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Perpetual War and Perpetual Stupidity

John Quiggin thinks that Dan Drezner is cuckoo:

John Quiggin: Perpetual War: In the course of a controversy with Glenn Greenwald, Dan Drezner offers the following rewording of Greenwald’s critical summary of the orthodoxy of the US “Foreign Policy Community”

The number one rule of the bipartisan foreign policy community is that America can invade and attack other countries when vital American interests are threatened. Paying homage to that orthodoxy is a non-negotiable pre-requisite to maintaining good standing within the foreign policy community.

and [Drezner] states:

I suspect that anyone who accepts the concept of a “national interest” in the first place would accept that phrasing. As a paid-up member of the Foreign Policy Community (FPC), I certainly would.

Quiggin thinks that this is nuts. I agree. Here's what Quiggin says:

Unless “vital national interest” is construed so narrowly as to be equivalent to “self-defence”, this is a direct repudiation of the central founding principle of international law, prohibiting aggressive war as a crime against peace, indeed, the supreme international crime. It’s more extreme than the avowed position of any recent US Administration--even the invasion of Iraq was purportedly justified on the basis of UN resolutions, rather than US self-interest. Yet, reading this and other debates, it seems pretty clear that Drezner’s position is not only generally held in the Foreign Policy Community but is regarded, as he says, as a precondition for serious participation in foreign policy debates in the US...

I would add that there is an alternative wording that members of good standing of the FPC endorse:

The number one rule of the bipartisan foreign policy community is that America can invade and attack other countries when some nutboy vice president convinces some unbriefed slacker president that vital American interests are threatened.

What realists--maybe we should call them "unrealists," because they spend most of their time in fantasyland or out in the Gamma Quadrant--ignore is that America is far stronger when it binds itself not to invade other countries when some NSC clown thinks its national interests are threatened, but rather to obey the guidance of the U.N. security council. By binding ourselves to obey rules and the consensus, we make ourselves stronger. By seeking freedom to take discretionary action, we make ourselves weaker and less able to act effectively. It's an elementary point that even an unrealist should be able to grasp.