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January 15, 2013

Use of American Power, An Unhealthy Obsession (According to Bill Kristol)
Posted by David Shorr

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One line from the recent coverage of the Hagel nomination jumped out at me. Check out this quote from William Kristol in Jim Rutenberg's piece in the Sunday New York Times:

I’d much prefer a secretary of defense who was a more mainstream internationalist — not a guy obsessed by how the United States uses its power and would always err on the side of not intervening.

Okay, let's do some parsing. Kristol is a hard-core interventionist, no news there. More noteworthy is the implication that American power is synonymous with military intervention. My apologies to Albert Camus, but Kristol seems to believe that there is but one serious foreign policy problem, and that is whom to blow up. A pretty narrow view of statecraft. 

Most interesting, though, is Kristol's use of the word obsessed. Apparently it's what separates mainstream internationalists from the surrender monkeys. So, how much reflection on America's actions overseas are we allowed before Kristol rules us out of the mainstream? 

In the category of have-we-learned-nothing-in-the-last-ten-years, it's bizarre to argue against diligence in the use of American power. God forbid that Americans should think about what we're doing internationally, that we have some self-awareness as the planet's most powerful nation. As someone who thinks about this stuff a lot, I don't consider myself obsessed or outside the mainstream. On the contrary, I consider prudence a virtue. 

Photo: Gage Skidmore

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