War on War, Mainstream Defeatism Edition


Michael Kinsley over at Slate today writes one of the most direct and clear statements of a standard libertarianoid antiwar line regarding the futility of American intervention and the inescapable reality of blowback I've seen in a "mainstream" press outlet. (Other examples welcome.) An excerpt:

When the United States should use its military strength to achieve worthy goals abroad is an important question. But based on this record, it seems a bit theoretical. It's like asking whether Donald Trump should use his superpowers to cure AIDS. Or what George W. Bush should say when he wins the Nobel Prize in physics.

It goes on to explain, well but succinctly in column form, how most of our troubles in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the results of previous choices we've made to intervene or interfere overseas, and ends amusingly with:

So, we marched in and got rid of the Taliban. Then we marched into Iraq and got rid of Saddam Hussein. Now we're–well, we haven't figured out what, but we're hopping mad and gonna do something, dammit, about Iran.

And they lived happily ever after.

While I pretty much applaud every word of this piece and its intention, to be devil's advocate, Kinsley doesn't mention his own June 28, 1999, Time column praising U.S. intervention in Yugoslavia, in which he mocked the anti-Clinton Wall St. Journal editorial page for being "unable to hide their irritation that the U.S. would not be humiliated after all, that NATO would survive, and that America had done good in the world at little cost to itself" and notes that Milosevic

surely was influenced in his thinking about when to hold and when to fold by his assessment of the climate of opinion in the U.S. Relentless predictions of quagmire are partly self-fulfilling. The constant carpers and gloomy doomsters of the commentariat and Capitol Hill encouraged Milosevic to think America would fold first. Thus they prolonged the war and added to the human cost they claimed to deplore.

That piece goes on to do a typical mainstream columnist two-step in which he acknowledges that of course such arguments can't be used to shut up all dissent in wartime, but then there's "a distinction between heartfelt opposition to a use of military force and treating this issue as fodder for a different and less important battle of politics and personalities."