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A Brief Gedankenexperiment
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, February 22, 2007

Since this blog has both left- and right-leaning readers, I thought it might be interesting to post a brief thought experiment, and get some feedback from it. I'd like to pose a hypothetical political issue, and get your take on it. There are no "right" answers. I'm just curious to see what everyone thinks.

Divider

SITUATION:

Twenty years ago, the nation of Kaplokistan was a nominal US ally. Since then, civil government has been taken over by the military, and relations between Kaplokistan and the US have cooled significantly. The junta is generally anti-American, harboring animus against the US for all the usual reasons: Colonialism, Imperialism, etc. The Kaplokistani junta are also eager to restore the "past glories" of Kaplokistan, and, in furtherance of that goal, have, over the past several years, built a well-trained, professional armed force of significant size, including a blue-water navy and modern air force.

Much of the Kaplokistani generals' ire is directed at the neighboring state of Cyclonia. Cyclonia styles itself a "republic" but it is, in fact, a one-party dictatorship, which was formed after the overthrow of the young king thirty years ago. The king, who was sent into a relatively opulent internal exile, now lives in quiet wealth in the southern region of the county, bordering Kaplokistan. Cyclonia is not formally a US ally, but the governments of the US and Cyclonia are on friendly terms. Cyclonia is a relatively poor country, and its army, while much larger than that of Kaplokistan, is much more poorly led and trained.

After a period of increasingly "frank" diplomatic notes, Kaplokistan presents Cyclonia with an ultimatum to cede some disputed border territory or face invasion. When Cyclonia rejects the ultimatum, Kaplokistan invades, and takes over a large chunk of the country. They convince the former king—who has no love for the dictatorship of Cyclonia—to rule over that chunk of Cyclonia as their proxy.

The Cyclonian dictator, who has direct control over the military as well as the civil government, trades space for time, and uses harrassing tactics with his army, and partisan bands inside Kaplokistani-held territory, to attack Kaplokistani supply lines, and to force the Kaplokistani out of the countryside, in order to try and take back the lost territory eventually.

The president of the United States, John Doe, condemns the invasion, and recalls the ambassador to Kaplokistan for "consultations". The Kaplokistanis reciprocate. The president then bans all shipments to Kaplokistan of "strategic materials", including petroleum, metals, technology, and a wide array of raw materials needed by Kaplokistani industry. The president orders shipments of such materials to be re-routed to Cyclonia. Eventually, the President authorizes US "volunteers" (i.e. active duty military members who are given "leaves of absence") to go to Cyclonia and "join" the Cyclonian armed forces to help train and equip the Cyclonian army and air force, including taking part in combat missions, in Cyclonian uniform.

The Kaplokistani generals grow increasingly irritated by the loss of necessary war materials, and the increasing US support for Cyclonia. They categorically refuse to give up the Cyclonian territory they have conquered for any reason, and they feel they have the military power to back up that refusal. After a series of angry diplomatic notes with the US, Kaplokistan launches a major attack on a number of US bases in the region, putting them out of action, capturing some of them, and holding the surviving US military personnel as POWs.

The United States is now engaged in a major regional war with a serious military opponent.

QUESTIONS:

Do you agree with the actions of President Doe? Why or why not?

What alternate policies, if any, could President Doe have pursued which would have restored the territory of our new Cyclonian allies, while avoiding war with the Kaplokistanis? Or, should president Doe have minded his own business?
 
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Comments
Should have first engaged in a multi-lateral, UN based condemnation of the invasion. Important to involve the UN as quickly as possible and it would easily condemm such an invasion without too much dissent. The UN will probably not actually do anything, beyond passing a resolution against the invasion. The Kaplokistani’s are made aware that they are being watched, that further aggression is not acceptable and action such as "a major attack on a number of US bases in the region" will have a United Nations response. This may have prevented the attacks.

Should encourage the Cyclonian’s to change for mere harrassment tactics and attack Kaplokistan as soon as possible. Should not have used a covert deployment of advisors, should have marched the Marines in to assist in an UN mandated defence of Cyclonia.

Basically look as big and tough as possible, with many friends. Act strongly and see if they fold.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
I would have James T. Kirk secretly reprogram the simulation.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
He should have minded his own business. Let the violent idiots kill each other. They’ll get tired of it eventually, so let’s not try to stop them too early.
 
Written By: SJC
URL: http://
If a country violates the sovereignty of another country, that is an issue for the UN Security Council, which could authorize a Chapter 7 intervention. Only under those circumstances should the US have any involvement (including a weird defacto military intervention). I suspect that in a clear violation of sovereignty of another member state there would be widespread support at the UN for an intervention (as there was in 1990). As far as economic reprisals go, the US can and probably should refuse to send shipments to a state which has violated the sovereignty of another state. If the UN chooses to act, then the US should make sure that the burden of intervention is shared, and that the US won’t be left holding the bag and paying the costs if the intervention becomes expensive or unpopular at home.

If there is an attack on US bases after the UN has approved an intervention, or as a response to US cutting trade, then of course the US has the right to respond unilaterally. However, American military and political leaders should have the foresight to expect that possibility and work to make sure that those bases are not vulnerable to such attacks. They should also warn the country that the US can respond massively (not nuclear, to be sure) to such attacks. A country’s generals and leaders probably realize that while the US cannot force a political settlement on a country, it can overthrow a regime. The US did that in Iraq rather easily.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I admit it is my personal bias that I never considered involving the UN initially. After some reflection, I believe I’ll stick with my personal bias and not suggest that the US should have sought UN involvement.

I’m predisposed to think there are three justifications for the US to intervene in the conflict:

A clear US interest is threatened by the conflict
Cyclonia was a significant US ally BEFORE the conflict
Cyclonia is a free/open society that was attacked by an oppressive/closed society

If any of these conditions are met, then I think US intervention is justified. The first wasn’t mentioned, the second might or might not be so, and the third is not applicable in this case. So I’m not sure Doe should have even intervened.

If Cyclonia had promised to move towards a more free/open society as part of their plea for US help, then I suppose one could say that condition three applied. It would depend upon how much we trusted the Cyclonian government.

Taking intervention as a fait accompli, however, I think Doe’s tactics were reasonable up until he encouraged the informal involvement of US military personnel. I admit I haven’t reasoned out why this particular approach leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but it does. If the US participants in the conflict truly are volunteers—as per the involvement of US pilots in the defense of Britain—then I suppose I don’t have a problem with it. Your use of quotes around "volunteers" makes me worry about the specific meaning of this, though.
 
Written By: JMD
URL: http://
If I am reading your hypothetical correctly, you have left out an important element: nearby Kaplockistan and Cyclonia is another country, long a stable and worthy ally of the US. Let’s call that all Freedonia. Kaplockistan makes no secret that once Cyclonia is "pacified," they will be coming for Freedonia. And oh, by the way, that would completely surround US territory between Kaplockistan, Cyclonia and Freedonia.

And frankly, I think Doe did not have any options, really, except at the margins. Doe couldn’t allow Cyclonia to fall, because it would have made the US’s strategic position in the region (the result, ironically, of a war 50 years earlier) untenable. That in and of itself wouldn’t be bad, assuming Kaplockistan would not have done what they said they wanted to do, and taken the US territory once Freedonia was in their hands. Given the importance of freedom of the seas to American commerce, and the likelihood of the Kaplockistani navy (in many ways superior to our own of the time, given Kaplockistani cheating on prior arms control agreements) blocking that over routes crucial to the US, we would have taken a big hit if the Kaplockistanis were successful in Cyclonia and, particularly, Freedonia. Still and all, that would have been survivable.

But what was clearly not in the cards was the loss of our territory, and that territory was imperiled the moment the Kaplockistani army invaded Cyclonia. Now, how could we have defended ourselves? The Congress was in a severely anti-war mood, and it’s not like our military was particularly large or well-trained at the time. Indeed, Doe wasn’t able to get Congress to go along with expanding the military until a few years after the start of the events you noted, just months in fact before our bases in the region were attacked and our territory seized. Given that, the Kaplockistanis were convinced we wouldn’t fight, and deterrence was not possible. Our only real option was to limit Kaplockistan as much as we could, and economic sanctions and support of Cyclonia were valid strategic moves given the imperative to not lose our territory and our inability to directly defend it. The die was cast, and Doe’s options were few.

I do think that Doe could have limited the blowback somewhat had he been willing to put the military on a war footing in the region well before our bases were attacked, but any claims that he knew about and encouraged the attacks are specious at best. I think Doe could also have done the US a great service by leading Congress to realize the threat, but it’s possible the Congress would have refused to be led, given the pacifism of the time.

Of course, I could be misreading which situation you intended, but I don’t think I am.
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
Given the information provided, I fail to see that Kaplockistan’s invasion of Cyclonia presented a threat to America’s security. Spouting anti-American sentiments by themselves don’t add up to much. As such, Doe’s support of military action (in particular, letting American soldiers take up arms) against Kaplockistan was inappropriate.

I have no problem with the economic sanctions taken against Kaplockistan. We’re under no obligation to deal with or support countries that act badly... and to the extent sanctions makes them rethink their invasion, or makes them pause before moving on to their next target, so much the better.

And Doe was negligent in leaving our interests exposed to Kaplockistan attack. He should have made it very clear - through word and action - that the last thing Kaplockistan wanted to do was attack us. And there is no way our guys should have been caught off guard (was Doe being briefed by George Tenet?). Our forces should have been on full alert.

Other than that, he did fine.
 
Written By: steve
URL: http://
Very good, Jeff. Very good.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Jeff:

Unfortunately, although the Navy did have war plans to go to the aid of the US territories threatened by the Kaplokistanis, the distance and the lack of suitable bases along the way (as well as a modern fleet train) doomed those versions of the war plans. The navy essentially wrote off those territories and planned for recovery, not retention. The army, especially the local commander (a very strong-willed, arrogant, though talented general), were upset with this and did some aggressive planning. The lack of a secure supply route to the US was the rock on which those plans foundered.

And earlier arms reduction treaties with the US, Kaplokistan and other powers, resulted in those threatened US territories having very weak garrisons.

Considering the weakness of the US strategic position, there wasn’t, as you noted, much manuevering room for diplomacy. The US was left with one card to play diplomatically - ceasing the flow of strategic materials to Kaplokistan until it evacuated Cyclonia. The US was not militarily strong enough to force Kaplokistan to negotiate in good faith, and Kaplokistan wanted those resources, so they were tempted to just grab them rather than negotiate for them.

Truly a lesson on diplomacy - words are words unless there is something to back them up, and weakness tempts bullies.
 
Written By: Mikey NTH
URL: http://
Dale,
Don’t be worry about Kaplokistan - their industrial base is weak and they will make the mistake of not sending their ace fighters back to become instructors. I think we can lick them pretty well.

The real long term key is to somehow keep the Cyclonian Communist party from gaining strength during this war. Trust me - this will be a big problem in about 50 years or so.

p.s. All of these UN discussions are good BUT:

Does Kaplokistan have any allies on the UNSC? Does Kaplokistan in fact hold an UNSC seat (for all we know)

Here’s something not so theoretical: If China invaded Taiwan, which no one on the UNSC recognizes...will the US response "pass the global test?" What if China vetos? What if Russia vetos?

I keep telling the Taiwanese that their best friend is a unilateralist cowboy foreign policy, but they don’t always listen.



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Erb,

Only under those circumstances should the US have any involvement
Why only under those circumstances?
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
No the President has manuevered the US into a major regional war, to take the people’s minds off the failed economic policies of his regime! In fact, I can PROVE that President Doe knew of the coming attack on the US bases.

We should impeach Doe, immediately.....the miserable socialist.

And Dr. Erb, in this example the UN HAS been contacted... it has FAILED to act, effectively, in fact Kaplokistan has withdrawn from the UN. The UN failed to deal adequately with the Kaplokistani attack into Chanmukou and has failed to deal with Parco Molo Bridge Incident, it’s condemnations have merely prompted Kaplokistan to withdraw from the organization. Demonstrating the toothless nature of "Collective Security." In fact, the UN had already been emasculated when Linguiniland invaded Punt in a naked show of aggression and compounded it’s illegality by using mustard gas against the ill-equipped Punt army.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Also, we’d have to think of how other major powers—assuming there are any—reacted to the creation of the puppet state, and how our actions would be received globally.

In the "case" above, 23 states diplomatically recognized the new puppet regime, including several big players—with big militaries.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://nathansaper.com/blog/
President Doe’s handling of foreign policy at the time was imperfect but defensible. Diplomatic efforts to stymie Kaplokistan’s war efforts have failed and they have withdrawn from the UN. As part of their militarization process they had already abandoned a number of anti-escalation treaties with the US. And their invasion of Cyclonia was part of a multistage plan to acquire resources for larger conquests in the region. I’m not really comfortable with allowing our military to fight Cyclonia’s battles while on leave, but at the time we really needed war experience and that would come in handy later. Fortunately Cyclonia’s sheer population and Kaplokistan’s institutional resistance to change meant their war effort bogged down while we could got ours going.

Oh, and all this doesn’t even take Kaplokistan’s ally Schnitzellund on the other side of the globe. They violated peace treaties, remilitarized, and then started a shooting war with our honest to God allies like Islandia and Foiegras.

No, the real failure of Doe’s presidency was his economic policy. While many of his public works policies did employ people and build important infrastructure, they were funded through regressive taxation and stripping our military bare. We were down to using 2 by 4s for machine guns and throwing paint balloons at trucks marked "tank" for God’s sake! It wasn’t until we began revamping US industry to provide war materiel to support Islandia (and the Free Foiegras) against Schnitzellund that we really recovered from our long economic downturn and began to rebuild our military. Considering the length of Doe’s presidency, this is unacceptable.

I agree with Joe, Doe was a socialist whose legacy still deeply taints our society today.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
And Dr. Erb, in this example the UN HAS been contacted... it has FAILED to act, effectively, in fact Kaplokistan has withdrawn from the UN. The UN failed to deal adequately with the Kaplokistani attack into Chanmukou and has failed to deal with Parco Molo Bridge Incident, it’s condemnations have merely prompted Kaplokistan to withdraw from the organization. Demonstrating the toothless nature of "Collective Security." In fact, the UN had already been emasculated when Linguiniland invaded Punt in a naked show of aggression and compounded it’s illegality by using mustard gas against the ill-equipped Punt army.


You mix a thought experience with claims about reality. The UN has acted when there are egregious violations of sovereignty, and certainly can act. Remember, the UN is the member states. The Security Council consists of 15 states which, if they wish, can choose to act. My response was only a UN Chapter 7 intervention would be warranted; US involvement otherwise would be a mistake — we are not the world cop. Look at how the Iraq war has weakened the US, divided the country, and has led us to no longer be feared. Blame the anti-war movement if you like, but in any democracy like ours a large anti-war movement WILL inevitably form if there isn’t public consensus that a war is absolutely necessary. That has to be considered in a choice to go to war. That’s why Powell and Weinberger developed their doctrines on intervention.

Moreover, one cannot forget that the choice to go to war is a choice to accept the slaughter of innocents by the men and women of ones’ own country. You’d better be darn sure that the cause is worth it before you risk sacrificing the psychological well being of a country’s young people, the moral standing of a state, and of course the lives and tax dollars of that country’s population in a military conflict.

And if a war is started and turns out to have been the wrong choice, it is imperative that war get ended.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Moreover, one cannot forget that the choice to go to war is a choice

Is it and what of your Typology of WARS OF CHOICE and WARS OF NECESSITY? Because as I understand your theory the difference is VITAL, to the justification level necessary to sustain one over the other.

What are you talking about Dr. Erb...I am merely pointing ut what was occuring in the world SIMULTANEOUSLY with the Kaplokistani-Cyclonia War. The UN failed, though I got my timeline wrong...Kaplokistan occupied Chanmukou first, then there was the Parco Molo Incident, which sparked a renewal, then Kaplokistan withdrew from the UN, and THEN Linguiniland attacked Punt.

I would criticize President Doe for getting us involved in the war between Kaplokistan and Cyclonia, what National Interest was threatened? And then there are President Doe’s actions in re: Schnitzellund.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
And in the end look at who Doe ends up in bed with, the dictator Bushie Mustache of KrasnyOktybr....and Islandia is no great shakes either when you condsider their history of Imperialism and the suppression of self-determination in Chapatiland. I think we should be siding with Ben Kingsley who is leading the non-violent nationalists of Chapatiland, not siding with the likes Prime Minister Likes Brandy’nCigars of Islandia. In fact PM Brandyn’Cigars needlessly PROLONGS the war with Schnitzellund, peace could have been reestablished in 1940 had PM Brandyn’Cigars accepted the decision of Foigras to end the war with Schnitzellund. Really who is the war monger, Herr Hilter of Schnitzellund or Brandyn’Cigars?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
US citizens pretty much never should fight under the colors of another country, and they certainly should never be explicitly authorized to do so. That’s a lousy war for a President to force the hand of Congress. The decision to go to war should be made in the best interest of the country, not to get revenge for the deaths of a few adrelanine junkies with misplaced concepts of glory.

These days, existing boundaries are pretty much sacrosanct and the US should take a leadership postion at the UN to get support for a use of force authorization to expel the invaders.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Well Francis you miss the point, the VOLUNTEERS, WEREN’T volunteers. They were commissioned officers of the US Armed Forces, seconded to Cyclonia, they either "retired" or took "leaves of absenses"...at the suggestion of Pres. Doe. They are Pawns of Empire or Scapegoats of Empire if you like. They may be "mercenaries" but they weren’t "adrenaline junkies".

And Francis by this time Kaplokistan is no longer a member of the UN...I believe it and Linguiniland had left the UN by that time? As non-memebers can the UN compel actions of them? I am not sure of the legal basis for action, much less our moral basis for action....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I might also point out that Cyclonia is not an innocent victim in all this...Cyclonian citizens have moved thru the streets of Cyclonia’s commercial hub, Hijacked, and murdered the citizens of Kaplokistan, and I don’t mean officials and soldiers, I mean non-combatants, women and children...Cyclonia is quite xenophobic and the citizens of Kaplokistan are their especial targets. In similar circumstances the troops of Linguiniland, the United States, Islandia, Foigras and Schnitzellund have acted in concert to prevent the mass murder of foreigners in Cyclonia, in fact it is this Wrestlemania Rebellion that has placed the troops of Linguiniland, the United States, Islandia, Foigras and Schnitzellund inside Cyclonia.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
WARS OF CHOICE and WARS OF NECESSITY?
War is always a choice (all human action is a choice). Necessity would have to refer for the need to achieve a goal. To deep the state independent one has to fight off the invader, for instance, would make it a war of necessity assuming a goal of maintaining state independence.
And Francis by this time Kaplokistan is no longer a member of the UN...I believe it and Linguiniland had left the UN by that time? As non-memebers can the UN compel actions of them? I am not sure of the legal basis for action, much less our moral basis for action....
If the UN Security Council determines that a non-member is a threat to the peace of member states, it can authorize action against a non-member.

The moral question is more difficult. Kosovo is an example of a disastrous war fought on the basis of moral grounds. Yet ignorance of the atrocities in Bosnia and especially Rwanda create moral arguments against outside involvement. For me it would take large scale atrocities which are on going to justify intervention (otherwise intervention might do more harm to innocents than good), and it can only work if there is true burden sharing. Otherwise, people might legitimately say, "hey, why should my kids leave Ohio where they hae a great life and risk their lives because the Tutsis and Hutus hate each other?" So, yeah, the moral issue is difficult. It’s easy to say "we should do something," but what that something entails has to be seriously considered.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Necessity would have to refer for the need to achieve a goal.

A NON-Answer Doctor Erb actions are, by definition, designed to achieve a goal...again elucidate for us the distinction between wars of CHOICE and wars of NECESSITY.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
It seems obvious to me that President should redeploy all troops to a safe location and grovel to the Kaplokistani regime.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
War is always a choice...
Well, at least for one side. Ask the citizens of Kuwait if they "chose to go to war" in 1990. I suspect they would give a resounding "No!"
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
War is always a choice...
At least you noticed that line, Joe seems not to have.
Well, at least for one side. Ask the citizens of Kuwait if they "chose to go to war" in 1990. I suspect they would give a resounding "No!
Yeah, you’re right...if I wanted to be technical I could say that they still had a choice to either resist or simply give in, but that would be getting Clintonian in trying to parse the words. They are still experiencing war, and the choice was made by someone else.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm


" For me it would take large scale atrocities which are on going to justify intervention"

Now that you mention it,...

Are you really unaware of what is actually being discussed?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It is interesting (but not in the least surprising) that Professor Erb fails to recognize the Greater Kaplokistan Co-Prosperity Sphere when it is repeatedly paraded back and forth in front of him in this comments thread.

"Hell is upon us." - Kaplokistani general, quoted when assessing how things were turning out for his side later on.
 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www,no-treason.com
Are you really unaware of what is actually being discussed?
What historical awareness has he shown so far?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"What historical awareness has he shown so far?"

I know, but with all the clues that Joe has given, I am still a amazed. With that much help, I could have aced thermo.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Too much entropy in his system for his enthalpy to do any good.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
This senario sounds like China in the 1930’s. Japan was at war with China and FDR organized the "Flying Tigers" to help defend China, embargoed oil and other strategic materials. This brought about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and America’s entrence into WW2. We have a moral obligation to prevent wars of aggression. Chamberlin failed at Munich, giving Hitler the rational to invade Poland. If we follow his path, we will not avoid war, just put it off for a short time. In the senario, the President should put the nation on a "war footing" and make it clear we will not stand for agression.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
Well just got from a weekend of Do-Gooding and I know that this post is in vain, but:
Dr. Erb YOU’RE the one that keeps going on about Wars of Necessity and Choice and NOW you come back to ALL wars are wars of choice. Shallow reasoning, when pressed throw your ideas overboard and adopt your opponents’s?

As tot he Experiment, I hope I have shown to you how the Dr Erb’s of THAT era would ahve responded to the situation. Going on 70 years AFTER the fact we all agree that Jpan must have been stopped, even Dr Erb, BUT AT THE TIME IT WASN’T SO CLEAR....Again that’s for you Doc. I’m sure your son will be able to look back at Iraq and talk about the nexessity of the war and it’s morality, but will he be so clear-sighted in HIS time? And you, are you SURE that it’s NOT 1931-1937? Or will your son/grandson look back and ask you, how you could ahve been so BLIND to the dangers presented?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe,
The problem faced by FDR was the nation’s isolationism. He, General Marshall, and other recognized the danger but were politically hamstrung and unable to do much openly. The German Bunds along with Isolationists such as Lindbergh had the support of the majority of Congress. FDR helped Churchill under the table, but had he openly tried to mobilize the nation he may have been impeached.
Some may point to FDR’s problem’s similarity to Bush’s, we probably will not know the answer to that for another half century. Iraq now looks like a disaster, but you could have said the same until the Battle of Midway in WW II. It is impossible to judge the present.

"The majority of people are timid by nature, and that is why they constantly exaggerate danger. All influences on the military leader, therefore, combine to give him a false impression of his opponent’s strength, and from this arises a new source of indecision."
- Carl von Clausewitz

This seems to be the problem faced by the present administration. I don’t know if the war in Iraq was a good idea, that decision will be left to history.

 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://

Dr. Erb YOU’RE the one that keeps going on about Wars of Necessity and Choice and NOW you come back to ALL wars are wars of choice.
Where do I ’keep going on’ about that?

I do go on about how:
1. At least 4000 Americans are dead (contractors and military);
2. Likely over 100,000 Iraqis are dead
3. Sectarian violence of the kind that often takes generations to overcome has been unleashed, with the US unable to protect individual Iraqis;
4. The Iraqi government is apparently complicate in ethnic cleansing, and at the very least is close to Iran and extremely corrupt
5. Hundreds of billions of dollars has been used which otherwise could have been used on other things, including counter-terrorism.
6. The military is stretched thin, and the US is no longer feared or respected as it was before
7. America’s moral authority is questioned, and anti-Americanism is high even amongst allies; it could well be that this will be seen as the end of our ’unipolar’ period;
8. America is divided in a way that as a minor point leads to exchanges like this where I hurl some unnecessary insults and of course similar things are hurled at me, but at a more significant level create the danger of political stagnationn as two sides counter each other, each with extremely different world views.
And about:
I look at the situation, and don’t see any way the US can alter deep fundamental Iraqi divisions and differences, rooted in a political culture defined by corruption and force. Clearly a "surge" to levels of late 2005 can’t do much. We are engaged no longer in a war (which was won), but in a huge big government social engineering program. I have not seen any evidence that it can work, or that any real progress is being made.
What gets me is that if I somewhere threw out a phrase like ’war of necessity’ you fixate on that (and I’m sure I probably did use that phrase at some point) and ignore all these real specific arguments I’m making about the problems of this so-called war.

BTW, so-called isolationism worked to America’s favor in WWI and WWII. We were able to avoid paying the major cost of each war, being the center of activity, and to emerge as a stronger world power. Sure, we didn’t stop the European orgy of self-butchery or Japan’s desire for empire, but isolationism did put us in a position to benefit from entering those wars at the time of our choosing and on our own terms.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
" but isolationism did put us in a position to benefit from entering those wars at the time of our choosing..."

I would love to hear why FDR chose Dec ’41/Jan ’42 as the best time for us to "choose" to enter WWII.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It was not until the attack on Pearl harbor December 7 1941 that the insolation movement was discredited. The country was enraged by the “sneak” attack. Although he wanted to confront the Axis powers, FDR didn’t choose to enter the war. That choice was made by Japanese Admiral Yamamoto
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
I would love to hear why FDR chose Dec ’41/Jan ’42 as the best time for us to "choose" to enter WWII.
Good point! Yet it doesn’t address the basic point I made, namely, that isolationism served the US well in the first half of the 20th century.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Isolationism resulted in the United States being unprepared for it’s enviable entrance into World War two. Had the nation been prepared, instead of hiding behind the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the first years of the war would have been very different. At least we would have avoided the disastrous losses at Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island and Guadalcanal. Our lack of preparedness caused by the isolationist movement resulted in the deaths of many Americans. Had we followed an Internationalism policy, at least Japan may have ben deterred from invading China. Faced with a determined and well armed America, Hitler might have beet deterred from his militarism, and Chamberlain would have had the courage to support Chechoslovakia at Munich.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
"Good point! Yet it doesn’t address the basic point I made,"

Perhaps not, but it does address the point several people here have made, that your knoweledge of history is abominable, and any conclusions you come to based on it are probably flawed. Your basic point is also wrong(no surprise). Had we not been isolationist(and that, too, is not accurate), perhaps our influence could have averted WWII and other problems.

Treaty of Portsmouth, 1905
Washington Naval Conference, 1920
London Naval Conference, 1930
Kelogg-Briand Pact, 1928
US Naval and Marine Corps forces permanently stationed in China until WWII
Stimson Doctrine, 1932, and other interventions in the conflict between China and Japan
Various US interventions in Central America and Caribbean(Nicaragua, Haiti, etc,)
Montevideo Conference, 1933
Good Neighbor Policy, 1933

These are the product of 10 minutes of research and my memory. Pretty busy for isolationists, eh?

**********************************

"Isolationism resulted in the United States being unprepared for it’s enviable entrance into World War two."

Isolationism;
"A term most frequently used in the context of American history and politics, isolationism refers to a non-interventionist foreign policy which avoids what Jefferson termed "entangling alliances" with other countries."
http://worldnews.about.com/od/glossaryi/g/isolationism.htm

Other definitions are similar.


Isolationism does not necessarily require pacifism or military unpreparedness.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Isolationism does not necessarily require pacifism or military unpreparedness.

This is true, however you can not dispute the U.S. was unprepared for it’s entrance into World War Two, and the public’s insistence on not repeating the “War to end all Wars”. While government policies were not truly isolationist, the public temperament was.

The naval accords only prevented the building of battleships which proved to be irrelevant in a carrier based war.

The stationing of Marines in China was an holdover from the Boxer rebellion, designed to protect American commercial interest and counter balance the stationing of troops from other countries. They were withdrawn prior to Pearl Harbor. Support of China was the direct result of blatant Japanese militarism, perhaps we could have left China isolated, but Diplomatic gestures were all we could offer.

Our meddling in the banana republics was again purely support for commercial interest and is irrelevant to the discussion of World War II.

FDR was moving towards war with the “neutrality patrols” helping protect British convoys and “Lend lease”, he was moving as fast as he could considering public opinion and a Congress hostile to foreign military intervention.

You also cannot dispute, if America had rearmed in the mid 1930’s and presented solidarity with Britain and France, the war in Europe may have been averted. For that matter if Britain and France had actively confronted Germany, Hitler would have backed down. Unfortunately those governments were spending their money on satisfying public demand rather than preparing for war. Churchill rallied against this policy to no avail.

The whole matter boils down to the Roman axiom "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum".
("If you want peace, prepare for war") - Flavius Vegetius Renatus. Roman Military strategist. c. 390. A.D


Please try and make your case without resort to ad hominem attacks. That is the mark of one who is losing the argument.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://

You also cannot dispute, if America had rearmed in the mid 1930’s and presented solidarity with Britain and France, the war in Europe may have been averted. For that matter if Britain and France had actively confronted Germany, Hitler would have backed down. Unfortunately those governments were spending their money on satisfying public demand rather than preparing for war. Churchill rallied against this policy to no avail.
In the mid-thirties the Conservatives in Great Britain were far more worried about Bolshevism than fascism, and many thought a stronger Germany was a good barrier against bolshevism (Churchill didn’t but his party was ignoring him at that point). Instead, they decided to accept Hitler’s claim that he was another Bismarck, wanting only to get Germany equal rights and then willing to try to maintain the balance of power after that. They decided to undue the damage of the Versailles treaty with a policy that would have worked in the 20’s — appease what was seen as legitimate German interests so that Germany could have equality in the European system. Alas, appeasement assumed that all Hitler wanted was to undue the injustices of Versailles, and Hitler was bent on war.

The conservatives in Great Britain did not engage in the kind of new deal policies of FDR or the Popular Front in France, they thought the best way out of a depression was to tighten their belts and slog on through it.

France was in dissarray due to the depression as well, and while the Popular Front tried to form a strong stance against fascism, they ultimately collapsed. France and Great Britain were unwilling and/or unable to form a strong front against Germany. If they had, Hitler would have been deterred. If they had together simply confronted Hitler’s Rheinland militarization, Hitler might have fallen from power.

Given the depression, the lack of hindsight (we now know that war was coming to Europe, they didn’t — and some Americans were quite taken by the strength of fascism, such as Charles Lindbergh), and the context, positing a strong America standing alongside with Britain and France against Germany was very unlikely for many reasons, not just American isolationism.

You also have to keep in mind the security dilemma: when countries ’prepare for war’ in order to try to be able to defend themselves, that decreases the security of surrounding states who aren’t sure if the intent is defensive. They then also prepare for war, and soon you have heavy arms spending, distrust, and war becomes more likely. When one state gets the predominance of power (a unipolar system) that state gets tempted to use that power to try to shape the system to its interests and values, which also creates insecurity amongst other states who gang up against the powerful state. Usually unipolar systems are unstable because the unipolar power overestimates its ability to use that power to shape the system.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
BTW, it is an irony of history that Jean Monnet, the father of the European Union, spent WWII as an advisor to FDR, focusing on coordinating America’s plans to become the ’arsenal of democracy.’ Keynes said he thought Monnet’s planning efforts shortened the war by a year. In fact, Monnet persauded FDR in 1940 to start the massive industrail preparation for war.

Monnet’s key vision was cooperation across borders to work towards common interests. I think that, more than isolationism, is in the long run most in America’s interest.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"This is true, however you can not dispute the U.S. was unprepared"

Where have I disputed this?

"You also cannot dispute, if America had rearmed in the mid 1930’s and presented solidarity with Britain and France, the war in Europe may have been averted."

Where have I disputed this? In fact, I belive I said much the same;

"Had we not been isolationist(and that, too, is not accurate), perhaps our influence could have averted WWII and other problems"


"Please try and make your case without resort to ad hominem attacks."

Where have I attacked you? I will if you wish, but I see no reason to.

By the way, I am aware of the reasons for and background of the items I listed, and then some. Perhaps you can explain how they are examples of our isolationism.

Perhaps instead of isolationism, a more appropriate expression would be non-interventionism or neutrality. Switzerland has never been isolationist, yet they prepare for war, as does Sweden.

*************************

I would still love to hear how FDR managed to manipulate the Japanese and Germans to go to war against us at a time of our choosing.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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