Friday, August 08, 2008

A Test For The World's Cop

OK, my interventionist friends. Is Russia's bombing of Georgia important enough to warrant US intervention? Move the troops from Iraq and call up a hell of a lot more? Kick Putin's ass and let him know that war doesn't happen while on the USA's watch?

I say 'NO'. It isn't our problem. Our isolation from this area would be splendid.

I can't wait for statements from Obama, McCain, and Barr on this.


varangianguard said...

I think that Russians have a deeply emotional, (to us) arbitrary definition of what means "security" to them. Cross that undefined line and they will thrash about until an equilibrium is reached that satisfies their subconcious.

President Bush's administration has crossed that line repeatedly in the last few years, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

I don't think there is much of anything we (the USA) can do to help out our new pals, the Georgians. Putin, knows this, and will now demonstrate Washington's empty promises to not only the Georgians, but perhaps to some Ukranians, and White Russians as well.

Just because the USA can do something, never has meant that they should do something.

In this, I don't think the USA should have ever crossed that Russian line and made promises we're not ready to keep.

Mike Kole said...

VG said: "Just because the USA can do something, never has meant that they should do something.

In this, I don't think the USA should have ever crossed that Russian line and made promises we're not ready to keep."

Interesting. These are exactly things I hold about foreign policy more generally, especially your first statement. We could always do something, even here in Georgia. We could finance them, provide materiel, send the troops. Again, not that we should.

As for promises we cannot keep, I think NATO ingeneral poses something like this. Our treasury is stretched to the limits. Heaven help us if an ally we like, say Britain, comes into some kind of war situation where we would feel emotionally obliged to get in on a deep level.

Well, this is the danger of being the world's cop.

varangianguard said...

Well, interventionist that I seem to be, I don't hold that the USA should be the world's "cop".

I just don't hold "blanket rules" about intervening, or not, for every situation. The world isn't Boolean, no matter how that concept might soothe some people.

Mike Kole said...

Boolean? As in, "and, or, not" and the internet search devices? I don't follow the meaning of the word here, although I get what you are saying about blanket statements.

Those blanket approaches aren't about 'soothing'. They're about keeping guidance in place for dealing with a complex world. If the answer is absolutely different everytime (which is as much a absolutist blanket approach as anything else), then you end up with complete unpredictability. I fail to see how that yields stability, much less how it could soothe anyone.

varangianguard said...

Ah, so I'm a chaoticist as well. I see.

Boolean, as in, good/bad, day/night, right/wrong, yes/no, or 1/0.

Foreign policy is just like any other human activity, and I'm hoping that you don't treat people that way.

The "answer" isn't necessarily different every time, but total predictability makes you vulnerable to those who will most certainly take advantage of your predictability.

What exactly do you think might happen if you were President and you declaimed that you would n-e-v-e-r intervene militarily outside of the physical borders of the USA?

For my part, I cannot decide if it would be better to learn Chinese or Arabic, as a reaction to a scenario like that (maybe even Spanish).

I like some unpredictability in interpersonal relations and foreign policy. You don't. I'll agree that we disagree. Besides, the chance that either you or I would ever be placed into a position to apply our philosophies is predictably very slim.

Mike Kole said...

VG: "What exactly do you think might happen if you were President and you declaimed that you would n-e-v-e-r intervene militarily outside of the physical borders of the USA?"

I think that many other countries would start defending their own borders, relieving us of the cost. I think that others would not, and they would become vulnerable to military threats, said vulnerability not at all the same as certainty that threats would materialize. In sum, I think the USA would benefit tremendously. Some others might suffer, but their defense is not our responsibility.

As for personal relationships, you bet I like predictability! I like it that I can count on certain people in my life. I bet the wives of John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani long for the same dependable predictability. That sort of predictability is indeed soothing!

varangianguard said...

And that's why it'll be a long time before a Libertarian becomes PoTUS. You only look at it from the outcome you want to happen, discounting the fact that some countries don't play by your rules or believe in your particular view of the world.

We also differ as to the meaning of predictable. I see predictable as a repetitive schedule of the very same activities, or reacting in the exact same fashion to slightly differ stimuli. I think you see predictability a little differently.

The concept of trusting one's spouse to remain faithful isn't a issue of predictability, but of keeping one's word. Of course, after all my pontificating about it, I'd better make doubly sure that I am predictable about being faithful. ;)

Mike Kole said...

Hold up. Non-interventionism is not to be confused with pacifism or a non-retaliatory policy as regards defense of the nation. Libertarians are ardently defense and response oriented.

Actually, I think our views on predictability aren't that far apart. This Libertarian sees war involvement on a very predictable response schedule:

Nation A invades a US possession, Nation A faces overwhelming military force in response.

Nation B invades Nation C, the US heightens its' preparedness for the possibility of being attacked, but otherwise does not participate.

Terror Organization D blows up US building, US military seeks and destroys Terror Organization D.

Under a Libertarian POTUS, the invader is set upon with full-scale war, executed with extraordinary prejudice. Other nations (or organizations or individuals even) can play by whatever rules they want, but need to know that they can indeed expect predictable responses.

This isn't outcome-only thinking. This is preparedness and eventuality thinking. You minimizes your chances of war if you narrow the possible entries of war to the self-defense essentials. You minimize the likelihood of attack if it is clear that there will be a response to any breach, by any nation, organization, or individual.

Say- Has Switzerland suffered by its' steadfast neutrality and non-interventionism?

And- While being unpredictable, I trust you aren't saying that there won't be response in some case of attack, just to keep them guessing, that the unpredictability of US response is to be limited to intervention.

As to faithfulness, I couldn't even be tempted. I don't know how philanderers do it. I couldn't conceal the guilt, much less try to balance two lives. I guess I have to kinda respect their capacity to manage such a life, because I couldn't pull it off. This mental limit is quite useful! :-)

varangianguard said...

Ah, then perhaps I have misconstrued your message. Still, I think there is a flaw in the overall concept.

Let me explain.

"Nation A invades a US possession, Nation A faces overwhelming military force in response." That, would be the Falklands Scenario. It would only be "overwhleming" if the perpetrator was, in fact, weaker than the USA. Of limited utility in a world with some rivals who aren't weaker than we are (see Russian Federation vs. Georgia).

"Nation B invades Nation C, the US heightens its' preparedness for the possibility of being attacked, but otherwise does not participate." Let's call that the France & the Low Countries Scenario, although it isn't a perfect match. So, in this scenario, you would wait until when? Fighting begins on own own beaches? Cuban paratroopers landing in alpine Colorado (see movie: Red Dawn)? Please expand on this one.

"Terror Organization D blows up US building, US military seeks and destroys Terror Organization D." Let's call that the Fantasy Scenario. Why Fantasy you might ask? Think about it. Off the top of your head name one terrorist organization that was successfully hunted down and exterminated. Maybe, I'm just missing the obvious here, but I can't think of one. Hmmm. Maybe you just mean "neutralized"? Several of those I can think of, but eventually most become resurgent (see Taliban or Shining Path).

I class this as presupposed outcome hopes based on the fact that you assume these (or any other) scenarios to develop the way you want them to. Deterministic is what it would be called in wargaming, I think. The problem is that not everybody (other Players) follows your pre-determined path very often. For example, a platoon level exercise. You have developed a good strategy for when the enemy approaches down a certain road. Problem. The enemy approaches from 50 yards off that road you are currently watching so very closely. You don't see him coming until it's too late. Carefully crafted plan goes directly into dustbin.

Switzerland survives into the 21st century due more to convenience than to self-professed neutrality. Remember, Luxemburg was a neutral more than once in the 20th century. Didn't do them much good.

As to predictable, I will be that platoon approaching from an unexpected direction! That's what I mean.

Mike Kole said...

On 'France & the Low Countries'. Yes, I build up and wait to attack, unless and until hit first. That had always been our approach, until GWB's pre-emptive war. Worked for 225 years. Let's not forget that we haven't been invaded ever by a nation, and the large oceans on either side of us are a mighty deterrant to the average amphibious landing. Why not continue to work with our natural advantages? Why must we extend ourselves so?

On the 'Fantasy Scenario'. Look- we've never wiped anyone off the map, nation or terrorist, so I think you're putting too fine a point on this. It's always a matter of breaking the spirit of the enemy. No different with a terror group as vs. a nation.

On my determinism. So, what am I missing? Preparedness always has holes in it. I know this, though: If you are watching your homeland, you have one hell of a lot less to watch after than if you also have bases in 130 or so other nations across the globe. So, expand on the 'not playing by the rules' that could creep up on us under a Libertarian foreign polcy, that would not under the current.

Oh, Luxembourg. The standing army on horseback, and a nation the size of Rhode Island, with threatening and unstable larger neighbors all around them. Not really an apt comparison to the United States.

But, Britain was the world's superpower once, built like us as a homeland with many, many bases around the world. Didn't do them much good. This is the history lesson I am most interested in not repeating, but it sure seems like we're on course to do exactly that.

varangianguard said...

Yes, well, that hasn't always worked out so well for us, now has it? World War II. Let's just say that had we followed your dictum, the fantasy wargame campaigns played out by thousands of armchair Napoleons on computers or tabletops would have likely come to pass. Like the Domino Theory, the Two Ocean Defense is simple, and fallacious. It isn't a deterrent. It is an obstacle. Obstacles can be overcome. I could simply bore you to tears about this, but fortunately for you, there seems to be a character limit per posting. ;)

My point is that one never really breaks the spirit of the terrorist. That is why the movements so often return, and usually in a more virulent form.

THe hole in your preparedness is that you don't seem to recognize that there are holes in your preparedness. You don't seem to recognize that your critique of the current situation excludes any possibility for a middle ground solution. You don't seem to like the "as is", so it appears you want to take the pendulum to the opposite extreme. In effect, you don't like having 130 foreign bases (which I don't either, by the way), so you want to change it to having no foreign bases at all. Considering what it takes to wage military campaigns by air, land and/or sea, that would seem to me to be more than a bit (mmmmm) short-sighted and uninformed.

As far as the Luxemburg example, I was simply comparing it to your Swiss example. If you want to talk about the US, you'll find that the US is unique and very special case for multiple reasons.

Great Britain is only like us in the we hail from her as a former colony and exhibit many cultures similarities. Our development as an "empire" has followed completely different lines, and presents a different set of problems and contradictions.

Mike Kole said...

WW2, where we were struck on the homeland of... Hawaii. Still another half of the Pacific Ocean, that fine obstacle, that the Japanese couldn't overcome. I understand that technology has changed things a great deal, but that's mainly with getting projectiles a long distance, in the desire of sparing nations the need to move their armies as invading forces. Invasion is one hell of a difficult proposition, and those Oceans that you poo-poo as mere obstacles, are in my opinion, gigantic obstacles.

But I think I see a bigger hole in my communications here, and it's kind of ironic to me given the campaign I ran in 2006.

In all actuality, I am an incrementalist- a fact that antagonized a great many of my fellow libertarians. There is a great deal of difficulty in speaking as an idealist, because we tend to talk about the end-point ideal, and it sounds like a move to RIGHT NOW policy. For many libertarians, it certainly is.

But I know that this government and our worldwide military presence wasn't built this decade. It's been at least 60 years in the making our World's Cop presence, so there's no good reason to think that even with a solid reductionist policy in place continuously, that it wouldn't take at least half that time to reach the ideal- which we now in the world of politics never happens anyway, because nobody claims the mantle continuously. I'll take my gains where I can get them. I'd be delighted to learn that we pulled bases in just three countries, but like the Democrats on health care issues, I'd make a post about how it's a tiny start, a weak start, that my party could do more, etc., in order to continue to exert pressure in my direction. :-)

So, because you say that the spirit of the terrorist is never broken, what to do? You can't kill them all, you can't break their spirit... so, is the pursuit of terrorists just so much antagonism to them? What to do, then?

varangianguard said...

You manage terrorism.

For the active component, you take the fight to their turf. Keep after them, destroy their infrastructure when found, and eliminate the leadership at every opportunity. Not much fight in a person when they are sitting in a dank mountain cave while being simultaneously cold, wet and hungry.

For their non-violent supporters, it's the "Hearts & Minds" strategy. They are upset for a reason. Take reasonable steps to address their concerns. Get them involved in solving their own problems (hello, proponents of welfare states). If you take away the support of a terrorist's friends and family, he/she is that much closer to sitting in that dank cave.

That is the simple answer. In reality, it isn't that simple, but it's a start.