On a break from lachrymose accounts of Palestinian women weeping for their children, the New York Times has been trying to induce hysteria over the shocking Bush policy of deploying American troops in order to protect American interests. Such self-interested behavior is considered boorish in Manhattan salons.
The only just wars, liberals believe, are those in which the United States has no stake. Liberals warm to the idea of American mothers weeping for their sons, but only if their deaths will not make America any safer.
Thus the Times and various McTimes across the nation have touted the idea that invading Iraq "only" to produce a regime change is unjustifiable, contrary to international law, and a grievous affront to the peace-loving Europeans.
As the left's new pet, Henry No-Longer-a-War-Criminal Kissinger, put it: "Regime change as a goal for military intervention challenges the international system established by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia. ... And the notion of justified pre-emption runs counter to modern international law, which sanctions the use of force in self-defense only against actual, not potential, threats."
The idea that America would be transgressing the laws of man and God by invading Iraq (unless and until Saddam nukes Manhattan) is absurd.
Does no one remember Clinton's misadventure in the Balkans? Liberals loved that war because Slobodan Milosevic posed no conceivable threat to the United States. To the contrary, as President Clinton put it: "This is America at its best. We seek no territorial gain; we seek no political advantage."
Deposing Milosevic, Clinton explained, vindicated no national interest, but was urgent because it was akin to stopping a "hate crime." Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said our purpose in the Balkans was "ending ethnic strife" and creating "multiethnic societies."
One searches in vain for some description of an American interest in the Balkans.
Instead, Milosevic was denounced – by Clinton, Albright, Tony Blair and the whole croaking chorus – for "genocide." Clinton's defense secretary, William Cohen, estimated that 100,000 Albanian men "may have been murdered."
Liberal enthusiasts for our "humanitarian" war in the Balkans, it turned out, were over-hasty in their use of the word "genocide" in connection with Milosevic. In the end, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found fewer than 3,000 bodies, most of them men of military age.
Commentators were soon rushing in to explain that these "new details" did not change the fact that Milosevic had engaged in ethnic cleansing and the forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
That doesn't make Milosevic a hero, but he's a piker compared to Saddam, who has gassed tens of thousands of his own people and killed almost a million enemy troops in the war with Iran. Liberals oppose a war with Iraq, despite Saddam's far more impressive credentials as a mass murderer, because acting against Saddam is in the self-interest of the United States.
The left's theory of a just war is that: (1) military force must never be deployed in America's self-interest; and (2) we must first receive approval from the Europeans, especially the Germans. (Good thing we didn't have that rule in 1941!)
By liberal logic, preventing Saddam Hussein from nuking Manhattan is not sufficient justification for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq because the United States has a special self-interest in not being nuked and therefore can't be trusted.
Similarly, Israel has less claim to act against Yasser Arafat than NATO did against Milosevic because actual Israelis are getting killed by the terror forces they are battling – so they are self-interested. The Times was warmly enthusiastic about Clinton's humanitarian effort in Kosovo, but is indignant about Israeli self-defense in Gaza.
Moreover, if forced deportation (aka "ethnic cleansing") is grounds for a war crimes trial of Milosevic, what is Arafat doing when he demands that all Israeli settlements be removed from the disputed territories of the West Bank? Milosevic gets a trial at the Hague for forced deportations. Arafat stages terrorist attacks to compel the forced deportation of Israelis, and he's a martyr if Israel messes up his office furniture in Ramallah.
The point – which is always the same point – is that we must not protect ourselves but should just let liberals run the world. Liberals believe they are best qualified in war and peace and forced busing because they aren't going to suffer the consequences. Thus, they can act freely for "humanity." If it turns sour, like their adventure in Vietnam, they can always drop it and pin the blame on others.