I finally saw an article that makes the argument I make about shifting the rationale for the intervention in Iraq away from the Weapons of Mass Destruction argument.
The trouble is, we have not found any such weapons, which has led some Administration supporters to shift their ground. Whether or not Saddam had nukes, they argue, his rule was so vile that getting rid of it was a service to mankind. That is true. But if the test for deploying American power to remove a regime is not the danger it poses to the U.S. but its wickedness, why stop at Iraq? As Mandelbaum wrote seven years ago, “The world is a big place filled with distressed people.” Why not ease the suffering of those in, say, Burma or Zimbabwe?
Given previous American foreign policy, this rationale becomes difficult at best. The U.S. has always been willing to work with and support “less than savory” characters as it serves the interests of the state. Pinochet, Arafat, Sharon, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, Milosivic, the list goes on and on.
An argument supporting interventions in failing states on moral grounds in some instances while not in other instances is harder to make than that of national interest, as the moral justification of foreign policy must be applied consistently for it to not be purely hypocritical. A policy of intervention for moral reasons that is only applied “when we feel like it” can only lead to bitterness and failure.