Roger Answers Your Questions, Rosey and Lisa

Rosey at Dung Hoe Gardening asked:
Do you feel like we as a country have to fight every war for everybody? It’s [a] sticky question.

Well, yes, it is. But the answer to the question is clearly no. I mean, the United States hasn’t gotten involved in the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) yet, has it?

As a matter of policy, at least since Viet Nam, the position has generally been that the US engage in winnable wars, and only when they meet the nation’s strategic interests, whatever they may be at the moment. This has been boiled down to something called The Powell Doctrine, which “states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States”:

1.Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2.Do we have a clear attainable objective?
3.Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4.Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
5.Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6.Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7.Is the action supported by the American people?
8.Do we have genuine broad international support?

One could argue that our incursion into Libya doesn’t meet #2; Afghanistan hasn’t met #5, and #8 re Iraq is dubious. Other standards may not have been met also.

More cynically, The Daily Show described our foreign policy decisions this way.

To this day, Bill Clinton regrets his “personal failure” to prevent the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 people. But would the American people have supported a war in a country where no visible bogeyman had been inbedded in their collective consciousness, merely to save the lives of people in a country no one could find on a map, or spell?

I suppose, Rosey, your question was prompted by the Libyan situation. The Republican position has been all over the place, with some who were pushing for a “no-fly zone” weeks ago – by ourselves? really? – still kvetching about Obama’s “inaction”. I tend to be in that fairly bipartisan camp who’s concerned that we’re fighting a war (again) without a Congressional declaration of war.

Also, I worry about “mission creep”. Initially, it was about protecting the rebels (whoever the heck they are) against the excesses of Khadafi Gadaffy Qadaffi the Libyan leader, however you spell his name. But, if it’s going well, hey, why don’t we try to take him out, like we tried 25 years ago?

So, why the US goes to war tends not to be very tidy anymore, if it ever was.
Lisa at peripheral perceptions wants needs to know:
My burning question is: Did you take that photo yourself or did you *pose that way for someone? 🙂

When I went down to Charlotte, NC last month to see my mother, I was tooling around on the household computer. There I came across a bunch of photos I’d never seen from Lydia and my trip there in the spring of 2009; we were there then for my niece’s high school graduation. One of them was this one:

I didn’t remember it, but, for sure, the niece took it, not me, and I’m guessing that I was doing it for some effect, but I’m just not positive.

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