Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dana Garrett misses the point--just slightly--but when you're using hand grenades, close counts....

At Delaware Watch, Dana draws our attention to a post from CommonDreams.org (not a place I would have gone without his prompting, I admit) regarding US military atrocities in the Korean War.

Everybody--every American should read this post, now.

Here's what Dana says:

This can't be true because everything the US does is good by definition. Why, it's tautological: the USA equals good.

The US committed war crimes? That can't be. Only the enemies of the US commit war crimes because the US says so and as we all know, the US never lies.

He's right, but I think he misses the point--partly.

Wars--no matter who fights them--are the repository of murder, mayhem, and atrocity. A Just War is at least theoretically possible, a Good War in the sense of honorable conflict without barbarism is simply not possible.

It hasn't been possible in any war America has ever fought.

What is thoroughly reprehensible is that American foreign policy makers have internalized a lesson from Europe, specifically the military theorist Karl von Clausewitz, that war is the extension of politics by other means. This concept legitimizes war not for defense, but as a voluntary option for the conduct of American foreign policy.

Ironically, in the age of the Framers (or, with a nod to Dana, the Founding Foreskins), war was explicitly conceived of as resulting from the FAILURE of foreign policy.

It is not so much the asinine self-satisfied smirk of American exceptionalism and the we-can-do-no-wrong-because-we're-always-the-good-guys mentality that bothers me as much as the failure of our politicians to come to grips with the idea that an imperialistic-interventionist-militaristic American foreign policy will inevitably lead to more of what you should just have read about in Korea.

In that sense, Dana has evoked the past and the present, while I'm more scared of the future.

There's a Charles Dickens book in here somewhere.

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