Of strategic thinking and isolationism

posted at 1:01 pm on May 24, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Has America stopped thinking strategically when it comes to foreign policy and military intervention? That’s the question which Dr. Joyner tackles at Outside the Beltway this weekend. The piece features a lengthy essay from Peter Beinart at The Atlantic in which the author notes that such decisions are notoriously complex, requiring us to weigh any action against far reaching consequences regarding other global powers. But he also argues that there are some simple formulas which the American public considers before granting approval to an executive decision to go to war.

[R]eporters should begin their coverage of each foreign crisis with this question: Why should Americans care? In today’s environment, that sounds churlish. But it didn’t always. Lippmann famously called U.S. foreign policy the “Shield of the Republic.” Part of his point was that the best yardstick for evaluating U.S. policies overseas was their effect on citizens at home. By asking why Americans should care that Russia controls Crimea or that Iran has a nuclear program, journalists would force a discussion of American interests. They’d make politicians and pundits explain exactly how events in a given country might make Americans less safe, less prosperous, or less free. In some cases, after all, when America enlarges its sphere of influence, its citizens lose more—in money, freedom, or blood—than they gain. Focusing on ordinary Americans would bring attention to this possibility.

At times, the politicians or pundits might admit that Americans have no tangible interests in a given country, just a moral obligation to prevent killing, poverty, or oppression. That’d be fine. At least they’d be making their case honestly.

Joyner chimes in with some direct experience of his own.

My major professor in graduate school, Don Snow, used a similar device with the conflicts of the (now long ago) day. “Take out a clean sheet of paper,” he’d say, “and write down all of the ways [democracy in Haiti, a cessation of violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kurdish self-determination] would improve your life.” The exercise was rhetorical, of course, as the paper would remain clean.

As it turns out, ignorant though they might be about the facts of international affairs or even basic geography, the American people are generally quite wise on making these choices. Naturally, they support kinetic military action in response to direct military attacks against us or our close allies. The instinct to fight in those circumstances is universal and it’s bolstered here by the knowledge that we’re almost certain to prevail militarily. Additionally, Americans almost universally support intervention to perform humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and other non-kinetic missions to help people in other countries. They see these as the right thing to do given our place in the world and worth the relatively low cost to perform. Intervention in other people’s civil wars? Our default position is No. It takes some powerful convincing to move off that default.

I’ve long been saddled with the unpopular tag of being the token isolationist in the room when foreign policy discussions arise among Republican colleagues. It’s easy to paint such so-called isolationists with a broad brush, claiming that we ignore the wolves at the doors of others around the globe at our own peril. But the arguments in the two pieces above go a fair ways toward deescalating such food fights and allowing for at least consideration of the concept that moderating the impulse toward foreign adventurism isn’t always a bad thing.

One problem is that our recent history is filled with conflicting examples in terms of the results of such expeditions. Two stand as glaring examples in opposite directions. We might ask exactly what debt we owed to the people of Kuwait in the early days of the Bush 41 presidency. Of course, the potential disruption to international energy supplies was a factor, but was that enough to justify war? The stunning success we achieved in the first Gulf War, factoring in the nearly universal support the action garnered from the international community was enough to silence most critics, and rightly so.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Vietnam. The justification there was much more fuzzy and long term, relating as it did to our tendency toward, as Beinart described it, [equating] containment with stopping Communism anywhere on Earth. A noble goal, but the long term results of our involvement pretty much speak for themselves.

Where we draw the line on this in the future – particularly as we grapple with fluid situations like the one in Ukraine today – will depend very much on what sort of of strategic thinking tests we apply on a case by case basis. Is the enemy attacking us or our interests directly, or even indirectly? Are they going after one of our close allies, as Joyner puts it, and if so, where do we draw the line as to who counts as a “close ally” today? Ginning up public support for any additional full scale wars with American boots on the ground in 2014, after more than a decade in Afghanistan, would be nearly impossible absent an attack which kills a significant number of American civilians or soldiers by a clearly identifiable nation state. And in such cases, maybe our leaders do need to be listening to the wisdom of the public… at least to a degree.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Nobody want to hear a damn thing you think you have to say, Jass……

….just go away….

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Has America stopped thinking strategically when it comes to foreign policy and military intervention?

America(ns)haven’t stopped thinking strategically about foreign affairs, they’ve become disenfranchised to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, Obama appears to not even know what “thinking strategically” about foreign policy and military intervention even means.

Harbingeing on May 24, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Nobody want to hear a damn thing you think you have to say, Jass……

….just go away….

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

wow! I have never seen that reaction to a blogger before.

coolrepublica on May 24, 2014 at 1:08 PM

I think most of us are more concerned about the enemy within right now.

crankyoldlady on May 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Has America stopped thinking strategically when it comes to foreign policy and military intervention?

Not really. When the occupant of the White House and his “advisors” all seem to side with anyone we would normally think strategically about it appears as though we’ve stopped thinking.

darwin on May 24, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Nobody want to hear a damn thing you think you have to say, Jass……

….just go away….

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

So why did you click on his post?

DarkCurrent on May 24, 2014 at 1:19 PM

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Vietnam. The justification there was much more fuzzy and long term, relating as it did to our tendency toward, as Beinart described it, [equating] containment with stopping Communism anywhere on Earth. A noble goal, but the long term results of our involvement pretty much speak for themselves.

I can only assume the long term results you refer to are the containment and ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union.

Or perhaps you mean the containment of China from spreading its communism across Asia, leading to the guarded cooperation we have with them today.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 24, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Has Obama ever had a plan other than “Aren’t I the coolest ever?”. We have the class clown as president.

pat on May 24, 2014 at 1:20 PM

… Vietnam. The justification there was much more fuzzy and long term, relating as it did to our tendency toward, as Beinart described it, [equating] containment with stopping Communism anywhere on Earth. A noble goal, but the long term results of our involvement pretty much speak for themselves.

I wonder how much different things would be today (our veterans, our military, today’s relations with Russia and China, even VietNam itself) if we had prosecuted a real war, taken ground / real estate and actually held it, like we did in WWII.

majorzot on May 24, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Nobody want to hear a damn thing you think you have to say, Jass……

….just go away….

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

So why did you click on his post?

DarkCurrent on May 24, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Most likely to say exactly that.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 24, 2014 at 1:20 PM

I’ve long been saddled with the unpopular tag of being the token isolationist in the room when foreign policy discussions arise among Republican colleagues. It’s easy to paint such so-called isolationists with a broad brush, claiming that we ignore the wolves at the doors of others around the globe at our own peril. But the arguments in the two pieces above go a fair ways toward deescalating such food fights and allowing for at least consideration of the concept that moderating the impulse toward foreign adventurism isn’t always a bad thing.

I don’t trust the Obama administration to do the right thing anywhere in the world, let alone for the right reasons.

Besides, three-dimensional chess is a luxury of a prosperous people with a government that can act from their largesse, both cash and power. But our abundance is being devoured by locusts at the moment — both cash and power — and our government is as close to what the hippies fear, a bucket of cronies, as I’ve ever seen it.

Besides again, we’re already at war. The American people are occupied. They are having to fight off their own government. Asking them to go to war anywhere else in the world right now feels like asking them to do more than they can reasonably handle.

Axe on May 24, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Has America stopped thinking strategically when it comes to foreign policy and military intervention?

If it had, we would have invaded Syria by now.

Stoic Patriot on May 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Nobody want to hear a damn thing you think you have to say, Jass……

….just go away….

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Sounds like someone is imbibing early and often on the long weekend.

Here’s a clue, jackass. Nobody wants to hear your crap, either. And no one forced you to read the article.

So, KMA, clown.

ZeusGoose on May 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM

The US is a broken accelerating third world piece of dung. Forget about projecting power anywhere. This fractious nation no longer has any national goals, pride or funds.

The left has virtually stripped us of our pride, and the well being which comes from an honest day of work.

Gloom, Gloom, Gloom.

PeaceAtAllCosts on May 24, 2014 at 1:26 PM

All I care about is wiping out Islam.

Everything else is a sub-set of that.

WhatSlushfund on May 24, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Strategic calculation is not a simple thing. It never has been because a minor event like the assassination of prince or the reoccupation of ones own territory may cause a chain of events that leads to a distant country’s involvement in war sometime down the road.

It all comes down to this simple rhyme:

“For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”

jerryofva on May 24, 2014 at 1:45 PM

fix the VA before you create more cases for them to handle.
its time to stop pussyfooting around, if people want us to fight declare war and fight using every weapon we have to limit our soldiers exposure to harm.
unless people are willing to put up then they should back off.
the average grunt has been getting screwed since korea.
an occupying force cannot take, hold, and perpetually prosecute and still win. it has never worked.
people want to send soldiers to fight, fine. declare war and kill the enemy.
fwiw I have no issue declaring war against any country (or the factions IN that country) that harm our citizens or our allies.
stop wielding a sword of peace and unleash the dogs of war.

dmacleo on May 24, 2014 at 2:00 PM

fix the VA before you create more cases for them to handle.
its time to stop pu**yfooting around, if people want us to fight declare war and fight using every weapon we have to limit our soldiers exposure to harm.
unless people are willing to put up then they should back off.
the average grunt has been getting screwed since korea.
an occupying force cannot take, hold, and perpetually prosecute and still win. it has never worked.
people want to send soldiers to fight, fine. declare war and kill the enemy.
fwiw I have no issue declaring war against any country (or the factions IN that country) that harm our citizens or our allies.
stop wielding a sword of peace and unleash the dogs of war.

dmacleo on May 24, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Sounds like someone is imbibing early and often on the long weekend.

Here’s a clue, jackass. Nobody wants to hear your crap, either. And no one forced you to read the article.

So, KMA, clown.

ZeusGoose on May 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Have a drink and calm down a bit.

kcewa on May 24, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Of course, the potential disruption to international energy supplies was a factor, but was that enough to justify war? The stunning success we achieved in the first Gulf War, factoring in the nearly universal support the action garnered from the international community was enough to silence most critics, and rightly so.

And left a tyrant in place who violated the cease-fire agreement he signed. That is a treaty and is of the type that must be stringently adhered to as it is done on the battlefield. That did not end the Gulf War and it was on a low simmer all through the Clinton Administration and Saddam was working his way around the restrictions of the cease-fire agreement. That is not a success in anyone’s book and left more causes for war on the table due to the actions Saddam had taken and did not redress as his cease-fire promised he would.

There is a sure way to measure success: a peace treaty. You know the thing that you get after all parties adhere to a cease-fire agreement and then seek to redress the problems that brought the war about? We didn’t get one of those.

When you go to fight you fight to win. War isn’t bean bag, it isn’t nice, and the few rules we can keep in place at least try to spare the innocent. You do not fight war with very much more than that because every other thing you attempt to do that isn’t geared towards winning is distracting you from actually WINNING. A peace treaty is an acceptable end as well so long as you aren’t giving one of the parties cause for future war…magnanimous in victory is the concept here.

With war you either fight to win or you do not bother fighting at all as anything in-between leaves lots of people dead, lots of resources wasted and destabilizes society to no good end at all. If you aren’t fighting to win then just why, exactly, are you fighting at all?

That isn’t isolationist, as you are willing to help your friends and allies because they are your friends and allies and you have a commitment to them.

Want isolationism? Cheese off all your friends and allies. Make great saber rattling speeches on ‘red lines’ and ‘unacceptable behavior’ and do nothing. Downsize the military and take away its most effective weapons and put IOU’s in their place, while sacrificing their logistic supply system. That gets you trapped in your Nation with a military unprepared to defend the Nation, allies who no longer think of you as an ally, and enemies who see that you cannot back up any of your threats in any way, shape or form.

Actually, that is the recipe asking to be attacked and invaded.

Works to.

Any similarity to our current predicament and that is entirely intended.

ajacksonian on May 24, 2014 at 2:01 PM

We might ask exactly what debt we owed to the people of Kuwait in the early days of the Bush 41 presidency. Of course, the potential disruption to international energy supplies was a factor, but was that enough to justify war?

Yes.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Vietnam. The justification there was much more fuzzy and long term, relating as it did to our tendency toward, as Beinart described it, [equating] containment with stopping Communism anywhere on Earth. A noble goal, but the long term results of our involvement pretty much speak for themselves.

The long term result was the containment and eventual implosion of soviet communism. Not bad.

kcewa on May 24, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Wow, whassup with that william guy? My – some politeness pulses!

Anyway, look. First things first. We have an ENORMOUS deficit problem. We can’t keep muddling around as the world’s policeman – that was appropriate following WWII but I think the allies need to step up to the plate now. We have got to get our own house in order tout de suite. And anyway, even if that WERE the case (our house in order, that is), I am frankly tired of shedding American blood in foreign lands when our immediate or obviously strategic interests are not in it. I’ll say it – yes, oil and other resources. But people mucking up their lives and relying on Uncle Sam to straighten things out – nope. Coming to aid a close ally, yes.

OK so that leaves a power vacuum of sorts. Talk to me about strategic interests and make it obvious, not academic/abstract. I have a simple mind – as the lefties have always assumed. Ha!

Chuck Ef on May 24, 2014 at 2:07 PM

some politeness pulses!

pulees. Damn spell checkers.

Chuck Ef on May 24, 2014 at 2:09 PM

There is a sure way to measure success: a peace treaty. You know the thing that you get after all parties adhere to a cease-fire agreement and then seek to redress the problems that brought the war about? We didn’t get one of those.

A better way is: no one left on the other side to sign a peace treaty. I think that was the lesson of the American Civil War (that ended successfully) and WWI (the European Civil War that didn’t) – Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt applied it successfully in WWII. Unconditional surrender.

Whether for good or bad I don’t think that applies to our current conflicts. The public won’t allow us to repeat that level of destruction.

kcewa on May 24, 2014 at 2:13 PM

I think most of us are more concerned about the enemy within right now.

crankyoldlady on May 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Yep.

I’m with you, COL …

ShainS on May 24, 2014 at 2:26 PM

It’s easy to paint such so-called isolationists with a broad brush, claiming that we ignore the wolves at the doors of others around the globe at our own peril.

By far the main “wolf at the door” in America is now the U.S. federal government with all it’s now politicized and weaponize alphabet soup agencies, and it’s ever increasing rule by royalist men, not by the United States Constitution and the rule of law.

VorDaj on May 24, 2014 at 2:30 PM

kcewa on May 24, 2014 at 2:13 PM

The Treaty of Versailles was a vindictive set of accords made to punish Germany… that didn’t work out so hot as you pointed out. At the end of WWII even with unconditional surrender (and Japan actually did ask for and get some conditions, like having a titular Emperor) there were still treaties signed. The difference was that the allies had pretty much ruined the Nations involved and then there was work after the war to help the Nations rebuild.

Total War has its own conceptions around it, and has not been applied since WWII and what we have gotten are wars with less than honest commitment to actually fight them. The consequences are much, much higher for going to total war and that should raise a very high bar to commitment to fighting in any conflict. That means we get conflicts that cannot be won, and only lost because we lack the will to fight to a conclusion that is positive to our Nation.

For all the Left is so hot on peace, they have yet to step up to the plate and actually deliver peace treaties or other war ending devices since WWII. All that talk of diplomacy is preferable to war junk is just that – junk – because they will not deliver on actually making peace. Peace does not happen by accident but by design, and if you aren’t actually trying to figure out how to get to peace that is satisfactory to everyone (and that includes unconditional surrender, you just have to kill enough people to convince the enemy you mean it), then lives are being wasted to no good end.

Peace is not the absence of war, far from it, and if you can’t figure out what war actually is then how, on earth, can you say you want peace without figuring out how to end one single conflict to achieve that end? What we normally get from the Left is just walking away… which is isolationism… although the Left lacks any honesty at all to say that is what they actually want, it would be the result if they actually get it.

I would prefer to keep conflicts at a diplomatic level. Sadly diplomats have not been up to the challenge.

ajacksonian on May 24, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Nobody want to hear a damn thing you think you have to say, Jass……
….just go away….
williamg on May 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Must want red meat.

Cleombrotus on May 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM

I think most of us are more concerned about the enemy within right now.
crankyoldlady on May 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Seen Drudge’s headline today? We’re gonna need Marines at the border soon.

Cleombrotus on May 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM

By far the main “wolf at the door” in America is now the U.S. federal government with all it’s now politicized and weaponize alphabet soup agencies, and it’s ever increasing rule by royalist men, not by the United States Constitution and the rule of law.

VorDaj on May 24, 2014 at 2:30 PM

I agree.

Axe on May 24, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Seen Drudge’s headline today? We’re gonna need Marines at the border soon.

Cleombrotus on May 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM

I don’t think the enemy within wants to do that.

crankyoldlady on May 24, 2014 at 2:53 PM

We’re being invaded from the south with the complicity of our government. I’m kind of surprised Texas is allowing this to happen on their border. Maybe that’s the real dispute between Perry and Cruz.

crankyoldlady on May 24, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Here’s a clue, jackass.
So, KMA, clown.

ZeusGoose on May 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM

I know better than to read the “article”….it’s a waste of time…

I would give you a clue – but you wouldn’t be able to do anything with it….since you couldn’t pour water out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel…..

No one wants to KYA…..but, at least you’ve made it easier for them if they did…..by making every square inch of skin on your body just one big part of it….

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

A better way is: no one left on the other side to sign a peace treaty. I think that was the lesson of the American Civil War (that ended successfully) and WWI (the European Civil War that didn’t) – Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt applied it successfully in WWII. Unconditional surrender.

Whether for good or bad I don’t think that applies to our current conflicts. The public won’t allow us to repeat that level of destruction.

kcewa on May 24, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Considering we are dealing with an enemy obsessed with the destruction of anyone they define as “not us”, I think our “public” has no problem with it.

Our pseudo-intellectual, mystical, Eastern philosophy-romancing, Western civilization-hating leadership class, is a different story entirely.

Given the choice between winning by methods even approaching those we used in Korea, let alone WW2, and losing by the massacre of most of the American people,but claiming that they “retained a moral ascendancy” in some way, I believe our present crop of leaders would unhesitatingly choose the latter.

It wouldn’t even be something they had to think about. It would be a reflex. “West evil, East good” is all they need to know.

They would see it as the birth of a new, primitivist, socialistic Utopia.

The fact that a lot of innocent people would be dead is irrelevant to them. First because they are theorists to whom human beings are mere statistics, and second because other than themselves, they despise the human race in toto.

Once you convince yourself that only you deserve to live, and that you and only you can build a Perfect World, the rest is easy.

Every dictator and aggressor in the 20th Century thought this about himself.

This lot is only different in the respect that the dictators of the last century generally only killed their own people either in the process of seizing power, of “cleansing” their societies of those they regarded as “inferior”, or at the very end as a way of punishing their own people for “failing” them.

This group of wights wants to destroy us in the belief that our enemies are the truly enlightened harbingers of a new, wonderful civilization. And one which they (our leaders) will rule, with the enemy as their fawning acolytes.

People tend to act in what they perceive as their own self-interest. Our leaders regard their self-interest as being in concert with those who wish us all dead.

And yes, they honestly believe they will survive the aftermath.

Some people, for all of their alleged and/or self-perceived genius, really are just that stupid.

clear ether

eon

eon on May 24, 2014 at 3:01 PM

I don’t think you can have a serious defense policy unless the first border you defend is your own.

Why is it that America’s military seems to be committed to guarding nearly every border in the world except America’s border with Mexico?

And if the answer is that America now has a bipartisan ruling class that does what it wants without regard for such issues, isn’t that the real problem, rather than some foreign enemy?

I haven’t liked America’s military adventures in a long time. I still think it was a terrible idea to kill Gaddafi, because he had given up his WMD, and when you shoot a guy who’s put his hands up, good luck convincing anyone else to surrender and disarm peacefully.

I absolutely hate the idea of a Cold War II over the Ukraine and Crimea. It’s none of America’s business.

But if any foreign enemy had done to Detroit what domestic enemies have done to it, I’d agree that that’s an act of war and America must fight.

For “Detroit” you can substitute a lot of other cities. What was once THE ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY (!) is just the worst example.

America’s real enemies are in America, and fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, or Libya or Syria, while America continues to be overrun by illegal immigration, is just wasted motion.

Russia shouldn’t be a target at all. China is a big, bad threat, but so far it’s all potential. It’s not really attacking America.

America’s real enemies are the people that have opened it to a Mexican invasion and are destroying its great cities.

David Blue on May 24, 2014 at 3:11 PM

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Looks like someone’s having that time of the month. Jeez.

Total War has its own conceptions around it, and has not been applied since WWII and what we have gotten are wars with less than honest commitment to actually fight them. The consequences are much, much higher for going to total war and that should raise a very high bar to commitment to fighting in any conflict. That means we get conflicts that cannot be won, and only lost because we lack the will to fight to a conclusion that is positive to our Nation.

ajacksonian on May 24, 2014 at 2:32 PM

I agree. Regardless of the fact that Mac could be a petulant b*stard, he rightly pointed out in 1950 that the only way to win Korea was to go after the Chinese. The moment that Truman decided to avoid engaging China out of fear of drawing the USSR into [the inevitable] nuclear exchange, we signaled that it no longer mattered if USSR or its proxies engaged the US – because we demonstrated that we did not have the will to engage USSR directly. That’s why we got a 60+ year armistice in Korea, and why we essentially lost in Vietnam.

By the time Desert Storm came around, we were so emaciated politically of any vestige of will to fight that the moment the Republican Guard ran back into its yard, like a bad dog that finally realises it might get hurt, we then turned tail and ran. We allowed the political Left to screech and whine about “occupations” for most of the Bush presidency because they knew that the political class had lost its moral bearings when it came to fighting wars. The Obama presidency, with its talk of exits without daring to utter the word “victory” or “won” in any sense other than its own domestic politics, was a natural outcome. Spiritually, we are beaten.

For this alone, we owe every US soldier who ever fought for our country a most heartfelt apology, for tying their hands behind ultra-restrictive ROEs that ensured only that we would never truly win a war again.

I hope one day this will change – that is, without the pain that will inevitably come for having tried to avoid the unpleasantness of war for so long – but, sadly, I just don’t see it anymore.

Wanderlust on May 24, 2014 at 3:16 PM

The only question worth asking before intervening is: Will Nancy Pelosi blame a VA debacle down the road on Bush?

chris0christies0donut on May 24, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Jazz, I believe that there is some evidence that the Vietnam war did buy time for Sourh Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines to resist communism. We eventually won the Vietnam war militarily speaking, or at least fought to a draw, with the Paris peace accords, which the Democrats promptly through away post-Nixon.

The Vietnam war must be viewed as one battle in the global Cold War that also includes other proxy wars like Korea, the soviets invasion of Afghanistan, the Cuban missile crisis, the US interventions in Grenada and El Salvador, the Arab-Israeli wars, etc. We won the Cold War in part because we put up a fight, not always when or where we wanted it, and not always with the desired results, but we did win.

fastphil101 on May 24, 2014 at 3:21 PM

A new world order is rising, but is the United States going to be leader in defining that new world order and protect its interests and those of its allies? All Obama wants to do is make it through next couple of years and then retire. He could not care less. Elections do matter, folks.

SC.Charlie on May 24, 2014 at 3:38 PM

I know better than to read the “article”….it’s a waste of time…

I would give you a clue – but you wouldn’t be able to do anything with it….since you couldn’t pour water out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel…..

No one wants to KYA…..but, at least you’ve made it easier for them if they did…..by making every square inch of skin on your body just one big part of it….

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

You just proved my point.

You’re a totally unhinged moron, not worthy of any rebuttal. You’re idiocy is all we need to know.

ZeusGoose on May 24, 2014 at 3:51 PM

America has been hosed in its recent elections no matter who got in.

In 2008, if McCain had been elected, there is every indication he would have gotten America involved in war after war, and he would have pushed for open borders. He would have fought over Georgia next to Russia but not for Georgia in America. That is the opposite of a sane defense policy for America.

I’m not saying Obama hasn’t been terrible. He has been terrible. He fought over Libya – without Congressional sanction – and sued Arizona to prevent the defense of America’s borders. That’s beyond incompetent, it’s disloyal.

But there is a bipartisan problem. On borders you can sum it up with the informal bill name “McCain-Kennedy”. On foreign and attack policy (because America doesn’t really have a defense policy), you can see continuity from Bush’s “surge” to Obama’s. And where immigration and war policy intersect, both Bush and Obama continued to praise Islam and to import hordes of Muslims, while jihadists are at war with us.

David Blue on May 24, 2014 at 3:59 PM

The only question worth asking before intervening is: Will Nancy Pelosi blame a VA debacle down the road on Bush?

chris0christies0donut on May 24, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Well, now the libs are reaching back to Reagan, so given enough time, they’ll work their way back to George Washington. If it weren’t for him (an old dead white guy, who owned slaves) we wouldn’t even have this nasty, filthy country!

I mean, killing a bunch of nice tea drinking red coats just for raising the tax on tea? Now we look the other way when they restrict and tax Texas Tea (oil, that is, black gold).

The new definition of infinity is liberal stupidity. It can’t be quantified, and it can never be understood.

ZeusGoose on May 24, 2014 at 4:06 PM

How rationally does this add up?

(1) Attacks on Muslim countries are justified because we have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.

(2) We’re importing them here in huge numbers because they aren’t our enemies.

(3) We have to change our laws and our customs to appease them now that they are here, because they are in the habit of doing terror attacks if infidels like us talk back to them.

David Blue on May 24, 2014 at 4:17 PM

As it turns out, ignorant though they might be about the facts of international affairs or even basic geography, the American people are generally quite wise on making these choices.

Wow. Some people can rationalize anything. Americans can’t eat healthy, pick reasonable health insurance choices, avoid risky behaviors, drive safely, or even read, for understanding no less, Animal Farm.

But, Jazz, they know which wars are in their national interest.

News flash Jazz. By the time an enemy tries a direct-on assault, they’ve already spent years moving their assets into place. If this country had real leadership it would be doing the same. And most Americans would not know jack squat about why. That’s why we have to have an executive in the first place. Too many cooks and all that.

WryTrvllr on May 24, 2014 at 4:18 PM

But, Jazz, they know which wars are in their national interest.

WryTrvllr on May 24, 2014 at 4:18 PM

I agree with Jazz on this one. His point is that generally rational wars have payoffs that don’t require delicate theoretical tools to detect.

David Blue on May 24, 2014 at 4:20 PM

“Goebbels, you magnificent bastard, I Read Your Book!”

– Barack Hussein Obama, circa 2008

Tard on May 24, 2014 at 5:07 PM

I hope one day this will change – that is, without the pain that will inevitably come for having tried to avoid the unpleasantness of war for so long – but, sadly, I just don’t see it anymore.

Wanderlust on May 24, 2014 at 3:16 PM

….you can’t see much with your head positioned in your digestive canal so far up that your heart is Beating The Sh**t out of your brains….

….the rest of you keep reading articles that quote Peter Beinart (a.k.a. “Peter Brainless”) as some sort of credible source…….

….I’m sure that’ll be helpful…..as helpful as obsessing about “why The Terrorists felt they HAD to do that….” while you’re navel-gazing…..

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 5:46 PM

“Only the dead have seen the last of war” – Plato.

SC.Charlie on May 24, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Isolationists are the Scarlett O’Haras of foreign policy: “I have always relied upon the kindness of strangers.”

Ron Paul used to love to point out how well America prospered for the first nearly 150 years of our existence without being “the world’s policeman.” What he never mentions is that we were able to grow and trade in peace because of the Royal Navy keeping sea lanes free. It was called the Pax Britannica, but Britain rules the seas no more.

Americans never wanted the role, it was thrust upon us. But the absence of visible, credible police always encourages the bad actors in a neighborhood (as we see in the world today, with a weak and feckless foreign policy). Sooner or later, the problems in the world will affect us directly, and if we sit back and wait for the bad actors to grow stronger and gain allies due to our weakness, it will be all the more difficult to confront them.

╚≡╗

Kuwait is a good example, but the correct policy is hard to execute in real time. There was even controversy at the time about not destroying the Republican Guard, which would have led to Saddam’s fall earlier.

Vietnam and Iraq were the correct policy choices. The fact they were mismanaged on the ground – largely based on interference from Washington politicians – doesn’t change that fact.

Perhaps you believe it would have been no skin off our nose to allow the Norks and Chinese to take the Korean Peninsula?

╚≡╗

It is important to remember that many of the antecedents of the isolationist of today were those who felt Hitler was no danger to us. And the modern ones like Buchanan and Paul are much softer on the Aryan Brotherhood types who send them money than they are on Jews.

There is a pattern there.

Adjoran on May 24, 2014 at 6:06 PM

There’s an element that sees the big cosmic battle as being between war and peace. In reality it’s between right and wrong.

crankyoldlady on May 24, 2014 at 6:44 PM

How the hell did they play that game?

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 24, 2014 at 7:25 PM

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

williamg on May 24, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Dude – FIFY.

Chuck Ef on May 24, 2014 at 7:43 PM

David Blue on May 24, 2014 at 4:20 PM

And to you David, I can only say….

“The fools, why are they cheering?”

You look it up.

WryTrvllr on May 24, 2014 at 7:49 PM

sort of on-topic I guess, but the leaving of hussein after GW1 may (MAY) have been a correct decision.
yeah his people suffered for it, big deal I don’t care enough to die for them, but the crazy bastard was a check against Iran.
in 90 or so were many authors (iirc clancy was one too but don’t quote me on that) that wondered about this as I did, not sure if it was the correct decision but he did provide a buffer from iran.
I think we are now seeing the results of removing him.
and I could easily be way wrong here.

dmacleo on May 24, 2014 at 8:53 PM

My take..for what it’s worth:
1 Our military are warriors, their leaders are social engineers. Warriors are no longer allowed to prosecute a war to win, which means kill the enemy, now they can only defend their positions and hope to stay alive until they come home.
2 We go to war with no goals, being forced to “respect” the enemy culture rather than exploiting it. Americans are weary of wars that are not allowed to be won.
3 We no longer have allies. This administration has made enemies of our friends and friends of our enemies. There is no foreign policy other than to aid and protect muslims.
4 It’s hypocritical of this administration to tout freedom and democracy throughout the world when it works so hard to defeat it here.
5 This administration has kept Americans in a continual state of scandal and chaos, with most Americans fighting so hard for their own survival in their own country, against their own government that other countries problems go on the back burner.
6 Our government worries more about the well being and rights of illegals than citizens, parasites are draining our wealth, gays, muslims and progressives are assaulting our religious institutions and more than half of America has been guilted or ridiculed into submission.
6 Six years of Obama has broken the American people. We have lost our pride, our exceptionalism, our world/self respect, our wealth and innovation.
The culmination of the fundamental change; we are a sad, pathetic, divided Third World country on life support. The Obama plan, executed to perfection.

AppraisHer on May 24, 2014 at 10:36 PM

We don’t have enough paleocons, like me.

cimbri on May 25, 2014 at 12:28 AM

David Blue on May 24, 2014 at 4:20 PM

And to you David, I can only say….

“The fools, why are they cheering?”

You look it up.

WryTrvllr on May 24, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Nicely done.

V7_Sport on May 25, 2014 at 1:02 AM

Daladier’s strategic situation was nothing like that of any American statesman.

Any American statesman can rely on America’s immense strength and the stopping power of water. That’s why isolationism makes strategic sense for America.

I don’t think it’s the very best option. I think John J. Mearsheimer’s offshore balancing strategy is the very best.

But the best grand strategic policy looks a lot more like isolationism – most of the time – than it looks like the present policy of non-defense in North America combined with continuous aggression in far corners of the world.

David Blue on May 25, 2014 at 3:57 AM

David Blue on May 25, 2014 at 3:57 AM

Yes.

We do not, at present, have a Hitler at our door as Daladier did. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 as well. It is always easy to cite this history as a reason for America’s involvement everywhere in the world – much easier than actually thinking about things. Admittedly, though I can’t find the earlier post, it is also correct that “thinking” about things does not seem to be our strong suit right now.

After the horror of WWI, it is understandable why Europe and the US just wanted Hitler to go away, a sentiment that he took horrific advantage of. The totality of history is choc-a-bloc full of errors in “thinking” like that. I may be making a mistake now for all I know but it is clear that our collapse will come if we don’t get our own house in order first. And that just ain’t happening. But fighting wars all over the place is no cure for poor thinking – and I know it will dig our hole even bigger.

Like I said in an earlier post, a post-WWII America needed to be “worldly” but now with our unhinged deficit, it’s time to pull back to what is important. I think you summarize what that is here.

Axe on May 24, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Ditto.

Chuck Ef on May 25, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Americans have nothing to do with our foreign policy. Our foreign policy has been taken over by the Far-Left which is openly hostile to America’s legitimate and just foreign policy objectives. Barrack Obama is a Socialist community organizer and John Kerry is a former anti-war agitator who collaborated with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. What kind of foreign policy do you expect from people like this?

Idiot Republicans refused to vote for Romney because he was not “conservative” enough. Happy, folks?

Rogervzv on May 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Rogervzv on May 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM

I like it – good point! Although to some degree, your last point invalidates the previous paragraph. Just saying …

Chuck Ef on May 25, 2014 at 8:17 PM

ajacksonian on May 24, 2014 at 2:01 PM
What he said! +1

Christian Conservative on May 25, 2014 at 8:46 PM

Any American statesman can rely on America’s immense strength and the stopping power of water. That’s why isolationism makes strategic sense for America.

David Blue on May 25, 2014 at 3:57 AM

So, Obozo:

Killed the F22
Killed the F-35
Gave a drone to Iran
Screwed up Syria, Libya, and now the Ukraine.
Want’s to cut our nuclear arsenal to 300 war heads.
Undercut the Czechs and Poland on missile defense
Is helping destabilize Mexico
Destroying the US currency reserve status.
Alienating most of our traditional allies.

And in typical lib-speak you continue to refer to the US as the world’s only superpower.

Um you realize immolation and isolation are 2 different words, don’t you?

WryTrvllr on May 26, 2014 at 4:03 AM

Um you realize immolation and isolation are 2 different words, don’t you?

WryTrvllr on May 26, 2014 at 4:03 AM

Isolationism is when you defend the heck out of your own country, and beyond that you don’t get involved.

Isolationism is a smart way to live in a diverse, dangerous neighborhood with low trust. You arm yourself. You fit your house and yard with every security device known to Man. You don’t invite anybody in to look around and check out your nice stuff, let alone to move in. And when a voice whispers:

“Help! Here down this dark alley [or Vietnam or in Mogadishu]; come and help me!”

… you keep your hand on your gun and pick up your pace.

A lot of the time, that was what Sparta’s foreign policy looked like. Thucidides recorded or invented an oration that addressed it: you will find the Spartans ready men when they have to defend their own interests, but if you think they are going to get involved in a distant quarrel and help you, think again.

I don’t think that’s the best security policy for America, but it would be a solid B.

That’s not what Obama is doing.

David Blue on May 26, 2014 at 5:26 AM

Any American statesman can rely on America’s immense strength and the stopping power of water. That’s why isolationism makes strategic sense for America.

Compare Poland’s situation: Russians to the right of them, Germans to the left, and a territory consisting in large part of excellent going for tanks. Obviously isolationism makes no sense for the Poles. They need to pick a side, and hope that side doesn’t lose.

America doesn’t have to do that.

Or look at Monaco: population 36,000 and bordered on three sides by France. The reason Americans can afford to treat “appeasement” as a dirty word is that America isn’t like Monaco. In reality, for a lot of little kingdoms in history, appeasement has been the best policy, and it usually works. If the French feel very strongly that Monaco had better stop doing X, guess what? Monaco is going to stop doing X. (And the French aren’t going to invade anyway because that would make no sense.)

America doesn’t have to do that.

Foreign policy only gets insanely complicated when you buy into phoney liberal theories. If you accept offensive realism, a good-enough grand strategy for America is something most people of practical sense should be able to do in well under a week, including first taking time out to read a book or two to be sure you have the basics clear in your head.

You should put sentimental ideas on what foreign policies are “good” aside for a while and look at actual power and geography.

Actual power and geography says America has options other nations don’t have. Including isolationism, as a second-best, unimaginative but solid option that would be much, much better than what George W. Bush committed to and what Barack Obama has made much worse.

David Blue on May 26, 2014 at 6:04 AM

A lot of the time, that was what Sparta’s foreign policy looked like. Thucidides recorded or invented an oration that addressed it: you will find the Spartans ready men when they have to defend their own interests, but if you think they are going to get involved in a distant quarrel and help you, think again.

I don’t think that’s the best security policy for America, but it would be a solid B.

That’s not what Obama is doing.

David Blue on May 26, 2014 at 5:26 AM

But yet Athens met it’s end in Syracuse, ummmm, with Spartan help. Lots of it.

WryTrvllr on May 26, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Actual power and geography says America has options other nations don’t have. Including isolationism, as a second-best, unimaginative but solid option that would be much, much better than what George W. Bush committed to and what Barack Obama has made much worse.

David Blue on May 26, 2014 at 6:04 AM

I’ll gladly give you this: “Isolation” that included reversing liberal social experiments on the military, reopening our home-manufacturing base for our planes and ships, and rock-hard borders would be not only better than Bush or Obama but actually beneficial.

Throw in the willpower to disperse ‘protests’ led by traitorous groups and to make especially notorious examples disappear (Google the Palmer Raids) and I’m in. I add this because after 8 years of looney-farm-grade Bush hysteria, treason said on-camera in broad daylight and assassination fantasies it’s high time the Left was taught that the 1st Amendment has limits.

LawfulGood on May 26, 2014 at 2:45 PM