Robert D. Kaplan writes an article entitled, “In Defense of Henry Kissinger,” where he actually defends the Vietnam War, Kissinger’s role in it (“Anything that flies on anything that moves”), and the installation of Chile’s Pinochet which he admits cost thousands of lives.
People forget that it was, in part, an idealistic sense of mission that helped draw us into [the Vietnam War]—the same well of idealism that helped us fight World War II and that motivated our interventions in the Balkans in the 1990s…
Nixon and Kissinger encouraged a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, during which thousands of innocent people were killed. Their cold moral logic was that a right-wing regime of any kind would ultimately be better for Chile and for Latin America than a leftist regime [sic] of any kind—and would also be in the best interests of the United States. They were right…
Shadi Hamdi asks a good question: Why Is There a ‘Red Line’ on Chemical Weapons but Not on 70,000 Deaths? Here is he heart of the argument:
Because halting the slaughter — by targeting the Syrian military assets doing the actual killing — is something that the United States and its allies could do, if they wanted to (former senior U.S. official Fred Hof outlines how here). It might not be enough to bring down the regime, at least not anytime soon, but it would be enough to protect and save at least some of the Syrian civilians who find themselves in the regime’s crosshairs.
In the short term, I think that is likely. But in addition to this, I think there needs to be a high degree of certainty that taking sides in the civil war and bombing the more powerful Assad regime’s military assets will, in the long-term, improve the humanitarian situation for Syrians. And if we can’t be reasonably sure, the default should always be to not get involved in war.
Steve Coll write up a good review of Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars and NYT’s Mark Mazetti’s The Way of the Knife.
Foreign Policy has a post about a recent study (which I mentioned a while back) which examines the relationship between American and Chinese arms sales and the democratic nature of the countries purchasing their weapons.
Soysa looked at U.S. and Chinese arms transfers to Africa from 1989 to 2006, using data collected by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. They found no statistical correlation between China and the types of regimes it supplied with weapons, while U.S. arms shipments were slightly negatively correlated with democracy. In plain English, China actually turned out to be less likely to sell weapons to dictators than America was.