Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What if we really can't do anything right....

Madman of Chu complicates things
The hard reality that Darfur points to is that waging a "war on terror" is pointless unless it is undertaken in tandem with a "war on genocide."
This is because "terrorists" is what governments who are undertaking genocide call those who oppose them. He goes on
The kind of resolve and audacity the Bush administration has shown in Iraq would serve well in Sudan and other places where genocide threatens global peace and stability. What the current situation requires is that the US follow the Clinton administration's policy of undertaking peace-enforcing actions in places (like Somalia, Kosovo) where no immediate US economic interests are at stake with the same tenacity and commitment the Bush administration has displayed in Iraq.
A few quibbles: Somalia was a GHWBush project originally, from which Clinton retreated (and subsequently failed to act in Rwanda). Kosovo presents a more complicated situation: we acted with resolve, but we did so at great cost and -- initially at least -- exacerbated the situation in a one-sided manner.

I'm struck by the juxtaposition of Andrew Meyer's argument with Shelby Steele's argument that "white guilt" (a truly broad term, as he uses it) has restrained our hands from accomplishing tasks of moral urgency.

I agree that settling questions in the Sudan is a matter of moral urgency; I'm not convinced that we can or should argue that George Bush's methods in Iraq were "OK but misdirected" in the face of the failure of those methods to actually solve anything.


Madman of Chu said...

Dear Ahistoricality,

Your criticism is quite valid. I didn't mean to endorse any of W's specific *methods* as much as the resolve with which he has carried through on a policy I deemed flawed at the outset. I would agree with John Kerry that Iraq is "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." My somewhat wishful plea is that we show the same kind of resolve in the right place at the right time (e.g. Darfur). Somalia and Haiti were also the right time and place for military action (and Rwanda, tragically, would have been as well), I agree with you that where the Clinton administration failed badly is in retreating before real good was done. Part of what the Clinton administration was up against was Americans' natural reluctance to engage in overseas military ventures where direct economic interests are not at stake. 9/11 created a new climate in which the American public was willing to support a much more proactive internationalist foreign policy. Bush has unfortunately squandered that political will on a mission the benefits of which are not likely to justify the cost. My hope is that we can still retreat from the Bush administration's cripplingly counterproductive policy of regime change and yet continue to be proactive and engaged in world affairs. My sense is that the US *can* use its military and political power overseas to effect positive change, it just needs to be much, much less ambitious than the Bush amdministration has been in setting strategic goals. Creating democracy where it has never existed before is beyond the scope of even a superpower, but halting genocide is not, and would be a good start toward a better world order.

Ahistoricality said...

Thanks for your substantive comments. I think that we have a fundamental problem: we do approve of Bush's methods, but not his execution or target selection.

I'm not sure, for example, that you can "halt genocide" (which, as you accurately point out, is usually a government-sponsored project) without "regime change" being one of the fundamental effects, of not goals, of action.

Ironically, perhaps, I don't want to get into a rehash of former failures and mixed successes -- this is one of those cases where each case is sufficiently unique that no realy analytical conclusions can come of it.

As much as I'd like to see the next two years be productive ones for the US and the world, I fear that we might need to work towards "regime change" here (peacefully, of course) before we can resolve these issues.