Intervention in Haiti Is Still the Wrong Answer

The Washington Post is still banging the drum for foreign intervention in Haiti:

Those who called for international intervention following Mr. Moïse’s killing, including this page, have been criticized for overlooking the checkered history of such attempts in the past, including the US Marine Corps’s 19-year occupation of Haiti a century ago, and the United Nations-authorized insertion of US troops by the Clinton administration in the mid-1990s. In this century, a U.N. stabilization force was deployed in Haiti for 13 years, until 2017.

Those interventions were problematic [bold mine-DL]. In the most recent instance, UN soldiers sent to Haiti from Nepal were the conduit for what became one of the world’s most severe cholera epidemics, and other UN troops fathered hundreds or more babies born to penniless local women and girls, amid credible allegations of rape and sexual exploitation.

Yet for all its unintended consequences, outside intervention could also establish a modicum of stability and order that would represent a major humanitarian improvement on the status quo, and with it, the prospect of lives saved and livelihoods enabled. In the cost-benefit analysis that would attend any fresh intervention, policymakers must be alert to the risks, but also to the enormous peril of continuing to do nothing.

Like their previous editorials calling for military intervention in Haiti, this one waves away the destructive consequences of previous interventions as if they don’t matter. They were “problematic”! I suppose that’s one way to describe an occupation that violently suppressed rebellions by committing atrocities against the civilian population and imposed a system of forced labor on the country, but it shows that the Post editors are so fixated on this idea of intervening in Haiti that they don’t mind minimizing and whitewashing one of the most shameful chapters in U.S.-Haitian relations. Even if we allow that a military intervention today would would not be as harmful as that one was, that doesn’t mean it would do much good or that it would be welcomed by the Haitian people.

Read the rest of the article at Eunomia

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.

Conflicts of Interest: Colin Powell’s Career Supporting the War State guest Scott Horton

On Conflicts of Interest #177, the great Scott Horton returns to the show to discuss the true legacy of Colin Powell, who served in many high-level roles during his long career in government. Scott breaks down Powell’s infamous UN speech that swayed millions of Americans to support the Iraq War. However, Powell’s bloody legacy stretches far beyond the 2003 invasion, all the way back to the Vietnam War. Scott explains Powell was wrongly lauded as a successful military leader and then used his faux reputation to sell the American people on war. 

Scott also discusses his take on his debate with Bill Kristol at the Soho Forum. 

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Nikki Haley’s Ridiculous Demand to Escalate Economic War Against Iran and China

Nikki Haley reminds us why we are fortunate that she is no longer representing our country at the U.N.:

Iran and China have recently taken their alliance a step further. Last year, they finalized a “strategic partnership” that commits Beijing to investing $400 billion in Iran over 25 years. In exchange, China will get long-term access to discounted Iranian crude supplies and deepen its presence in Iran’s ports, railways, telecommunications and elsewhere. The agreement also strengthens their military ties.

Haley is wrong to say that Iran and China have an “alliance.” The agreement she cites creates nothing of the kind, and China already has more significant economic relationships with Iran’s neighbors and rivals than it has with Iran. She credulously repeats a $400 billion figure that seems to be based on nothing. A few early reports included this bogus figure, and then it has been repeated despite the fact that it makes no sense. Bill Figueroa explained this last year:

Third, the terms of the document itself have been greatly exaggerated. The quoted figure, four hundred billion dollars, seems extraordinarily unlikely given China and Iran’s current economic capabilities and the impact of international sanctions. Claims that Chinese military personnel will be stationed in Iran are similarly dubious. Doing so would also be nearly impossible given the Iranian public’s long-standing hostility to the presence of foreign armies and the legacy of repeated British and Russian occupations. The Chinese and Iranian press have also been silent on the news, and Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh denied that such massive investment was incoming. According to Scita, the head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, also referred to the report as “a joke.” It seems clear that no massive investment is forthcoming.

So much for the grand Sino-Iranian alliance. Haley and the other hawks at the misnamed United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) are not interested in accuracy. They will latch on to any claim, no matter how false, to bolster their fearmongering about Iran and China. Haley wants to exaggerate the significance of Iran-China ties to build support for taking a harder line against both, and in the process she confirms once again that Iran hawks in general and UANI in particular have no interest in resolving the nuclear issue. They prefer to keep it around so that they can demagogue it and use it as an excuse for more coercive policies.

Read the rest of the article at Eunomia

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.

10th Anniversary of Obama Killing a Young American

Last week was the 10th anniversary of the drone killing of Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, a 16-year-old born in Colorado and killed in Yemen. He perished as part of Obama’s crackdown on terrorist suspects around the world. His father, who was also an American citizen, was killed two weeks earlier by another drone strike ordered by Obama.

I wrote a piece condemning Obama’s assassination program for Christian Science Monitor in 2011, “Assassination Nation: Are There Any Limits on President Obama’s License to Kill?” I derided the Obama administration’s claim that the president possessed a “right to kill Americans without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object…. Killings based solely on presidential commands radically transform the relation of the government to the citizenry.”

Readers responded by calling for my assassination. My article mentioned an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit pressuring the Obama administration “to disclose the legal standard it uses to place US citizens on government kill lists.” “Will R.” was indignant: “We need to send Bovard and the ACLU to Iran. You shoot traders and the ACLU are a bunch of traders.” (I was pretty sure the ACLU was not engaged in international commerce). “Jeff” took the high ground: “Hopefully there will soon be enough to add James Bovard to the [targeted killing] list.” Another commenter – self-labeled as “Idiot Savant” – saw a grand opportunity: “Now if we can only convince [Obama] to use this [assassination] authority on the media, who have done more harm than any single terror target could ever dream of … ”

Continue reading “10th Anniversary of Obama Killing a Young American”

Misjudging the Balance of Interests in Taiwan

Matthew Kroenig cannot make a case that Taiwan matters more to the U.S. than it does to China, so he tries to make a war over Taiwan into being about something much broader than it would be:

I wouldn’t be so quick to cede the balance of interests to Beijing. The United States and its allies have built and defended a rules-based system over the past 75 years that has produced unprecedented peace, prosperity, and freedom globally. I don’t want to trade that in for a world in which Americans stand by as revisionist autocracies like China gobble up neighbors by military force – or, worse, lose a hegemonic war leading to the end of this order and the rise of a Chinese-led system.

It is not Kroenig’s intention to do this, but this rhetorical move on his part illustrates how potentially dangerous a lot of the talk about a “rules-based order” can be. If you treat the defense of Taiwan as a test case of the US willingness to uphold the entire “rules-based system” of the last 75 years (no laughing, please), you are trying to rig the scales. Kroenig wants us to believe that the UShas to defend Taiwan or risk the collapse of the entire edifice of post-WWII institutions and alliances. This is the bogus credibility argument on methamphetamines.

The US doesn’t have vital interests in Taiwan, and it shouldn’t go to war to defend it. For that reason, the USshouldn’t make an explicit security commitment that would oblige the US to go to war. Kroenig tries to get around this by making Taiwan stand in for the entire global system when it does not. When hawks are forced to make an argument like this, it is always a good sign that the US doesn’t have enough interests in a place to justify going to war over it. One problem with Kroenig’s argument is that the Chinese government can probably see through the smokescreen to realize that US interests in Taiwan are not great enough to risk a war. He thinks that an explicit guarantee would be “helping them not to miscalculate,” but making an explicit commitment is bound to provoke a challenge rather than discourage one.

Half a century ago, hawks insisted that fighting in South Vietnam was critically important to containment worldwide, and they were horribly wrong. For the last twenty years, hawks have insisted that fighting in Afghanistan was essential to keeping the United States safe from international terrorism, and they were horribly wrong. Now China hawks want us to believe that the fate of the entire “rules-based system” hinges on whether the US gets into a war over Taiwan that it will probably lose. What are the odds that their judgment is any better this time? It is the same story every time: invest a peripheral theater with much more importance than it really has and bog the US down in an unwinnable war that it didn’t have to fight.

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.