Edwardian Evasions

Via Matt Yglesias, here’s John Edwards’ position on the withdrawal-from-Iraq question:

When we say complete withdrawal we mean it. No more war. No combat troops in the country. Period. But we’re also being honest. If John Edwards is president, we’re not going to leave the American Embassy in Iraq as the only undefended embassy in the world, for example. There will be Marine guards there, just like there are at our embassies in London , Riyadh , and Tokyo . And just the same, if American civilians are providing humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people, we’re going to protect them. How in good conscience could we refuse to protect them and then allow humanitarian workers to be at risk for their lives or the work not to happen at all? Finally, it’s also Senator Edwards’ position that we will have troops in the region to prevent the sectarian violence in Iraq from spilling over into other countries, for counter-terrorism, or to prevent a genocide. But in the region means in the region – for example, existing bases like Kuwait , naval presence in the Persian Gulf , and so forth. I hope this helps explain Senator Edwards’ position.

Shorter version: When we say complete withdrawal, we mean something else entirely.

Since we’re building the largest embassy everanywhere — in Iraq, one can only wonder how many thousands it will take to “protect” it. In any case, won’t that make for a rather inviting target? Aside from which, how many thousands more will it take to protect the humanitarian workers? Add to that the many more who will be right next door in Kuwait and Qatar, ready to re-invade in order to prevent the chaos we created from spreading.

I disagree with Yglesias — who doesn’t find anything too objectionable in Edwards’ formulation – in that I don’t think we need a force in the region to deal with “contingencies.” If the oil  companies want to protect their investment, then let them hire a private security firm: they’re rich enough to deal with their own “contingencies.” Why is it necessary for a libertarian to explain this to a self-described “progressive”?

What is needed is a candidate who will break, not just with Bush-ism, but with interventionism. It isn’t a matter of who will bring in the best “team,” as Yglesias puts it, but who will bring in a new foreign policy paradigm.