Calpundit calls for Empire

Commenting on Colin Powell's wise decision to firmly rule out military intervention in Haiti (who would we intervene for? Philosophical concepts such as Democracy need to have individuals in which to act...), Kevin Drum takes an interesting tack:

Phil's general point ? all our troops are currently tied down in Iraq ? is a commonplace one, but this example really drives the point home. Haiti is a small place, after all, and is it really the case that our military is stretched so thin that we don't even have the troops necessary for this kind of relatively small intervention?

If we are literally stretched so thin that even intervening in Haiti causes problems, it means our freedom of action is now practically nonexistent. Not a comforting thought, is it?

Now, I know that Kevin means this in the "either/or" sense; that since Iraq was, in his view, obviously wrong and misguided, that now we dont have the troops to kick butt whenever smaller and weaker states fail to live up to our sense of propriety and start brutalizing their citizens... err...

The problem with this kind of criticism is that like my statement above, it's not qualitatively different from what we did in Iraq (intervening/invading to rebuild a state), and more importantly, it is really a call for the US to have even yet still more military power and troops. Because a call for having "freedom of action" is just as much a call for having many more divisions to colonize invade intervene in other parts of the world as it is to not intervene in places like Iraq. Its a call, essentially, for the US government to precisely have the ability to extend Imperial reach across the globe in multiple spots and continue to act unilaterally and with no regard for international law, foreign opinion, the need for alliances, or any third party concern.

If one is sincerely worried about US behavior in the world, one should be thankful that the US has very little freedom of action (with regard to purely discretionary acts of neo-colonialism), and not give the demonized "Neocons" any more ammunition to push for Empire- such as the idea to build several new divisions so we can have the same "Freedom of Action" before Iraq while still engaged in Iraq.

Maybe this isn't a profitable line of criticism for left-illiberals to engage in?

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Its a call, essentially, for

Its a call, essentially, for the US government to precisely have the ability to extend Imperial reach across the globe in multiple spots and continue to act unilaterally and with no regard for international law, foreign opinion, the need for alliances, or any third party concern.

I take it you oppose the Iraq war; fair enough.
But, I don't see what these things have to do with it, or how they could be part of any libertarian objection to military expedition.

International law? De facto, it doesn't even really exist. Further, any opponent of government in general should oppose world government fiercest of all.

Foreign opinion? Could anything be more irrelevant? Why does the opinion of the leaders of France or Germany matter, particularly when they may have opposing interests in the issue?

The need for alliances? You mean like Britian, Australia, Japan, etc.? And even if they weren't on board, would it matter?

General "third party concern"? Again, I don't see where the "concerns" of third parties are relevant. If they issue at hand truly affects them, they aren't exactly third parties then are they?

I was arguing from his

I was arguing from his perspective- if one cared about all of those things, then one should be happy that there is little to no freedom of action for US intervention policy. It seemed to me to be trying to have it both ways, if one is against the war yet worrying about freedom of action.

"Intervening" in Liberia or Haiti isn't categorically different from what was done to Iraq. What is different about Iraq (as opposed to Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, etc, inteventions that Calpundit and other nominally anti-war lefties approved of) is that only in Iraq did the US have what the Left maintains is necessary for a "justified" war- a standing state of war (no peace treaty ever came from the 1991 war, so formally Iraq and the US have been at war for over a decade), dozens of UN resolutions against the state, etc. In Bosnia and Kosovo, the US acted "unilaterally" (by current day lefty standards) and without any pretense of UN sanction. And yet these interventions are praised as "solid and worthy" by a great deal of the current critics of the Iraq war.

So since we can dispense with the pretense of a principled opposition to the war, we see that really, he *is* calling for Empire, just one with different territorial and political ambitions than one controlled by Republicans. That his mindset is contradicted completely by his stated "principles" for objecting to the Iraq war is something I wanted to underline with my post.