Paul Waldman gives some context for the next US bombing mission
An article in The American Prospect by Paul Waldman is well worth reading:
It seems obvious at this point that 1) The Obama administration is going to drop some bombs on something or someone in Syria, even if no one is yet sure what or whom; and 2) This is something they’d rather not do.
Back when George W. Bush was president, he and his team were practically giddy with excitement over the Iraq War, and much was made of the fact that nearly all the top people whose loins were burning to blow stuff up and send other people’s children to fight had themselves worked hard to avoid serving in Vietnam. But the truth is that whether we’re talking about a Republican administration filled with eager armchair warriors or a Democrat administration filled with peaceniks, everyAmerican president eventually scrambles the jets and orders the bomb bays loaded. And when you step back to look at all our military adventures, every invasion and police action and no-fly zone, you can’t help wonder whether we’ll ever see a presidency in which we don’t project our military force over somebody else’s borders. Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s secretary of State, once said to Colin Powell, “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”, and the implicit answer seems to be, none at all.
So I thought it would be worthwhile to take a quick look at some of the places we’ve invaded, bombed, or otherwise used our military on just in the last half-century, to put this in context: . . .
Continue reading. Later in the article:
. . . This is a partial list, excluding the dozens of times we’ve shot down a jet or sent a small number of troops somewhere to help an ally put down a rebellion (here’s a much more comprehensive list). It doesn’t include the proxy wars we’ve waged in places like Nicaragua. It doesn’t include all the places we’re now using drones to pop off the occasional suspected terrorist, like Pakistan and Yemen. And it obviously excludes the lengthy list of places we sent our military in the country’s first century and a half.
Some of these operations worked out very well, others didn’t. And just to be clear, this history doesn’t tell us whether bombing Syria is a good idea or a bad idea. But if you’re wondering why people all over the world view the United States as an arrogant bully, reserving for itself the right to rain down death from above on anyone it pleases whenever it pleases, well there you go. It doesn’t matter whether you think some or even all of those actions were completely justified and morally defensible. From here, we tend to look at each of these engagements in isolation, asking whether there are good reasons to go in and whether we can accomplish important goals for ourselves and others. But when when a new American military campaign begins, people in the rest of the world see it in this broader historical context. . . .
Kevin Drum comments:
This is a perspective that’s sorely missing from most mainstream discourse. Too many Americans have a seriously blinkered view of our interventions overseas, viewing them as one-offs to be evaluated on their individual merits. But when these things happen once every three years, against a backdrop of almost continuous smaller-scale military action (drone attacks, the odd cruise missile here and there, sending “advisors” over to help an ally, etc.), the rest of the world just doesn’t see it that way. They don’t see a peaceful country that struggles mightily with its conscience and only occasionally makes a decision to drop a bunch of bombs. They see a country that views dropping bombs as its primary means of dealing with any country weaker than we are.