Thursday, July 09, 2009

# Posted 7:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WORLD WAR I -- NOT WORTH WINNING: Dismayed realist Andrew Bacevich starts his column in the LA Times by arguing the British should've accepted a compromise with Kaiser Wilhelm instead of fighting to win. Their reward for victory was opening the door to Hitler, Stalin and World War II. Or as Bacevich puts it, "seeds of totalitarianism had been planted, producing in their maturity an even more horrendous war."

With that kind of logic, you can pretty much argue that the British should've let the Germans take over Europe in 1914, since they should've known that an even worse bunch of Germans would take over Europe in 1939 and 1940.

Ibn Muqawama is also unhappy with Bacevich's column, especially his pious call for
no more wars of choice; henceforth only wars of necessity. The United States will use force only as a last resort and even then only when genuinely vital interests are at stake
Ibn Muqawama shrewdly asks,
how do you tell a "war of choice" from a "war of necessity?" That's entirely dependent on your definition of "last resort" and "genuinely vital interests," and I think there's a legitimate debate to be had on both. Let's not forget that most Americans probably would have called the Afghan war a "necessity" not long ago, even though we might have continued to try negotiating for the Taliban to hand over bin Laden...Go further back to the 1991 Gulf War, which is commonly thought of now as a clear-cut war of necessity (Richard Haass has just written an entire book about this), and you'll find that many people considered it a bad war of choice at the time, arguing that we needed to give sanctions and diplomacy more time to work.
In other words, even in hindsight, the distinction between wars of choice and wars of necessity is fairly blurry. As a matter of fact, some people still argue that it wasn't worth fighting World War I...

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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Is there even one instance of sanctions acheiving their goal?
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