Wednesday, August 28, 2013
In another war with no moral high ground
There is no reason for us to wrap ourselves in a cloak of high morality just to bomb the shit out of one side or another.
The United States helped protect the last Middle Eastern tyrant thought to use chemical weapons.Just another way to get people to support something that they know is wrong any way you look at it.
That dictator was Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Because he was fighting Iran in the 1980s, the Reagan administration fed him secret intelligence. And because his country bought U.S. crops, farm-state politicians fought off sanctions.
Now, amid allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria, the Obama administration is preparing a case for military action. Moral assertions will be paramount, as in Secretary of State John Kerry’s declaration Monday that “our sense of basic humanity is offended.”
History, though, offers a harsher perspective. From Iraq and Syria, to Rwanda and Armenia, morality as a motive in U.S. foreign policy is more contingent than absolute.
“It’s quite selective. The government knew of the fact that Iraq was using chemical weapons, and did not deter them,” Joyce Battle, an analyst at the National Security Archive, a nonpartisan research center, said in an interview Tuesday. “But when it’s thought to be in U.S. interests, the government will adopt a moralistic stand when it wants to justify its policies.”
Put another way, foreign policy calculations are invariably cold-blooded, notwithstanding moral declarations. Stirring words can be worn like a new cloak during a campaign, then set aside for action.
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