Jesse and David Neiwert ask a relatively simple question... if we're attacking countries that brutalize their people, invade other countries, have WMDs and are big regional threats, then shouldn't the U.S. be invading China right now?
David points out that "the point of this exercise, of course, is not to actually argue for war with China. Rather, it's to point out the utter shallowness of the case being presented for our invasion of Iraq." This is entirely true, but it shows that absent the morally dubious "low hanging fruit" argument that both misrepresents Iraq and ignores even the even lower hanging fruit of the failed African states, the whole thing is built on a foundation of sand.
My point when addressing this issue was that it forces the United States to choose between countries to save and makes it morally responsible for the welfare of the people it didn't save, by definition. Jesse makes the critique just as well.
It'd also make one hell of a Socratic dialogue:
(Socrates and a Greek Student enter)
Socrates: It is inexcusable to allow people to suffer, is it not, if one has the power to prevent it?
Greek Student: Definitely, Socrates.
Socrates: And it is necessary to act to stop threats from the global peace, or the suffering will increase even further, as others fall under the sway of evil dictators. Is this not true?
Greek: It is true, Socrates.
Socrates: Indeed. Power implies responsibility, as those with power must use it to benefit the state, the people, and the world, and protect them from threats. Is this not true?
Greek: It is definitely true, Socrates.
Socrates: And one of these threats are the terrible doomsday weapons that plague humanity, that should not be allowed to fall in the hands of dictators.
Greek: They should definitely not, Socrates.
Socrates: And the United States is currently the most powerful state in the world?
Greek: Indubitably, Socrates.
Socrates: Thus it has this responsibility?
Greek: Absolutely, Socrates.
Socrates: Indeed. Americans are free and prosperous, and benefit from the best government in the world. Much better than, say, the people of China. They suffer terribly, do they not?
Greek: Terribly, Socrates. More than any other people.
Socrates: The government of China also threatens those around it with a powerful army and an array of these terrible doomsday weapons that resists any foe, even the Americans. It has conquered Tibet, and threatens to conquer others. The Americans, however, protect and aid their neighbours- like the Canadians and Mexicans, and have pledged to aid others if they should need it, like the Japanese. The United States is therefore much more suited for stewardship, is it not?
Greek: It is surely better, Socrates
Socrates: How much better it is that the United States exists, as it has pledged to protect the world from evil, which the oppressive Chinese would never do.
Greek: The world is indeed lucky, Socrates.
Socrates: Yet if this is the case, the United States is doomed, and the world must suffer! The Chinese are all the things that Americans abhor: a danger to its neighbours due to its army, a possessor of doomsday devices that could harm both Americans and the world, and a country that oppresses its people more than any other. For the United States, there is no higher calling than to immediately declare war on China, yet such a war would surely destroy the United States as much as China! Then the world would lose its steward and its guiding light, as the United States would have ceased to be! The world would be plunged into darkness! The United States cannot be the worlds steward, for such a role will doom both it and the world once the United States is forced to fight a war it cannot win!
This shows the hubris of trying to be the world's protector; it is an attempt to usurp the power of the Gods, as only the Gods are strong enough and wise enough to protect the world. Even the purest, noblest, more powerful earthly body will sooner or later fall under the weight of its nobility, for they are men, and not Gods.
Greek: You are indeed wise, Socrates. Now let's go score some Souvlaki.
Socrates: I am naught but a fool, but I'm a hungry fool. So let us go.
Need to tighten it up, but you get the idea.
Edit: Fixed spelling of "Exeunt". Credit goes out to Ed Fitzgerald for catching it.
Another Edit: Also closed HTML.