Sunday, October 22, 2006

War, What is It Good For?

Anyway, wanking aside, what I was thinking of when I wrote that post was this bit from Peter Beinart where the measure of a man is determined by his rightness in supporting the use of force in various situations:

Anything one writes deserves to be judged by itself. The Democratic Party nominated someone in 2004 who had been flat wrong in his opposition to the Gulf War in 1991, I think most people would acknowledge that. Many people who were very prominent figures in the Democratic foreign policy debate and the Democratic Party in general–most of the people who were there at that time in 1991 were wrong about that. The vast majority of the party was wrong, and yet it still seems to me that we have things to learn from people like Sam Nunn or John Kerry. If you were to go from the Gulf War through Kosovo and Iraq, you would find that a large number of people in every facet of the liberal Democratic universe were wrong, on at least one of those wars. Very, very few people were right about all three of them. The people who were–and I think Al Gore is in this category–deserve a significant amount of credit, but the truth of the matter is, if you were looking for an untainted record, you would find very few people.

And, my point was, simply, that whatever the merit of those particular wars at the moment we decided to undertake them, they were all the consequence of failures of policy beforehand. More than that, foreign policy/international diplomacy is an extraordinarily complex undertaking with numerous moving parts, uncontrollable circumstances, and people of various levels of competency in important positions of power at any one time. To reduce all that to "did you support the wars I liked?" as Beinart seems to requires a fascinatingly childish worldview.