Malaysian Airlines, Ukraine, and The Great American Intervention Machine


I was glad to hear Barack Obama suggest that he needed more information related to the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 before deciding on a cause of action. Perhaps this time, he'll involve Congress and the American people in whatever comes next.

Here's my latest column, which talks about the need for a serious national conversation about foreign policy.

Even with little in the way of concrete knowledge — much less clear, direct ties to American lives and interests — what might be called the Great U.S. Intervention Machine is already kicking into high gear. This is unfortunate, to say the least.

After a decade-plus of disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (including almost 7,000 American soldiers) and constitutionally dubious and strategically vague interventions in places such as Libya, it is well past time for American politicians, policymakers, and voters to stage a national conversation about U.S. foreign policy. Instead, elected officials and their advisers are always looking for the next crisis over which to puff up their chests and beat war drums.

And there's this:

When the United States uses its unrivaled military power everywhere and all the time, we end up accomplishing far less than hawks desire. Being everywhere and threatening action all the time dissipates American power rather than concentrates it. Contra John McCain and Hillary Clinton, whatever happened in Ukrainian airspace doesn't immediately or obviously involve the United States, even with the loss of an American citizen. The reflexive call for action is symptomatic of exactly what we need to stop doing, at least if we want to learn from the past dozen-plus years of our own failures.

President Obama is right to move cautiously regarding a U.S. response. He would be wiser still to use the last years of his presidency to begin the hard work of forging a foreign-policy consensus that all Americans can actually get behind, not just in this situation but in all the others we will surely encounter.

NEXT: Texas Judge Pleaded to Cop Not to Arrest Her for Alleged DUI, "It'll ruin my life"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Perhaps this time, he’ll involve Congress and the American people in whatever comes next.

    Oh, you silly, silly man.

  2. I thought his public statement was a mess.

    1. I avoided it, to keep the ol’ BP down.

      Sounds like I made the right decision.

  3. Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, Bomb, Ukraine


  4. We read every email in the world, peak at every image, listen to every call, but we’ve got no idea who did this.

    1. The NSA specializes in collecting electronic signatures and emissions. We (meaning US intelligence) know exactly who did this.

      Our chief executive sucks though, and is promising to “look into it” because he is impotent at making decisions.

      1. I saw a report earlier today. They have already tracked the launch plume and track of the missile. So the know exactly where it came from.

        1. kinnath|7.18.14 @ 3:46PM|#
          “I saw a report earlier today. They have already tracked the launch plume and track of the missile. So the know exactly where it came from.”

          Given the total recon that’s going on in that neck of the woods, I find it impossible to believe there’s a real mystery about that.
          And once you know (to within, what? 1m or so?) you know from whom it came.

          1. If by “1m” you mean “one meter” I suspect you are right. Our surveillance resolution is a hell of lot tighter than “one mile”.

      2. We’ll need another Snowden to leak it, the Guardian to print it, and then he’ll know who’s responsible.

      3. He is showing Putin how flexible he has become after his election.

        1. I’m not gonna knock him for avoiding armed conflict, but WIH isn’t he simply stating the obvious:
          ‘We know where it came from, we know to a great degree of certainty who shot it, so quit lying!’

  5. ?So you think you can find my reset button??

  6. My takeaway – “Time” is not out of business. I did not know that.

    Thanks for the info, Nick!

    *resumes “Time” death watch*


    The day after Malaysia Flight MH 17 was shot down in Ukraine, members of the tight knit HIV/AIDS community are mourning the loss of roughly 100 HIV/AIDS researchers, who were killed en route to the International Aids Society conference in Melbourne, Australia.

    Although the IAS did not confirm the number of attendees on the plane, President Barack Obama told reporters today that nearly 100 AIDS/HIV researchers and scientists were on board MH 17 when it was shot down.

    It’s a hate crime now.

  8. Malaysian Airlines, Ukraine, and The Great American Intervention Machine

    As far as Obama is concerned, that’s the “Great American Vacation Machine”.…..le/2550914…..le/2550975

  9. The “intervention” path taken by leaders in the US will likely be determined more by the moral authority they think the US has vs what should be done to deter bad behavior going forward.

    The current Administration has shown its hand through appointments to critical leadership and advisory positions. One need only look through the telling history of these appointees, and the President himself, to understand their position. It’s played the same hand every time – Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Crimea/Ukraine, the current crisis in the South Sea with China.

    Some like to consider Obama to be weak – He’s not. He has powerful convictions that are a necessity to take the positions of inaction that have and will impact untold numbers of lives, that he and his political appointees firmly believe in: The US lacks moral authority to take significant action outside of tepid words of rebuke and the odd sanction that amounts to little.

    Yes, he’ll send money. He’ll “feel the pain” of the victims and “reach out to them with prayers”. He ‘got’ OBL. That’s fine, but these don’t stop the growing list of bullies being emboldened by inaction on the real issues.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.