Thursday, June 16, 2005

What Exactly is Our Foreign Policy?

Many who are not of my political persuasion might wonder why this issue of Iraq seems so important to me. There is the obvious one of unnecessary deaths. (Which I believe should be compared to the war in Afghanistan, which to mind mind did indeed seem necessary, as there were active terrorist training camps there working to kill Americans, and that government particularly decided not to shut them down. Those innocent deaths were likely necessary.) Let's take that as obvious and move on.

The other big issue is what the Bush / Rice foreign policy has become. Essentially, the motivation for the invasion of Iraq is that the administration thought we would ultimately be better off with Saddam gone. There is a solid chance, though only a chance due to the dubious reconstruction, that they will be right. But is the possibility that we would be "better off" a valid justification for war? This is not an issue of imminent threat. It is one of thinking that that guy I hate might do something some day which is bad. Compare "might do something some day which is bad" to the Iraqi death toll. "Better off" is a foreign policy with no limits. It is like "enemy combatant". Anyone can be an enemy combatant. The "better off" Bush doctrine says we can kill anyone we want if it is to our benefit. Think about that and convince me I am wrong, because I want to be. But how are we to lead the world, other than through economic might and fear, if this is our true foreign policy? It gives up everything we are supposed to be fighting for.

Here is an analogy.

Man stabs another man with a knife 12 times.
Justification 1: "He was trying to kill me with his own knife." - self-defense, justified.
Justifiation 2: "He was attacking my wife." Not self-defense, but likely justified.
Justification 3: "He attacked my wife last week and was planning to attack her again tomorrow. I have evidence and stated intentions." Wish there was another way, but we understand.
Justification 4: "Someone else attacked my wife, but I really think this other guy is up to something. I mean he is a really bad guy!" Obviously wrong.

You may fill in which world situations are which.


Killer Llama said...

By the way, a main stream Republican view of the Iraq invasion is (or was at the time of my departure) that the war was unavoidable and nescessary. I had two of my Republican co-workers tell me that they beleive Gore would have also launched the invasion. A key point in that argument is that Bush made his decisions based upon the evidence presented to him by the CIA; he cannot be held accountable for faulty intelligence.

It will be interesting to see this argument shift, as it most certainly will as the Downing Street Memo becomes more prominent. The groundwork has already been laid; WMD's have been downplayed as the justification for war (although it was certainly the only way Congress would sign on). 3 years later, liberating Iraq and fostering mid-east democracy has become the justification. Seen in that light, the DSM takes on less significance (if you are a Bush supporter).

For what it's worth, I try to choose carefully when using the terms "Bush Supporter", "Conservative", and "Republican." These are not necessarily the same groups. Personally I have a great deal of respect for conservatives, and tend to agree with them a great deal of the time. Conservatism is an economic and political ideology which has some very valid ideas, I think - notably individual liberty, personal responsibility, and a committment to the free market. "Neo-conservatism" is a more risky, combining an aggressive foreign policy with laissez-faire economics. It scares me and I do not support either one of those pillars; we already tried laissez-faire about 100 years ago, and it resulted in total economic collapse.

The Republican party has conservatism as a base, but also includes religious fundamentalism and a number of key special intrests such as the gun lobby. As a platform for conservatism it is a fine establishment, so long as it doesn't become too much in control of others (such as those special interest groups or the neo-cons).

And then the term "Bush supporters", of course, is self-descriptive.

As you talk about in your blog, you don't have to be a Bush supporter to be a good Conservative or a good Republican. I would encourage those that consider themselves true conservatives to consider supporting some more "moderate" candidates, from either party. Typically these individuals will believe in tried-and-tested Keynsian economic theory that promotes free markets but also allows for government corrective measures (such counter-cyclical policies as deficit spending and surplus saving), and allows for government regulation of common goods such as the environment (and defense, for that matter) in which the market is an ineffective manager. Moderates will support religious protection but not promotion, personal liberty over government control (when possible)... a whole host of issues on which most reasonable people will agree. And these folks exist in both parties... my Conservative friends, don't feel like a democrat in office means that you will be taxed to death and business will suffer. It simply is not true.

pacatrue said...

Wow, I might not agree with everything, but I'd vote for ya, llama.

Several things here.

1) The idea that the Iraq war was necessary is really hard to justify. The great DSM makes it clear that there were other reasons the Bush admin wanted Saddam out other than WMD, and WMDs were played up because they'd have the best play in the market. There may have been an intelligence failure about WMDs, but since the war wasn't really about that, it is almost irrelevant. OK, so let's say that WMDs were never really all that important. Then we have to ask, why was everyone so afraid to argue the case on its own merits? If the reason is to remake the Middle East, then why where those reasons not given originally and fought for.

2) Conservative. It really is not clear what this person is to me. In theory, it should be someone who simply wants things to stay the same more, to conserve all the good things we have. In fact, most of the conservatives I personally know fall into this camp. But of course, if that is the case, we have had New Deal economics, social security, and various other things the Conservatives want to get rid of since almost all living Conservatives were born. I don't know.

3) I have always dreamed of a Moderate party. You take the Centrist bases of each dominant party and drop the fringes. You'd probably have a solid majority. But the problem with Centrists is that they aren't usually crusaders. And it is those grass-root right-wing, left-wing crusaders who fight and push for everything. If you could turn a centrist into a crazy politico-nut, well a few million of them, you'd have something.

On a different topic, I went searching for a Condi quote on the war justification and Google oddly gave me this blog as the top link:

There is a somewhat interesting discussion in the comments section between anonymous Iraq war supporters and war detractors. Mostly, it reminds me to do my best to keep a civil discussion going, as devolving into a war of words does no one any good.

I guess what I wanted for this Iraq war was to give the real justifications and debate them. If we disagree, we still disagree, and I might find it tragic, but not illegal.

Here is another rather interesting timeframe. Pretty much all the sourcing seems credible at a glance. Since there is an obvious agenda, you do not know what is missing, however.