The War Party

THE WAR PARTY….“National power” and “military force” aren’t the same thing. This is an old and banal distinction. And yet, it still eludes an awful lot of conservatives, who tacitly assume that unswerving support for every single one of America’s various wars over the past few decades is the sine qua non for being thought serious about terrorism and national security.

This is, of course, nuts. Some wars are justified and some aren’t. I’d be pretty suspicious of anyone who supported every war we’ve been in for the past 30 years, just as I’d be suspicious of anyone who had opposed every single one of them. Responding to Matthew Continetti’s cover story in the current issue of the Weekly Standard, Spencer Ackerman elaborates:

If we’re going to talk about military enthusiasms, Continetti owes it to his readers to spend some time grappling with the wisdom of GOP militarism. There are nearly 3,000 American consequences, and more to come, of this predilection. What has it gained America? What did it gain America to invade Lebanon in 1982? etc. Sometimes the exercise of military force is justified (Afghanistan, the Gulf War, we can debate the Balkans) and sometimes it isn’t (Iraq Iraq Iraq Iraq Iraq). Relying on military force all the time is a recipe for rapidly increasing the sphere of circumstances in which it becomes necessary. And in a democracy, that isn’t even sustainable for the War Party — if nothing else, ask a GOP congressman as he cleans out his office. Continetti implies that there’s a patriotic rot in the sentiment that “American power is not always a force for good in the world.” But of course it isn’t always a force for good in the world; one should question the judgment of those who would issue such blandishments. For it’s clear enough where they lead: to war, again and again and again.

My brain is already winding down for the holidays, so I don’t have much to add to this. Aside from the fact that it is, you know, almost self-evidently correct. So why do so many people not get it?