Monday, August 20, 2007

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Darn that ideological rigidity!!

Wow, Glenn Greenwald is right, there is a remarkable consensus among America's "foreign policy community" about the use of force:

No effort of the U.S. government was more harshly criticized, however, than the war in Iraq. In fact, that conflict appears to be the root cause of the expertsí pessimism about the state of national security. Nearly alló92 percentóof the indexís experts said the war in Iraq negatively affects U.S. national security, an increase of 5 percentage points from a year ago. Negative perceptions of the war in Iraq are shared across the political spectrum, with 84 percent of those who describe themselves as conservative taking a dim view of the warís impact. More than half of the experts now oppose the White Houseís decision to ďsurgeĒ additional troops into Baghdad, a remarkable 22 percentage-point increase from just six months ago. Almost 7 in 10 now support a drawdown and redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.

Chastened by the fighting in Iraq, the U.S national security community also appears eager not to make the same mistakes elsewhere. For instance, though a majorityó83 percentódo not believe Tehran when it says its nuclear program is intended for peaceful, civilian purposes, just 8 percent favor military strikes in response. Eight in 10, on the other hand, say the United States should use either sanctions or diplomatic talks to negotiate an end to Iranís nuclear ambitions. Similarly, a majority of the experts favor some kind of engagement with groups that may be labeled terrorist organizations but have gained popular support at the ballot box, such as Hamas in the Palestinian Territories or Hezbollah in Lebanon. Itís one indication that, after six years, we may be entering a new chapter in the war on terror.

Here's the list of experts who participated in the survey (which includes your humble blogger).

Click here to read the full report.

If only the netroots could save us from these imperialist pig-dogs. Or, as one conservative blogger characterized the list of experts, "a Kos Convention for George Soros."

UPDATE: More on this point in this post.

posted by Dan on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM




Comments:

This is quite silly, Mr. Drezner...both the topic of the post and the post itself. So the fact that all the "experts" and "scholars" now think -- after nearly FIVE years of a ruinous and extremely costly war that has caused a civil war in the middle of the Islamic world, emboldened Al-Qaeda and removed the focus from Afghanistan where the Taliban is once again resurgent -- all these experts, across the board, are now opining that the Iraq war is deleterious to national security and armed invasions do not solve complex, intractable problems, this is somehow supposed to prove your point, about the credibility and astuteness of these "scholars" and "experts"??! I think you just "QED-ed" the argument for Greenwald and his ilk!!!

posted by: JS on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



This is quite silly, Mr. Drezner...both the topic of the post and the post itself. So the fact that all the "experts" and "scholars" now think -- after nearly FIVE years of a ruinous and extremely costly war that has caused a civil war in the middle of the Islamic world, emboldened Al-Qaeda and removed the focus from Afghanistan where the Taliban is once again resurgent -- all these experts, across the board, are now opining that the Iraq war is deleterious to national security and armed invasions do not solve complex, intractable problems, this is somehow supposed to prove your point, about the credibility and astuteness of these "scholars" and "experts"??! I think you just "QED-ed" the argument for Greenwald and his ilk!!!

posted by: JS on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



Reece is quite right about the points made. As with JS. But they leave out a big one. The question of the use of force generally. Greenwald makes some good points in this respect. Dan's point about the use of force being a necessary but not sufficient condition for imperialism are also correct. But what dan fails to realize is that while it is clearly not a sufficient to make one country an empire, it is the defining characteristic as it most clearly and directly represents a country's humility and view of its own role in the world. The USA is at such a point that they don't even seek negotiations any more, but their primary means of "diplomacy" with small and weak countries is direct threats (militarily or economically). But besides trying to make an argument that the USA is an imperial power, it is the fact that the USA is an imperial power that allows such militant voices to dominate the American debate on such important issues as war and peace (and generally foreign policy).

Further, as Dan says, there might be "a big difference between not taking force off the table as a policy option and vigorously advocating its use..." but further, from the other side, there is an even greater difference between taking force off the table and not taking it off the table (even if you don't intend to use it). The desire to threaten and intimidate by "not taking force off the table" is a fundamental principle in the halls of the Very Serious people. And it is especially troubling because this desire to threaten and intimidate as a means of policy is a huge part of what makes the Very Serious people so likely to stay silent when the switch is flipped from "not taking force off the table" to "vigorously advocating its use". There is a big crisis of confidence on the side of the bloggers in this whole discussion. The bloggers simply don't trust that the Very Serious people would ever come out against a war, because this scenario would put them smack in the middle of the build-up to such a degree that they would fear to discredit themselves by coming out against the final product.

The case of Iran today is very illustrative. While I commend Dan for being against a war with Iran even now, I think the answer to his question about "Do you believe that the political and policy conditions that made the Iraq war possible in 2002 are still present today?" is a clear "yes". Even with the sobering reality that comes with the empty rhetoric before the Iraq war being prove absolutely stupid and false, the same claims are being made today about Iran. And only a small number of the Very Serious people are willing to directly take a stand against the possibly coming war. Even just strategically, a war against Iran would be much much harder then the war against Iraq was. But even considering that the practical fact of it is vastly harder, the momentum towards it is still progressing. Had Iraq had more ability to defend itself, I am sure the run up to the war would have progressed differently then it did. But as Greenwald points out extremely well, "The only real 'debate' that takes place within the Community are tactical and implementation questions, all within the assumed belief that the U.S. should act as a hegemonic power and can and should use military force at will."

This, my dear Drezner is key. The Very Serious people are only against war because they might lose, never because it is wrong to kill all the people, or steal a country's wealth, or impoverish them, or make them refugees, or occupy them, or overthrow their government. And the Very Serious people will support every war that is easy to "win", regardless of the situation or conditions or amount of suffering it will cause for those who are the ones to suffer from it... There simply is 100% unanimity to it.

posted by: Joe M. on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



This is strkingly dishonest. JS hits it on the head. With the advantage of hindsight, only the most sycophantic Bush lover would think thsi war brought anything positive to ourselves or the world. The rigidity showed up in the debate BEFORE we went to war. In that, Greenwald is right. And the debate was stifled for that reason (as well as Drum's reasons).

posted by: Don B on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



Confess! Confess! Confess!

Wear the hair shirt! Wrap it to you tighter and tighter! You MUST don the dunce cap.

posted by: Klug on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



The link leads to this?

"In the third Terrorism Index, more than 100 of Americaís most respected foreign-policy experts see a world that is growing more dangerous, a national security strategy in disrepair, and a war in Iraq that is alarmingly off course."

Absolutely ridiculous! Well I'm glad we get to see that the "experts" agree on the glaringly obvious. What next? The world is round? How about something from 5 years ago about how these "experts" were feeling back then? And I read that you participated!? Newsflash: Drezner agrees with himself!

You do make some valid points and sorry for the snark but the use of this study is just dishonest and isn't very relevant to the argument you're trying to make

posted by: patrick in chicago on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



I think there must be some confusion over this post. Drezner doesn't link to the survey as evidence the the fpc objected to the Iraq war at its inception, he links to it to show the fpc's current views on the use of force.

The reason he's doing so is that Greenwald's later posts complain that the fpc is insular, as evidenced by the fact that no one even discusses the view that military invasion should only be considered in response to direct aggression (he doesn't say "direct aggression," he says something like "national interest" or "national security.")

But, that (or something close to that) is the view that the majority of the survey respondents apparently now espouse. So that complaint appears to be answered.

posted by: Chris on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



This smarmy slop is meant as a reply to Greenwald's points? You teach what, where? You got a PhD in what, where? Was there a critical thinking component in your discipline? How did you get out of it?

posted by: Martin Gale on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



Iím more sympathetic to Greenwald than to you and your comments. I donít call you rigid or responsible for starting the Iraq war, but I think that you are in the central core of the foreign policy elite. I was sent to Vietnam, I saw that insanity and lying officers reporting great results to help their careers. However, the FPE had only one complaint about Vietnam, that it didnít work. I fear that is your view about Iraq, too- that itís wrong because it failed. The world has changed. Unfortunately the Pentagon, not just Rumsfeld, drew the wrong conclusions from the 1991 Gulf war, the last of the great air and tank wars, like the 1967 six day war.

The US is not the superpower that you and the FPE perceive in the Muslim part of the globe. We are more capable than the UN, an organization which we built and hobbled; sometimes we act in constructive ways. We cannot act both unilaterally and constructively; when we act together with Brits and Australians, we are perceived as acting unilaterally. If we acted together with Russia, China and Japan, that would be very constructive. I canít imagine the idiots in the Bush administration doing this, and I fear that the Putin government is as bad as ours.

There is more. We are sinking economically; our military adventures in the Middle East are bleeding us out, hurting our social fabric and infrastructure. Itís not just our bridges that are in poor condition. Attacking Iran is a wonderful example. Many in the Israeli government want us to do this. Iran is not killing their own Jews, they treated Bahais much worse than Jews. Yes, Ahmadinejad is a nut, but we have no more right to bomb Iran than we do to bomb Zimbabwe, which is ruled by an even worse man. Iran is not a threat to Israel or the US even if they have 25 nukes in 2 years. The biggest threat to the US and Israel is this faith in shock and awe. The FPE is harmfult because you won't give up the ideology that organized the 1953 Mossadeq overthrow and the Bay of Pigs. We are in a much weaker position today. Our infrastructure is complex and rickety, people are lining up against us. They always muttered about the CIA, but now they are volunteering for suicide missions. The infrastructure of the Muslim world is more sustainable. They can function without the Internet, shipping food thousands of miles or even automobiles; can we? We canít afford to keep starting wars.

posted by: anciano on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



You've missed the point so badly it's starting to make me wonder.

posted by: Mark on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]



If only the netroots could save us from these imperialist capitalist pig-dogs. Or, as one conservative blogger characterized the list of experts, "a Kos Convention for George Soros."

Dan! Greenwald's foreign policy views are barely, if at all, distinguishable from those that predominate at the Cato Institute, where he just had a love-in when they hosted a book event for him. He's not remotely anti-free markets.

He eschews labels, but I've seen every indication that he tilts strongly libertarian. (He's gotten into some pretty pointed exchanges with his more left-wing commenters when they, say, want to defend Castro's tyranny by screaming "free healthcare and literacy!")

Yes, he networks with Kos and others in the "netroots." But I would suggest you not read into him anything other than what HE actually argues, including whatever poor opinion you have of George Soros (who is actually very good on drug policy).

posted by: Mona on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]




Don't be foolish, Mona, Dan does foreign policy, and he is not to be questioned. Nor is he to bear any responsibility for his ridiculous mistakes.

Responsibility is for little people, like the suckers who join the army and get maimed. If they were smart they'd be Professors of Foreign Policy like Dan! Smart people like Dan get to play games with the lives of the stupid people!

Hey Dan, how many of the 100 surveyed people who think Iraq is a failure can actually get into a newspaper or booked to a TV show?

posted by: Jon H on 08.20.07 at 02:50 PM [permalink]






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