Foreign Policy

Bill Kristol Attacks Rand Paul, Rewrites the 1990s

The Weekly Standard's editor has a selective memory.


There's a lot of jaw-dropping statements in Bill Kristol's latest column, which attacks Rand Paul for what Kristol calls the senator's "McGovernite message." But I just want to highlight one particular passage in the piece:

Columbia Pictures

It was (somewhat inexplicable) war weariness after the Cold War that led to a conviction in the 1990s, as Haley Barbour put it just last week, trying to accommodate the Paulistas, that "We're not the policeman of the world."

And thus we had the failure to finish the job in Iraq in 1991, the retreat under fire from Somalia in late 1993, inaction in Rwanda in 1994, years of dithering before confronting Milosevic in the Balkans, passivity in the face of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and weak responses to al Qaeda's attacks on U.S. embassies in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000. That decade of not policing the world ended with 9/11.

To review: A decade that saw U.S. forces sent to Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, and Haiti was actually an era in which Washington was "not policing the world," because the first two wars ended too early for Kristol's taste, the third started too late, the fourth slipped his mind, and there were some other wars he wished we'd entered as well. And the bombing raids in Sudan and southern Asia don't count because Kristol believes they were too weak. (Evidently poor policing doesn't count as policing at all.) In another decade Kristol will be calling the second Gulf War an outburst of isolationism on the grounds that the troops eventually left.

It's true that the 1990s were not as militarized as the decades that preceded and followed them. Pentagon spending declined, public opinion was more skeptical about intervention abroad, and without a grand enemy on the horizon the culture lacked that dreadful ambience of a permanent mobilization that had characterized the country before 1989 and returned after 9/11. But if the idea of policing the world was less popular in the '90s, the practice never went away. The empire never ended.

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  1. Let’s not be mean to Bill Kristol. Remember, if it weren’t for the welfare that is politics and punditry, he and his dad, being mentally unsuited to doing honest, productive work, would have starved to death messily in the street, attracting coyotes into city centers to scavenge their corpses. Once having exhausted the food supply of starving and dead politicians/pundits, the coyotes would then turn on human children.

    The cost of putting up with their puerile masturbatory writings outweighs the benefits of not having our children hunted by coyotes.

    1. I think our children might benefit more from learning how to effectively deal with the four footed variety of opportunistic scruffy scavenger. While the two footed variety often bays mournfully at the moon, it’s just a background distraction. And ever will be.

    2. Don’t talk to me about coyotes (pronounced ki-yotes). Those fuckers have basically killed two of my ewes in the past month and cost me three lambs when their aforementioned mothers had to be put down. A third ewe has a pair of shredder ears and a pronounced limp, but it looks like she’ll make it. Not to mention that they’ve killed nearly a dozen birds.

      The next one of those fuckers I see around the henhouse gets a blast with a 12-gauge.

      1. Feral cats took care of the songbird problem in my neighborhood.

        1. These are our chickens, ducks and guineafowl, though.

          1. That’s what you get for hoarding coyote food.

      2. I applaud your application of firepower to the coyote menace.

        What do you have with more, erm, reach?

        There’s always poison, as well (hot dogs soaked in antifreeze work a treat, I’m told), but only if you don’t have any pets you care about.

      3. It’s all about ewe, isn’t it sloopy?

        Actually, I commiserate – sorry to hear this news.

      4. I had one try to get into the chicken coop last week. The chicken coop is in the middle of the horse corral, and the horse is a kicker. Things didn’t go so well for the coyote.

  2. I stopped reading at “Bill Kristol”.

  3. The Weekly Standard’s website is like from 1997.

  4. Isn’t that warmongering geriatric shithead dead yet?


  5. By taking Bill Kristol seriously, Jesse is making me wonder if he has recently been struck in the head by a blunt instrument.

    1. Kicked in the head while trying to get in Mensan’s coop.

  6. Odd that, Mr. Kristol, if not “policing the world” in the 1990s, why was I in Sarajevo in 1997? (Having been called up by the Army, not lost and being nominated for the most unfortunate tourist in Europe).

    1. You never wondered why your travel wardrobe was always the same day after day?

      1. When you’re in the Army, earth-tones are always hip!

        1. Always long pants though. Not those fey British shorts.

          1. Or the French Air Force – they looked like UPS deliverymen…except when they were using loaned USAF forklifts to steal US supplies off of USAF C-130s, then they just looked like French thieves.

  7. The US policed the hell out of the world in the 1990s. The problem was we spent out time policing and not killing our enemies. Just what the hell were we doing in the Balkans besides doing Europe’s dirty work?

    1. Just what the hell were we doing in the Balkans besides doing Europe’s dirty work?

      Running cover for Clinton’s sexual misdeeds and perjury?

      1. The Serbian war was a massive blunder. It is what turned Russia against us. And it was all based on a lie. There never was any genocide going on in Kosovo. The only genocide that happened there was Kosovar Albanians killing Serbs after we kicked the serbs out.

      2. Goddamn, the progressive hypocrisy over Clinton is really stunning.

        He was a propagator of sexual harassment and warmongering for purely political reasons and they still love him.

        At least Bush genuinely thought that Saddam was a bad guy who needed to be stopped.

        1. And don’t forget he based declaring war on an outright lie. There never was any genocide in Kosovo.

        2. And Clinton went to war without UN or congressional authorization. You can make an argument that the US had a right to enforce the 1991 cease fire in Iraq and therefore had a right to invade in 2003 after Saddam violated it. There is no argument that I have ever seen making the NATO bombing of Serbia legal.

          1. I vaguely remember there was some authorization. The one the Russians used to justify their surprise capture of the international airport.

            That was funny: watching all those perfumed princes panicking as they discovered that the Russians could project power.

            1. There was not, not at least from the UN. There was one post war which set up the UN occupation of Kosovo. But there was not one authorizing the war in the first place.

        3. … fascinatingly, Clinton was in favor of the invasion too. It’s all down the memory hole now.

          Bush I attacks Iraq, and then while he was out of office, nothing happened and everything was sweetness and light until suddenly the evil Bush II gets into power, and the policy of the U.S. changes to being anti-Saddam again.

          It reminds me of the history books in Japan. Where there is this gap in 1937 – 1945 that ends when suddenly, for no reason, the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on two of their cities!

          1. yes. Al Gore was a huge Iraq hawk. There is every reason to believe that had Gore been in office, the US would have invaded Iraq.

            And Clinton was ready to invade Serbia. The Serbs just gave up when presented with the threat.

        4. of course, they still love him. Team, Team, and Team.

        5. It must be nice to be able to read minds.

    2. And what exactly does Kristol think would have happened if we had boots on the ground in Rwanda? Does he think our troops wear some kind of magical vestments that protect them from ravaging hordes? There would have been rivers littered with dead American soldiers, that is what would have happened.

      1. That is just not true. They were killing each other with hoes in Rwanda. A single battalion of infantry would have stopped the genocide in Rwanda. Those animals would not have stoop a chance against crew serve weapons, air power, training and discipline.

        1. Tell that to our soldiers who found themselves dragged in the streets in Iraq. There are countless examples of soldiers finding themselves in the wrong situation at the wrong time with a mob that did not care for their own personal safety. You have even idea how many rounds were expended in Black Hawk Down and how many of the mob were shredded and we still had casualties? That situation was nothing compared to Rwanda. If you were in the middle of that keg when it went off, I don’t care how much body armor and rounds you had on you, you would have wound up fucking dead.

  8. Fuck off slaver, go draft your own kids into the world police force.

  9. To review: A decade that saw U.S. forces sent to Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, and Haiti was actually an era in which Washington was “not policing the world,”

    I’m guessing that Kristol would merely iterate that our policing has been reactionary, not pro-active.

  10. Bill Kristol: Shitbag.

    1. JJ, your eloquence never ceases to amaze me.

      1. He’s our Maya Angelou.

        1. He’s like Flaubert, Baudelaire, Tolstoy, and Wilde all put together.

          By which I mean he’ll probably die of syphilis.

          1. Or a fatal anal prolapse.

          2. If I’m lucky.

    2. Bill Kristol: Neocons gonna neocon.

      1. The idiocy of the actual neocons is how they don’t realize how the mainstream of the political system, the Kerry’s and Clintons, use them as a scape goat. They share the same goals of spreading democracy through the barrel of a gun, but when the plan goes wrong, the neocon gets the blame even when it is an entirely different set of actors who set things in motion.

  11. If I remember correctly: MCAD Miramar, then Miramar Naval Air Station, had this neeto billboard just outside the fence, at the end of the runway that said:

    “USMC The Worlds 911 Force.”

    At the time, it did not seem so political… funny.

    I was active duty at the time, and I did not like the idea of being a world police force.

  12. Peace is un-American!

  13. Last week he walked in front of my car at an intersection. The light was red, but I didn’t want it to be.

  14. It is what turned Russia against us.


  15. Kristol knows axiomatically that intervention is a good thing. So if he doesn’t see good results, then that means there hasn’t been enough intervention. QED.

  16. Bill Kristol is to foreign policy as Paul Krugman is to economics.

    1. Exactly

    2. Well, at least Kristol never won a Nobel prize for his work in the field.

      1. Doesn’t he at least get a retroactive shout out for Obama’s Peace Prize?

  17. To quote Bill Kristol: Shitbag–i.e., the foreign policy of the Republican party for the last 70 years

    Mr. Shitbag, let’s not even get into GOP opposition to FDR’s aggressive pre-WWII moves against Japan. Let’s stay post-WWII.

    Are you familiar, even in a remote way, with President Eisenhower’s foreign policy? The “Man Who Defeated Germany” generally avoided huge defense build-ups and got us out of Korea within a few months of taking office.

    Richard Nixon escalated troop levels in Vietnam during the first year of his presidency, but drastically scaled back our involvement after that, resorting to bombing campaigns that (successfully) brought the North Vietnamese to the peace table. There was no “nation-building” or “American Greatness Conservatism” at work there. It was, ‘how the hell do I get us out of this quagmire without a full-scale retreat?’

    Even Ronald Reagan’s and Bill Clinton’s foreign policy adventures were small-scale stuff compared to what George W. Bush did and Bill Kristol advocates doing more of. I can only conclude that Kristol is getting paid by defense contractors to spout this nonsense. The Israelis are smart enough to buy better spokesmen.

  18. Jesse seems to be missing the larger revisionism. Not being the world’s policeman was the reaction to the 90’s decade of being the world’s policeman. Hell, that was the plank that GWB ran on in 2000, a more “humble” foreign policy.

    1. Good one. My, these revisionists are shameless.

  19. Jump back jack, I think thats what he meant by that.

  20. Kristol is a propagandist for the cronies in the GOP establishment. Rand Paul’s stated positions on the issues are at odds with that establishment.

    Unlike most folks here, I’m not a pacifist. Kristol, however, is wrong.

    The only accomplishment related to the problem with al-Qaida, prior to the response to 9/11, was the capture of Ramzi Yousef. Even that happened after a terrorist attack.

    Nation-building in Afghanistan has had little discernible contribution to degrading al-Qaida. Nation-building there has also been far outside the scope of the original mission.

    The ousting of Saddam Hussein in Iraq may have eliminated Saddam as an enemy, but it wasn’t intended to directly deal with al-Qaida at all.

    Effective lines of effort against terrorists would be quiet and not involve so many people. The big, visible, noisy operations that our government has an addiction to are just part of the whole “security theater” sham. I think it is just politicians and incompetent senior leaders essentially saying, “Look at how serious we are! Look at all we’re doing!”

    1. And another thing…

      Perhaps I have misread Rand Paul, but I understand his views on defense and foreign policy to differ from those of his father. Expect the establishment to try as best they can to link Rand to Ron. Rand is MUCH more “marketable” to Republican voters than Ron was.

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