The Stain of Iraq

My partner in thought-crime brushed up against a very important thought a few days ago. While the debacle that is Iraq is a daily reminder of the grievous cost of intervention we must consider this cost in light of the alternative of non-intervention. Congo is a perfect case in point. It may seem an obvious idea that there is also a cost to not intervening, but the tenor of the debate around Iraq suggests that it is not as obvious as one might think at first blush. Indeed, I think the meta-question surrounding American foreign policy is this: How far has the liberal internationalist agenda been set back by the botched effort in Iraq? How chastened will America – and the larger Western community – be in the face of grievous human rights violations going forward?

The editorial that graces the forthcoming issue of The New Republic demonstrates the difficulty of advocating the importance of a moral foreign policy – if not rooted then very deferential to the idea of a “Responsibility to Protect” – in the shadow of Iraq.

Postscript: “Idealism — sometimes naive but usually inspiring — has always guided American foreign policy,” writes Gerard Baker in the Times of London. “Whatever the truth behind the fierce little human drama being played out now inside the Bush family, it would be an awful shame if it were to be abandoned.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Internationalists, Intervention

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