The Department'd

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There are many, many war hawk pundits who have nothing left to say about the Iraq war except "send more troops" and mean names for Cindy Sheehan. Credit to Max Boot: He still has big ideas. In Boot's mind, the U.S. can recover from the ongoing Iraq debacle by setting up, with cash money, lots of new departments and plans.

1) "Open the ranks of the armed forces to recruits who are not citizens or green card holders."

This is costly, and a little depressing, but if we're going to have a serious debate on immigration I don't see why we don't hash this out, too.

2) "Create a Department of Peace, perhaps built out of a revamped Agency for International Development, so that we can be better prepared for the aftermath of future military operations than we were in Iraq."

This is wonderful: A Seth Brundle-style mash-up of the worst ideas of neoconservatism and the worst ideas of Dennis Kucinich. It is not actually possible to high-five somebody online, but if I could, I so would.

3) "Re-create the defunct U.S. Information Agency, which was folded into the State Department in 1999, to wage the battle of ideas against Islamist extremists."

We are spending a lot of money to do this already, aren't we? Although the problem may be the model of rock 'em sock 'em robots we send into the battle.

4) "Create a federal police force, possibly within the U.S. Marshals Service, that can be dispatched to enforce the law in lawless lands."

We tried this. With puppets. Although if I remember, that worked out okay.

5) "Beef up the 'expeditionary' capacity in other civilian branches of government, ranging from the Treasury to the Agriculture Department, so that they can augment the efforts of our soldiers."

In other words, make nation-building easier, so we might do more of it.

You have to appreciate Boot's honesty and clarity; again, while the Bush administration and most neoconservatives are content fibbing and claiming we can win the Long War with the military we've got, Boot is sketching out the expansion of the state we'd need to make this stuff happen.

NEXT: New Priorities, Not New Prosecutors

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  1. So, he wants a Ministry of Love, a Ministry of Peace, and a Ministry of Truth.

  2. Thoreau, around the office they like to call them miniluv, minipax, and doublethink.

  3. miniluv, minipax, and doublethink

    Damn, thoreau and sandy – you beat me to it. I only hope that other thinking people actually see the parallels as quickly.

  4. I am going to start a designer straitjacket company; the market is so utterly ready.

  5. Snark aside, #2 is something we definitely need. #4 is just part of #2 assuming that he’s talking of using this force overseas. #5 is again, a rehash of #2.

    Looks like he’s been reading Thomas PM Barnett.

    And #1 could be called the “American Foreign Legion”.

    So, what’s the big deal (besides snarky answers)? We got our ass handed to us in Iraq specifically because we don’t have a 2nd-half game…we won the war there, but we sure as hell didn’t win the aftermath/peace.

  6. Umm, Andy, the whistle hasn’t blown yet. You’re walking off the field in the third quarter here, bub.

  7. There are many, many war hawk pundits who have nothing left to say about the Iraq war

    To be perfectly fair, one could tweak that statement a bit to read: “There are many, many war dove pundits who have nothing left to say about the Iraq war”. Reports in this very blog are rarely more than stale and sarcastic half-jokes that seem always to be a step behind last night’s Daily Show monologue. Does anyone in the snarkosphere have any serious suggestions?

  8. 1) “Open the ranks of the armed forces to recruits who are not citizens or green card holders.”

    We already do that. There are currently 35,000 non-citizens in the U.S. military.

    5) “Beef up the ‘expeditionary’ capacity in other civilian branches of government, ranging from the Treasury to the Agriculture Department, so that they can augment the efforts of our soldiers.”

    We already do that too. Iraq is a case study in it but we’ve been doing it for a long time. The problem is in the trade tarriffs, trade restrictions and subsidies that tilt agricultural and raw materials imports so badly that countries have to turn to growing pot, coca and heroin instead of selling us corn, wheat and steel.

    Nothing will be successful till congress gets its head out of its ass over protectionism.

  9. This is very similar to what Lyndon LaRuche wants to do. They want to develop the entire universe. They want to build a “Eurasian Land Bridge” from the middle east to Siberia. There is a LaRuche cult, and I’m pretty sure they were responsible for getting Joe Wilson to come out to the press. They are the brains (however small) of the Democratic (Money) Party. The kossacks are the real brain.

    They might have stupid ideas about development, but they have been calling Cheney the antichrist for like 4 years now.

  10. Why don’t we just draft Max Boot? We can send him to a country we don’t like, with orders to worm his way into their punditocracy, where he will give the same advice he gives here.

    If he’s taken seriously, whoever it is will suffer, just like we have due to Max “Empire is Good!” Boot’s influence.

  11. I keep expecting the neocons to get tossed on the ash heap of history. Then again, I keep expecting the progressives will too.

  12. Bad ideas are more engaging than no ideas

  13. “I keep expecting the neocons to get tossed on the ash heap of history. Then again, I keep expecting the progressives will too.”

    And I keep thinking that some politician, somewhere, will say the words: “But why would we need a law covering THAT?”

  14. It used to make me so angry that John Kerry kept saying that Bush didn’t have a plan to “win the peace.” I thought, what the hell does that mean? It turns out, we need a Ministry of Peace, to manage our glorious winning of the peace.

  15. Thoreau, around the office they like to call them miniluv, minipax, and doublethink.

    That last one should be minitru. Doublethink is something else entirely.

  16. Alternatively, we could just mind our own business and save all the money we might spend on #’s 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5.* Of course, this concept does not provide room for “feel good” policies or fat government contracts, so it will never fly.

    [*Apologies for being obvious.]

  17. I’d be in favor of mobilizing whole domestic departments and shipping them to Iraq.

    We’d muddle through while they’re gone.

    We’d also generate some attrition and shrink the government.

  18. bubba

    I like it!

    It would give a whole new meaning to getting a head in government.

  19. We’re quickly losing the best candidates for Minister of Love, however, now that both Barry White and James Brown have left us.

    I wonder if Mr. Boot and his compadres have little Iraq dioramas in their living rooms to use with their toy soldiers?

  20. I keep expecting the neocons to get tossed on the ash heap of history. Then again, I keep expecting the progressives will too.

    Okay, people, it’s time to change the bong water. Does anyone have any ice cubes?

  21. 2) “Create a Department of Peace, perhaps built out of a revamped Agency for International Development, so that we can be better prepared for the aftermath of future military operations than we were in Iraq.”

    Well, not a “department” and not for the purpose specified.

    OTOH I think it’s a bad idea to have military forces “keeping peace.” They aren’t configured, trained, or equipped to do so. The military’s role is and should be to go somewhere and break things and hurt people until the other folks quit messing with us. This is not a mission compatible with “peacekeeping.” (Or border security for that matter.)

    A dedicated peacekeeping force closer to a law enforcement model would be more effective, and we wouldn’t have to retrain our warfighters every time we bring them home.

    Plus it’s a good place for all the SWAT teams.

  22. I’ve thought since 9/12 that we should be dramatically ramping up Voice of America and similar broadcast-type programs, international outreach and student exchange programs, and propaganda (in the classic, neutral sense of the word). These all seem to come under #3, and are surely far cheaper than expanding the military or creating whole new departments.

  23. …we won the war there, but we sure as hell didn’t win the aftermath/peace.

    I think we’re losing so badly now because some people thought we won the war when Baghdad fell, just like they think we won the war in Afghanistan. It seems to me we’re still at war in both places.

  24. We got our ass handed to us in Iraq specifically because we don’t have a 2nd-half game…

    We would have gotten our ass handed to us in Iraq anyway, unless our goal was to create a new ally for Iran.

  25. Items 2-4 are all attempts to replicate the local civil authorities that revolutionaries who overthrow their own governments typically establish on their own. It becomes necessary for us to do this in Iraq “regime change” style wars, because of the absence of local involvement in, and support for, the overthrow of the regime.

    Of course, this runs into the whole “…deriving their just power from the consent of the governed” thing. It astounds me that people who believe they’re spreading democracy and freeing people from tyranny can have so little understanding of the need to have the people involved in the process.

    foreign policy liberalism – working knowledge of democracy + love of war po0rn = neoconservatism

  26. “We” is the operative word in crimethink’s post.

    Iraqis receiving our support, on the other hand, would likely have done quite nicely.

    The necon model for liberation is the USSR in Afghanistan, 1979.

    It should be the French Navy, 1777.

  27. “… the whistle hasn’t blown yet. You’re walking off the field in the third quarter here, bub.”

    Your’re almost right Mr. Dean. It’s actually late in the fourth quarter and Petraeus is supposed to play the role of John Elway. We’ll know fairly soon (at most six months) if he’s going to succeed. If he doesn’t, he’ll have to trade in his “King David” nickname. Maybe David “Norwood” Petraeus.

    I hope he scores cause this shit is way past getting old.

  28. Football analogies don’t work, because winning or losing is binary. A 52-7 loss doesn’t hurt your playoff chances any worse than a 17-7 loss.

    A better analogy is blackjack, because staying in the game actually makes you lose worse.

    Bush as lost the bank account, and now he’s taking out an equity line to try to win it back.

    If you don’t hit on 16, you’re rooting for the terrorists.

  29. Boots ideas have much in common with Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”. Draft a bunch of young people for a good cause and “let a hundred flowers bloom in Iraq.”

    Articles like this are one reason that the LA TIMES circulation continues to plummet.

  30. “It’s actually late in the fourth quarter and Petraeus is supposed to play the role of John Elway.”

    Or perhaps there are only 40 minutes until Bonnie comes home, and Petraeus is The Wolf.

  31. I particularly like the #4 suggestion of enforcing law in lawless lands. Question: if there are no laws in a land, then what laws are there to enforce?

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