Foreign Policy

Talking Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy as a Bedrock for Stability


can i get the internet on this?

Last Wednesday, I had an interesting extended conversation on U.S. foreign policy and foreign affairs with Jack Thompson on Political Badger, talking about Iraq, ISIS, their bizarre name change and crazy leader, why non-intervention in Iraq is the best bet for more stability in the region and in the war on terror, democracy in Ukraine,  U.S. relations with Russia, where weapons from Libya ended up, and touching on topics like Obamacare and subsidized housing and voters being stupid in explaining those things, as well as  how whether it's Iraq, Nigeria, Ukraine, Venezuela, or Syria U.S. media seem to focus on one country at a time.

You can listen to the whole thing here

NEXT: Lene Johansen on Eric Holder's International Targeting of 'Extremists'

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  1. If you don’t want to get involved and think that whatever happens in the rest of the world doesn’t matter to the US, fine. Make that argument. But spare me the “things will be stable if only the US would leave” bullshit because it is just fucking retarded. Let me clue you in on something Ed, most of the world doesn’t give a fuck about you or anyone else really in the US. They have their own reasons for doing things that have nothing to do with you. So you or I or anyone else here minding our own business, won’t make any difference. We are just not that fucking important.

    Meanwhile, if we look weak enough, there are people who will take a real interest in us. Like say the Chinese.…..-in-battle

    Because nothing says stability like the Chinese figuring we are an easy mark. It is not like the majority of wars in history didn’t start because one side misjudged the other and thought they could get away with something and it turned out they were wrong.

    But don’t worry Ed. You just keep thinking the world revolves around you and the US is the source all things that happen in the world. Be a fucking American idiot. Don’t let me stop you.

    1. *hugs John*

      You sounded like you need a hug.

      1. You have to have a good rant once in a while. And it is not fair to waste all of them on the easy targets like Suderman and Dalmia.

        1. Hope you’re getting out on the Beemer.

          An Explorer tried to murder me yesterday when I was on the ZRX, but I spied his intentions right away and avoided getting smushed.

          The weather (when it’s not 90 and humid) has been GREAT for riding this summer.

    2. Because nothing says stability like the Chinese figuring we are an easy mark. It is not like the majority of wars in history didn’t start because one side misjudged the other and thought they could get away with something and it turned out they were wrong.

      You’re going to have to elaborate on this John. Why on Earth would China pick a fight with the US?

      1. Because they want to be the dominant power in the Pacific. And they wouldn’t necessarily pick a fight with us as invade Taiwan or take on Japan and drag us into it.

        Moreover, stop being such a Libertarian and thinking that everyone thinks like you do. What if the Chinese government is in worse shape than we think? If they are finally facing the end and figure they can beat us, why not pick a fight with us? From their view they would win and the nationalist fervor that resulted would keep them in power.

        You guys are always convinced the US will go to war for domestic reasons. Why do you think China is any different?

        I don’t know that it will happen. But them thinking they could win is not a good thing.

        1. We should just stay out of that whole mess. The only thing America’s navy should protect is shipping lanes. Otherwise, Taiwan and Japan must fend for themselves.

          1. I need clarification here. Intervene in the Middle East, but not in Asia?

            1. Selectively intervene in the ME-continued dronings of our freedom-hating enemies-and yeah stay the hell out of Asia.

              1. But Japan and Taiwan are real live allies. In Japan’s case, more so than Israel. I mean, it seems like protecting them is far more in our interest than messing around in the Middle East, considering the massive economic consequences to the U.S. if either or both were involved in a full-scale war.

                I have my own issues with intervening in Asia, too, but it seems more doable and, frankly, safer than in the Middle East. China may bluster, but they want a war with us less than we do with them.

                1. Japan and Taiwan are ‘allies’ that are total dependants on America. Sorry, not interested in baby-sitting we can and must do without these sorts of allies. China doesn’t hate us for our freedoms like Al-Qaida does. I don’t want either of these allied dependants to lead America into war with China.

                  1. Well, they are in the military sense, but that’s more about what we want than what they want, isn’t it? And neither wants a war with China, which would be hugely destructive to either.

                    There’s a lot of noise from time to time in Asia, but the economics of it all makes a general war fairly unlikely. If China got provocative, it would see all of that manufacturing move elsewhere quite rapidly.

                  2. “China doesn’t hate us for our freedoms like Al-Qaida does”

                    Gotta call that one out. You’re still on the “they hate our Freedom” Kool-Aid?

                    Al-Qaeda hates heathen troops in the holy land. They can give a fuck about freedom.

                    China – they hate us for our freedom.

              2. The Middle East is in Asia.

          2. Maybe so. But don’t be Ed and pretend us doing so is going to make things stable.

            And how do you plan to protect our shipping lanes and also “stay out of it” with the Chinese?

            1. Um…only engaging when infringed upon IS staying out of it. Nobody’s saying you can’t defend yourself, but defense requires an offensive action from the other side.

              1. Triple facepalm. We don’t’ get a choice to “stay out of it” if they attack our shipping.

                That is what you retards refuse to fucking understand. Just because we want to stay out of it doesn’t mean the Chinese won’t drag us into it.


                  You leave others alone UNTIL they violate your rights. THEN you defend your rights. Dictating terms to others and backing it up with force is preemption, i.e. an INITIATION of force. It’s the difference between having the moral high ground and being a thug.

                  Speak softly and carry a big stick.

        2. *double facepalm*

          Ever consider dealing with such a problem if and when it happens instead of poking others in the chest continually?

          You can still look tough. Just do it from the other side of an ocean.

          1. How is that working out for you under Obama? It is not that simple..

            1. What are you talking about? Obama’s got us militarily engaged with more countries than Bush ever did.

    3. I, for one, don’t expect stability if we exit the scene. The benefit to the U.S. largely exiting from the Middle East is to the U.S. Let’s not make any mistakes about that.

      Frankly, I suspect that if we were to walk away today, there would be at least a war or two as the countries over there fight for supremacy. And, of course, some other power might try to fill the void we leave.

      Still, the fact is that we’re not solving any problems over there, anyway, so I don’t see a need for the kind of constant intervention we’ve been engaging in since the 70s. The oil situation is no longer as important to us (though it is to many of our allies), either. Really, even an interventionist U.S. would be better served by just making it clear that we won’t usually intervene, but regional stuff should stay within the region.

      1. “There has been too much violence. Too much pain. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away. Give me your pump, the oil, the gasoline, and the whole compound, and I’ll spare your lives. Just walk away and we’ll give you a safe passageway in the wastelands. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.”

        I hope The Lord Humongous doesn’t mind me quoting him…

        1. It’s Humungus. He’ll be making a special offer to you soon, too.

          I suppose the “correct” answer to all of this–and to Russia’s recent nonsense, too–is to tell Europe to rearm before we stop providing free military services. But that could have its own unpleasant consequences, considering that most of Europe can’t afford the government expenditures they have now.

          1. I’m aware that Lord H does now know how to spell his name correctly.

            I realize the potential downsides to all this – do I really want a rearmed Germany? (You know who else rearmed Germany….)

            I think it’s worth backing away from some of this shit instead of thinking we need to involve ourselves with EVERY – FUCKING – THING that goes on ANYWHERE. (overstating a bit, of course)

            1. Germany actually has a significant military. If it truly rearmed, it would be substantially more powerful than Russia. I don’t know how that would affect the seemingly placid Germans of today, but it’s hard not to remember the militarism of the country for most of its history.

          2. considering that most of Europe can’t afford the government expenditures they have now.

            Fuck them. It’s a lot easier to funding socialist programs when someone else is funding your defense. The only effect paying their own way will have is to accelerate the demise of their socialist shitholes. Let them burn.

            1. Without us, no massive socialism. They’d have tanked economically years ago if they were still running up the military expenditures. We’re their fucking Sugar Daddy.

              I say that with all fondness for our European allies.

            2. Interestingly, the Russian belligerence and weak American response are already having a positive effect. Poland and I think Sweden are upping their defense expenditures. Even Sweden’s lefty opposition is on board. When those countries pay their own way, it will be a death-knell for social democracy.

              1. It’s the rational response. In that way, Obama’s lack of a coherent foreign policy is beneficial to Europe–they no longer can safely rely on the U.S. to defend their interests.

    4. I always appreciate reader feedback but you should listen to the argument first instead of responding to a quick round up preview.


        1. I wasn’t trying to flip. I genuinely think John would find it interesting and not exactly what he’s extrapolating. I think there are some assumptions he makes about the foundations of non-interventionist thinking that are not correct

          1. That’s OK. I’m being flip 🙂 BUT I DID DEFEND YOU! AND SOME OF US DID LISTEN!

      2. John is getting his Fox News Freak-Out on. If the US is not busting heads in the Middle East it is a sign of our slow debilitating decline as a superpower.

        Never mind that the crazies over there could kill each other for 30 years and it would not effect us one bit.

        Non-intervention is exactly what is called for.

    5. It would do so by deploying such overwhelmingly strong military forces ? ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers, jet fighters, and the like ? that Washington dare not get involved.

      Uh, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has one second-rate, hand-me-down aircraft carrier bought from the Russians.

      The idea that the Chinese could go up against the US Navy if they attacked Taiwan is laughable and shows that these reports are nothing more than ego stroking for the Chinese.

      Non-intervention isn’t backing away from defending an ally from an unprovoked act of aggression, it’s not sticking our dicks into a hornet’s nest like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

      1. It doesn’t matter if they are delusional. If they think it, they might act on it.

      2. I’ve read some reports that suggest that Taiwan could hold off the Chinese on its own. There’s also been rumors that the ROC might have a nuke somewhere. Which they damned well should, with a giant totalitarian nation claiming that they own the island nation.

        1. I think the Taiwanese would kick their ass. I think we would kick their ass. But that doesn’t matter if the Chinese delude themselves into thinking we are weak. And even if we win, a war would suck. Better to have no war.

          1. No, I’d definitely like to avoid a war with them. It would be pointless, for one, and there’s the added risk of nuclear weapons being used.

        2. I’ve read some reports that suggest that Taiwan could hold off the Chinese on its own.

          Its been wargamed a lot, I’m sure.

          Personally, I don’t think Taiwan standing on its own has a chance.

          Now, Taiwan with a Navy battle group, including lots of attack subs to thin out the Chinese as they try to cross the straits, would be a much, much tougher nut for the ChiComs to crack.

      3. Non-intervention isn’t backing away from defending an ally from an unprovoked act of aggression

        That’s exactly what non-intervention means. And I’d rather get in a war in ALL of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan than with friggin China.

      4. sticking our dicks into a hornet’s nest

        This analogy works well. Can’t we wave our metaphorical dick around without getting stung?

  2. Stability? With 3 billion new terrorists flowing over the border every day from Iraq alone? The only way to have stability is to put boots on the ground everywhere and respond to every threat, real and otherwise!

    Just thought I’d get the neocon talking points out of the way. Somebody more versed in TPM can cover shrike’s.

    1. But isn’t claiming thigns will magically be stable if we don’t do anything just as stupid as claiming that we can somehow police the world? Both positions start with the premise that the US can control what other people do. It is just that one side thinks we do so by doing nothing and the other side by intervening.

      Both are equally retarded. Basically, you clowns and the Neocons deserve each other.

      1. “more stability”

        That’s what Ed wrote. Exactly. Just “more stability”. Not “magically be stable”, like there are no issues and it’s “TOTALLY stable”. He didn’t say that.

        Just “more”.

        It’s possible. Certainly, an entire life’s worth (mine) of intervention in every fucking thing every fucking where in the world hasn’t accomplished much that I can see other than get a lot of my friends and acquantances killed in shitholes like Viet Nam and Iraq.

        So – give peace a chance. For teh childrunz.

        1. Isn’t it also possible that doing nothing will create less stability?

          Maybe the answer is just a little more subtle and difficult than all one or the other?

          This is why you guys and Neocons deserve each other. You both think the answer to any question is always the same thing.

          1. How do we know, John? Because for my entire life, and before, we’ve not NOT engaged. I was born in 1962, and we’ve been world cop since post WWII.

            And I didn’t say “all” and neither did Ed.

            I’m saying “less, WAY less”. Let’s just try it.

            “You guys” – what guys are we, John? People who want to give less intervention a chance?

            And with the Neocons? SHAME ON YOU, SIR! SHAME ON YOU!

            You both think the answer to any question is always the same thing. But I don’t- and this is where you always go full retard, John. Stop it…please.

            1. We know because the entire history of civilization is one of violence and nations brutalizing each other. That is how we know.

              1. No, that’s precisely why we don’t know. Cause it never stops, and we’re our government is perptrating it further.

                And I don’t think in many cases (eg Iraq, Syria, Libya) there’s ANY US interest served by doing it.

                So – you make my point. We haven’t even tried. Let’s try it. For teh childrunz.

                1. our government is perptrating it further.

                  Nope. War is in decline as Reason notes many times and America has done a great deal to contribute to this decline. America is not the world’s driver of war.

              2. “We know because the entire history of civilization is one of violence and nations brutalizing each other.”

                No it isn’t. It just seems that way because that’s what all the books are about.

                Make yourself a timeline someday and you’ll find very little warfare in fact.

            2. Pre-Cold War intervention is not equivalent to post-Cold War intervention. We can pick and choose a lot more now. Back then there was an Evil Empire to fight we were fighting it.

      2. But isn’t claiming thigns will magically be stable if we don’t do anything is a straw man. Things will be better in a lot of ways if we stop trying to police the world, and won’t be worse in many if any ways.

        1. Why does it have to be all or nothing? That is why this article is stupid.

        2. Oh, I think there are lots of ways things will get worse for some people, Brandon.

          I just don’t believe that the world’s bountiful supply of psychotic dictators is going to become better behaved when there is less chance of the US putting the boot in.

          Almanian, I think this is one of those seen v. unseen things. Looking at it from a historical perspective, the last 70 years of the Pax Americana have been astonishingly peaceful. A fair number of “brushfire” wars (but not even that many of those), and not a single “big” war.

          1. That’s the one thing that makes me hesitate to suggest we pull back completely, even though I think we should pull back quite a bit–what happens if we do that? For now, it’s probably better and safer to be a little less arbitrary and a whole lot smarter about whatever intervention (including the old diplomatic kind, versus blowing shit up on a whim) we do engage in.

          2. I just wonder if it wouldn’t have been roughly “as peaceful” for the US (hang the rest) if we’d have intervened less.

            I also think “The Big One” is coming anyway. Now – whether it’s been worth “holding it off for awhile” (if that’s what we’ve done) was “worth it” – yeah, that’s certainly subject to debate.

  3. Here’s the nub, I think:

    Non-interventionism works when everybody is convinced you have the means and the will to intervene if they get too far out of line. We’ve seen all kinds of bad behavior escalating in recent years because people no longer believe that we can intervene. And this isn’t exactly a new pattern, historically.

    We’re misled, I think, by the long period of Pax Americana into thinking that Pax is the natural state of things. Its not. Absent a hegemon, conflicts don’t just simmer, they escalate. Find me a period of history where this isn’t the case.

    The initial post-war plan was for the UN to take the place of a national hegemon. That didn’t work, as was shown by the blue helmets graciously evacuating their stations to clear the way for Egyptian armored columns in the buildup to the six-day war.

    Maybe giving up the mantle of global hegemon will work out better for the US. But I don’t expect it to coincide with a peaceful hegemon-free world. I expect either a lot more violence, or a new hegemon.

    1. Absent a hegemon, conflicts don’t just simmer, they escalate. Find me a period of history where this isn’t the case.

      Where’s Whyte Injun when we need it?

      “Officer – am I not free to gambol about the plain?”

      As I used to respond, “NO!”

    2. Just from a realpolitik point of view and discounting everything else for the moment, the U.S. is at the point where it should either retreat into a more noninterventionist mode or embrace World Cop completely. Though the latter role is unsustainable unless the U.S. starts charging for its services.

      1. I read that as:

        or embrace World Cup completely.

        “THIS WILL NOT ST…ohhhh…..never mind…”

        There are some lines even I refuse to cross.

      2. Yeah, this half in, half out thing is the worst of all worlds.


  4. Can one be strong without going in search of bullies to beat up?
    Yeah, sooner or later one bully is going to try to take you on just to test your peaceful behavior. That’s when you give him a good stomping. Or you can give up your peaceful behavior and go around the whole city beating up bullies…until they all decide to gang up on you when your knuckles are too sore to keep up the fight. Doesn’t reality call for some compromise between Quaker/LeFevre pacifism and blood-thirsty warhawkism?

    1. Can one be strong without going in search of bullies to beat up?

      The dilemma is that in order to be strong militarily, you need a big (expensive) military.

      Which creates an apparently irresistible impulse to actually use it. There’s never any shortage of people on the world stage who need a good beating, and we have this awesome military, so . . . .

      1. This.

        When Mexwell’s got a nice, shiny, silver hammer — gotta BANG BANG on someone’s head.

        It has ever been thus.

  5. America can and should intervene whenever such intervention results in better protection of the rights of Americans. I see no such possibility in Iraq.

    1. USA-ada! USA-ada! USA-ada!!

  6. To slightly paraphrase P. J. O’Rourke (in a slightly different context) – we’ve seen that with interventionism the world simmers with war and terrorism and hatred of the U.S.A., and without intervention the world simmers with war and terrorism and hatred of the U.S.A., and whatever we decide to do, when something bad happens it will the fault of whatever policy we adopted and we could have avoided it if we’d done the opposite policy.

    The heck with that stuff.

  7. Nice job Ed!

    I believe my work here is done…

  8. Kryzewski sounds breathless.

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