Election 2012

Does Killing Bin Laden = Successful Foreign Policy?

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Hat tip: Real Clear Politics.

Over at the Washington Examiner, the editors note that killing Osama bin Laden does not a foreign policy make:

Getting bin Laden shouldn't have been the focus of America's anti-terror policy anyway. America's eye has been off the ball while far more important events transpired in the Arab world. The Arab Spring is being hijacked by increasingly radical and anti-American actors. The Arab world continues to hate America as much as it ever did, despite Obama's outreach efforts, which have at times approached the level of groveling. Unlike bin Laden, al Qaeda is very much still alive. It is not on its heels, on the run, or on the ropes, as developments in Afghanistan and elsewhere prove. Yes, bin Laden is dead, but so is Ambassador Chris Stevens, killed at the hands of bin Laden's followers.

The paper, which leans conservative and Republican, supports Mitt Romney's comments about the role of killing one man as the be-all and end-all of foreign policy:

"I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person—Osama bin Laden—because after we get him, there's going to be another and another," Mitt Romney said in 2007.

More here.

As it happens, I don't think anyone is pretending that Democratic foreign policy revolved solely around capturing or killing bin Laden (or that Republicans wouldn't have been spiking the football had George W. Bush popped OBL on his watch).

Tough-truth time: As we slide into tonight's final presidential debate, which is explicitly about foreign policy and will be live-tweeted right here at Reason.com, the real problem is that neither Obama nor Romney has much of value and substance to say about America's role in the world. Obama has been godawful (read: ineffective and extra-constitutional) on the matter and Romney is a total cipher (except for his heavy tilt toward Bush admin retreads).

I'll be interested in seeing whether and how either of these guys engages the recent death of George McGovern, the failed 1972 presidential candidate whose anti-war slogan "Come Home, America," was as eloquent as it was unpopular.

NEXT: Obama Campaign Releases Ad Ahead of Foreign Policy Debate Touting Iraq War

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  1. Remember how Truman campaigned in ’48 on I killed Tojo?

    We either.

    1. Me either.

    2. It’s hard to campaign on killing a guy that was still alive.

    3. To be fair, we’d fucking nuked his island, twice.

      Truman’s campaign was more like, “We got nukes, yes we do! We got nukes, how ’bout YOU?”

      It’s hard to say whether anyone else would have done anything different, but the Cold War and Korea were Truman administration projects.

  2. the real problem is that neither Obama nor Romney has much of value and substance to say about America’s role in the world

    Considering Reason’s commentary will be on 140-character Twitter, your chances of saying anything of value and substance are kinda low too

    1. I count 1772 characters in this post.

    2. Brevity is the soul of foreign policy

      1. Kill enemies, support friends, send no $ abroad unless charity.

        1. Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations ? entangling alliances with none.

          1. Kill ’em all, let Thor sort ’em out.

          2. …said the first US President who (rightfully) sent American naval ships and Marines to attack Muslim nations, then (mistakenly) paid tribute to them, which led to another war 10 years later…

            Commerce does lead to peace, but it doesn’t do so in every case.

          3. Hey, only 90 characters from @GWash (or was it @BigDaddy?) — he could have tweeted his foreign policy, and made it substantive.

    3. Last I checked, Twitter still hasn’t figured out how to actually turn a profit, so hopefully it’s only a matter of time before they can’t get more or fashion changes again with regards to online communication.

      1. Last I checked, Twitter still hasn’t figured out how to actually turn a profit,

        Nationalize it!

  3. Please Nick. Killing bin Laden was just one small part of the long term foreign policy of killing everyone who hates America. They keep building military bases in other countries, hiring locals to inform on each other, and bombing the shit out of anything that moves, and yet there still seem to be people in other countries who don’t seem to like us.

    If you can figure out a solution to that problem, I’d like to hear it.

    1. You obviously hate America if you believe that the actions of our military abroad could in any way shape or form cause foreigners to do anything but love us.

      Why do you hate America?

    2. I only want to hear the end game. One final solution, as it were.

      1. It is the moral obligation of the United States to make the world safe from terror.

        Why do you hate America?

        1. Because of the fatties.

          1. Epi, Nutrasweet and Warty aren’t “America” – why do you hate “America”!?

            1. Because of the Dallas Cowboys.

              America’s Team.

              1. I allow it.

              2. If you have to give yourself a nickname, it’s lame. But what about the Cowgirls isn’t?

  4. If they hadn’t told everyone they dumped OBL’s body into the drink after a tasteful onboard ceremony, the Constitutional scholar could prop bin Laden’s smelly corpse up next to him at the debate.

    Side note: Do you suppose Obama ever accidentally mixes his own name up with Osama’s?

    1. “Barry Soetoro” can be mixed up with “Osama bin Laden”?

    2. I could just see him referring to Osama as “Obama” my mistake.

    3. the Constitutional scholar could prop bin Laden’s smelly corpse up next to him at the debate.

      “You sir are a cowardly son of a bitch, you just shot an unarmed man.”
      “Well he should have armed himself, if he is gonna decorate his saloon with my friend.”

  5. “Getting bin Laden shouldn’t have been the focus of America’s anti-terror policy anyway. America’s eye has been off the ball while far more important events transpired in the Arab world.”

    I think our foreign policy should take the Arab world into consideration, but I’m much more interested in what’s best for the American world, speaking of which…

    Killing bin Laden may not have amounted to a foreign policy, but I’m not sure it would have been politically possible to withdraw from Afghanistan so long as bin Laden was still alive.

    “The Arab Spring is being hijacked by increasingly radical and anti-American actors.”

    The radical Islamists were involved from the beginning, and them being drawn into the political process–with its moderating influence–is probably a good thing over the long term. Regardless, whether their influence is waxing or waning isn’t entirely clear. The same thing certainly can’t be said about everything that’s happening from Tunis to Damascus.

    That’s a whole lot of Arab world to paint with just one brush.

    1. The radical Islamists were involved from the beginning, and them being drawn into the political process–with its moderating influence–is probably a good thing over the long term.

      We’ll see. Recent history is chock full of radicals who weren’t moderated just because they seized power following some sort of political process. Exhibit A: Hez, in Lebanon.

      1. It’s up to the various peoples in various nations to make those choices for themselves. I’ve seen what appear to be Islamist victories subsequently mitigated by secularist reactions, and I’ve seen secularist victories mitigated, subsequently, by victories for Islamists.

        We’ll see how they go; I hope they choose something other that Islamists, but either way, I’m not sure what American foreign policy is supposed to do about it.

        “The Arab Spring is being hijacked by increasingly radical and anti-American actors.”

        So, we want a president that does exactly what about that?

        I’d like to see us increase trade ties or something. Other than stuff like that, I’m not sure what U.S. foreign policy should change–just becasue various Arabs in various countries are leaning one way rather than another.

        If you ask me, our presidents already do too much. Not sure I want to ask them why they don’t do more about this.

        1. It’s up to the various peoples in various nations to make those choices for themselves.

          Sure.

          I’ve seen what appear to be Islamist victories subsequently mitigated by secularist reactions,

          I’m drawing a blank on this one. That could be just the result of the tendency of the media to report on colorful failures rather than drab successes.

          and I’ve seen secularist victories mitigated, subsequently, by victories for Islamists.

          This one is easy to find examples for.

          The problem is, I think, that revolutionary environments tend to favor the most fanatical, motivated, and brutal, especially in the absence of a highly developed civil society.

          1. Consider the tens of thousands of protestors in Benghazi who ransacked the headquarters of the militia that was responsible for the assassination of our ambassador.

            The radicals scored a victory, and then the people of Benghazi chased the radicals out of town.

  6. “Come Home, America,” was as eloquent as it was unpopular.

    Eloquent?

    1. If you happen to agree with McGovern, then yes it’s “eloquent”.

    2. I hear this in the voice of South Park’s Randy Marsh, beckoning the kids to return from the fucking Mongorians.

      “Come hoooooooome….cooooome hooooooome…”

  7. I know, I was expecting “Come on my tits, America” or something similar.

    1. Eloquent.

  8. Revenge murder is an American President’s highest duty.

    It’s right there in the Constitution.

    1. Hey “The Avengers” wasn’t the number one movie of the year just because of Robert Downey Jr.’s harrowing performance.

  9. Okay, if libertarians are going to slam our vaunted candidates for having no rational foreign policy, then it’s time libertarians got one themselves that made some sense. Let’s start by calling some bullshit out in the article cited here.

    “The Arab Spring is being hijacked by increasingly radical and anti-American actors.”

    That, there is evidence of. It is apparently true.

    “Unlike bin Laden, al Qaeda is very much still alive.”

    That, there needs to be a whole lot more evidence of. Or by “al Queda” do we now mean “any Muslim that happens to lean anti-American”? In which case perhaps it is true, but it should also be made clear that this is meaning.

    Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations ? entangling alliances with none.

    Sorry but it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than this to build a rational foreign policy. This is a nice Fantasy Island theory if you don’t want to have to think. But it doesn’t work, never has, and never will.

    Keeping big groups of US soldiers in places like S Korea and Germany, makes no sense. For as much as I too think we haven’t handled Afghanistan well, a “better” answer to that particular problem is just not obvious. And it goes without saying, we should never have “done” Iraq.

    1. Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations ? entangling alliances with none.

      Gold plated distilled pure stupid. It is living in a fantasy world where the world will just leave us alone if only we leave it alone.

      1. Is “peace, commerce” and honest friendship” the same as “withdrawal and isolation” in crazy Republican land?

        1. Is “peace, commerce” and honest friendship”

          Is pretending that the world will somehow give us a break for being nice guys pass as reality in Libertarian land?

          1. “peace, commerce” and honest friendship” doesn’t reject reactive retribution.

            1. LOL. Reactive retribution. Good luck with that. Considering you people want a small European sized military good luck projecting that power anywhere.

              You people are just fucking children who live in a fantasy land on these issues.

              1. Its interesting that you think of Washington that way.

              2. Last I checked Afghanistan was primarily a carrier based operation in conjunction with makeshift bases setup in Turkmenistan and a few other neighbors.

                Oh, and long-range B-2’s.

                Yes, the logistical challenges are increased by not having supply depots in ever country from here to the moon.

                But no. I’m just a fucking moron. I clearly don’t understand how to project power from US based resources.

          2. Is pretending that the world will continue to hate us just as much when we aren’t dictating affairs to them like their overlord the crux of your argument? Yes, it is, which is why you’re a moron.

            Have you ever actually been to a Muslim country? Have you ever actually been to ANY country where we have an overbearing military presence?

            If you have, I’m going to need some explanation for your ridiculously myopic, naive and absurd worldview.

            1. Blaming all aggression on blowback is myopic and naive, as well.

              Do I have an answer? Nope.

              1. No one is blaming all aggression on blowback. That’s absurd.

          3. How do you know it wouldn’t work if it has never been tried?

      2. It’s a quote from Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration speech. The Thomas Jefferson who ended up sending ships full of Marines to Tripoli…

    2. ” it doesn’t work, never has, and never will.”

      Yeah, Switzerland is a real shithole.

      1. Switzerland is a small country with few resources and no reason for anyone to go there. We however are not so lucky. Go ask Holland and Belgium how neutrality worked out for them. They just wanted to stay out of it. That didn’t help much when a bigger country had a reason to roll through.

        The US is not Switzerland and we never will be. There will always be someone in the world who has a reason to hate us. And as long as we are a capitalist country, we will always have a vested interest in the rest of the world not turning into a totalitarian shit hole.

        1. Go ask Holland and Belgium how neutrality worked out for them.

          Perhaps if Holland and Belgium had an ocean between them and their nearest hostile neighbor, that comparison might be something more than a red herring.

          But they do not.

          1. Because no one has ever attacked the US on US soil. It has never happened. It is impossible.

            And they are proof that neutrality doesn’t buy you shit. No one cares if you are neutral. If it is in their interests to attack you they will. That is how the world works. No one gives a fuck how nice you are or how hard you tried to make peace.

            You people think that if we just look weak enough and just apologize enough the world will leave us alone. No they won’t, ever.

            1. Um, this is the age of surveillance. I have a nagging suspicion that we could probably observe any sizeable force coming towards us in time to shove a few hundred cruise missiles up their keel-holes.

              I mean obviously the only thing stopping us from being over-run with Cuban and Chinese commie-Nazis is our brave drone warriors and bulletcatchers in meaningless third world shitholes.

              1. It’s the age of WMDs, and a sizeable force is the last threat we need to worry about.

                If a 19th Century army marched into the US, we could run outside and repel them with our privately-owned guns.

                This isn’t the 19th Century.

            2. You can’t compare the acts of a dozen independent terrorists to an invading army under the employ of a government.

              Doing so is somewhere between dishonest and stupid.

              So which are you John? Dishonest or stupid? A little of both?

              1. They were not independent. They were trained and sponsored by the de facto government of Afghanistan.

                And you don’t need a conventional force to attack someone. Just keep sending terrorists over until you get lucky and get a big attack. What is the US going to do about it? After you downsize the military it won’t be able to project power anymore. It takes a big military to do that. And if it were up to you, we would no longer have that. What would we do? Nuke them? Possible but unlikely. There wouldn’t be a damned thing we could do about it except take the hits and learn to live with it.

                And you people are missing the point. All you can say is that we are over here and they can’t touch us. Maybe but time will tell but I doubt it. You have as much as admitted that being neutral doesn’t help. All you are advocating is going home and hoping for the best. No thanks.

                1. They were not independent. They were trained and sponsored by the de facto government of Afghanistan.

                  They were independent in the sense that no amount of negotiations with that de facto government would have gotten them to stop.
                  They weren’t soldiers in the traditional sense.

                  After you downsize the military it won’t be able to project power anymore.

                  Says who? The word “downsize” does not mean “eliminate”.

                  It takes a big military to do that.

                  If by “that” you mean go in there, fuck them up, and leave, then I would disagree.

                  On the other hand you do need a massive military to occupy two foreign nations. I will agree on that count.

                  I disagree about the need for decades of foreign occupation.

                  1. If by “that” you mean go in there, fuck them up, and leave, then I would disagree.

                    Yes it does. How do you get over there to do that? That takes logistics. The UK is just as advanced as the US. But they couldn’t project shit. To attack someone half way around the world with conventional arms is a huge feet. Something only countries with large and advanced militarys can do.

                    1. To attack someone half way around the world with conventional arms is a huge feet. Something only countries with large and advanced militarys can do.

                      I said “fuck them up”, not “conquer”.

                      Again, John. There is a such thing as a middle ground.

                    2. I am more middle ground, with a bit of error/lean toward big (more in the Navy, god bless their briny souls). Korea and Western Europe are not needed anymore. We have some boondogle posts here in the US that can go too.

                      Go in, whack the baddies, set locals up to run their own show, give ’em some guns and a bit of training and depart works for me.

                    3. Go in, whack the baddies, set locals up to run their own show, give ’em some guns and a bit of training and depart works for me.

                      FTFY

                    4. What rob said.

                    5. “The UK is just as advanced as the US. But they couldn’t project shit. To attack someone half way around the world with conventional arms is a huge feet.”

                      Which is why they’re now the Islas Malvinas.

                2. Isn’t interesting how John seems to freely interchange nonentanglement with isolation and pacifism? One might almost think he was purposefully misrepresenting (some) libertarians in order to discredit all of them.

                  But’s that just crazy-talk.

                  1. Isn’t interesting how John seems to freely interchange nonentanglement with isolation and pacifism?

                    In John’s world there are two options.

                    Either you go around poking everyone in the chest, and when someone gets fed up and bloodies your nose you act all surprised before you kill them and their entire family. Then you continue to act surprised when family friends show indignation before you kill them and their families. Then you can’t for the life of you figure out why everyone hates you.

                    The other option is cowering in the basement.

                    Those are the only two options.

            3. You people think that if we just look weak enough and just apologize enough the world will leave us alone. No they won’t, ever.

              You consistently fail to get it. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. If we kept an amazingly advanced military capable of blowing the ever-living fuck out of anyone that tried to invade I guess that’s a sign of weakness.

              1. If we kept an amazingly advanced military capable of blowing the ever-living fuck out of anyone that tried to invade I guess that’s a sign of weakness.

                But if it were up to the people at Reason we wouldn’t keep that. And more importantly, we would long cease to have the ability to project that power anywhere in the world. That takes a big military, something Libertarians would never support. So at best we would have a force that would keep us from being occupied. But we would not have a force that would be able to do anything if we were attacked from afar. All we would have would be nukes, and those will never be used.

                1. But if it were up to the people at Reason we wouldn’t keep that.

                  You’re as bad as the public school unions who honestly believe that getting a small raise instead of a fat raise is a pay cut.

                  There is a middle ground between no military at all and a force that can occupy two foreign lands.

                  In fact there is a very large middle ground.

              2. What if all they felt like doing is, to use some one above this comment’s analogy, fuck us up until we could no longer blow them up? The top dog will never be liked, no matter how hard they try to do so.

                I am all for us no longer protecting the world from itself and only focusing on protecting ourselves and our interests. In a world where even 3rd rate states can now have bio, chemical, and even nuclear weapons, and many states, believing they can avoid an ass whooping if they farm out the work, this policy scares me a bit. We will have to do a lot of preemptive actions to avoid that scenario where they fuck us up bad enough that even if we fuck them back up it won’t matter much.

                Then, I also need to point out how we lack a backbone. We have lost the will to actually do enough damage to bad people to dissuade them from coming, or coming back, at us. We cry tears and bend over backwards every time the bad guys, with support of the media, tell us we killed civilians. We are going to have to get seriously medieval on these kinds of people to dissuade them, or punish them, for messing with us.

                Then again, if you can get agreement that any attack on us will result in Armageddon for the idiots behind it, I am there. Otherwise, I am not so much inclined to take the risk and pray that people that believe they need to convert the entire planet to their way of thinking will suddenly play nice just because we leave them alone.

            4. The British had a navy and a colony in North America. The Japanese had a navy and aircraft carriers. The Mexicans share a border with us.

              The one enemy the U.S ever had that was capable of attacking us from afar and winning never did so because we had the capability to destroy them right back.

              There are significant differences between al Qaeda and any of those adversaries.

            5. Because no one has ever attacked the US on US soil. It has never happened. It is impossible.

              Neo Con Logic:

              The fact that no one’s attacked us before proves that someone will soon.

              1. I forgot the Sarcasm fonts VG.

                1. It’s hard to tell. The Neo-Cons really think like that and they’ve duped a lot of SoCons into believing it too.

              2. It can happen, therefore it will happen is just as retarded as it didn’t happen therefore it won’t happen.

            6. Because no one has ever attacked the US on US soil. It has never happened. It is impossible.

              Some light reading for you.

              1. Guys, arguing with neocon pantswetters is an exercise in intellectual futility. The only ‘argument’ they have is that we’re just utopian hippies and anyone who doesn’t want to indiscriminately slaughter Middle Easterners is a weak-kneed cheese-eating surrender monkey. John and his ilk yearn for General Petraeus’s strong, loving nuclear arms to cradle them through the night and keep the Bogeymen away.

                1. I keep forgetting that Red Tony interprets the mere suggestion of military cuts as advocating for complete disarmament.

                  False dichotomy FTW!

                2. These comments are epic. You need a massive military that spends more than the rest of the world combined in order to combat terrorists? No amount of tanks, ships, and infantry could have prevented 9/11. But to the neocons and their allies, every war is World War II and every enemy is the Nazis or Imperial Japanese

        2. The US is not Switzerland and we never will be.

          Right. It’s Holland. Or Belgium.

          1. Hey, you never know.

            Mexico will probably invade the US in route to Canada some day.

            /neocon

        3. It’s hard to have this debate in a vacuum. The U.S. has been massively interventionist for the better part of a century now. If we hadn’t been, would countries outside the hemisphere bother with us much? Hard to know.

          However, once we started intervening, it became harder and harder to stop. WWI led to WWII, then the Cold War, then the WoT. With some other fun intermingled.

          Things have reached the point today where much of the world expects us to intervene and to keep big wars from breaking out. To the point that Europe has largely demilitarized, which is an absurd amount of trust being placed on our shoulders (and a complete contradiction to the vague anti-American rhetoric you hear fairly frequently from most EU capitals).

          1. Sounds like the answer is just to steamroll Europe and take the damn place over. What are they gonna do, whine to the UN?

            1. I figure we either start pulling back (due to economics, not neo-isolationism) or we end up going imperial at some point. Maybe even by invitation.

              1. We already have.

                1. I meant imperial as in we take over territories imperial. Even with Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re not planning on keeping the countries for our very own.

                  1. What were the penalies for assault on a Roman citizen in the conquered territories? It might be nice to take a vacation in American Mesopotamia someday.

                    1. The Roman rulers cared about their citizens (at least in the early stages of empire). Our rulers clearly don’t care about us.

            2. Let the Greeks have Europe.

        4. Switzerland was surrounded by hostile, warring nations for hundreds of years. If they could stay neutral, then a large resource right country surrounded by oceans and friendly countries should have an easier time of it. Maybe.

          But my point was that it has worked and might work in other circumstances.

          And I don’t think that anyone believes that a more peaceful foreign policy would stop all attacks on the US ever, anywhere. But a big huge military all over the world hasn’t done that either. So the question is, which is better. I don’t think it is clear as you make it out to be. Just because you are justified in doing something doesn’t mean that it is to your benefit to do so.

          I think that it is at least plausible that a less interventionist foreign policy might lead to fewer people wanting to attack the US.

        5. Well, fuck. First comment rejected as spam.

          Briefly, it seems to me that Switzerland, being in the middle of Europe and all, would have a harder time staying out of other people’s affairs than a large country surrounded by oceans and friendly countries such as the US.

          No, it won’t stop all attacks against the US, but neither has our current activist foreign policy.

        6. Go ask Holland and Belgium how neutrality worked out for them.

          Unless you’re suggesting America will get invaded, your point makes no sense at all.

  10. All that aside, there is still a very good reason for the US to maintain a seriously kick ass navy and air force. It protects our global trade routes, and yes that actually does matter.

    You will end up having enemies in this world for no other reason than the fact that you exist. It wouldn’t be that hard to do serious harm to the US, without ever setting foot on US territory. Image if someone was able to harass US shipping through the Gulf of Mexico, or our trade routes with Asia. It would slam our economy, which is the true source of our strength (er, at least it was….).

    So what?

    Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations ? entangling alliances with none.

    I’d put it this way: build the most kick ass navy and air force we can reasonably afford, put just enough ground troops with it to keep people nervous, and make sure nobody even thinks about messing with us. From there, and with that in place, we then proceed to do the

    Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations ?

    thing and, as far as possible, avoid entangling alliances.

    And for those who are going to say “But Switzerland does it!” I’m sorry, but Switzerland is a toy country and it’s land locked. There is simply no comparison there that holds water.

    There. A start towards a libertarian foreign policy. Which I know, runs against the grain and everyone is going to stone me for it.

    1. Actually, with the Swiss military policy, we would have the Army you want.

      And more so.

      1. Good point. We’d have a hundred million or so man army. Kinda like that militia they talk about in that dusty old document written by rich white slave owners.

        1. You mean the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

    2. That would pretty much be candidate Dean’s policy. Repurpose and build up our navy and air force, downsize our military to a relative handful of highly mobile, thoroughly terrifying, shock units and a bunch of training cadre.

      Right now, we have a military built for big ground campaigns and occupations. So guess what we use them for? Its kind of a chicken and egg problem, I know, but if we didn’t have this kind of military, it wouldn’t get used that way.

  11. he Arab Spring is being hijacked by increasingly radical and anti-American actors.”

    It was never pro American and was always run by the Islamists. Only Reason and a few other western nitwits thought these revolutions were people wanting to turn Egypt into a secular democracy. Saying the Arab Spring was hijacked by Islamists is like saying the Cuban revolution was hijacked by Communists.

    And for the record Western intellectuals have always had a soft spot for thinking revolutionaries somehow mean well. Castro, Komani, Ho, and even Pol Pot were all at one time or another thought by Western intellectual to be nationalists fighters fighting to make their countries free and independent rather than totalitarian hell holes.

    1. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what you get when you collect all your information from Fox News, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity.

      “It was never pro American and was always run by the Islamists.”

      The Arab Spring wasn’t about the US in the first place. In terms of it ‘always’ being ‘run’ by Islamists, do you know how the AS started? Do you?

      “And for the record Western intellectuals have always had a soft spot for thinking revolutionaries somehow mean well. Castro, Komani, Ho, and even Pol Pot”

      What ‘revolutionaries’ do ‘western intellectuals’ have a ‘soft spot’ for in the case of the AS, huh John? Specifically the intellectuals here at reason? Can you name a single individual from the AS that Reason has a soft spot for?

      1. Did you not read Reason in the spring of 11? They thought the revolutions were there to make those countries free. They never were. The Muslim Brotherhood was never pro western. The rebels in Libya were full of jihadists. Why is that so hard to understand?

        And mentioning “fox news” in a post, pretty much outs yourself as a hopeless moron. Fuck you, I don’t watch cable news.

        1. This is Adams v Jefferson on the French revolution all over.

          Adams was technically right (which is the best kind). He saw the French revolution leading to tyranny.

          But they already had that under Louis MCMLXVIIII, so what was there to lose?

          In that sense, Jefferson was overly optimistic, yet still right, in that the pot odds favored going for it.

          Same for Arab Spring, IMO. The probability was an Islamic takeover. But the difference between that and Mubarak is so small, that the pot odds favored going for it and hoping for Turkey.

        2. Some of the people fighting the revolutions were doing it to make their countries free.

          I generally see revolutions as neutral. But I can’t support a tyrannical leader against a popular uprising, even if it doesn’t look to be much better.

          1. robc said it better.

        3. typing a response that disappeared.

          John, I asked you to name a single INDIVIDUAL from the Arab Spring that Reason had a “soft spot” for. You didn’t because you can’t. That’s because the AS isn’t the analgous to the communist revolutions of the 60s and 70s with people like Castro and Pol Pot. It’s more like the TParty in that it’s made up of different factions and groups with various grievences. To paint them as just a bunch of Islamists is no different than those who painted the TParty as just a bunch of Republican nut jobs.

          Why do you think the FSA in Syria is having a tough time uniting? Precisely because they are NOT just a bunch of islamists. The FSA is made up of both secularists and islamists who (rightly so) do not trust eachother. The same thing is happening in Egypt, Tunisia, and Lybia.

          You may not watch Fox News, Glenn Beck, or Sean Hannity, but your simplistic view isn’t any different from the views spouted daily by the 3.

          But hey, whatever makes you feel superior to the ‘Western Intellectuals’ here at Reason, right?

  12. Bring back the Domino Theory!

    1. Once it was toppled, it could never be put back exactly the same way.

  13. For as much as I too think we haven’t handled Afghanistan well, a “better” answer to that particular problem is just not obvious.

    GTFO

  14. Nobody ever won a presidency by NOT killing bin Laden.

    1. George Bush in 2004.

      1. Well, yeah. Okay, that’s ONE guy.

        1. Clinton ’96.

          1. Bush in 00 too – remember he wanted a humble foreign policy.

            1. George Washington

        2. Technically you should include every president from Washington up to and including Obama, since none of them killed bin Laden before being elected president.

          Except Tyler, Fillmore, Johnson the First, Arther, or Ford… since none of them ever got elected president.

          1. MEMO TO SELF:

            …and this is why we should read ahead before posting sometimes

          2. Yeah but all those guys were also running against guys that also didn’t kill bin Laden.

            See what I’m getting at?

    2. Benjamin Harrison would never have been reelected without killing Sitting Bull. Oh, wait…

  15. Unlike bin Laden, al Qaeda is very much still alive. It is not on its heels, on the run, or on the ropes, as developments in Afghanistan and elsewhere prove. Yes, bin Laden is dead, but so is Ambassador Chris Stevens, killed at the hands of bin Laden’s followers.

    OBL’s al Qaeda is dead. It’s been replaced by a hodgepodge of disparate groups that have little or no relationship to the original other than the name. There’s no centralized control or direction, so people need to stop talking about it like it’s a single unified entity.

    1. No centralized control or direction eh? Somebody tell the Benghazi consulate.

      1. That doesn’t mean no ability to plan anything ever and no access to communication technology. There is no central control of all of the groups that call themselves AQ.

      2. Yes, the attack on the Benghazi consulate was not being controlled from people thousands of miles away in Pakistan.

        1. The lack of a ‘headquarters’, so to speak, has always been a defining characteristic of Al-Qaeda. It is the reason that the AUMF is so broad (basically saying ‘wherever and whenever they may be found’). I fail to see how your ‘point’ here is a refutation of the correct observation found in the article.

          1. Except Al-Qaeda did at one time have a headquarters. In fact it’s name means “The Base”. It wasn an organization capable of planning in carrying attacks out across the globe, which made it a threat to people in the United States and Europe. The Al-Qaeda is gone, replace with what would be more properly described as “Al-Qaedae”. They’re local groups that have no capablity outside their immediate area of operation.

            This is an important distinction, as pretending the later groups are still the original, politicians can use the confusion to justify intervention in dozens of places we don’t need to be in.

            Al Qaeda in libya has no way of hurting us outside libya. The simplest way of dealing with them would be to simply not be in Libya.

          2. Well, I typed a lengthy response to this, but the spam filter wouldn’t let it in, and I don’t feel like typing the whole thing again.

            BTW, what exactly is the point of making everyone sign up for accounts if you’re just gonne run them through filters like anonymous comments anyways?

            1. I typed two lengthy responses above and they’ve seemed to have disappeared. Frustrating as hell.

              1. I think the spam filter is cutting out posts that mention Al-Qaeda too often, which is rather inconvenient in a comment thread about them.

                1. I’m not sure. My posts never mentioned AQ, but they were somewhat lengthy.

  16. Interesting question comes to mind from above.

    Im going to give a false choice, but that is what makes it interesting, it obviously isnt the perfect libertarian solution.

    Which would you rather have:
    1. The volunteer military we have now, with the US foreign policy we have now.
    or
    2. A swiss-style military (with equivalent Navy and Air Force), with a Swiss style foreign policy.

    So, would you be willing to require that every male 18-35ish be in the national guard (effectively) in return for a sane foreign policy?

    As Im 43, its probably unfair for me to answer, but trying to think back to younger me, I probably wouldnt have hated putting in my 3 weeks per year.

    My boss when I lived in Switzerland had to put in extra time, as he was an officer. I think he had to do like 6 or 8 weeks per year.

    1. I don’t want to bring back slavery, no matter what the offsetting benefits may be.

      1. A very reasonable answer.

        I think I probably agree, but I also dont believe in the false choice that those are our only two options.

        1. I hate conscription with a fiery passion – slave armies should have died with the Mamelukes or the Janissary.

    2. A libertarian friend of mine made the argument that while he doesn’t agree with mandatory military service, it might force people to think twice about getting involved in any “kinetic action” because everyone in the country would either be in the service, or related to someone who was.

      In the current situation, I don’t think the American public would stand for all the wars our government is getting us into if everyone had their brother, father, or son sent over seas.

  17. John,

    1) Why do we want to “project” our power over other parts of the world? Sounds like an empire to me.
    2) If we have a military and central government strong enough to project the kind of power you’re talking about, what’s to keep that central government from wielding the same kind of power over it’s own citizens? i.e., how do you maintain an American Empire abroad and an American Republic at home?
    3) In my 8th grade government class, we had to make a list of the things we were willing to die for. Oil, nation building, the drug war, the rights of women in a foreign country, Mid East stability, the interests of multinational corporations, and world peace were NOT on my list. And I’ll never ask someone to die for anything that I won’t.
    4) So what exactly do you think we’re doing in the Middle East? From my perspective, it’s where we send our young people to die a useless and thankless death. It creates a perpetual state of war to make the American public paranoid. I’m just looking for a reason why we’re there. We’ve been there over a decade. Soldiers are still getting killed, we still have the Patriot Act, the NDAA, the TSA, we can’t afford it, and we’re getting nothing out of it. So explain to me why we don’t stop letting the UN, NATO, and the WTO dictate our foreign policy? Why haven’t we declared war since WWII?

  18. I suspect the opinion might be somewhat different if a Republican had killed him. Or achieved any foreign policy success, ever.

    1. You mean like how Reagan helped with that whole Berlin Wall situation?

      1. Before things got extra partisany, the conventional wisdom had long been that Republicans were better on foreign policy. I’m not saying that they were, that’s just what everyone said.

        1. I’m not especially fond of repubs, but looking back at the last century, most of the wars were under democratic presidents.

          The Robert Taft wing of the Republican party was staunchly anti-interventionist, but then Bill Buckley came along with all his CIA friends and the neo-cons took over.

    2. Today’s Thursday, right? Close enough to Thursday? Is it Thursday on some other planet?

  19. No, it equals premeditated murder.

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