Politics

The Phased Withdrawal Talk Has Begun

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From ABC News, a report on the Dems' plan for getting the hell out of Iraq:

What phased withdrawal would mean, according to Sen. Carl Levin, who after January will be the powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is that the president would tell the Iraqi government that U.S. troops would start slowly redeploying out of Iraq, into an advisory role while they are in-country, and with a lot fewer of them there.

"Most Democrats share the view that we should pressure the White House to commence the phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq in four to six months—to begin that phased redeployment, and thereby to make it clear to the Iraqis that our presence is not open-ended and that they must take and make the necessary political compromises to preserve Iraq as a nation," Levin said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves.

"They, and they alone, are going to decide whether they're going to have a nation or whether they're going to have an all-out civil war," he said. "We have given them the opportunity, at huge cost of blood and treasure, to have a nation, should they choose it. But it is up to them, not us, not our brave and valiant troops—it's up to the Iraqi leadership: Do they want a civil war or do they want a nation?"

Levin says he's got somewhere over 40 votes in the Senate for this pretty vague ("a lot fewer" troops? what does that mean actually?), including some Republicans, but is short of a clear majority.  More here.

NEXT: House of Murtha

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  1. So it’s “blame the victim” from the Dems, too? Sigh.

  2. Ethan-

    It’s not about blame. It’s about recognizing that there are some problems we cannot solve.

  3. The thing is, I don’t see how the Dems could possibly lose. If/when we pull out of Iraq (I promise to pull out, baby, trust me), and when Iraq collapses into total chaos, they are going to blame Bush for every subsequent burnt building and every bloody death.

    A friend of mine, who is strongly skeptical of the Iraq invasion, conceded that “we broke it, we bought it”. Well, it looks like we are just leaving the broken vase on the floor and skipping out of the shop. Sorry ’bout that.

    The Dems are going to make some very strong short-term political capital out of this, but at the expense of our last shreds of international credibility.

  4. MNG-

    There’s nothing we can do to fix it. If anything, we probably make it somwhat worse by staying.

  5. This is a tough discussion to have, because so much has to be done behind the scenses or with a nod and a wink.

    One of the major purposes of a pullback for U.S. forces is to change the interior political dynamic in Iraq by denying the Sunni/Iraqi nationalist insurgents the major justification for their anti-government, anti-Shiite war. But we can’t come right out and say that we’re doing this to strengthen the legitimacy of the government among the population, or they lose any credibility they might have as defenders of Iraqi self-determinaiton, so we have to use language that makes our actions look more unilateral than they actually are.

    Similarly, no matter how committed we are to defending the Kurds – and I have no doubt that there is still a large majority in both parties that shares that commitment – we can’t come out and say it, or we (and the central government) become open to charges that we’re screwing the Arabs and redrawing Iraq’s borders unilaterally.

  6. I used to believe we had a responsibility to clean up our mess, MNG – in principle, I still do – but do you see any cleaning up going on? Do you see staing the course making anything better? Or even keeping it from getting worse?

    Hopefully, the Dems are smart enough to pair this withdrawal talk with some sort of political/peace process among Iraqi factions, Northern-Ireland-style, and hopefully, the Republicans are smart enough to go along with it.

  7. joe-

    We don’t have to defend the Kurds openly. The Kurds are more than capable of doing that, we can limit our assistance to quiet deliveries of supplies and information. If the shit really hits the fan for them we can send air support under some pretext about guarding stable regions, and show that we’re even-handed by also helping defend one of the less-fucked-up Arab areas of Iraq.

  8. “We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves. They, and they alone, are going to decide whether they’re going to have a nation or whether they’re going to have an all-out civil war. We have given them the opportunity…to have a nation, should they choose it.”

    I can’t argue with any of that. Whether Iraq can ever be a nation without a dictator remains to be seen, but they are blowing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to try.

  9. thoreau,

    If the Sunni and Shiite powers, backed by their respective allies in the region, unite to stave off Kurdish self-rule, the peshmerga on their own aren’t going to be able to hold them off. They probably wouldn’t even be able to hold off the Shiites alone.

    I’d like to see facts on the ground that nip such thinking the bud. The likelihood of the Kurds being abandoned when the war went bad was one of the biggest reasons I opposed the war. I wonder, does William Saletan still run the “Kurd Sellout Watch” feature he was running Slate in 2002 and 2003?

  10. Whether Iraq can ever be a nation without a dictator remains to be seen, but they are blowing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to try.

    I don’t even think that “they”, or at least most of “them”, are blowing this opportunity. At least not deliberately. Rather, I think that there are elements that cannot be controlled by anybody, at least not easily, and the instinctive reaction to these elements, the instinctive defense mechanism, is to revert to tribal loyalties. In a dangerous situation, that defense mechanism is probably the only thing that works. It does, however, make it much harder to bring about a situation of order and unity by minimally violent means.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think anybody is “blowing it.” I think they’re almost as clueless as we are on how to fix this. But because they are slightly less clueless, we have to put matters in their hands and hope for the best. There is no other option.

  11. joe-

    The Kurds defended themselves against Saddam Hussein, and the only open support they had from us was the no-fly zone. We didn’t even provide air support against ground troops, we only provided air support against Saddam Hussein’s air force.

    If they were able to defend against Saddam Hussein back when they were more divided than they are now, they can defend against the more fragmented Arab state that remains. We shold provide arms and information on the down low, and whatever help our clandestine forces on the ground can provide. But they don’t need our open support against the Arabs of Iraq, and we don’t need that sort of mess.

    Look how much trouble we’re still reaping from our decision to be Israel’s best friend forever. Do we really need to openly babysit yet another ethnic minority state in the Middle East?

    The price of our friendship with the Kurds should be a guarantee that they will not secede. They should at least continue to use the same letterhead and every now and then wave hello to the folks in Baghdad, maybe even send a representative to march in the parades. They can be like Taiwan: “One Iraq, two systems.” Or whatever fiction it takes to prevent outright, open secession and the inevitable regional war that would result.

  12. It’s not about blame. It’s about recognizing that there are some problems we cannot solve.

    It’s true that the Bush Iraq policy has painted us into a corner, and I support immediate withdrawal, but saying “We have given them the opportunity, at huge cost of blood and treasure, to have a nation, should they choose it. But it is up to them…” does make this about blame. Mr Levin is claiming that if Iraq fails it will be the Iraqis’ fault. But the “opportunity” we handed to the Iraqis is better described as a “calamity,” and if Iraq fails it will be more our fault than theirs. Denying this is to blame the victim.

    What frustrates me is that the Dems, despite their recent victory at the polls, are still scared to death of the GOP and its spin machine, and are still acquiesing to the terms of the debate dictated by Bush. Note the ridiculous sounding addition of “not our brave and valiant troops.” The man is terrified of being cast as anti-troops.

  13. thoreau,

    Since the mid-90s, Kurdistan was also a “no-drive zone.” We made it quite clear to the Saddam government what would happen if they tried to use armored vehicles agains the Kurds, and that played a large role in their ability to maintain theie self-determination.

    But I agree on the “Taiwan” solution. We need a policy of deliberate ambiguity. I recommend we put John Kerry in charge of explaining Kurdistan’s official status.

    Ethan,

    Bush is still the Commander in Chief. Without his buy-in, there won’t be any sort of withdrawal or solution, just more of the same. If Levin has to offer him a fig leaf to win his acquiesence, I have no problem with that.

  14. It is real simple, the Democrats sold out the South Vietnamese in 1974 after a decent interval, never enforced the 73 peace accords and let the North invade and conquer the South producing, millions of boat people and a complete humanitarian disaster. As a result of that, the Democrats spent the next thirty years as being painted as the “get the U.S. out of North America” party by the Republicans and lost every Presidential election in which foreign policy was a major issue. Some Democrats are sentient enough to not want that to happen again. They also realize that the U.S. is bound under a Security Council resolution to stay in Iraq until the country can operate on its own. Further, everyone talks so blithely about Iraq failing and whose fault it is, but none of that matters. What matters are the effects of a regional war or Iraq turning into Somalia or worse a Taliban Afghanistan. Of course the Democrats are soft paddling withdrawal. They have some responsibility now. It is easy to talk shit when what you say means absolutely nothing. It is a little different when you win an election and what you say has some consequences.

  15. Except, John, that what you’re calling “soft-paddling” (which sounds kind of fun, actually) is what the Democrats have been saying throughout the entire election campaign.

    There hasn’t been a change in the Democrats’ message, although there certainly has been a change in yours. One month ago, you were declaring that the policies which you now describe as so responsible to be a shameful abandonment comparable to the end of Vietnam.

    It’s nice how an election can focus the mind.

  16. Hopefully the tough talks is just staking out bargaining positions and the Dems will angle for a smarter policy overall.

  17. the instinctive defense mechanism, is to revert to tribal loyalties

    Of course. Saddam kept a lid on the simmering tribal hatreds, brutalizing all oppostion. I’m not at all convinced after three years that anything other than another dictatorship can put the lid back on it. Oddly, much of the world seems to prefer the dictatorship option. And I think that’s probably what they’ll get.

  18. “There’s nothing we can do to fix it.”

    That may be true. that also may not be true. I’m not sure where your certainty comes from.

    Certainly there’s nothing we can do to make Iraq an idyllic paradise with rainbows and unicorns, but I’m willing to wager there are a series of possible outcomes that range from bad to epic disaster. I’m in favor of whatever strategy gives us a bad result, and opposed to whatever strategy gives us a disastrous result.

    And I haven’t a clue what that is, so it’s hard for me to believe that anyone can be that certain at this point.

    There is no question that from the decision to invade through most of the decisions leading up to now, the administration has blundered terribly. But that doesn’t mean I’m confident that the Bush the elder cabinet and the democrats won’t continue to blunder just as bad.

  19. I have mixed feelings on putting Kerry in charge of Kurdistan’s status. Surely the Kurds must have somebody who is just as good at ambiguity. On the other hand, I recognize that with the US military interest in the region it is important to have a player who can fail to communicate with Americans. A nuanced situation like this requires a balanced proposal wherein both parties are able to confuse the appropriate audiences.

    What I’m trying to say is that I was against your proposal, now I’m in favor of it, but the underlying concerns and rationale have always been the same. There’s no inconsistency here in my changing views.

  20. Joe,

    I have always been ambivilent about this election. Further, perhaps I am too much of an optimist, but I think people generally rise to the occasion when presented with real responsibility. The Democrats clearly didn’t do that in 1974, but they may do that now because the stakes are a lot higher now than they were then. That said, I think there are a whole lot of people on the left who are going to be pretty angry and disapointed when the Democrats don’t force a complete withdrawal.

  21. Thoreau,

    What everyone is horribly afraid of with Kurdistan is that the Kurdish zone will sponsor Kurdish terrorism in Turkey and the Turkey will launch an incursion into Northern Iraq to do something about it. Imagine that, a NATO country invading Iraq. I like the Kurds a whole lot and would love to see them get their own country and stick it to the Arabs and especially the Iranians. But, there are some Kurds that are real problems and giving the Kurds their own country is going to cause the Kurds in Turkey to want out and join the greater Kurdistan. That is why the U.S. will never support Kurdish autonomy.

  22. thoreau,

    I have always been very clear that ambiguity needs to be equally applicable (and when I say equally applicable, I mean that each of the parties is given the same opportunity to be placated through clear and principled doubletalk, although not necessarily in the same manner or to the same degree) to both sides, without creating any false equivalancies. I have consistencly said that, right from the beginning.

  23. each of the parties is given the same opportunity to be placated through clear and principled doubletalk, although not necessarily in the same manner or to the same degree

    That sounds like a stable solution.

  24. I think that the McCain solution is the better than any of other alternatives. Put more troops in Iraq or get out (I know it is a little bit more nuanced than that, but I think that is the gist of it). I don’t think that it is right that we leave the country without assuring some stability. If Iraq loses stability a few years down the road, then that is there fault.

    Leaving Iraq the way it is now would be disastrous for Iraq, U.S., and the region. It would do almost unrepairable damage to our reputation in the world. I agree with John that pointing fingers will not solve the problem. I think we (we meaning Americans) can fix the problem, we just need a shit load of help from other countries. To this day, I still can’t believe that the President actually thought that we can do this by ourselves.

  25. joe,

    While I fully agree with you, I must take issue with you on several areas of disagreement. I have consistently said that the distribution of ambiguity must be clearly equitable, with complete uncertainty about the degree to which each side is compromising.

  26. They, and they alone, are going to decide whether they’re going to have a nation or whether they’re going to have an all-out civil war. We have given them the opportunity…to have a nation, should they choose it.

    This is a fallacy that libertarians, of all people, should recognize. There’s no such thing as “they” when it comes to blame. It’s just a copout. Saying “the Iraqis” are responsible for their country’s instability is like saying “the Americans” are responsible for the invasion. Superficially true, until we ask: which Iraqis? which Americans?

  27. RC,

    “That sounds like a stable solution.”

    thoreau and I are just riffing on Kerry-speak.

    thoreau,

    Of course you are correct, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. We’re really on the same side here. But it is one thing to say that the distribution of ambiguity must be clearly equitable, and quite another to say that ambiguity must be distributed equally in all times and places. I have been clear on this point, right from the beginning. I believe my position is now clearly incomprehensible, and will fight to keep it that way.

  28. In 2004 I got a friend of mine to laugh so hard he started crying when I gave a 3 minute discourse on the question “eggs or pancakes” (in a John Kerry voice).

    “Well, you have to give due consideration to all of the relevant factors. Do I like the maple syrup absolutely. Will I show favoritism toward Vermont because of that? Of course not. Will Vermont hold a special status as a result? Definitely. But we must also consider the protein content. I have always been a strong supporter of protein consumption, because as a veteran I recognize the importance of physical fitness. But when I report for that duty, when I accept the charge, I have to balance the need for muscle mass against the effects of the cholesterol. I have a plan to have my yolk and eat it too.”

    And so forth.

  29. I support an extremely radical course of action. Partition the country into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish states. Then leave and let the chips fall where they may.

    Iraq is NOT a nation. Rather, it is an artificial construct from the aftermath of WWI. Churchill himself called it a mistake. As he was involved with Iraqs creation, he probably was in a position to know.

  30. Surely somebody above has already said this, but does the American voter give a shit if Iraq and the whole region collapses into chaos?
    Give me a break.
    Let it go. Give it up. Just stop shedding American blood on a fool’s errand.

  31. Ruthless,

    The Kurds have had self-determination and a somewhat liberal democratic repbulic for a decade and a half. Would preserving it really be a fool’s errand?

  32. “We have given them the opportunity…to have a nation, should they choose it.”

    Well if it weren’t for terrorists, criminals, intervening foreign powers, and militias, i am pretty sure that most Iraqis would love a stable and free country.

    For fucks sake, look at the turnout in their elections. It is not like the majority don’t want freedom.

    We Americans want freedom and prosperity too, but yet we have corrupt politicians.

  33. John once again, entertains:”t is real simple, the Democrats sold out the South Vietnamese in 1974 after a decent interval, never enforced the 73 peace accords and let the North invade and conquer the South producing, millions of boat people and a complete humanitarian disaster.”
    Actually, John, the “peace accords” which the corrupt & dispised Thieu regime ignored from the start, allowed free movement of the NLF and a political campaign leading to a general election, one that would allow the massive, S Vietnamese based opposition to our flying monkeys in Saigon speak, campaign, & vote freely. Unlike the phoney ’68 “election” which was for domestic US consumption.
    I guess Hannity never mentioned that.
    The reason the US gotout of Viet Nam was because what passed as a government there- a US construct, leavened with coups, thugs, & kleptocrats- would NEVER stand on its own. Any more than Diem could in a general election in ’54. Ithaqd no legitimacy, you see.
    And any more than this imposed by the US arrangement will stand in Iraq.
    Believe it or not, John- Viet Nam, like Iraq, will have to be sorted by its own citizens. OUR citizens cant do much more than stir hatred, division, & bloodshed. (By the way- please, if you will, enumerate the rights of citizens of “S”Viet Nam as recognized by the various cabals of thieves & murderers in Saigon? Surely they must be on the tip of your tongue.)
    Snce we fucked over the Kurds before- look into current Iraq advisor Henery K’s betrayl of them- and the fact the Turks would kill them ALL if they could- we should arrange a base lease deal in de facto Kurdistan, in, say, 5 year increments, with the written agreement the US will pull out if asked by the Kurdish Gvt- which the US will NOT create/sabotage/buy-so as to assure – clearly -permanent bases are not a goal.
    CAREFULLY we withdraw from the rest of Iraq, in stages. leaving behind engineering, medical, & administration supplies, while our Engineers destroy/render unuseable all stockpiles of heavy weapons, artillery, tanks, etc, that are not ours & destined to be left behind.
    The vast stockpiles of munitions will have to be destroyed also, & there you go.
    Its not complicated. Eventually, they will get tired of eating sand, & will have to pump oil. We will stand ready to assist in the fields & infrastructure rebuilding, under open, transparent contracts.
    really, John, you ought to turn off the radio…….

  34. Fuck you mutt. Try reading Decent Interval or A Better War sometime. Then maybe you would know your ass from a hole in the ground about Vietnam. But why bother, it is much easier to know nothing and think everyone who disagrees with you does so because Hanity told them so, who ever that is.

  35. “US construct, leavened with coups, thugs, & kleptocrats- would NEVER stand on its own.”

    Bullshit. Leaving a government without any military aid alone next to an agressive neighbor recieving millions in aide from the Soviets would never stand. The Soviets broke the peace accords from day one and rebuilt the North Vietnamese army and waited until Janurary of 1975 for Ford to say that the U.S. would never become involved in Vietnam again and immediately invaded. Those are the facts. Try learning them sometime.

  36. John,

    If we’re doing an Iraq/Vietnam comparison, this isn’t 1974. It’s 1968. And you are just as determined to stick it out as Nixon. What did those extra 6 years get us? Death, destruction, and humiliation, that’s what.

    We leave now on terms that we establish ourselves, or we’ll surely be leaving on our enemies’ terms in a few years. There’s no pony you’re going to find in the mound of manure, John, no matter how long you look.

    Look at all of us weak-kneed, anti-American, anti-war, BDS-suffering lefties arguing for leaving a force to protect the Kurds. Do you think public opinion is going to leave that option on the table two years from now?

  37. Joe,

    I never said there was a pony in the manure. But unlike Vietnam, this war is not going to go away. We can’t chalk up a few million dead Iraqis to tough luck they way we did the South Vietnamese and the Cambodians. The enemies in this war, unlike the North Vietnamese are not going to stop in Iraq, they are going to keep coming after us. Belive, I wish you were right. I wish we could go home and tell the Iraqis sorry but you are on your own, but we can’t do that. You are right, there are no good options, but leaving and pretending the whole thing will go away is the worst option, no matter what you call it.

  38. Please tell me if I’m being too simplistic here, but we went to Iraq to give the Iraqis democracy and freedom/freedom of democracy. A lot of people are talking about what the U.S. should do about Iraq, but no one has mentioned what the Iraqis want. If the Iraqis don’t want us there, and if we truly went to give them the freedom to govern their own country, why should we stay?

  39. Once again: what rights did S Viet Namese citizens posess that were recognized, never mind respected, by the (various, ever changing) US clients in Saigon?
    Why was the vast bulk of S Viets completely opposed to the US construct? Why did the US forecefullyremove vast numbers of S Viet peasants into what can opnly be called concentration camps?
    What were the terms of the 72-3 accords?
    What was the basis for the US canceling the elections of ’54?
    What were the perameters to be able to run in the ’68 Viet “elections”?
    And, finally- what was the biggest secular holiday in “South ” Viet Nam?
    A freebie: Ho Chi Minhs birthday. Why was that, John?
    Answer the above, John & ill think you might have actually looked into Viet Nam history. As of now, Ill put it up there with your grasp of the US & Iraq.

  40. …does so because Hanity told them so, who ever that is.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but the deliberate misspelling of “Hannity” here sure convinces me that John never heard of Hannity.

  41. “If the Sunni and Shiite powers, backed by their respective allies in the region, unite to stave off Kurdish self-rule, the peshmerga on their own aren’t going to be able to hold them off. They probably wouldn’t even be able to hold off the Shiites alone.” – joe

    Ok, that’s creepy. You actually wrote what I would have written.

    “I wonder, does William Saletan still run the “Kurd Sellout Watch” feature he was running Slate in 2002 and 2003?” – joe

    Here’s the latest on Timothy Noah’s Kurd Sellout Watch that I could find:
    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=4977

    “Look at all of us weak-kneed, anti-American, anti-war, BDS-suffering lefties arguing for leaving a force to protect the Kurds. Do you think public opinion is going to leave that option on the table two years from now?” – joe

    This is totally a “through the looking glass” moment. Realistic evaluation of Kurdish defensive military capability followed by a reasonable political argument for withdrawal as being in the Kurds best interests? What happened to the “real” joe? Oh, wait, he pokes his head out by talking about how Dems haven’t changed positions on anything.

    One bone to pick: I have to say that I highly doubt that joe’s position falls in line with those “weak-kneed, anti-American, anti-war, BDS-suffering lefties” he claims to be representing here. His position has gone all realpolitik pragmatism suddenly – or maybe it was always his position but that part just didn’t shine through the partisan manure he often shovels.

    “We didn’t even provide air support against ground troops, we only provided air support against Saddam Hussein’s air force.” – thoreau

    That’s patently false. Saddam’s ground forces would have been completely decimated by the Combined Joint Task Force’s air power if they had tried to roll on the Kurds. The point of Operation Northern Watch was an extension of the protection and humanitarian aid of Operation Provide Comfort.

  42. “Phased Withdrawal?” Isn’t that what they used to do on Star Trek: The Next Generation in the last five minutes to deal with whatever problem they were having?

    Hmmm, the Romulans are about to fire a plasma torpedo. Oh, that’s okay, because I’m going to phase modulate the shields to perform a phased withdrawal 🙂

  43. John,

    Sunni nationalists are going to come to the United States and attack us? Really?

    Were Iraq to descend into civil war without Americans present, the Shiites would squash the foreign jihadists like a bug.

  44. rob,

    There is a world of difference between being realistic by the dictionary definition, and adopting foreign policy Realism as an ideology.

    I am doing the former, not the latter.

  45. joe – What’s your beef with realpolitik as a foreign policy approach?

  46. rob,

    Its commitment to the pursuit of power over human rights and democracy.

    Its ignorance of the benefits that accrue to us from being “a shining city on a hill.”

    Its inability to grasp the essential differences between the interests and character of a democratic republic vs. an empire.

    We are not merely one of a number of piggies fighting over a load of slops, and we should neither behave like one, nor conceive of outselves as one.

  47. It[‘]s ignorance of the benefits that accrue to us from being “a shining city on a hill.”

    You know, this is the argument against realpolitik that I find the most compelling. Even with some of the nastiness that we’ve occasionally been involved in, I think we still are, by and large, the good guys. Even when compared to our brothers and sisters in Europe. However, letting go of our principles for some short term gains distracts from that. When the world saw us as largely good versus the increasingly obvious badness of the Soviet Union, there was a definite move towards liberal values. We have lost some of that already, in the relatively short time since the fall of the U.S.S.R.

    I’m not suggested that being the paragon of Western Virtue would buy us peace and harmony with every culture in the world–the Middle East is an obvious question mark in that regard–but I’d feel better living on the high ground, and I also think we’d be less of a target. We’re going to get some hate because of our envious position, but we don’t have to go adding to that hate by doing too many bad things. I’m realistic and know that we’re going to kill some people that don’t need killing and support some leaders who probably do need killing, but I’d like that to be more of the exception.

  48. That’s a heck of an indictment of realpolitik… But it’s funny, I don’t find references in which realpolitik advocates the evils you mention, and I can’t find a definition that rules out the benefits of behaving as a shining city.

    My concern with the ideology-bound approach is that if you let ideology box you in rather than examining all options, you miss opportunities to make real gains.

    For example, do you really think Nixon should never have engaged China – because the shining city ideological example prohibits us from doing anything other than “staying the course” of implacable enmity against the evil, human-rights violating Chinese?

  49. That’s too bad, rob. Based on your question, I has assumed you had some grounding in theories of international relations, but you clearly don’t.

    Read some Henry Morganthau; that’s always a good place to start. He openly states that the purpose of international relations, like all politics, is the advancement of power, with other goals being subordinate to that.

    I think you’re using the dictionary definition of “realism” as your working definition of the political theory that goes by that name. A highly misleading confusion, as Realists can be highly unrealistic, while Moralists can be very grounded in reality.

  50. “That’s too bad, rob. Based on your question, I has assumed you had some grounding in theories of international relations, but you clearly don’t.” – joe

    What a polite way of claiming the other guy is ignorant – all because I asked you a couple of questions about your position.

    “I think you’re using the dictionary definition of “realism” as your working definition of the political theory that goes by that name.” – joe

    Frankly, I think you equate realpolitik with power politics, not exactly an uncommon tendency… The point of the questions I asked, which you couldn’t be bothered to answer, would have demonstrated this even more clearly than you’ve done.

    “Realists can be highly unrealistic, while Moralists can be very grounded in reality.” – joe

    Sure, because even a blind squirrel will stumble across an acorn now and then. But who is more grounded in reality in your opinion – Henry Kissinger or Pol Pot? Both have a pretty good body count attributable to them, but only one killed a genocide’s worth of people for his ideals.

  51. Isnt “realpolitik” simply a euphimism for savage war for private (ie, whoever controlls the apparat at a given moment)profit?
    Realpolitik saw Henry K arming the Kurds to force the Shah to spend petrodollars with Boeing…..money spent, Kurds abandoned.
    “Realpolitik” is only “real” if you/your constituency profit. It aint mystical; its simple greed, and powermongering. No more “real” than the purported “invisible hand”…..

  52. “Isnt ‘realpolitik’ simply a euphimism for savage war for private (ie, whoever controlls the apparat at a given moment)profit?” – MUTT

    Nah, that’s power politics.

    “Realpolitik saw Henry K arming the Kurds to force the Shah to spend petrodollars with Boeing…..money spent, Kurds abandoned.” – MUTT

    Well, just because we see a reason to support one side or another at some point, it doesn’t mean we have to stay “best friends forever.”

    For example, just because we were allied with Russia against the Germans in WW2 doesn’t mean that we have to stay allied through them – and of course we didn’t all through the Cold War period.

    “‘Realpolitik’ is only ‘real’ if you/your constituency profit.” – MUTT

    I’d argue that simple self-interest by a nation is generally a good way for a democracy to go. The U.S. already has a tendency to want to fix everything for everyone all over the world. A little rational self-interest certainly helps to moderate that and to curb our tendency to roll into everyone else on the planet’s problems.

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