Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 13, 2003
WAR: None Dare Call It War
Charles Krauthammer skewers the liberals/Democrats who favor military intervention in Liberia after having opposed war in Iraq (Howard Dean's name is mentioned):
The only conclusion one can draw is that for liberal Democrats, America's strategic interests are not just an irrelevance, but a deterrent to intervention. For liberals, foreign policy is social work. National interest - i.e., national selfishness - is a taint. The only justified interventions, therefore, are those that are morally pristine, namely, those that are uncorrupted by any suggestion of national interest. Hence the central axiom of left-liberal foreign policy: The use of American force is always wrong, unless deployed in a region of no strategic significance to the United States.
This point has been made before, and as a debating point it's a fair indictment of the perversity of the results of the Democrats' reasoning. But I don't think it gets to the core of how the Howard Deans of the world think. In many ways, I suspect that the real problem is that they take the flip side of the position I set out here: they disdain any "intervention" that requires us to actively take sides between foreign parties, and they call for us to withdraw (as in Somalia) once the inevitable provocations require us to do so. (I believe it was Mark Steyn who termed this attitude "confusing the sidelines with the moral high ground").
Playing schoolmarm breaking up the fight: good. Actually taking time to figure out who started it: bad. And as anybody who's been beaten up by a schoolyard bully can tell you, an authority figure who refuses to take sides is ultimately giving in to the law of the jungle. But it's the militant nonjudgementalism that ties the pro-"intervention"/anti-"war" crowd's foreign policy to its cultural liberalism; in either case, there's an abdication of the need to make moral distinctions. That's no way to run a home or a schoolyard, and it's no way to run a military superpower, either.