Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Democratic Peace Theory

Obama is Wrong to Consider Military Action in Iraq

The Obama administration is considering taking military action in Iraq against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical Sunni group that has taken up residence in the territory of both states. ISIS, also known as ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) recently seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Its goal is to seize Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, turning these countries into one united Islamic state. While ISIS’ goals are hostile to US interests in the Middle East (and to the interests of the various peoples they seek to rule over), the United States should take no military action against ISIS. Here’s why.

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Tomas Young’s Iraq War Letter

So today there’s an open letter going around the internet from a fellow by the name of Tomas Young directed toward George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Young is terminally ill and has chosen to parlay that into an opportunity to vent his anger at Bush and Cheney over the feckless war they waged in Iraq. Having myself been opposed to the Iraq War as early as 2002 (and yes, I was quite young to be in opposition), I agree with some of what Young has to say, but I think he makes a common mistake in conflating two contradictory responses to the war.

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What Motivates America?

Today in one of my seminars I heard it asserted that American foreign policy was motivated by Islamophobia, the fear of Islam and Islamic culture.  This claim struck me as quite slanderous, but it also drew something to my attention–many people in the world do not have an understanding of why my country of origin behaves as it does, and so the motivations are frequently filled in with cheap, easy explanations that mask the complexities of American foreign policy.  So today I shall endeavour to provide an answer that I hope will satisfy readers both foreign and domestic as to why the United States behaves as it does.

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The Foreign Policy Borg

One of the most common criticisms of Obama from the left is that his foreign policy is not discernibly all that different from that of late period George W. Bush–Guantanamo was never  closed, Obama employed a surge strategy in Afghanistan, drone attacks were used, troop numbers continued to decline in Iraq, it all felt, and perhaps it all feels, as though nothing has changed. At the same time, many on the left like to argue that, were Kerry or Gore elected, things would have been quite different, that Bush was discernibly distinct from Clinton. The historical record shows this to be false–Bush’s foreign policy amounted to a mere evolution of Clinton’s military interventionism and embrace of the democratic peace theory, the notion that democracies promote peace and prosperity and that, consequently, democracy should be spread to foreign lands. It’s not as if the interventions in Somalia and Yugoslavia during the nineties were motived in any way significantly differently from the reasoning eventually supplied for the occupation of Iraq–spreading freedom, ending tyranny, and so on down the line. Of course, when these people were running for office, they talked a different game. They tried to draw distinction from their predecessors and purported to offer a serious foreign policy alternative–Mitt Romney as we recall attempted this very line of argument. So why is it that our presidents get assimilated into the foreign policy borg and adopt policies that are, for the most part, quite similar to those adopted by their predecessors? That’s today’s topic of investigation.

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