The ‘Necessary Myth’ Is Bad for America and the World

Tom McTague praises America’s “necessary myth”:

The dumb simplicity of America’s interventions is often infuriating and obtuse, or even disastrously naive and destructive. It exists in people like Neal and Holbrooke, Bush and Biden. And yet if America stops believing in its myth, if it scurries back into the safety of its continental bunker, having decided it is now just another normal nation, then a cold wind might start to blow in places that have become complacent in their security. When the dumb simplicity is removed, the complexities of the world start growing back.

This is what Ukraine fears and others in Europe expect. In the end, though, what really matters is which story America believes, and for how long.

The myth that McTague is referring to is essentially the belief that U.S. dominance is good for the world, and that the US acts for the good of the world as it acts in its own interests. As he puts it, “America believes that it is a superpower, but an anti-imperial one, founded in opposition to arbitrary force, monarchy, foreign domination, and the like. Its supremacy, unlike other imperial powers, is good for everyone.” Like every other self-flattering story that empires tell about themselves, this one is also a lie. Whatever else one wants to say about US foreign policy over the last seventy-seven years, one cannot call it anti-imperial. It has certainly not been good for everyone, and one can argue that the pursuit of what Stephen Wertheim calls “armed primacy” has frequently been very bad for the United States and the rest of the world.

The US should absolutely reject the “idea that convinces US leaders that they never oppress, only liberate, and that their interventions can never be a threat to nearby powers.” We should all reject it because that idea is false and dangerous, and ultimately nothing good can come from something so much at odds with reality. As McTague acknowledges, this bad idea “lies at the core of its most costly foreign-policy miscalculations” when the US projects its own desires and interests onto other nations and then acts surprised when they have their own very different preferences and interests. It isn’t possible to conduct a competent and constructive foreign policy if our policymakers keep making these errors, and they make these errors at least in part because they believe in this false idea. The myth may keep the US actively meddling in the world, but that isn’t doing our country or the world any favors.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

Scam Alert! Ukraine Demands $750 Billion… For ‘Reconstruction’!

As Ukraine continues to lose ground in the east, its leaders are inexplicably demanding three-quarters of a trillion dollars to “reconstruct” areas controlled by Russia. Once widely considered the most corrupt country in Europe, Western leaders have already dumped in billions with zero oversight. Will they keep writing checks? Also today, Saudis laugh at Biden’s request for more oil. And…JP Morgan warns of $380/barrel oil.

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Does Targeted Killing ‘Work’?

Christopher Mott makes the case for restoring normal relations with Venezuela:

Danielle Pletka wants you to know that she thinks targeted killing “works”:

Targeted killing has become a tool of statecraft because it works, in the sense that it achieves the limited goals prescribed: A key individual, critical to an enemy’s agenda, is gone. It will not end Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but it can slow it down. It will not end Iran’s missile program, but it will cause many Iranians who might have signed up to think twice about the risks.

As with anything a government does, when someone says that something “works” our first question should always be, “works to do what?” Do sanctions work? If the goal is to impoverish and starve people, then they work very well in their cruel, sadistic way. If it is to achieve constructive changes in policy or changes in regime, they usually never work. The same goes for assassinations, as our government’s practice of targeted killing with drones should have already taught us long ago. Killing someone at the top can temporarily disrupt a terrorist organization, but in practice it tends to make that organization more dangerous and radical. Leaders can be replaced, and others will step up to fill the role that the dead men had. Short-term “successes” often lead to long-term failure. The entire “war on terror” is a huge, bloody cautionary tale that you cannot kill your way out of these problems.

Can a government successfully target and kill specific individuals? Obviously, it can. Does that achieve anything beyond murdering those people? That is much less clear. In the case of Israeli assassinations of Iranian officials and scientists, these tactics backfire all the time. Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program, but today it is closer to having one than it was just a few years ago because of Israeli assassination and sabotage attacks. If Iran ever does build a nuclear weapon, it will have to send the Mossad a gift basket for helping to encourage them to go all the way.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.