Monday, May 06, 2013

"Foreign policy is not a game of Risk."

give peace a chance.jpg
There are some policy points that are worth repeating, even by a no-count blogger, even at the risk of being a bore.

To the U.S. government:
  • Don't torture.
  • Close Guantanamo.
  • Don't attack Iran.
  • Don't jump into the war in Syria.
And perhaps more effectually, to the peace and anti-militarism movement in the United States:
  • Don't fixate on the drones.
It's not the drones that embody the evil of the moment issuing from our imperial security state: it's the resort to a policy of assassination, "targeted killings" that often turn out not to be so targeted. Not to mention that these actions flunk any plausible role for the international rule of law. On this topic, Steve Coll has written an important article in the form of a book review that is accessible at the link. Here's an excerpt:

For Eisenhower [in the 1950s], who had witnessed the carnage of the Normandy landings and the Battle of the Bulge, and later claimed to “hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can,” political assassinations represented an alluring alternative to conventional military action. Through the execution or overthrow of undesirable foreign leaders, the thinking went, it might be possible to orchestrate the global struggle against Communism from a distance, and avoid the misery -- and the risks of nuclear war -- that out-and-out combat would bring. Assassination was seen not only as precise and efficient but also as ultimately humane. Putting such theory into practice was the role of the C.I.A. …

Aside from the moral ugliness of violent covert action, its record as a national-security strategy isn’t encouraging. On occasion, interventions have delivered short-term advantages to Washington, but in the long run they have usually sown deeper troubles. … Memory of the C.I.A.’s hand in Mosadegh’s overthrow stoked the anti-American fury of the Iranian Revolution, which confounds the United States to this day. Foreign policy is not a game of Risk. Great nations achieve lasting influence and security not by bloody gambits but through economic growth, scientific innovation, military deterrence, and the power of ideas.

… after September 11, 2001, as lower Manhattan and the Pentagon smoldered, C.I.A. leaders advocated for the right to kill members of Al Qaeda anywhere in the world. George W. Bush eagerly assented. …

[Emphasis is mine.] The drones are just the latest shiny toy that seems to promise a means to maintain U.S. hegemony on the cheap. Our administration's evident delight in its technological killing instruments is actually a sign of weakness. Coll points out that the U.S. does a path have global leadership; politicians are deterred from following the path of "economic growth, scientific innovation, military deterrence, and the power of ideas" because it would entail investing in the quality of life here at home.

This points me to another of those policy points that even a no-count blogger can't repeat too often:
  • If the government needs money for the common good, tax those who have it -- that would be the banks and rich people.


Jan said...

Good advice, but will it be taken.

Hattie said...

What worries me is that so many military people like the institution. Although some may lose their lives or be badly injured, most will not. For most it's risk free, but they want regarded as heroes who have sacrificed for the rest of us, even though this is perhaps not what we want.And they buy into an aggressive and authoritarian mindset that causes them and the rest of us a lot of trouble in civilian life.

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