A Kernel of Wisdom in Ross Douthat’s Stool
We make deals with dictators, and reap the whirlwind of terrorism. We promote democracy, and watch Islamists gain power from Iraq to Palestine. We leap into humanitarian interventions, and get bloodied in Somalia. We stay out, and watch genocide engulf Rwanda. We intervene in Afghanistan and then depart, and watch the Taliban take over. We intervene in Afghanistan and stay, and end up trapped there, with no end in sight.
Even someone as steadfastly dedicated to American Exceptionalism as Ross Douthat can correctly identify the cause and effect of US foreign policy. The false dichotomies that form the pillars of his world view–supporting autocratic thugs vs. pseudo-democratic thugs, of raining death and destruction and withdrawing vs. raining death and destruction and occupying–causes him palpable anxiety and confusion. The one red herring in his list is Rwanda, a colony fucked all to hell by Belgium instead of the US.
Let us, for the moment, combine Ross’ two categories of kill-for-team-A and kill-for-team-B into a single category: violent intervention. Now, let’s examine the new category against its actual alternative of not intervening violently.
It’s not controversial or, like, just my opinion, man, that there’s a clear, logical and theoretically sound way to avoid all the terrible situations that plague Ross’ mind. Stop intervening. Stop invading for humanitarian reasons. Stop invading for non-humanitarian reasons. Stop arming dictators. Stop arming rebel groups. Stop bombing Sunnis. Stop bombing Shia. Stop capturing, imprisoning, maiming, torturing, humiliating, mutilating, killing, and supporting other bastards who engage in these activities. Just stop.
In this otherwise forgettable article, Ross points out what everyone who’s given it a moments thought knows, that “terrorist attacks” against the United States are “blowback” from 60 years of violent domination of the middle and far East.
It’s quite possible that if Mubarak had not ruled Egypt as a dictator for the last 30 years, the World Trade Center would still be standing.
(h/t A Tiny Revolution for reaching into the dungheap that is the New York Times and pulling out this Douthat gem.)