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Kristol’s Next War

By Matthew Yglesias on November 30, 2008 at 1:54 pm

"Kristol’s Next War"

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In addition to being a booster of the two actual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bill Kristol and/or his publication has, at one time or another, also called for the United States to go to war with North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Sudan. And now he’s got another war he’s like to start:

And while [Bush is] at it, perhaps he could tell various admirals to stop moaning about how difficult it would be to deal with the pirates off the coast of Somalia (isn’t keeping the shipping lanes open a core mission of the Navy?) and order the Navy to clobber them. If need be, the Marines would no doubt be glad to recapitulate their origins and join in by going ashore in Africa to destroy the pirates’ safe havens.

I’m not one to say that we should blindly defer to the preferences of the military brass, but surely they’re due some deference. Is the Navy really “moaning” about how difficult it would be to stop the pirates, or are they perhaps accurately describing difficulties? Where does Kristol get off adopting a condescending tone on this subject? The Marines “would no doubt be glad” to spearhead an amphibious assault on land-based Somali targets? Has he asked anyone about that? I think a lot of Marines feel that the Corps has a lot on its plate in Iraq and Afghanistan. And certainly I’ve never heard someone with legitimate knowledge of the regional situation indicate that a simple “destroy the pirates’ safe havens” operation would work. You’d need to address the fact that the whole country is in a persistent state of anarchy.

One might further note that the whole situation is a big unintended consequence of the Christmas 2006 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. Something that was done with full US support and loudly cheered by The Weekly Standard. But thought he consequence was unintended, it was widely predicted by people who knew what they were talking about. I harp on this because it’s a subject I was prescient on, but I wasn’t prescient due to any incredible leaps of genius — I just listened to the International Crisis Group rather than, you know, The Weekly Standard. But now Kristol wants to go off on yet another half-baked invasion scheme. Or, rather, he wants to posture as favoring such. Because the best wars to monger for are the ones that don’t actually happen.

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