What I learned from being wrong

obama.foreignpolicy

A blogger named Lance Mannion issued this challenge to all those critics who think they’re smarter than President Obama.

Arguments [of many Internet doves] seem to me to be based on the assumption that we should get ourselves out of the Middle East no matter what because there’s basically nothing we can do to make things better and just by being in there we make them worse by stirring up suspicions and hatreds.  Those are the smart ones.  But I would think that since I’m inclined to agree.

I’m inclined to agree.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily agree.

There are others, though, who’ve based their case on the bumper sticker-profound idea that War is Never the Answer and plenty of others whose arguments are based on a vague and circular logic: “This reminds me of what George Bush did in some way I can’t put my finger on but it must be wrong because of that or else I wouldn’t be reminded of George Bush.”

17-40f10I’m not bothering with any arguments that are based on the assumption that whatever we do is wrong because we’re the ones doing it.

So I’m asking for help.

Should we do nothing?  Why or why not?  What should we do and how would that work?  And what I want to know, more than that you were right about Iraq in 2002, is if you think Bill Clinton failed morally and geo-politically when he did nothing about Rwanda.

Also what are your thoughts on Kuwait, the Kurds, Kosovo, Tora Bora, killing bin Laden, and Libya?

via Smarter than the President?  Not me.  I’m too smart not to know how dumb I am.

 I’ve been wrong more often than I’ve been right on all the issues Mannion mentions.  My claim is that, while it has taken longer than it should have done, I have learned something from my mistakes.

KuwaitWhen Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, my first reaction was that this was no business of Americans.  The United States had no treaty with Kuwait, and Saddam would have been happy to sell oil to Americans.

Then I got caught up in the war propaganda, and became a war supporter.  I would have stuck to my first thought if I had realized the United States was committing itself to 10 years of low-level war against Iraq.  The bombing and blockade of the Clinton era caused enormous suffering without any positive result.

RwandaDuring the time of the Rwandan massacres, it never occurred to me to think that the United States should intervene militarily.   I was sorry for the poor Tutsis, but not so sorry that I was willing to see neighbors and loved ones sacrifice their lives.

In hindsight, U.S. forces were unable to suppress a Sunni-Shiite civil war while occupying Iraq, so I doubt if they could have pacified Rwanda.  The massacre began and ended in 100 days in 1994, so it would have been all over by the time U.S. forces were mobilized.

KosovoI favored the bombing campaign in Kosovo because I believed in protecting the Kosovar Albanians from ethnic cleansing by the Serbs.  But the result was ethnic cleansing of Serbs by Kosovar Albanians.  With hindsight, I see the bombing campaign was a mistake.

The intervention in Bosnia, which I favored at the time, may have done some good, at least more good than harm, but it also is an example of what happens when people want their governments to intervene to prevent atrocities, but don’t want to see their loved ones die to accomplish it.

american-foreign-policy-explained-L-RgswFNTora Bora.  It’s too bad that Osama bin Laden escaped to Pakistan in 2001 from his cave in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains.  Maybe he would have been captured if the U.S. government had given this higher priority.

Iraq in 2002. I was one of those who thought the invasion of Iraq, although based on lies, might work out for the best.  I thought that the Iraqi people would be grateful to the USA for having liberated them from the tyrant Saddam Hussein, and that the result would be a democratic Muslim Arab nation in the Middle East whose people thought well about Americans.

Whether or not that would have been possible, it was not the goal of the Bush-Cheney administration.  Their aim was to set up a puppet government, get control of Iraq’s oil and create permanent military bases in Iraq, while arranging sweetheart contracts for American businesses.

Killing bin Laden.   I was both glad and ashamed when a U.S. special operations team entered Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden.  I was glad the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks had paid with his life for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

I was ashamed that the U.S. government conducted a gangster-style execution rather than turning him over to an international court to be tried for crimes against humanity.  I am sure the reason why this wasn’t considered was that Osama would have revealed too much at his trial that would be embarrassing to the U.S. government.  Saddam Hussein was denied a fair trial for the same reason.

Libya.  Just to show how slow I am to learn, I was uncertain that the overthrow of the Qaddafi government in Libya was a bad idea.   The result was to reduce the country to anarchy, and to make it a safe haven for terrorists.  And, like the similar effort to overthrow the Assad government in Syria, it shows foreign rulers that there is nothing to be gained by trying to stay on the good side of the U.S. government.

The governments of Italy and France initiated the military intervention.  Possibly the U.S. government joined in so as not to be left out of the spoils.

KurdistanI admire the Kurds, based on everything I’ve read about them.  They have fought bravely for their freedom for decades without engaging in acts of terrorism against civilians, they don’t persecute people because of their ethnicity and religion.

I would be glad to see Kurdistan become an independent nation, but it would have be created out of territory now part of Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and I’m not willing for the USA to commit to breaking up these nations.  I don’t have a good answer for this.

us-foreign-policy-flow-chart-gifSo that’s my history of bad judgment.  What I think I’ve learned from it is:

  • The U.S. government should not attack or plot the overthrow of governments who do not threaten us (and by “us”, I mean the American people, not corporations that happen to be based in the United States).
  • The U.S. government should not intervene in foreign civil wars.
  • Humanitarian military intervention usually isn’t.
  • While the reign of despotic government is bad, anarchic lawless violence is usually worse.
  • Different strategies and tactics are required for dealing with governments, political movements and criminal organizations.
  • “Go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”  ((John Quincy Adams).

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2 Responses to “What I learned from being wrong”

  1. williambearcat Says:

    Doesn’t the Bible mention somewhere there will always be war and rumors of war? At any rate that was written about what we call the Middle East 3000 plus years ago. Current genocides pale to those mentioned in the Bible and encouraged and praised by the God of the Bible. In fact the Bible says in one of the Psalms that God will take great pleasure when the heads of babies will be dashed against the rocks. The description reminds me of the word terrorist and patriot. All depends on your perspective.

    And just because I ‘m smart doesn’t mean I know what to do.

    Like

  2. Gunny G Says:

    Reblogged this on BLOGGING BAD w/Gunny G ~ "CLINGERS of AMERICA!".

    Like

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