Stop promoting democracy

Promoting democracy abroad has become a cornerstone of American foreign policy — or at least of American foreign policy rhetoric. This is a mistake. Democracy is, of course, a Good Thing. I am eager to see it spread to the billions of people around the world who do not enjoy it today. But democracy is [Read More...]

Falling Down

The 1993 movie Falling Down doesn't quite add up. Ebbe Roe Smith's screenplay wants to explore some interesting ideas about the relationship between violence and impotence, but director Joel Schumacher — the hack who made Batman and Robin — is much more interested in revelling in that violence than in understanding it. Still, no movie [Read More...]

No planning = unjust war

Like the pope, I opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq because, among other reasons, I found it impossible to defend according to the jus ad bellum criteria of the just war tradition. Specifically, I was far from convinced that we had reached the necessity of last resort; I believe that “preventive” or “pre-emptive” wars require [Read More...]

On The Mexican War

I posted the following letter from Rep. Abraham Lincoln (W, Ill.) to his law partner William H. Herndon twice during 2003, but the archives appear to be bloggered. The letter is still relevant and I'm reposting it here. The text of the letter can be found in Vol. 2 of the Complete Writings of Abraham [Read More...]

“Not Everyone Was Wrong”

"The sanctions exist … for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. … And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." – Secretary of State Colin [Read More...]

Deer meets headlights

Thursday's winning entry in the panicked interviewee category is Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), who is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves, on CNN's Paula Zahn Now. Buyer was intent on reciting a carefully rehearsed statement about how John Kerry "desecrated" his uniform by not continuing the Cold War arms race after the Cold [Read More...]

Empire Nation Building

Josh Marshall's long-awaited "empire" review essay is in this week's New Yorker. You can read it online here. Marshall uses terms like "imperial" descriptively, not pejoratively and not as a dismissive epithet. It is simply the case that the United States now possesses unrivaled military might and, in various ways, functions rather like an imperial [Read More...]

The demographics of evil

I haven't read former ambassador Mark Palmer's new book, Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025, which has the two-edged honor of being touted by U.S. Department of State. Ousting dictators is, of course, a Good Thing. Palmer's reference to the "world's last dictators," however, seems a [Read More...]