The reason I like Realists is that they have made the most forceful, full-throated arguments against war. Period. I know, some lefties have done so too. But liberal interventionism and Israel lobbyism have traction even inside the Democratic center-left, and this has spavined the antiwar effort. Liberals have done nothing to make neoconservatism a dirty word, they seem far more concerned about Tea Partiers. Here is John Mearsheimer at the National Interest:
The results [of neoconservative worldview] have been disastrous. The United States has been at war for a startling two out of every three years since 1989, and there is no end in sight. As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of world events knows, countries that continuously fight wars invariably build powerful national-security bureaucracies that undermine civil liberties and make it difficult to hold leaders accountable for their behavior; and they invariably end up adopting ruthless policies normally associated with brutal dictators. The Founding Fathers understood this problem, as is clear from James Madison’s observation that “no nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Washington’s pursuit of policies like assassination, rendition and torture over the past decade, not to mention the weakening of the rule of law at home, shows that their fears were justified.
To make matters worse, the United States is now engaged in protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have so far cost well over a trillion dollars and resulted in around forty-seven thousand American casualties. The pain and suffering inflicted on Iraq has been enormous. Since the war began in March 2003, more than one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed, roughly 2 million Iraqis have left the country and 1.7 million more have been internally displaced. Moreover, the American military is not going to win either one of these conflicts, despite all the phony talk about how the “surge” has worked in Iraq and how a similar strategy can produce another miracle in Afghanistan. We may well be stuck in both quagmires for years to come, in fruitless pursuit of victory.
The title of Mearsheimer’s long essay is “Imperial by Design.” And here’s the design. Notice that leftwingers can sign on to Mearsheimer’s anti-imperial thrust:
The root cause of America’s troubles is that it adopted a flawed grand strategy after the Cold War. From the Clinton administration on, the United States rejected all these other avenues, instead pursuing global dominance, or what might alternatively be called global hegemony, which was not just doomed to fail, but likely to backfire in dangerous ways if it relied too heavily on military force to achieve its ambitious agenda.
Again, some political values I share– Mearsheimer dismisses the fear that underlies the GWOT:
Finally, the ability of terrorists to strike the American homeland has been blown out of all proportion. In the nine years since 9/11, government officials and terrorist experts have issued countless warnings that another major attack on American soil is probable—even imminent. But this is simply not the case. The only attempts we have seen are a few failed solo attacks by individuals with links to al-Qaeda like the “shoe bomber,” who attempted to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001, and the “underwear bomber,” who tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in December 2009. So, we do have a terrorism problem, but it is hardly an existential threat. In fact, it is a minor threat.
Midway through the piece, here comes my big enchilada. Again, how many Democratic congressmen say any of this?
TO DEAL effectively with terrorism, it is imperative to understand what motivates al-Qaeda to target the United States in the first place. One also wants to know why large numbers of people in the Arab and Muslim world are so angry with America that they support, or at least sympathize with, these types of terrorist groups. Simply put, why do they hate us?
And this clarity about chickens coming home to roost– which Chris Hedges has praised in Jeremiah Wright. Two more lefties.
Anger and hatred toward the United States among Arabs and Muslims is largely driven by Washington’s policies, not by any deep-seated antipathy toward the West. The policies that have generated the most anti-Americanism include Washington’s support for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians; the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 Gulf War; U.S. support for repressive regimes in countries like Egypt; American sanctions on Baghdad after the First Gulf War, which are estimated to have caused the deaths of about five hundred thousand Iraqi civilians; and the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Not surprisingly, President Bush and his advisers rejected this explanation of 9/11, because accepting it would effectively have been an admission that the United States bore considerable responsibility for the events of that tragic day. We would be acknowledging that it was our Middle East policies that were at the heart of it all.
Mearsheimer says that Obama has followed the Clinton path of liberal interventionism and is failing to see the virtues of– his Realist Rx–offshore-balancing. Staying out of most foreign issues, concentrating on the American interest in the Gulf, Europe, and northeast Asia.
Next is to address the other causes, like Washington’s unyielding support for Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. Indeed, Bill Clinton recently speculated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is responsible for about half of the terrorism we face. Of course, this is why the Obama administration says it wants to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. But given the lack of progress in solving that problem, and the fact that it is going to take at least a few years to get all of the American troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, we will be dealing with al-Qaeda for the foreseeable future….
Yes I know a lot of my leftwing friends don’t like Realists, don’t like talk of national interest, but how can you argue with this analysis of civil liberties and human rights?
Perhaps most importantly, moving toward a strategy of offshore balancing would help us tame our fearsome national-security state, which has grown alarmingly powerful since 9/11. Core civil liberties are now under threat on the home front and the United States routinely engages in unlawful behavior abroad.