illustrate how big of pussies the antiwar crowd really is.

  7. Steve

    Oh, and secondly where is the liberal concern for life…

    Did you, uh, miss those arguments up there? The ones about an invasion probably exacerbating the problem, rather than helping to fix it? As in, more people would die?

    What the hell, let’s let up to 1.5 million people die, because the world wants to avoid a scuffle and piss off the Junta. I find it hard to believe that a humanitarian aid invasion would cause more death than these projections…

    It’s a good thing no one makes decisions based on your personal credulity, then.

    (not that I am advocating one way or the other, just noting the irony of some what convenient apathy of people so previously concerned about the deaths of people who are brown)

    Your incoherent notation is noted. Whence the irony? Or the convenience, for that matter? I mean, again, I really can’t figure out your point, unless your point is that anyone who argues in favor of anything but war as a solution to problems is arguing in bad faith.
    …which, by your last paragraph there seems to be the case. Okay then. For the benefit of third-party readers, I’ll note that The New Republic (TNR) was a fervent advocate of the invasion of Iraq, and takes a DLC-style editorial slant of talking about how much Democrats who disagree with Republicans suck.
    Again, I would like the reader to note Ananth’s position: if you don’t think the proper question to ask in the face of any foreign policy conundrum is “Who can I kill to fix this?” you’re a pussy.

  8. Ananth

    Actually, Mr. Smartypants, the position isn’t that. The position is if, when a military junta that has seized power and will not accept aid to help it s people in the wake of a disaster of this proportion, thus further worsening the disaster ,even the discussion of the use of force and the appropriate time for the use force in such occassions gets you in a tizzy, because of a knee jerk, reflexive, all use of force will end up being bad, you are a pussy.

    Again, it’s not that people who wish to avoid war are all acting bad faith. But I do think that a lot of people who argue that way are ignoring human nature. As i have made the point several times before, the rule of law only really work with implicit threat of force (IE you will be arrested). This also applies for things in social services. Yes most times, people will welcome and want help, but sometimes, as Tom says, you may have to kick in the door. This micro view has to be taken when viewing international affairs. Unfortunately their are no world cops, that everyone agrees to, so it’s up to those who can do something to think about what needs to be done.

    For a group that often uses an argument that all lives are important when it comes to Iraq(and I am generalizing here), I would think what matters is how you get to a situation with the least net casualties, in which the use of force, and it’s likely ramifications are weighed.

    What makes Robert Ferley’s assertion that forced aid would lead to more casualites anymore valid than my feeling that it wouldn’t? Again, the context and scope of the mission would have a lot to do with this, wouldn’t it? There are no possible scenarios where the use of force to get aid to the burmese would have a net lowering of death? None? Really?

    Finally, your petty in fighting about who is more democratic interests me not. I know you netroots hate the DLC and anyone who is centrists, but you guys are the only ones who care about those distinctions. All I know is that the nation is a democratic and left leaning mag, and to tie the opinions of people there and say they speak for republicans is nonsense. We have our own idiots doing a bang up job, we don’t need any of yours…

  9. Ananth

    Sorry to clarify my position, if even the discussion about when and where the use of force for humanitarian missions is appropriate gets you into a tizzy, you are a pussy. That’s my position.

  10. eric

    All we need to do to guarantee an Obama victory is put Steve in charge of the Democratic spin machine. Steve, I’m not really sure what you’re in favor of doing except tearing Ananth a new one.

    Not that anyone asked or cares, but to clarify my original post, I thought the wording of the last line was particularly apropos to the current Republican foreign policy. I don’t actually think intervening is a bad idea. I do think invasion is a bad idea, but if we had reliable intelligence that the Junta was planning to execute 1 million people, would it still be off the table? Any issue these days is instantly broken down in to red or blue and then people blow the other side out of proportion. What happened to purple? Ahhh, Obama. I’ve fallen hard.

    Anyway, there were some good points in the article, namely something needs to be done. Whether it’s painting junta-friendly logos on US C-130s and invading air space so be it. Some aid’s better than none.

    Provoking the junta, not a good idea, but they don’t want to start a fight with us. Don’t we have diplomats any more? I’m sure someone can come up with a way to do this that doesn’t make the junta feel threatened or like they have to save face.

  11. Tom

    Yeah, I’m also fairly certain that the junta loses face if the public sees the junta firing on the planes/trucks carrying aid. Some of these theories seem entirely too speculative to be a basis for withholding aid, invited or otherwise. It seems to me we’re more certain lots of people will die if someone does not go in.

  12. Ananth

    Eric, I am pretty sure my orafice count is the same… Mr. Siwy’s rant aside….

  13. Graham

    So while I could parachute in and solve this mess, I see the dilemma. If we agree to intervene when hundreds of thousands are starving, what do we do when hundreds of thousands of children are working in factories or coal mines, or when small girls are getting their genitalia mutilated.

    The U.N. won’t back this because a lot of the countries in that body do things that might mean an intervention force, in the name of what is right. However, there needs to be much more pressure put on these asshats to allow food and aid workers in. Juntas need one thing…weapons. These guys aren’t making their own, so they’re getting them from someone. Either do a blockade or squeeze their suppliers and they should open up their borders.

    For the one thing they don’t want, at the expense of every life in that country is to lose power.

  14. Ananth

    The problem with a blockade is that it takes time, time which people don’t have, and secondly what makes you think the countries that provide the arms, like China, want to give up the revenue.

    Also, some of your slippery slope cases are not the same as possibly millions dying from a natural disaster.

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