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Casus Contendentes (Now With Update)

Burt Likko wonders whether, despite the unmitigated human rights awfulness that is the nascent would-be state forming in northern Iraq, swallowing our idealism and adopting a strategy of economic containment wouldn’t be a more practical alternative to making war against ISIS.

UPDATE: Reaction to President Obama’s address of September 10.

A Vast Silence

The New York Times ran a story that took Burt Likko’s breath away in outrage when he read it last night. But apparently, he’s pretty much the only one.

A Theoretical Case for a Romney Presidency From a Foreign Policy PoV.

Over at Blinded Trials the esteemed Dr. Saunders has a post up about how W. Mitt Romney, much like John McCain before him, has managed to alienate potential voters with his mendacity and pandering to the Republican base. In response to said post Jaybird says: There is a part of me that is vaguely troubled by the…

Conflicting Accounts of Obama’s Foreign Policy Achievements

Andrew Sullivan wants Obamaites to more aggressively tout the President’s foreign policy achievements: “I think the Obamaites need to be more aggressive in foreign policy arguments. Obama ended one war in Iraq, dispatched Osama bin Laden and Muammar Qaddafi without a single US casualty, re-set relations with Russia, brought unprecedentedly united international pressure against Iran’s nuclear bomb potential, wiped…

The Bush Revival

Inspired by this incredibly silly post, I thought I’d recommend an old but prescient article from Ross Douthat on the all-but-inevitable recovery of Bush’s foreign policy reputation. It is staggering to think that a President who embroiled the nation in one of the most irresponsible wars in our history would live to see the rehabilitation…

Tunisia and Iraq

The analytical gymnastics Jennifer Rubin is forced to perform here to defend the invasion of Iraq are pretty impressive. If the Tunisian revolution spurs reform in neighboring countries, her line of reasoning goes, Iraq’s quasi-democratic political process must be having a similar effect in the region. I know little about the Middle East and less…

Wars of plunder?

In an uncharacteristically silly post, Erik asserts that all wars are either defensive or driven by “plunder.” He also suggests that the United States’ invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were somehow motivated by a nefarious cabal bent on self-enrichment. I find this line of analysis wildly unpersuasive. A quick survey of human history reveals innumerable…

The Surge – it worked!

A pretty fair-minded assessment from Abu Muqawama: If you want to argue that getting involved in Iraq in the first place was a stupid decision, fine. I agree with you. But trying to argue that the Surge “failed” at this point — even if Iraq someday descends anew into civil war — simply isn’t a…

Of Elections and Insurgencies

Stephen Lee Myers in the New York Times: Defying a sustained barrage of mortars and rockets in Baghdad and other cities, Iraqis went to the polls in strength on Sunday to choose a new Parliament meant to outlast the American military presence here. Insurgents here vowed to disrupt the election, and the concerted wave of…

Party like it’s 2004

Victor Davis Hanson won’t give up the fight: The president apparently does not realize that in Iraq too there was a coalition, that the Iraq War was approved by both houses of Congress on 23 grounds (only two dealing with WMD), and that more and more evidence is emerging concerning the terrorist ties between Saddam…

Because, as we all know, Military Spending Doesn’t Count

New York Times: The nation’s top military officer said Wednesday that he expected the Pentagon to ask Congress in the next few months for emergency financing to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though President Obama has pledged to end the Bush administration practice of paying for the conflicts with so-called supplemental funds…

The Course(s) of Iraq

Sully writes the following in the wake of the recent horrific bombing in Iraq: But the surge failed in its core task: to create an environment in which the three major sects in Iraq could form a national government, a national army, and a stable balance between the three major centrifugal forces in the country…

George Will & Iraq

Looks like George Will wants to leave Iraq, too.  I’m not convinced we can achieve much of anything there or in Afghanistan.  But this “break it you buy it” ethic keeps coming back to haunt me.  I’m not sure we’re at a place where we can really say it’s time to pack things up and…

Yes, facts do change minds

I have my own reservations about George Will’s column on Afghanistan, but accusing Will of slavishly following public opinion is just silly. The argument – such as it is – seems to be that Will’s enthusiasm for our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is suspiciously correlated with the level of public support for the war…

Iraq June 30th

Tomorrow is the deadline for the exit of US Forces from the cities in Iraq, as per the details of the Status of Forces Agreement between the (then) Bush and Maliki governments. Peter Feaver, writing in the Shadow Cabinet at Foreign Policy (h/t Andrew Sullivan), opines: Starting this week, the parade of critical junctures in…

Where We Fight

Sonny Bunch responds to my earlier post, arguing that overseas military operations divert potential terrorists from domestic attacks. I think this is pretty unpersuasive: 1.) The most spectacular terrorist attack ever carried out -September 11th – was put together on the cheap. Why can’t a group that supposedly poses an existential threat to the United…

Not Knowing the Meaning of Words: Special Diplomacy Edition

Christian Brose writing at the Shadow Gov’t on the ForeignPolicy blogroll: Is negotiating akin to appeasement? No, not inherently, but as with everything, the devil’s in the details. Diplomacy is not just a synonym for talking. It is the balancing of incentives and disincentives to elicit changes in another party’s behavior. So the question should never be, are…

Economic Interventionism

Mark raises an interesting point: Finally, I’d put an end to the concept of economic or diplomatic sanctions as a meaningful manner of achieving most diplomatic ends (the exception being targeted sanctions solely intended to prevent hostile regimes from obtaining specific materials capable of being used for aggressive purposes). Often left out of the discussion of…