Unhinged Hawkery

UNHINGED HAWKERY….Matt Yglesias responds to Joe Lieberman’s risible idea that George Bush is the real heir to the Democratic Party tradition of hawkish internationalism:

You’d have to be an idiot to draw from the FDR-Truman school of internationalism the simple lesson that a disposition to start wars is a good idea. After all, JFK was “hawkish,” too, but Lieberman seems to forget that his act of hawkery in Vietnam turned out to be a huge fiasco, and his foreign policy triumph came during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he wisely rejected the counsels of the preventive war crowd and instead struck a pragmatic deal.

Obviously all-war all-the-time has long been Lieberman’s signature contribution to Democratic Party thinking (like Bill Kristol on the other side) but the willingness of others to swallow the idea that the “internationalism” of the liberal tradition amounts simply to a disposition to kill foreigners is really insane.

“Insane” really is the right word here. Thanks to guys like Kristol, our foreign policy decisions have been increasingly framed through the lens of whether you’re willing to go to war. Not any particular war, but simply whether you’re willing to go to war in general. It’s Prussianism gone wild: every war is a good war.

What makes Lieberman’s idea even crazier is that Truman avoided more wars than he joined. That was the whole point of containment. He didn’t try to roll back Soviet gains in Eastern Europe; he provided aid to Greece and Turkey but no troops beyond a tiny advisory group; he airlifted supplies to Berlin but didn’t start a war over the Soviet blockade; and when he did go to war in Korea, he worked hard to get UN support. Given their actual records, does anyone seriously think that FDR, Truman, or JFK would have invaded Iraq if any of them had been president after 9/11? Anyone?