War: Because, hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

As jaw-droppingly awful as it is to realize that Bill Kristol hasn’t learned anything from his complicity in the biggest, deadliest blunder of a generation, it’s just as awful to realize that many others haven’t learned anything from that mistake either. [Read more…]

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Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

Memorial Day is one time during the year when American civil religion imitates one of my least favorite aspects of the white evangelical Christianity that I was raised in. It takes the kernel of an idea of something right and honorable and spins it into a defensive, sanctimonious, performative ritual — one which makes sincerity and truth-telling almost impossible. [Read more…]

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‘Option is not a failure’ and aiding Syrian refugees

I don’t know that aiding these refugees really amounts to an alternative to military intervention in that it addresses a different set of problems — problems that military intervention does not and cannot address, and that military intervention would likely make worse. But aiding refugees would certainly be an alternative to doing nothing — and it stands as a clear alternative to the notion that “doing nothing” and military action are the only possible options. Aiding refugees — and accepting more refugees here in America — might not directly address the goal of ending the conflict, but military intervention is unlikely to advance that goal either. [Read more…]

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On Syria and finding ways to make the world ‘less horrible’

Mention someone like Gene Sharp and you’ll often encounter a hostile reaction dismissing him (and you, for mentioning him) as a feckless, irrelevant hippie. This is often expressed in a mocking tone, “So, what? You want us to go over there with daisies singing ‘Kumbaya’?” That mocking caricature confirms the problem: A lack of imagination that has ossified into a determined ignorance — an ignorance that clings tightly to remaining ignorant. It confirms that we are unable to find other solutions and other approaches because we have given up looking for them. [Read more…]

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It is happening again.

“Something terrible happens somewhere — and what is happening in Syria is not just terrible but atrocious in the literal meaning of that term. Americans naturally feel we must ‘do something.’ The easiest something to do involves bombers, drones, and cruise missiles, all of which are promised to be precise and to keep our forces and people at a safe remove from the battle zone. …” [Read more…]

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Bombing Syria is not a last resort, so bombing Syria is neither just nor justifiable

What would convince me that military action against Syria is justifiable as a last resort? Show me a press conference outside of the Albert Einstein Institution in Cambridge, Mass., with Gene Sharp standing at a podium, flanked by the joint chiefs of staff, the president and the secretary of defense. “There’s no other option,” Sharp says. “This would be the most effective, wisest approach. The best remaining option for the people of Syria.” Show me that and I’ll accept that this is a last resort. [Read more…]

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Theodicy and foreign policy: The U.S. is not omnipotent

Andrew Tabler is trying to revive one of the nastiest, most illogical of all the nasty, illogical arguments that misled America into the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq. He’s repeating Glenn Reynolds’ ugly, foolish slur that anyone who opposed invading Iraq was “objectively pro-Saddam.” This accusation doesn’t make any more sense in 2013 than it did a decade ago, but I think I’ve finally figured out why people like Reynolds and Tabler trick themselves into thinking it does. They’re not really talking about foreign policy. They’re talking about theodicy. [Read more…]

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Smart people saying smart things

Linda J. Bilmes and Shelby Chodos: “Want to stimulate the economy? Let’s hand cash directly to the states“ A state-directed recovery initiative would be the quickest, easiest way to reduce unemployment and get the economy moving again. Congress would simply distribute money to the states, based on population and with no strings attached. Each state [Read More…]

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