The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

I Want To Agree With James Joyner, But I Fear He Shot Us Both Down

Posted on | November 27, 2012 | 30 Comments

by Smitty

Emphasis mine on James Joyner in The Atlantic:

The Republican Party needs a new message on foreign policy that is true to the conservative principles of the base and yet has a broad appeal to the American public. It so happens that one already exists, has a proven track record of electoral success, and is only slightly used: the “humble foreign policy” that candidate George W. Bush espoused during the 2000 campaign but abandoned with the Global War on Terror and the Iraq invasion.

I’ll be the first to agree that it would be cool if history allowed a fully Paulian ‘non-interventionist’ foreign policy. Joyner’s article, read the whole thing, figures that all would have been more swell if Bush had stayed the HFC course.

That’s a nice counter-factual, but how, given the hegemonic status of the United States, does one avoid the suction of history into events?

I submit that, if you haven’t told me how you’re deconstructing the Military-Industrial Complex, and offloading your hegemonic position to someone else (The UN? That outfit couldn’t lead water to flow downhill) you haven’t told me much. And I submit that the Dovish Democrat who bombed the Balkans and #OccupyResoluteDesk, who bracket Bush historically, are dealing from the same deck.

In review, the Democrats hopped in their gunboat and overtook GOP diplomacy. How progressive of the Dems. The bewildered GOP is going to have to pony up, put some deeds where its Constitutional bleatings are located, and deliver a return to Constitutional, balanced government, or remain indistinguishable from the Dems and keep right on losing elections.


30 Responses to “I Want To Agree With James Joyner, But I Fear He Shot Us Both Down”

  1. scarymatt
    November 27th, 2012 @ 8:15 am

    I’m sympathetic to arguments that we went too far by going to Iraq after Afghanistan. I suspect that such a policy wouldn’t have necessarily have been better for us or anyone else (excepting Saddam Hussein,, of course), however.

    If nothing else, the wars took a bit of steam out of the excess population that fueled the jihadi bubble and seems to have kept most of the violence focused in Iraq instead of here or in Europe. It’s probably true that such a strategy would have spared many American lives, but probably at a cost of turning much of the West into what Iraq was (which, tragically, I still think was an improvement over its previous status).

  2. Bob Belvedere
    November 27th, 2012 @ 8:52 am

    The problem is: since WWII, most conservatives have adopted and adapted the Wilsonian belief that The United States has been charged with making the world, ultimately, into one, big [happy] Democracy.

    [Wilson was a rabid Progressive who applied his Utopian ideas to the world stage…and it failed miserably. FDR, as has every Leftist leader who has come along believes about the failed Leftist experiments of the past, believed that Wilsonianism had not been really tried yet and that he was gifted enough to make it work. Both were quite wrong because their premises were fantastical.]

    This belief in a Universal Democracy Project, as it were, was well-entrenched in the GOP before there ever was such a thing as a neo-conservative. Thus, the table was set when the neo-cons came along and sat at the Right Wing feast – and we were so overjoyed to have them on our side that we ignored the fact that the neo-cons never stopped wearing their Made-In-Left-Land rose-colored glasses. Soon, in fact, many conservatives were wearing them, as well.

    For some on the Right, this state of affairs was so bad in their eyes that they reacted, as men often do, by running to the exact opposite view: isolationism.

    In the midst of all this micheghas, Right Wingers on both sides forgot that being successful in any venture requires one to practice The Art Of The Possible, and not to engage in flights of fancy and whim [ie: idealism].

    The world is what it is. A is A. People are fallen creatures – only the degree to which they are corrupted varies. The American Experiment cannot be conducted in any other country because there never has been and never will be the same set of circumstances present any where else in the world that were to be found here in 1787. Therefore, any efforts to impose the American template on any group of people in the world are doomed to fail.

    Ultimately, we have to be concerned with our own security and survival. And this requires us to see the rest of the world, not as a set of laboratories, but as always and forever different. This requires us to act accordingly.

    When we go to war our goal must not be to win it and then seek to transform the loser nation(s) into a mirror image of ourselves. Our goal must be to deal our enemies such a crippling blow that they will not be a threat to us again in the near future, issue them a warning that we’ll be back if they dare threaten us again, and then go home.

  3. Wombat_socho
    November 27th, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    Well, the Kurds would certainly agree with you about Iraq. 🙂

  4. The End Of The Foreign Affair « The Camp Of The Saints
    November 27th, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

    […] Smitty then gives us some insightful commentary on the proposal that you can read here. […]

  5. Charles
    November 27th, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

    You equate the Balkans with the Iraq war, but the issue is scale. The trick is to get the foreign policy done at lower cost in lives and treasure.

  6. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

    The first thing that went through my head: was James Joyner asleep the entire day of 9/11?

    The Ron Paulian “screw the rest of the world, let’s hunker down here in Fortress America” foreign policy notion is why there’s a hole in the Manhattan skyline.

  7. Thane_Eichenauer
    November 27th, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

    I don’t know what era of the United States of America you came from but I cannot identify a period where US government foreign policy since 1945 where the quote “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all.” applies. The US government has been beating foreign bee hives since before I was born (1967).

  8. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    You seem to be operating under the misconception that ‘if we just leave people alone, they won’t hate us’. Yeah, that worked really well in Afghanistan, which we didn’t touch after 1979.

  9. Thane_Eichenauer
    November 27th, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

    I don’t doubt that there are people and groups across the world that hate America not to mention freedom. If such a problem person or group can be identified then let the US government declare war and obliterate the problem. As for Afghanistan I hardly think that the average informed American will say that after 11 years that the US armed forces have obliterated the problem of American freedom haters in Afghanistan.

  10. Quartermaster
    November 27th, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

    That’s not the Paulian view. You’ve bought the neocon lie on that one.

  11. Quartermaster
    November 27th, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

    The question was not the Afghans hating us, it was who they were harboring. ISI also had a lot to do with it as well.

  12. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

    Then please explain it, because that’s how it comes across to me and everyone else I know.

  13. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

    Well, they haven’t knocked down any more buildings here, have they?

  14. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

    As of mid-2001 the Taliban weren’t being harbored in Afghanistan, they were pretty much running the place. Remember the ancient statues of Buddha that they destroyed because it didn’t fit in with their version of Islam?

    That’s why with minimal troop commitment we were able to dislodge them from control of the entire country after 9/11 and before the end of 2001– a whole lot of the Afghanis didn’t like them any more than we did but didn’t have the resources to do anything about it.

  15. Quartermaster
    November 27th, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

    Then I would suggest you pay attention to what he really says. All of what he really says. I don’t agree with some of what he says, but what you are spouting is a neocon lie.

    He does not say that we should not protect our interests, but that does not entail going off on Wilsonian crusades as we have for the last 11 years or so. Many of us old Cold Warriors thought going into Iraq, for example, was a mistake. We laughed at morons like Frum because it was clear he did not understand the issues.

  16. QUartermaster
    November 27th, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

    The Taliban was not all that was in Afghanistan in 2001 (The Taliban was a natural occurrence among the Pashtun). It’s really hard for me to believe you could possibly be that ignorant.

  17. Quartyermaster
    November 27th, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

    A rather limited view of what victory is supposed to be. Not to mention grossly stupid.

  18. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

    You still haven’t explained it.

  19. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    Your typoed username stinks of troll.

  20. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    Another typoed username that stinks of troll.

  21. K-Bob
    November 27th, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

    Because shut up, that’s why. It’s not explainable unless you paranoiacally (I think I just made up that word) fear having logistical superiority. All because Washington warned against foreign entanglements.

  22. K-Bob
    November 27th, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

    Oh, jeez. Not the beehive/hornet nest analogy. That’s only ever used to excuse bullies, nothing more.

  23. australian bruce
    November 27th, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

    Putting Paulism aside, I think Conservatives should stand against all ‘stealth’ foreign intervention. Particularly the CIA. – Likely not founded with the consent or will of the American people, functions without their knowledge or consent. What’s more it is responsible for most ‘american blunders’, and doubles functions which can be more transparently done by the Pentagon and FBI, directly connected to military or criminal investigations which supposedly justify its existence.
    I think the CIA, in concept and implementation, is unAmerican.
    But I’m just a foreigner, over to you.

  24. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    An apt summary of Paulistinian logic.

  25. Finrod Felagund
    November 27th, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    How do you declare war against non-governmental groups like al Qaeda?

  26. CO
    November 27th, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    It’s time for a Federalist president and a colonial imperialist foreign policy.

  27. Thane_Eichenauer
    November 28th, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

    Give the US government some credit. If it can figure a way to authorize the Department of Education as Constitutional surely they can figure out a way to declare war against a non-governmental group.

  28. Thane_Eichenauer
    November 28th, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

    I am not disputing that there are evil and despotic groups and movements on planet Earth nor am I excusing them. I am just making a case that at no point in the recent past can it be reasonably alleged that the US government has pursued a “screw the rest of the world, let’s hunker down here in Fortress America” foreign policy.

  29. RichFader
    November 28th, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    The problem is that no “humble foreign policy” survives contact with the enemy.

  30. K-Bob
    November 29th, 2012 @ 4:37 am

    Thank God for that.