by John Hawkins | June 3, 2008 12:00 pm
One of the Left’s weird little hiccups on foreign policy is their inclination to oppose using our military when it will benefit us while supporting the use of our military in situations that have very little to do with our national interest.
So, for example, in Iraq where we have an enormous national stake in using our military, the libs are opposed to using our military — so much so that many of them would prefer to see the crumbling of democracy in Iraq, genocide, and the United States’ reputation damaged for decades — than for us to continue fighting.
However, in places like Burma, where we have very little at stake one way or the other, the Left can’t wait to use the military.
For example, here’s the New Republic — a magazine that’s generally considered to be more sensible and have more foreign policy gravitas than the average liberal doofus like Michael Moore, Kos, etc. — on Burma,
Actually, our most atrocious failure in Burma has nothing to do with money. It has to do with politics. In the three weeks since the disaster, the country’s brutal junta has seized shipments of food and medical assistance, blocked vessels with aid cargo–including three U.S. Navy ships–and kept out many foreign relief workers. At the height of the chaos, Burma’s military leaders even forged ahead with a constitutional referendum, passed with suspiciously broad support, that consolidates and continues the regime’s pillage of national resources.
If this disaster had happened ten years ago–that is, before Iraq–plans would almost certainly be on the table for some form of humanitarian intervention designed to resolve the situation. Maybe we would be talking about deposing the Burmese regime outright; maybe we would be discussing–as Robert Kaplan did in a recent New York Times op-ed–more modest steps, such as sending U.S. Marines on boats to deliver supplies to the hardest-hit areas. But, either way, realistic options would be considered for saving Burmese lives, even if those options involved violating Burmese sovereignty.
Instead, American diplomats in Asia have explicitly avoided direct criticism of the regime. And, even as the USAID brigade waits for visas in Bangkok so that it can enter Burma, the White House has made sure to clarify that no threat of force is on the horizon.
This is, put simply, an unacceptable abdication of our moral responsibilities. Even though our standing in the world has been severely diminished by Iraq, we should at least be debating intervention in Burma. There are, no doubt, many logistical complications and unintended consequences that would follow from such a policy. But there are also reasons why it should be a live option. The goal of such an intervention need not be regime change; it should simply be to make sure that a vulnerable population receives the supplies it desperately needs. Of course, if violating the sovereignty of a murderous regime happens to undermine that regime’s legitimacy, then that would not be such a terrible result. But this does not necessarily have to be our goal.
Yes, folks, they actually want us to invade Burma and perhaps overthrow their regime not because it helps our country, but in order to feed people.
Are these not the same people who have spent the last few years ceaselessly criticizing every move the Bush Administration has made in Afghanistan and Iraq? Aren’t they the same ones who have been telling us time and time and time again that we were too careless going into Iraq and that there’s nothing worth fighting for in Iraq? Haven’t liberals been screaming for years, often while wearing Bush =’s Hitler shirts and carrying giant puppet heads, that war never settles anything and that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind? But now, they want to invade Burma?
Now, personally? I have sympathy for the people in Burma and am glad we’ve tried to get aid to them. However, it’s not really our problem, it has nothing to do with our national interest, and even if so, we have a lot bigger fish to fry.
Besides, we’re not the only country with a military. If somebody “needs” to do something about Burma, let the Europeans or the blue helmets at the UN — who have been sitting on the sidelines complaining about the way we’ve run the war on terror — go in there and show us how it’s done. If the UN is so effective and the EU is a new “super power” that doesn’t need our help, let them act like it. Seeing them take on some real responsibility instead of acting like backseat drivers would be a welcome change.
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