I sit at my desk every morning listening to the sounds of cable television in the air. Now a lot of it is about Libya. And I'm just blown away by the constant, almost unanimous chorus in favor of some sort of active, military involvement in the country. At this moment, I'm listening to some person say that it just doesn't make sense -- that it's inconsistent -- for the President to announce that it is our national policy that Qaddafi should leave and yet not take military steps to make that happen. I've also heard numerous voices arguing that we 'didn't act' in the Balkans and then didn't act in Rwanda and that we should not make the same mistake today.
This is a wildly different standard for military action than we've ever heard before, even in an era where our interventions have become much more frequent and when they've often been wise and necessary.
"Wise and necessary?" Really? Even if we allow that the "era" he's describing covers the entire post-WWII period, I can think of the following military engagements off the top of my head:
Cuba (Bay of Pigs)
How many of those were "wise and necessary?" Half? I very much doubt it.
That, by the way, is 14 wars over 60 years, roughly one war every 4.2 years, and a nearly constant state of war since the Carter Administration.
I offer that quibble about a post I otherwise very much agree with because I think it shows the level to which even Josh Marshall has internalized the ever-present drumbeat of war in the United States press. I call it "ever-present" because, frankly, it is. It seems like very time any attention is given to any kind of crisis in another country, an army of pro-war talking heads takes to the airwaves with the same message:
"Of course nobody "wants" war, but this time it's our moral imperative! We can't just leave them on their own! Their leader is a madman! History has taught us that we should always go to war in this situation! Dulce et decorum est! Cry havoc! For Gondor!"
And we usually go to war when this happens, which is all the time (or apparently every 4.2 years). Not only do we usually go to war, but after we go, people are shocked to find out that:
- our soldiers are not, in fact, bulletproof ninja superheroes, and tend to die or get horribly injured when people shoot them. Also, they're not robots: being shot at and seeing people blown to bits and/or splattered all over the pavement often screws them up psychologically
- all that shit we outfit them with and all those warplanes and missiles and tanks and subs cost a boatload of cash
- all those freedom bombs we drop on the other country kill an absolute shit-ton of innocent people
- the "happily ever after" story we go in there gunning for never seems to work out
- it's much, much harder to end a war than begin one because politicians and really suck at avoiding the "sunk costs" fallacy. No matter how bad things look, they always think they can make up for it if they just up the ante [again].
And yet there's nary a pro-peace talking head to be seen, ever. I'm afraid, contra Josh, now is decidedly not different from the norm.