'Don't meddle' isn't a foreign policy

When Obama started bombing Iraq a few weeks back, Hemmingway rightly argued that the goal of war is peace and wondered what our goal in Iraq was — a good and appropriate question. Simply bombing bad guys is not a foreign policy; it is a tactic that should be employed in the pursuit of some overarching goal. As the old adage goes, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat (usually attributed to Sun Tzu by those who have never read him).

So far, so good. But Hemmingway also opposes “nation building” and “occupation” and “meddling in others affairs.” Aside from her mischaracterization of what advocates for a broader intervention mean, the obvious question is: what if those are the only tools that can build a just and lasting peace? What’s more important: pursuing peace, or the purity of your non-interventionist ideology?

The maddening thing is that in the same breath Hemmingway argues that building peace in Iraq would “require so much more from us than we currently do.” Quite true. So much more, like investing in Iraq’s political stability. “It would mean, first off, actually fighting wars,” like we presumably tried from 2003 to 2011. “It would mean our statesmen would have to be clear about our expectations regarding peace,”-does Hemmingway think the problem is a lack of clarity?-“and that we would be willing to back those expectations up,”-but only, apparently, with bombs; not with any diplomacy, reconstruction assistance, coercive bargaining, stability operations, peace building, political warfare, or anything that might approach the dreaded “nation building.” “It would mean not meddling in others’ affairs,”-what in her last three sentences isn’t “meddling in others’ affairs”?

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