SPARRING WITH THE HEAVYWEIGHTS
I have been introduced to and became an active member of the Blogosphere
in December 2002. I am a Democrat (I think). For three months now, I have watched a so-called “liberal hawk” contingent oscillate between “pro” and “against” war mode based on the flavor of the day.
If UNSC or Hans Blix provided a more or less “hawkish” sentiment, liberal hawks
would grow talons. However, it wouldn’t take much for them to immediately switch to chicken feet: a very direct statement by Bush administration perceived to be “harsh”; a European country’s (France or Germany) discontent with American leadership in the “war on terror” wrapped in a “unilateralist” argument; or a disagreeable with Democrats and liberals domestic agenda Bush is pushing for.
It’s quite simple actually-- I think that “liberal hawks” suffer from this Jekyl and Hyde
syndrome on a purely emotional level, as the real reason for their discontent with war bears explicitly party partisan notions. Consider this statement from Matthew Yglesias
I feel like the main thing we liberal hawks have been agonizing about is the various process issues surrounding the more-or-less inept manner in which the Bush administration has handled the build-up for war. Another important issue, however, is that a successful war would likely empower the administration to ram even more of its appalling domestic agenda through the congress. Perhaps even more interesting, however, is the converse fact.
The “converse” would, of course, require a very realistic
, almost “cynical” (as Matt puts it) answer to this question, posed by Matt to Kevin Drum of “Calpundit”, Sean-Paul of “The Agonist” and Josh of “TPM”?): Is opposing the war justified, if it’s motivated only by trying to hurt Bush’s chances of getting re-elected in 2004?
Or, conversely, I’d ask: How much personal responsibility is one willing to accept for taking a risk of jeopardizing American national security and preventing possible democratic processes around the world, while trying to undermine current administration’s credibility and play partisan party politics? Or better yet, what is the price one’s willing to pay for getting rid of Bush’s tax cut?
responds with a post and answers Matt’s question:
So if I thought that opposing the war had a chance of hurting Bush's re-election, it would probably be all the nudge I'd need to actually switch sides and oppose it. I've never thought that Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat, so postponing war for a while would have little downside, while getting rid of Bush would have a big upside.
Wow! If that’s not a hard and cold realist’s
assessment, then I don’t know what is? But only for a domestic portion of it, as this “liberal hawk” is sitting on the foreign policy
fence and waiting for its domestic policy
prey to materialize. Another words, being a “liberal hawk” in this sense is just having a flexible war sentiment “exit” strategy, should an opportunity present itself. Luckily, those opportunities abound, thanks to Dubya and his warmongering neocons
, with their poorly chosen rhetoric, finger pointing, names calling and general lack of style.
also answered the kettle call:
I'm so close to throwing the towel in on this one. Kevin pretty much has it right. Lies, arrogance, the bullying of our allies, the shifting rationales, all of which are justified by so many damn warbloggers as, 'hey, this is what nations do,' is a crock. Yeah, some nations do it. But we are America. We're supposed to be different. And this administration is tearing down an international system designed to prevent nations from acting in just this sort of way.
Granted, this has not been the smoothest war preparation and alliance building. Granted, the diplomacy
tactics used now aren’t the most ethical ones. However, as Sean-Paul is a student of International Affairs and a self described subscriber to Realism’s
approach to IA , I’d like to remind that one of the three foundations of thereof is that “politics is not a function of ethics, but rather, that ethics is a function of politics, and morality is the product of power.” (E.H. Carr The twenty years’ crisis 1919-1939
). Nevertheless, I see that too much importance is given to Bush’s, Rumsfelds, Wolfowitz’s, etc. personalities and how they’re not…nice? Well, again, realist
deals with human nature as it is, not as it should or could be. That is a key distinction between a “realist” and “idealist”.
Ideally, Bush could assemble an alliance, rally up support of all countries behind us, get UNSC to eagerly pass yet another resolution authorizing use of force and everything would go smoothly. Better yet, Saddam would go into exile and gave up. Ideally…
Morgenthau, in his “Politics among nations”
“realism believes in the possibility of distinguishing in politics between truth and opinion…between what is illuminated by reason, and what is only a subjective judgment, divorced from the facts as they are and informed by prejudice and wishful thinking.”
Like I said-- I am a Democrat, but I am not a “liberal hawk”. I will not switch because of partisan party politics or because I don’t like the Bush squints his eyes and points a finger when he calls Saddam an “evildoer”. I do not support war because I am a “neocon”, nor will I switch because Bush suggested to pay for war expenses with oil. I do not support war because it’s a popular, nor will I switch for exactly the same argument.
I do not support war because strengthens current administration’s domestic sphere of influence, nor will I switch because it’ll undermine it.
Prof.Drezner's similar take
on the topic.