08 March 2011

Bill Kristol and the endgame

Having cheerleaded for every American war for the last quarter-century, it's difficult to fathom what Weekly Standard editor and Fox News "all-star" Bill Kristol wouldn't support in the way of military intervention.

In the above-linked article, Kristol lambasted the dose of realism provided by defense secretary Robert Gates, when Gates noted, correctly, "In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined.'"

Kristol: Is it right to characterize an attack on the Qaddafi regime’s air defenses and airplanes, and the execution of a no-fly zone that would protect the Libyan people from Qaddafi, as “an attack on Libya”? Can’t we distinguish a regime that’s lost whatever legitimacy it once had from the nation that regime is destroying and the people that regime is terrorizing?

These are the same arguments -- offered by American liberals for decades to justify spending American blood and treasure in countries where the United States has virtually no strategic interest, and in the Bush era, were suddenly co-opted by the neoconservative right -- that led to the horrendous invasion and occupation of Iraq. Of course, this is fine with Kristol, as he always seems to think the answer is "more troops." But does Kristol -- who has never served in a presidential administration, on a Senate staff or in the military -- seriously think that an attack on Libya's air defenses would spare all civilian casualties? What portion of international law does Kristol cite to justify yet another invasion and attack of a sovereign nation? (That would be none.) What justification would Kristol suggest that the president offer to the American public when, inevitably, American blood is spilled in Libya? And most critically, what possible interest does the United States have in a Libyan civil war? Furthermore, as Pat Buchanan astutely noted, would neoconservatives like Kristol advocate intervening on the ground in Libya to beat back tanks and land forces that will be sent to strike the Libyan people, when Qaddafi inevitably does so?

Kristol: In many respects Gates has been an improvement as defense secretary over his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld.

In many respects? How about in all respects? Rumsfeld might well turn out to be the worst defense secretary in history.

Kristol: But he’s doing his president, and his country, no favors now. He has said for a while he wants to retire. Let him go, with all appropriate felicitations and salutations. And let someone take over as secretary of defense who believes in the missions in which American forces are now engaged, and who does not shy away from the understanding that American power is a crucial force for good in the world.

Does Kristol really believe that American power has been a transcendent force for good in Iraq, where, at the lowest end, an estimated 100,000 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion? Very quietly, the Iranian-backed Shiite cleric al-Sadr has risen to power, and Iraq is devolving yet again into a state mired in near-civil war. Last week in Afghanistan, 12 innocent boys were murdered by American forces outside their village, causing a nationwide anti-American uproar. The United States remains bogged down in a glorified nation-building exercise, with no identifiable end in sight, with the principal objective -- the removal of the Taliban from power -- having been accomplished nearly a decade ago. What possible evidence does Kristol have that the Arab peoples even want us intervening in their part of the world?

So goes the degeneration of the neoconservative mind. The fact that any sane American -- much less one as plugged into foreign policy matters as Kristol -- can urge, yet again, to intervene in a foreign country where (i) no American citizens are in danger and (ii) America has no identifiable interest whatsoever, is both preposterous and sad.

If the Republican Party hasn't learned its lessons from the awful decision to invade Iraq and get bogged down in an unwinnable war with no endgame in Afghanistan, then its time in the wilderness should continue until it has.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reading Kristol is akin to sitting at one's kitchen table and spotting a large cockroach wending its way around the kitchen, looking for something to defile. In the case of the cockroach, we have something called bug spray. In the case of Kristol, we have...oh well, maybe next time.