Saturday, September 07, 2002

I hate to attack such a popular guy, but what on earth is Lileks talking about?

In just 18 months, this administration has made drastic changes in the United States' approach to preserving world peace. They denounced and discarded the ABM Treaty, the no-first-use doctrine and several international accords. The first two were linchpins of international stability in the nuclear age. The last were imperfect, but important, products of nations working together to create a better world.

Linchpins of stability. Snort. Let’s assume that the US had completely, utterly, unilaterally disarmed in the 70s and 80s, while holding on to the ABM treaty and the no-first-use doctrine. There would be red flags over Paris. Well, more than usual. Without a credible deterrent, those “linchpins” were cardboard shields.As for the “several international accords” Dayton mentions, his priorities are revealed: “important” trumps “imperfect.” The tangible effect on US security and strength matters less than the shiny-eyed groping towards “a better world.” Whether a "better world" might result from a planet rid of the Taliban, the Tikrit mafia, and any other changes the coming war will force on the Middle eastern satrapies isn't even considered, because they did not originate in a position paper penned by a UN diplomat who has lunch with his Syrian counterpart and tears up his parking ticket when he returns to his double-parked limo.
Nowhere in the quoted section does Mark Dayton even make a peep about unilateral disarmament, so why does Lileks feel the need to build up a particularly precarious strawman? Absent that strawman, what exactly is wrong with Dayton's statement? The ABM treaty and no-first-use doctrine enshrine the idea of MAD, which was deeply disturbing but still key to preventing both conventional and nuclear war during the Cold War.

For that matter, what's with Lilek's baffling misinterpretation of the word "imperfect"? He seems to have that common hawk misconception that warfare is a magic wand with which one can make problems magically disappear, instead of a dangerous and chaotic tool that should be used only when necessary and with great care when such situations occur.

(I won't address the misconception of the word "interest" that occurs later on in the article, except to say that it's sad that some people seem to think that the it's against U.S. interests to have good relations with other countries.)

I don't know; although I do think that it's more and more likely that war is inevitable (whether it's just, necessary, or honest or not), the arguments in favour of it and the rebuttals of those who are against it get weaker and weaker by the day. It's gone beyond dangerous and annoying to just somewhat, well, dull.

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