The Peace Racket

City Journal | Bruce Bawer | Summer, 2007

An anti-Western movement touts dictators, advocates appeasement—and gains momentum.

If you want peace, prepare for war.” Thus counseled Roman general Flavius Vegetius Renatus over 1,600 years ago. Nine centuries before that, Sun Tzu offered essentially the same advice, and it’s to him that Vegetius’s line is attributed at the beginning of a film that I saw recently at Oslo’s Nobel Peace Center. Yet the film cites this ancient wisdom only to reject it. After serving up a perverse potted history of the cold war, the thrust of which is that the peace movement brought down the Berlin Wall, the movie ends with words that turn Vegetius’s insight on its head: “If you want peace, prepare for peace.”

This purports to be wise counsel, a motto for the millennium. In reality, it’s wishful thinking that doesn’t follow logically from the history of the cold war, or of any war. For the cold war’s real lesson is the same one that Sun Tzu and Vegetius taught: conflict happens; power matters. It’s better to be strong than to be weak; you’re safer if others know that you’re ready to stand up for yourself than if you’re proudly outspoken about your defenselessness or your unwillingness to fight. There’s nothing mysterious about this truth. Yet it’s denied not only by the Peace Center film but also by the fast-growing, troubling movement that the center symbolizes and promotes.

Call it the Peace Racket.

We need to make two points about this movement at the outset. First, it’s opposed to every value that the West stands for—liberty, free markets, individualism—and it despises America, the supreme symbol and defender of those values. Second, we’re talking not about a bunch of naive Quakers but about a movement of savvy, ambitious professionals that is already comfortably ensconced at the United Nations, in the European Union, and in many nongovernmental organizations. It is also waging an aggressive, under-the-media-radar campaign for a cabinet-level Peace Department in the United States. Sponsored by Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich (along with more than 60 cosponsors), House Resolution 808 would authorize a Secretary of Peace to “establish a Peace Academy,” “develop a peace education curriculum” for elementary and secondary schools, and provide “grants for peace studies departments” at campuses around the country. If passed, the measure would catapult the peace studies movement into a position of extraordinary national, even international, influence.

The Peace Racket’s boundaries aren’t easy to define. It embraces scores of “peace institutes” and “peace centers” in the U.S. and Europe, plus several hundred university peace studies programs. As Ian Harris, Larry Fisk, and Carol Rank point out in a sympathetic overview of these programs, it’s hard to say exactly how many exist—partly because they often go by other labels, such as “security studies” and “human rights education”; partly because many “professors who infuse peace material into courses do not offer special courses with the title peace in them”; and finally because “several small liberal arts colleges offer an introductory course requirement to all incoming students which infuses peace and justice themes.” Many primary and secondary schools also teach peace studies in some form.

Peace studies initiatives may train students to be social workers, to work in churches or community health organizations, or to resolve family quarrels and neighborhood disputes. At the movement’s heart, though, are programs whose purported emphasis is on international relations. Their founding father is a 77-year-old Norwegian professor, Johan Galtung, who established the International Peace Research Institute in 1959 and the Journal of Peace Research five years later. Invariably portrayed in the media as a charismatic and (these days) grandfatherly champion of decency, Galtung is in fact a lifelong enemy of freedom. In 1973, he thundered that “our time’s grotesque reality” was—no, not the Gulag or the Cultural Revolution, but rather the West’s “structural fascism.” He’s called America a “killer country,” accused it of “neo-fascist state terrorism,” and gleefully prophesied that it will soon follow Britain “into the graveyard of empires.”

. . . more

Comments

  1. Dean Scourtes says:

    Although there have always been strong reasons for opposing the war in Iraq, it is also undoubtedly true that the anti-war movement has attracted radical, far left-wing groups groups who have exploited the war to advance their own dangerous views. This is how a good woman like Cindy Sheehan, outraged over the senseless death of her son, can end up being manipulated into acting as a spokeswoman and shill for dictator Hugo Chavez.

    Peace is an end and not a means, and often a show of force is neccesary to avoid an even worse disaster later on. A commitment to avoiding conflict at all costs is exactly what would be dictators and tyrants are counting on. As I read this article kept thinking of the Dutch soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers in Srebenica, Bosnia in 1995. They literally stood by passively, and watched, as Serbian paramilitaries separated 6,000 men from their families, marched them into the forest, and machine-gunned them to death. This is what happens when the primary function of your military personnel is be “good-will ambassadors”, rather than a deadly force ready to rain down death and destruction on an enemy at a moments notice. In the end, it was the frightening demonstration of US Air Power that persuaded Milosovich to come sit down at the peacetable at Dayton and agree to end hostilities, not the feeble protestations of the Europeans.

    We should always work for peace, but must be prepared for the possibility that our efforts may be rebuffed by an adversary who thinks he can threaten and intimidate us into submission. The more credible the adversary finds our military power and willingness to use it, the less likely he is to think that that strategy will be successful.

  2. Dean, for once I happen to agree with most of what you posted. There’s hope for you still. ;-)

    I especially liked these two comments since they are, as Chef Ramsay likes to say, “spot on”:

    Although there have always been strong reasons for opposing the war in Iraq, it is also undoubtedly true that the anti-war movement has attracted radical, far left-wing groups groups who have exploited the war to advance their own dangerous views.

    We should always work for peace, but must be prepared for the possibility that our efforts may be rebuffed by an adversary who thinks he can threaten and intimidate us into submission. The more credible the adversary finds our military power and willingness to use it, the less likely he is to think that that strategy will be successful.

  3. CFLconservative says:

    Peace is an end and not a means, and often a show of force is neccesary to avoid an even worse disaster later on. A commitment to avoiding conflict at all costs is exactly what would be dictators and tyrants are counting on. As I read this article kept thinking of the Dutch soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers in Srebenica, Bosnia in 1995. They literally stood by passively, and watched, as Serbian paramilitaries separated 6,000 men from their families, marched them into the forest, and machine-gunned them to death. This is what happens when the primary function of your military personnel is be “good-will ambassadors”, rather than a deadly force ready to rain down death and destruction on an enemy at a moments notice. In the end, it was the frightening demonstration of US Air Power that persuaded Milosovich to come sit down at the peacetable at Dayton and agree to end hostilities, not the feeble protestations of the Europeans.

    Comments like those above from Dean more clearly encapsulate the abject lack of differentiation between liberal Democrats and ‘conservative’ Republicans on the issue of foreign policy and the use of force.

    First of all, the massacre is a myth. But even if it were true, what possible business is it of the United States what happens in the Balkans?

    If you want peace, prepare for war. Nice slogan, highly accurate, and a popular one with those who believe in a strong defense that doesn’t go around the world trying to right all the wrongs. The traditional Right wanted to mind our own business and let other nations mind theirs. A massacre in the Balkans would not have struck the old Right as worthy of American firepower.

    A threat in the Western Hemisphere, however, would.

    So this is the basic gist then, we have ‘leftists’ who want to run around the world solving its problems through bombs. Which is in character, because the most bloodthirsty killers in history were all leftists.

    But, now we have ‘conservatives’ who want to go around the world righting wrongs, building nations, and exporting Democracy.

    They fight over Iraq only because it’s a campaign issue. Hillary and Obama would have done the same thing, only possibly more so. Just like Johnson in the 60′s or Truman in the 50′s. Leftists (the respectable ones that win office) love wars. War is revolutionary.

    And conservatives love war now also. Big crusading wars that involve changing the world.

    But what about defense of our own borders? What about not spending a trillions of dollars on building Democracy in Darfur or Iraq, and instead simply cutting taxes instead?

    Well – that’s not on the agenda. The only ‘respectable’ option is to be in favor of using U.S. troops in every Hellhole on Earth at the cost of trillions of dollars for the benefit of other people.

    Protest against the U.S. being the world’s policeman?

    Then you get labeled as being part of this loopy ‘peace’ thing outlined in this article. So these people are freaks. Granted, but since they are freak and Hitler needed to be stopped in Europe, does it then follow that every two-bit dictator in the world has to be hit with U.S. airpower?

  4. CFLconservative says:

    Hey Dean -

    You might want to actually dig a little deeper on your facts about the ‘massacre’ that gave your New Democrat Bill his opportunity to ‘look tough’ and ‘presidential.’

    Tim Butcher of the Daily Telegraph, London (24 July 1995), wrote regarding Srebrenica, “After five days of interviews the United Nations chief investigator into alleged human rights abuses during the fall of Srebrenica has not found any firsthand witnesses of atrocities.”

    An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report, document #37, dated September 13, 1995 states: “Approximately 5,000 Srebrenica Muslim troops left the enclave prior to its fall. The Muslim government has admitted that these men were reassigned to other units of its armed forces. The fact that family members were not informed of it was justified by the obligation to keep it a military secret.” The ICRC further reported that there were indications that sporadic clashes broke out between the Muslim soldiers who wanted to stay and fight and other soldiers and civilians who wanted to flee. In some cases, the names of “missing” soldiers are listed as many as two and three times. As previously stated, approximately fewer than 2,000 bodies have been found in graves. Considering that the civil war in Bosnia had lasted over four years, this could not exactly be called a “genocide” when compared to other massacres taking place all over the world such as in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and the Indonesia.

    A representative in the Bosnian and Federal Parliaments, Ibran Mustafic, gave an explosive interview on Aug. 15, 1996, to Slobodna Bosnia (“Free Bosnia,” A Sarajevo newspaper). Mustafic was quoted as saying that the betrayal of Srebrenica “was consciously prepared and that the Bosnian president and the army command were involved in this business,” and that was to sacrifice Srebrenica in order to gain the sympathy of the West. Of his internment in a Serbian jail, he writes, “I should have died. They [the Bosnian Muslim authorities] don’t appreciate living people. They appreciate the dead because they cannot talk.”

    Of course we must not overlook Pulitzer Prize winner David Rohde, who was given a 15-day sentence for entering into Serbian territory with forged documents. He should thank his lucky stars that he was not captured by Muslim fighters or he would have been just another dead journalist, as was ABC’s producer David Kaplan, who, according to Yossef Bodansky (Offensive in the Balkans) was out of range of Serbian forces when he was killed. Regardless, Kaplan’s death was blamed on the Serbs. And what earned Mr. Rohde his coveted award? It was based merely on the discovery of “a pair of glasses, a walking stick and a putrefying leg sticking out of the ground,” according to his book, Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, in an area where men had fought for over three years. Some genocide!

    The mind set of U.S. officials who were in charge of “peacekeeping” efforts might best be understood by considering the view of our current U.N. Ambassador, Richard Holbrooke, who spoke of “The 1995 massacre of thousands of Bosnians Moslems in the U.N.-proclaimed ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica.” (“Holbrooke mourns Srebrenica, urges reconciliation”, Reuters, July 11). Mr. Holbrooke fails to mention that the so-called “safe area,” which was supposed to be demilitarized, was used by the Bosnian Muslims as a staging area to attack surrounding Serbian villages.

    But, hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story about heroic Democrats coming to the defense of the little guy.

    What will be a real sick, twisted pleasure for me is that if Hillary wins in ’08, and sees fit to go on a rampage of military adventures around the globe, you’ll be on this board arguing in favor of them all.

    Democrat wars are good and justified, not like those evil Republican Wars. And in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 when Hillary extends and deepens the war in Iraq, you’ll argue for that too. Won’t you, Dean? Things will be different then, won’t they?

    That, my friend, will be a guilty pleasure to see you arguing for more wars and to see the ‘conservatives’ questioning the basis for ever greater military adventures around the globe.

    Christopher will probably sound like a peacenik before it’s over. Even Missiourian will probably post the lyrics to ‘Give Peace a Chance.’

    Want a crusade to rid the world of evil? Just wait until the Democrats are back in charge! Hardly a sparrow will fall anywhere in the world that U.S. Army Ranger won’t be there to avenge it.

    This will be priceless.

    Except for all the dead bodies, that’ll be a real bummer, but from a pure political theater standpoint it will be a gem.

  5. Dean Scourtes says:
  6. Does strongly corroborates mean the found bodies, or that there were some random corpses poorly buried, instead of a mass grave?

  7. Dean –

    Where are the mass graves? The numbers were thrown around as 8,000 or 5,000 or 1,000 or was it 2,000?

    The fact is, the total number of bodies found in the area after four years of hard fighting was 2,000, and no one knows how many of them were Serbs or Bosnians.

    And even if the slaughter was true, Dean, even if the Serbs were gutting the stew out of thousands of Bosnians – why exactly was it the responsibility of the United States to stop it?

    Why? Because it benefited NATO? Because it made Clinton look presidential? Because Democrats love the opportunity to feel good about themselves by getting into other people’s business?

    Oh, I’m not just picking on you here. You know I tear into the Republicans for this also. You jump up and down about American casualties in Iraq, or about the collateral damage to civilians, the cost of the war, whatever. But if a Democratic president spends billions on the Balkans, then that’s just swell.

    I notice you keyed on this and ignored the rest of what I said.

    Too close to home?

    Where will Madame President send our troops? She’s no peacenik, you know. Not by a long shot. Darfur? Ready for a war there, Dean? Or back to the Balkans? Iran? Ready for a shooting war in Iran?

    The mind boggles. Madame President Hillary will kill more people in her first term than President Bush managed in two. She’ll make Bush look like a Hippie.

    And you’ll be in her corner, won’t you Dean? Because she’s right on health care, don’t you know? Or gay rights, or abortion rights, or whatever.

    And in the end, you’ll look at yourself in the mirror and understand you’re just a partisan hack who attacked Bush’s little Iraq quagmire because he had an ‘R’ next to his name, not because of any real reason like ‘principle.’

    And, conversely, as the bodies pile up in one stupid Democratic military adventure after the other, the Republicans will have to face the fact that they will be opposing military ventures that will be undertaken with justifications that are almost identical to the ‘spread democracy’ and ‘vanquish evil’ pap that Bush has spewed for 8 years.

    Only this time they’ll be on the other side, begging to stop it all.

    Irony kills, unfortunately, but it sure does entertain.

  8. Dean Scourtes says:

    Glen: Can you cite any flaw in the UN investigation? Let me hear the results of your review, and the methodological errors you uncovered.

    Don’t try to deny that these atrocities happened – it’s shameful and dishonest. So what if atrocities were committed against the Serbs too. We are Orthodox Christians, we are supposed to be better than that. Orthodox Christians aren’t supposed to use gang rape as a weapon of war. Orthodox Christians aren’t supposed to terrorize civilans with artillery and sniper fire. Orthodox Christians aren’t supposed to taunt prisoners being led to their execution with the three-fingered sign of the cross. I can have no sympathy for people who resort to such tactics.

    Also let me ask you: Did our GIs die by the thousands on Omaha beach and the Ardenne Forest, trying to rid the world of Hitler and his death camps, just so some new dictator could come along 40 years later and begin a campaign of genocide all over again? Is that what they fought for? I think we had a responsibility to them alone to maintain the peace they fought so hard for.

    Before you blame Clinton, remeber he was cleaning up George Herbert Walke Bush’s mess. It was Bush I who encouraged Croatia and Bosnia to secede from Yugoslavia, thus setting the stage for civil war. Were we just supposed to sit there and read that 20 minutes away from the US air base in Italy, and US carriers in the Mediteranean, artillery fire was raining down on civilians in Vukavar, Dubrovnik and Sarajevo, or that in Bosnia people were being dragged out of their homes and shot, or marched off to concentration camps to be raped or starved to death – and with an indifferent yawn turn the page of our newspaper?

    Lastly, how many American lives did it cost us to stop the killing in Bosnia? The answer: none. That’s how easy it was.

  9. The American Council for Kosovo

    Also, Julia Gorin has dug through a lot of the misinformation.

    For the historical record, Serbian Archbishop Artijme opposed both Milosevic and the US policy. In fact, he came to the US twice to plead with Clinton to reverse course. He never got an audience.

    Here’s the problem Dean: Clinton’s policy established a Muslim state in the heart of Europe. (He attacked an ally to do it.) This will create huge problems down the road.

  10. CFLconservative says:

    Also let me ask you: Did our GIs die by the thousands on Omaha beach and the Ardenne Forest, trying to rid the world of Hitler and his death camps, just so some new dictator could come along 40 years later and begin a campaign of genocide all over again? Is that what they fought for? I think we had a responsibility to them alone to maintain the peace they fought so hard for.

    Thank you Dean for making all my points for me.

    As an aside, U.S. troops defeated Hitler because he was a threat to the United States, not because of what he did to the Jews. For the record, if we had cared about that we would have actually let Jewish refugees into the U.S. instead of turning them away. Not that we were right to do that, merely that GI’s did not die by the thousands to save anyone other than their own country which had been attacked by the Axis and would have been gravely threatened by a Germany owning the Eurasian land mass.

    Note to all fellow conservatives, please note the posts by Dean on this thread, and please, please, please dispense with all this talk about the Democratic Party being ‘pacifist’ or ‘anti-war.’

    There’s your anti-war Democrat talking. He’s perfectly in favor of war, as long as a Democrat is ordering the bombing and we can keep U.S. casualties to a minimum.

    The U.N. report has been conclusively refuted multiple times. But as I asked you, Herr Dean, where are the mass graves? Where are the 5,000 bodies?

    No where.

    And even if the bodies did exist, and even if the atrocities were real, why should the U.S. be the world’s policeman?

    Why should we sacrifice our blood, our treasure, and our lives? You argued against it in Iraq, but when a Dem is in charge, well then that’s different isn’t it? Then it is our business to go around righting wrongs, and spreading Democracy, and making the world a better place through Cruise Missiles.

    It’s easy to understand why all of you hated Bush so much. He stole your Hymnal.

    If the U.S. had the moral obligation to use U.S. firepower to stop what was happening in Bosnia, whatever that was, then why not invade Iraq and topple Saddam to improve the Middles East? Isn’t the U.S. key to everything around the world?

    I suppose for Democrat warmongers U.S. troop deaths is the only yardstick? As long as you can kill without risking U.S. troops, then there’s no problem?

    Anyway Dean, get ready to keep justifying this. More wars are coming under Hillary, and you’ll carry water for every single one of them. There will always be a justification, right Dean? Always, no matter what Hellhole we end up with soldiers in, if Hillary does it then it can’t be wrong?

    But, as usual Dean, you can’t really answer any of my objections based on principle, because your principles of foreign intervention and those articulated by the Neo-con ‘right’ are essentially the same.

    The role of the United States is to save the world from itself through American firepower. We have a duty, an obligation, to intervene wherever and whenever injustice looms. Every issue anywhere is our concern.

    Darfur? Invade! Iran? Bomb it! Pakistan? Nuke it!

    Remember that insipid show a few years back with Geana Davis as a female president? She used military force practically every week.

    Hillary will do exactly the same thing. She believes in cracking eggs to make omlets. If we’re lucky, she’ll leave office without having gotten the whole world nuked just to prove how tough she is.

    But Dean’ll back it, the same way that Republicans backed all of Bush’s loopy policies.

    What fun this will be.

  11. CFLconservative says:

    Ahh, the joys of the Democratic party.

    Democratic leaders in Congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq’s diverse political factions.

    And now the Democrats, along with wavering Republicans, will face an advertising blitz from Bush supporters determined to remain on offense. A new pressure group, Freedom’s Watch, will unveil a month-long, $15 million television, radio and grass-roots campaign today designed to shore up support for Bush’s policies before the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, lays out a White House assessment of the war’s progress. The first installment of Petraeus’s testimony is scheduled to be delivered before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a fact both the administration and congressional Democrats say is simply a scheduling coincidence.

    The leading Democratic candidates for the White House have fallen into line with the campaign to praise military progress while excoriating Iraqi leaders for their unwillingness to reach political accommodations that could end the sectarian warfare.

    Read the rest of the sorry mess here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/21/AR2007082102025_pf.html

    The Democrats weren’t opposed, aren’t opposed, and can’t be opposed to the war in Iraq.

    This is exactly their kind of war.

    Sure, there is a pacifist wing of the Democratic Party. Cindy Sheehan does speak for some. But the Democrats that matter? Oh no, they’re just like Dean.

    Democrats love nation-building wars, which is why Republicans on this board and elsewhere make no sense to me. The Dems are having to reposition themselves because they can’t be opposed to the Iraq war because it’s wrong. By their ideological standards, it isn’t wrong.

    So they carp about whether or not it is effective. They carp about tactics, but the idea of the U.S. building another nation using U.S. blood and treasure is part and parcel of the official Democratic mindset.

    And you haven’t seen anything, yet. If the Iraq War actually does begin to go better, the Democrat with the best chance of capitalizing on that success is Hillary the UBER Hawk.

    Isn’t that ironic? If the war goes better, then Hillary can say that she supported it all along.

    If it goes badly, Hillary can just say that it was the right thing to do, but the Republicans made a mess of it.

    Either way, she wins.

    And we get even more wars, all brought to you by a party that many Republicans on this board brand as somehow ‘pacifist’ or ‘anti-war.’

    Sheesh. Talk about not knowing your enemy.

  12. Dean Scourtes says:

    Here is the flaw in your logic. If the stated policy of the United States is to avoid confrontation at all costs that provides a clear field for foreign troublemakers who want to use violence and military aggression to intimidate their neighbors, rivals and even ourselves.

    We aren’t living in the 19th century anymore secure behind two vast oceans and able to ignore the rest of the world as if didn’t exist. Everything that happens in the world eventually touches us. The unchecked dictator only grows bolder and more confident. Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait in 1990, for exampe, only after being told by the US ambassador that his territorial disputes didn’t concern us.

    Foreign aggression may lead to local and regional instability, creating humanitarian crises and waves of refugees who stream accross borders.

    The Us can be subjected to economic blamail, our vital trade with other nations can be disrupted, or our imports of oil blocked or diverted. Other lands can become havens for terrorists or international criminals operating with impunity. Jefferson had to send tha Marines against the Barbary Pirates. Today’s barbary pirates are smuggling guns, diamonds, drugs and prostitutes, engaging in kidnapping, internet fraud, and counterfeiting, tapping into pipelines and stealing oil, recruiting suicide bombers and attempting to buy nuclear weapons on the black market.

    An isolationist America is a nation that will always be at risk. It is important that bad actors who would harm or threaten the United States know that America’s head isn’t buried in the sand and that its sword isn’t rusty. They must always be aware that our eyes are open, our military might is swift and deadly, and that we can and will strike them where-ever they hide.

  13. CFLconservative says:

    An isolationist America is a nation that will always be at risk. It is important that bad actors who would harm or threaten the United States know that America’s head isn’t buried in the sand and that its sword isn’t rusty. They must always be aware that our eyes are open, our military might is swift and deadly, and that we can and will strike them where-ever they hide.

    I see. And Milosovic was Hitler who was threatening our national sovereignty or vital interests – how?

    And, if a Serbian dictator was so worthy of getting the business, why not a Middle Eastern despot who did actually control vast oil reserves?

    But, then again, why did Howard Dean advocate an invasion of Liberia? Is Liberian intervention a necessary step to warn potential despots around the world?

    Get real. We aren’t talking isolationism here, we’re talking about the responsible use of American force.

    Good to see you back on the right side of the political fence, though. Now you’re arguing for foreign wars, in favor of U.S. intervention wherever justice might abound.

    Feels good, doesn’t it, Dean? Gets those New Democrat/Cold War Democrat juices flowing?

    Why, in just two short years you’ll be able to argue in favor of staying the course in Iraq!

    “Just give President Clinton more time!!!!” will be your refrain.

    I can see it now. Why, you’ll be denouncing Cindy Sheehan with all the vehemence that Christopher could muster.

    It will be priceless to see you arguing in favor of invading Nigeria, or bombing Iran, or ramping up a war in Latin America.

    The mind boggles.

    And where will all those Republicans be who pretended that the Democrats are the pacifist party?

    Especially when the Democrats resurrect the draft to cover their manpower shortfall.

    Where will they be, I wonder?

  14. Dean Scourtes says:

    I would agree with you that it’s not the job of the United States to put out every fire in the world. Europe in certainly wealthy enough to police its own backyard. Likewise Russia, China and Japan can assume a larger role in resolving conflicts in their regions, as they did by joining us to pressure North Korea. Lastly, the United Nations can assume the lead role in resolving conflicts in Africa and parts of the middle-east.

    Some world crises may result in humanitarian disasters that appeal to our conscience and humanitarian instincts. How is the suffering of victims of a Tsunami or famine different than the suffering of those who have been made the victims of ethnic cleansing or genocide? Yes, we can drop supplies off at refugee camps, but if we really want to deal with the root cause of the problem we have to stop the perpetrators of those crimes.

    Additionally, in a vacumn of leadership we do also have to put out those fires that threaten to eventually touch us if left unattended. The conflict in Yugoslavia came at the end of the Cold war when Europe was still used to taking direction on military matters from the United States and NATO, and not prepared to take the lead role itself. A protracted conflict in Yugoslavia could have spread to become a regional conflict drawing in the Russians and Turks, other neighboring Balkan countries and Muslim Mujahaddin from the middle-east. Then it would have been a conflict that would have touched American interests.

  15. Christopher says:

    Note 13:

    I can see it now. Why, you’ll be denouncing Cindy Sheehan with all the vehemence that Christopher could muster.

    I am shocked, just shocked I tell you, that my name would be used as a metaphor for “vehemence”!! I vehemently denounce you associating me with vehemence! It is self-evident that you are wrong. Besides the fact that I run several successful dog fighting rings, I am a paragon of meekness, gentleness, and studied understatement – which means you have intentionally soiled my good name. I denounce your ill treatment of the poor, the widows, and the unborn, and the vehement Your a menace, a menace I tell you!!!!! :)

  16. @ 14
    But Dean Scourtes, the Mujahaddin are already in the Balkans. Look no further than Kosovo and Albania. Given the fact that we have supported these terrorists, I do not see how we would become interested in this conflict. Unless, of course, the Christians in the region were defending themselves well. Then we would need to bomb them, for oppressing the poor, defenseless Muslims.

  17. CFLconservative says:

    The conflict in Yugoslavia came at the end of the Cold war when Europe was still used to taking direction on military matters from the United States and NATO, and not prepared to take the lead role itself. A protracted conflict in Yugoslavia could have spread to become a regional conflict drawing in the Russians and Turks, other neighboring Balkan countries and Muslim Mujahaddin from the middle-east. Then it would have been a conflict that would have touched American interests.

    Could have spread. Might have spread. All quite conditional. Wouldn’t you say our involvement was certainly, oh what’s the word, pre-emptive?

    Dropping off relief after a Tsunami doesn’t involve taking sides in a conflict. When you make a war your own, and choose allies, then you’re stuck on the ground with mess that ensues.

    The same justifications for the Balkans, for Iraq, for Haiti, for the Dominican Republic, etc. will all be back in the Clinton II administration.

    Over and over again.

    We’ll have lots of time to discuss this.

  18. Dear Father:

    I am rather confused. I’ve read your site for a while now, and am invariably edified, often challenged. Until today, I’ve never been confused as to how any of the material you choose relates to the Faith, even if on occasion I disagree with one of the viewpoints. Which is why the article by Bruce Bawer, “The Peace Racket,” really shocks me. I just read the entire thing, and while I will credit most of what he says (that “Peace Studies” programs, as most of higher education, are rife with leftists & hypocrisy, etc.), I cannot stomach his implicit larger point: that opposition to American militarism and aggression- especially the war in Iraq – or any essential criticism or opposition to American “values” such as individualism, capitalist materialism, utilitarian universalism, etc., is evil.

    As I say, this is shocking. Perversely ironic in an Orthodox context. For though I’m a patriot & army veteran, I take it as axiomatic that for Orthodox Christians the United States is – or rather ought to be – a highly problematic culture in which to live; and in many situations, defend.

    Bawer, on the other hand (like his ideological soulmate & fellow homosexual/New Republic hack Andrew Sullivan, as well as other kindred spirits like Christopher Hitchens), writes dreck like this article because he sees the U.S. as being the foremost champion of his depraved, antinomian (no, neo-pagan) nihilism. The world champion of individualistic materialism. And he is – they are – right. They see not only Islam (which they caricature by emphasizing the worst, and ignoring all the vast ocean of normal & good Muslims – an excellent propaganda technique meant to feed anger and alienation, hatred and violence) as evil, but Christianity, too. Because culturally ascendant religion – Christianity, but especially Islam – would restrict them in their vice. Prevent them from publicly advertising their anti-social proclivities. In Bawer & Sullivan’s case, most especially their predilection for inserting their genitalia in other men’s rectums.

    All this individualism, utilitarian materialism, libertarian hedonism, is inherently anti-Orthodox. We Orthodox are indeed free, but without license. Ours (forgive me my audacity here) is a communitarian traditionalism (“sell all you own & come follow me” – no mention of usurious platinum cards or investing in hedge funds there.) A personalist ethic based in and bound by the Beatitudes, which counsel us to love our enemies. To do good to those who curse us. To bless them. To pray for them. Even to die for love of them, just as our Master came and laid down His life for love of us who hate and sin against Him.

    This means we must forgive the Islamicists. Means we must pray for the likes of Osama bin Laden. Yet I have yet to hear any Christian, any Orthodox, do this publicly.. Not even once in the five years since 9/11. This is very sad. Christ prayed for us from the Cross: “they know not what they do.” I suspect that is still true. If you’ve seen – say – a claymore or .50 cal (which are mere small arms) used, and seen what they (and worse things) can do to a human person, and still advocate for “pre-emptive” wars.. well..

    But then, many people have seen images of aborted children and still advocate the act. Mr. Bawer has no qualm with either Claymores or scalpels shredding innocence. We should.

    Anyhow, Bawer’s article also defends the bombings of Serbia. And he never mentions how the Iraq war has been an unmitigated disaster for Arab Christians. If Bawer cares, he probably finds satisfaction in that fact. And there are dozens of other offensive points about this article. It’s straight out of the Goebbels playbook: point to irrelevancies (Johan Galtung was an anti- American communist sympathizer, but so what?) to discredit a larger, legitimate force by association – in this case a peace movement that has substantive criticisms of US foreign policy, economics and culture. A movement with which many traditionalist Orthodox, such as myself, either participate or sympathize. Would that more did.

    Too many Orthodox seem too glib in their advocacy of violence, or else ignore atrocities associated with “our” side (I hear very few Orthodox express qualms with what’s been happening in Chechnya these last fifteen years, for example) – while the Faith cannot be reduced to “peace & justice” political advocacy, as so many “liberal” Christians attempt to do, none of us ought to be comfortable with wealth or violence. We seem to me to be all pruny in both, lately. Encoiled in two snakes mating.

    All of which is to say that Bawer’s article seems more anti-Christ than Orthodox, to me.

    Very Sincerely,

    Charles C.

    PS. Here’s the bio of Mr. Bawer, the man you published, consummate Gay Rights activist & enemy of “fundamentalists” : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Bawer

    His website: http://www.brucebawer.com/ – where you can purchase his books, such as “Beyond Queer: Challenging Gay Left Orthodoxy” and ” Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity” of which Peter J. Gomes, Wilson Quarterly says: “Bawer lauds liberal Christianity as the essence of the Gospel, the kind of religion that Jesus would both recognize and practice because he preached it..”

    Good stuff.

  19. Missourian says:

    Note 18, Defending the United States

    As I say, this is shocking. Perversely ironic in an Orthodox context. For though I’m a patriot & army veteran, I take it as axiomatic that for Orthodox Christians the United States is – or rather ought to be – a highly problematic culture in which to live; and in many situations, defend.

    You could think of it as defending the Constitution.

    You could think of it as defending the political philosophy that the power of government is only rightly derived from the consent of the governed. Before the American constitution the people of this planet were basically subjects not citizens.

    You could think of it as defending the first country to enshrine intellectual freedom (including religious freedom) as the foundation of its political culture.
    More people have enjoyed the freedom to practice the faith of their choosing in America than in any other country.

    America has gone through much in its 200 year plus history, but, it remains, for all its faults, the longest continuously functioning democratic republic in the world.

    There are many things that Orthodox share with the original Christian founders of this country (Yes, I am familiar with the standard arguments that the Founders were not truly Christian, we’ll pass on that for now) Amlong them are commitment to family, to the church community, to a conscience and morals shaped by Biblical tradition.

    You are fully free to defend the healthy aspects of America culture while you critique the unhealthy. There are indicators that today’s young people, across the board, are beginning to question the mindless hedonism of the Baby Boomers. Americans are very good at changing their society when change is needed.

    As to Iraq, it is clear that it is not the Americans who are intentionally killing innocents: to conflate the policies of American armed forces who voluntarily take on greater risks to themselves with the intentionally diabolic policy of the militias fighting American forces it a great moral error.

    A reasonable person could oppose our involvement in Iraq, but, no reasonable and fair person could equate the conduct of American troops with that of the terror-militias. Let us please be clear about which side has the intentional policy of atrocities and who commits them daily.

  20. Christopher says:

    note 18:

    As I say, this is shocking. Perversely ironic in an Orthodox context.

    I took it in the context of the general culture – like most of the articles linked here, they are not “Orthodox” true, but usually have an interesting point from a traditional Christian perspective, or possibly simply an interesting “did you notice this perspective”. I think you are right, the point of Fr. Jacobse linking the article was just to note the left wing bias in these programs.

    We Orthodox are indeed free, but without license. Ours (forgive me my audacity here) is a communitarian traditionalism

    This may be true (though the term “communitarian” could be quibbled with as it has taken on certain meanings that I do not believe are necessarily consistent with Christianity) but ours is a secular government (using the term “secular” in it’s more technical sense), and thus certain freedoms must be defended lest our neighbor try to take our Christian freedoms away.

    I suspect that is still true. If you’ve seen – say – a claymore or .50 cal (which are mere small arms) used, and seen what they (and worse things) can do to a human person, and still advocate for “pre-emptive” wars.. well..

    Well, you are either arguing for pacifism, or against “pre-emptive” with a decidedly left wing emphasis. Perhaps you should clarify. I for one, am most defiantly for “pre-emptive” in a Just War context. I don’t think you need to burn New York City in a nuclear fire before you “respond” to an enemy, particularly vicious ones like the Jihadists.

    in this case a peace movement that has substantive criticisms of US foreign policy, economics and culture. A movement with which many traditionalist Orthodox, such as myself, either participate or sympathize. Would that more did.

    Perhaps you could expand, but 99% of the “peace movement” I am familiar with is decidedly individualist, relativist, and left wing to the point of being dangerous. As a traditionalist Orthodox, I don’t sympathize with it one iota.

    none of us ought to be comfortable with wealth or violence. We seem to me to be all pruny in both, lately. Encoiled in two snakes mating.

    This is true, but not a very knew phenomena really – going on at least since the fall….;)

  21. CFLconservative says:

    Perhaps you could expand, but 99% of the “peace movement” I am familiar with is decidedly individualist, relativist, and left wing to the point of being dangerous. As a traditionalist Orthodox, I don’t sympathize with it one iota.

    The problem is actually finding a peace movement, or as it were, a peace movement that would be dedicated to American defense while eschewing the loopy, world revolutionary rhetoric of the Bushies.

    That peace movement exists within a narrow band of the old Right centered around The American Conservative magazine and like-minded publications.

    The leftist ‘peace movement’ does have its adherents. Many of them are pacifists, but most of what is currently mistaken as a ‘peace movement,’ are really Dean-style anti-Bush, leftist warmongers.

    They are fine with war, as long as the one throwing the bombs has a ‘D’ next his or her name. They are fine with foreign intervention, nation-building, and general nanny-statism writ-large.

    The true right-wing ‘peace movement’ writes things like this:

    And in a recent issue of The American Conservative, Pat Buchanan noted that if we buy Bush’s claim that we’re “fighting for the right of Islamic peoples ‘to speak, and worship, and live in liberty,’” we’re caught in a dilemma. “Devout Muslims in Islamic lands do not believe people should be free to blaspheme or insult the Prophet. They do not believe all religions are equal or should be treated equally. They do not believe Christians should be free to preach in their lands. The punishment for those who do, and for those who convert from Islam in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia as well as Iran, is death.” He goes on to note that wherever free elections have been held in the Middle East Islamists have won over Western secularism and asks: “Should U.S. soldiers die for democracy in the Islamic world, when democracy may produce victory for the political progeny of the Muslim Brotherhood? Is that worth the lives of America’s young?”

    Now, Christopher, do you think Pat is wrong in that statement?

    The actual right, which is oppose to Bush’s romp in the Middle East, is often accused of isolationism or pacifism.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The old Right and its descendants think we have a Muslim problem and a Jihad problem, they differ in the proper method of dealing with it.

  22. Dean Scourtes says:

    CFL – Really, “leftist-warmonger”? I thought we understood each other better than that. I think your concerns about avoiding ill-advised wars and dangerous foreign entanglements are valid. You are withouit question correct that the bar should be set high before making the decision to send our young sevicemen and women into harm’s way. We should definetely exhaust all diplomatic means of resolution, work with foreign partners, and consider carefully the long-term implications of our actions before going to war. I’m with you all the way there.

    Where I disagree with you is whether it is in the best interest of the United States to send a clear signal to the world that we will avoid confrontation at all costs. That type of isolationism greatly reduces any deterrent effect our military might have on would-be trouble-makers. Our retreat would create a vacumn of power in unstable parts of the world for others to fill. That would be dangerous because the world is too small and interconnected through trade and commerce today to pretend that we can enjoy any measure of insularity.

  23. I posted the article for two reasons.

    First, it came from City Journal, a periodical that unquestionably has some of the best thinking on social policy around (City Journal is published by “The Manhattan Institute“).

    Second, I implicitly distrust peace movements after witnessing the boat people exodus after Viet Nam, and then later reading about peace movement history during WWII and elsewhere.

    Too many peace movements, including (ostensibly) Christian movements, were in bed with Marxists during the cold war. Peace movement thinking is riddled with moral equivalency, even in Orthodox circles (as minor as it is). In every case I have encountered, peace movements use the language of virtue to promote policies of appeasement and weakness. They share the same moral blind spot that afflicts everyone on the hard left: they don’t believe evil exists.

    Frankly, whenever I encounter someone, Christian or otherwise, who uses peace movement moral appeals, I look past the language to the policy. The language doesn’t hold any authority for me. The ideas are what matter, and I have not found new thinking there.

    As for Bawer, I can’t speak to his other positions, but I have not posted them either.

  24. Christopher says:

    Note 21:

    That peace movement exists within a narrow band of the old Right centered around The American Conservative magazine and like-minded publications.

    I suppose this is true if isolationism = peace movement. While I am very very sympathetic to Pat and his merry band of “conservatives”, I don’t buy into all of their policies. Was he not recently arguing for the gold standard? Modern economy on the gold standard????

    They are fine with war, as long as the one throwing the bombs has a ‘D’ next his or her name. They are fine with foreign intervention, nation-building, and general nanny-statism writ-large.

    Too true. 98% of their objections (Dean is typical here) is really anti-Bush in particular and anti-GOP in general.

    Now, Christopher, do you think Pat is wrong in that statement?

    Yes and no. As a piece of rhetoric, he is right – Bush’s rhetoric does not hold up. Bush has Islam wrong, “democracy” wrong, etc. However, I still think Iraq was worth a try, so to speak. I still wait for the outcome. I don’t look for a democratic paradise, a secular government that holds Islam in check. However, that does not mean that Iraq can not or will not be something more than a petty little middle east dictatorship. The rhetoric of the isolationists do not do our world justice, with it’s interrelationships economically and militarily. By “militarily” I mean with planes, missiles, terrorists with WMD, etc. you can not play by the old rules of “if it does not affect my border, I will have nothing to do with it”.

    The old Right and its descendants think we have a Muslim problem and a Jihad problem, they differ in the proper method of dealing with it.

    And I think the “old Right” has too much of a grudge against Iraq. They should let it play out and see how it turns out, and let us learn from it. It may be one big misstep, but unless you try, you don’t get anywhere. Give me failure of “not trying”.

    Perhaps you can expand on what the “old Right” would really do different, but my exposure to what they have had to say is leads me to believe it to be de facto isolationism.

  25. Jim Holman says:
  26. CFLconservative says:

    I suppose this is true if isolationism = peace movement. While I am very very sympathetic to Pat and his merry band of “conservatives”, I don’t buy into all of their policies. Was he not recently arguing for the gold standard? Modern economy on the gold standard????

    I suppose you’re right, Christopher. A dollar that buys 2% of what it did the year before the founding of the Federal Reserve is so much superior than the Gold Standard.

    The Gold Standard was officially abandoned in 1971.

    “The Bretton Woods system ended on August 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon ended trading of gold at the fixed price of $35/ounce. At that point for the first time in history, formal links between the major world currencies and real commodities were severed”. The gold standard has not been used in any major economy since that time.

    I would say that the U.S. economy was quite advanced in 1971. While the value of the dollar versus Gold had declined greatly since 1913, it was still $35.00 an ounce in 1971. Today, of course, we are talking about well over $600.00 an ounce.

    Fiat money is, essentially, worthless. I don’t think Pat is a dyed-in-the-wool gold hawk, but all true conservatives recognize inflation as nothing more than theft. It ruins the poor and the middle class, and is contrary to sound economic principles.

    I suppose this is true if isolationism = peace movement. While I am very very sympathetic to Pat and his merry band of “conservatives”,

    What in the heck is an isolationist, anyway? If a person doesn’t see a need for NATO absent the Soviet Union, is that isolationist? If a person wants a secure Mexican and Canadian borders, is that person an isolationist?

    I mean, what is one anyway? What does one have to believe to be one? Paleocons support a strong national defense, are anti-Islamic as a rule, and want secure borders.

    Where they differ with the ‘mainstream right’ of today is on such things as Iraq, which was a stupid move, and on maintaining a string of anti-Soviet military alliances in an era in which the Soviets are gone. All the while merrily keeping our borders open to Mexican illegals and to poisonous products from China.

    However, I still think Iraq was worth a try, so to speak. I still wait for the outcome.

    $450 billion, a major check on Iran removed, Shia influence in an arc from Teheran to the West Bank, more terrorism, more instability, more Islamic influence, and a never-ending commitment in Mesopotamia.

    What on Earth would make this fiasco ‘not worth it?’

    If Hillary had done this you would be roasting her, and you’d be right to do so.

    Dumb is dumb, I don’t care who does it.

    The rhetoric of the isolationists do not do our world justice, with it’s interrelationships economically and militarily. By “militarily” I mean with planes, missiles, terrorists with WMD, etc. you can not play by the old rules of “if it does not affect my border, I will have nothing to do with it”.

    What rhetoric are you talking about? That’s where I get lost here. It’s like people arguing against fundamentalism thinking they’re fighting against Orthodoxy. Have you bothered to read what Paleocons have written?

    Sure, the idea is to stay out of other’s business when it doesn’t concern us. That would keep us out of the Balkans, out of Liberia, and out of a lot of Hellish places that Democrats have a tendency to strand us in.

    I know of no conservative that would not have supported, for example, the war in Afghanistan. It was the right and necessary thing to do.

    I know of no real conservative that thought bringing down the regime that was the primary regional check on Iran was anything other than bone-deep stupid.

    Perhaps you can expand on what the “old Right” would really do different, but my exposure to what they have had to say is leads me to believe it to be de facto isolationism.

    The old Right, for example, would never expend American blood and treasure in a fight that did not involve us or our national interest. No intervention in Rwanda, none in the Balkans, nor Central Asia. America should be militarily powerful, and only utilize its military for national defense or the defense of vital U.S. interests.

    How does that differ from the traditional Republican view of the past? By past I mean pre-Bush II? Pre-Bush II this was just ‘conservatism.’

    Post-Bush II, conservatism is now Dean-style international liberalism, and conservatives get scare quotes around them and get called isolationists.

    Personally, I can’t wait to see him gone. Well, except that his likely replacement is Hillary.

    That’s a bummer, but the Republicans did it to themselves.

    Spending $450 billion on a war in Mesopotamia and then claiming that we can’t afford to spend money on a fence to prevent Jihadi terrorists from crossing in from Mexico is just plain stupid, and that just makes Americans angry.

  27. Like, dude, you know, we are the world. Right, man?

    I mean, you know, if some murderous thug in Central Africa, or Central Asia, or some place starts just like, you know, killing people that’s just wrong. You know, like he kills minorities and stuff.

    Cuz, you know, the world is all interconnected. It’s like this metaphysical thing, dude. Besides, you know, I get nightmares seeing that stuff on CNN. I mean, its even worse than when whales get caught in shallow water. That was a real bummer.

    Anyway, you know, if there are starving people like in the Sudan and minorities are getting killed or oppressed, then you know, we have to just do something.

    I mean, so what that there is no interest of the United States in the conflict, or that we’ll make a war that isn’t ours into our problem.

    We are the world, man! We can’t just let a civil war in Liberia just go on and on, you know? Send in the Marines! Stop it! Bomb the evil dudes who are killing innocent people.

    I mean, isn’t that why we have a military? To stop bad guys all over the world? Bring freedom and Democracy and stuff to the oppressed little guys?

    It’s all interconnected man! Doesn’t matter where it happens, or why it happens! Any place that bad dudes kill innocent people, we’re on it, dude!

    That’s what’s so great about America, that we’ll spend money we don’t have to help people in countries we can’t pronounce who are fighting over junk we don’t even understand!

    That’s so righteous, dude!

    We are the world!

    ……. Sorry, Christopher and Dean. I just can’t take you guys with a straight face. You’re both arguing the exact same position. The U.S. should stand ready to intervene anywhere, at any time, even if no direct interests of the U.S. are at stake and even if you can’t even manage to explain exactly what the connection is between the action and our own defense.

    Oh well, as long as the UN signs off on it, right? Because now that Bush invaded Iraq to enforce UN resolutions we all know that what the UN says goes, right?

    Chavez invades a neighbor, we should pummel Venezuala and kill Chavez. Some goon in Central Asia knocks of some political rivals or kicks up a war with a neighboring group of camel herders – who cares? Can’t you two even both to note the difference between what we need to be concerned about, and a bunch of irrelevant countries doing bad things to their own citizens in remote corners of the world?

    Zimbabwe, for example? Darfur? Liberia? Malaysia? Who cares?

    But, on a different note, did you notice the similarity in your positions?

    Sorry to break this to Christopher, but global interventionism for no apparent reason other than the desire to do good and right the wrongs in a foreign land is a leftist impulse. Dean’s on the right side of his philosophy. To be on the right side of yours, you need to dispense with calling yourself a conservative.

    I believe the word ‘neo-con’ may come closer to the mark, because Russell Kirk wouldn’t recognize your ideas. Neither would Chesterton who opposed the British Empire and all that ‘white man’s burden’ business.

    It will be so fun watching you and Dean swap roles in the next Clinton Administration.

    I just wonder who she’ll bomb first?

  28. Christopher says:

    Glen, why don’t you take your sour attitude and hyperbole to “www.Iamgrouchyandstillclaimtobeconervative.com” :)

    Sorry, but your an isolationist. If you can’t see the strategic importance of the middle east, then you need glasses. :)

    Question: Do the “Republican Ladies Club” or whatever it is you speak at occasionally get your sour attitude, or do you save it for us?

  29. Christopher says:

    Note 26:

    CFLconservative, we are starting to talk about too many things so let me respond to just a few:

    1) Modern economies depend on the “fluidity” of capital, credit, etc. Yes, inflation is bad, but old Jimmy taught us a thing or two about that – and it’s under control since. Fiat money is all too real – and the modern economy of US/Europe/Asia is doing better than fine with it. Sorry, but you offer no real alternative except complaints here.

    2) Iraq is really a continuation of the first gulf war, which is a continuation of the old problem of vicious dictatorships (Hitler, Stalin {who was Saddam’s mentor}, Mao, Castro, etc.) Yes, it is about oil, but just as importantly it’s about trying to do something, anything, with the middle east. Since this particular dictator did not get nukes, I think it was and is worth a try. I am waiting on the outcome (which might be a while yet in coming). By historical standards, the human and economic cost is quite low. This of course ticks off the un-peace racket as well as the isolationist, but it is true.

    3) If Hillary had done this you would be roasting her, and you’d be right to do so. Dumb is dumb, I don’t care who does it.

    Don’t go with grouchy old Glenn and try to lump anyone who disagrees with you into the same pot :) I did not vote for Bush this last time around (two main reasons – his support of Specter over Toomey in PN and his Prescription Drug Giveaway), and I don’t plan on voting for any abortionist like Hillary.

    4) I know of no real conservative that thought bringing down the regime that was the primary regional check on Iran was anything other than bone-deep stupid.

    Perhaps you should define “conservative”. I use it in the sense of “Kirkean”

    I think where you and I really disagree is what exactly is “vital american interests” in a world where economy and militarily we are much much closer together than in the past. I am not interested in waiting around for events to overtake us in the middle east, or anywhere else. I am not interested in waiting around for dictator’s, terrorists, or anyone else to tinker around and surprise us while we are sitting on rather utopian and purists notions of “vital american interests”. Again, my exposure may be limited, but the paleocons sound too puritan in this area to be realistic…

  30. Jim Holman says:

    Christopher writes: “Yes, it is about oil, but just as importantly it’s about trying to do something, anything, with the middle east. Since this particular dictator did not get nukes, I think it was and is worth a try. I am waiting on the outcome (which might be a while yet in coming).”

    So the idea is that in the Middle East we remove a secular dictator and then he is replaced with “something?” This is a plan? All we’ve done is to play into the hands of the Iranians. We remove their enemy. We disband their enemy’s army. We remove all doubt that Iraq has WMD. We then leave a power vacuum in Iraq that can only be filled with Iran’s co-religionists. Mission accomplished. Anything else you think we can do for Iran while we’re there, other than encourage them to develop their own nuclear weapons?

    Christopher: “By historical standards, the human and economic cost is quite low. This of course ticks off the un-peace racket as well as the isolationist, but it is true.”

    If you don’t know what the outcome will be, how do you know the cost is low? I’m sure for the Japanese the attack on Pearl Harbor was also low-cost. Great idea, take out the American Pacific fleet, knock the Americans out of the war early. Very cost-effective.

    The reason you don’t go to war except when absolutely necessary is that war means opening Pandora’s Box, and when you do that, you don’t know what the cost will be, or when the final bill will come due.

    Christopher: “I am not interested in waiting around for dictator’s, terrorists, or anyone else to tinker around and surprise us while we are sitting on rather utopian and purists notions of ‘vital american interests’.”

    Well, perhaps the next time you and your buddies want to destabilize another country, you’ll have a plan for the aftermath that consists of more than “something happens.”

  31. CFLconservative says:

    Christopher: “I am not interested in waiting around for dictator’s, terrorists, or anyone else to tinker around and surprise us while we are sitting on rather utopian and purists notions of ‘vital american interests’.”

    And someday, perhaps, you can explain to me how the vital interests of the U.S. are furthered by replacing a secular Saddam with a bunch of Shia fanatics across the border from Iran.

    But, I digress.

    Sorry, but your an isolationist. If you can’t see the strategic importance of the middle east, then you need glasses. :)

    I disagreed with and continue to disagree with the Iraq War. On the other hand, I supported the invasion of Afghanistan. I would support necessary intervention in Latin American should Morales or Chavez threaten their neighbors. But, I think invading various African nations to help their populations is just plain dumb.

    I could easily support a Middle Eastern war, if it were the right thing to do. The Iraq War was dumb. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon wasn’t a bad idea, it was just stupidly executed.

    Independent Palestinian State under Hamas.

    That’s stupid.

    Free elections in Egypt? Dumb idea.

    Democracy in Syria? That’s stupid to the nth power.

    If you have to fight in the Middle East, then fine, fight for oil. That at least is tangible and can be of real benefit. But this loopy rhetoric that drives our foreign policy?

    I think trying to spread Democracy in a region where the average Muslim votes for pro-Islamic parties is a recipe for disaster.

    Yes, well, I guess I am an ‘isolationist.’ What is that, anyway?

    I suppose that’s an upgrade, I used to be labeled a ‘pacifist.’

    If you use conservative in the ‘Kirkean’ sense, then obviously you don’t understand Russell Kirk.

    Sour? Yeah, I’m somewhat sour here, but not nearly so in person. The organizations I address tend to get it.

    As Mike Huckabee has pointed out, “Americans don’t understand why grandmas have to take off their shoes to fly when Muslim men walk freely across our Southern Border.”

    No matter how many times Dean comes on and advocates global wars that mean nothing to U.S. vital interests, to you all Democrats are still ‘pacifists’ or ‘anti-war.’ Nothing can be further from the truth. Their attitude towards war and their expansive, all-encompassing definition of U.S. interest matches your own.

    All traditional conservatives who want to stop Muslim immigration to the U.S., tighten the borders, and stop messing in wars that are not our concern are ‘isolationist.’

    I never said the Middle East is not a vital concern of the United States. The policies of the Bush Administration, however, have done ZERO to advance our strategic agenda.

    The policies of the next Clinton Administration will be remarkably similar to the current Bushian ones, and will also be counter-productive.

    The difference is that Dean will support those.

    What will you do?

  32. Christopher says:

    AAAHHHHH, “Glenn” and “CFLConservative” are the same person.

    Tricky and grouchy :)

    I think we agree more on than what we disagree on (Muslim immigration, “democracy” rhetoric, etc.). The crux I think is the place of the Sadam’s and Stalin’s of the world (I don’t call them “benign secular governments”) and what is defined as “strategic”, and thus how to respond to certain things like Iraq, etc.