Hypocrites Everywhere

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Anne Applebaum: "No troops? Though deeply appealing to the "we told you so" crowd, this plan is clothed in the greatest degree of hypocrisy. How many of the people who clamor for intervention in Darfur will also be clamoring to rush back into Iraq when full-scale ethnic cleansing starts taking place? How many will take responsibility for the victims of genocide? I'm not saying there will be such a catastrophe, but there could be: Mass ethnic murders have certainly been carried out in Iraq before."

This line of argument has been in vogue for some time now, but it seems singularly nonsensical. For one thing, I think there are real questions about the math -- how many people arguing for withdrawal for Iraq really are advocates of large-scale insertion of US ground forces to Darfur? Not me! Numbers aside, I think it's fairly obvious that if the US does withdraw from Iraq and full-scale ethnic cleansing does result (something Applebaum concedes is by no means certain) that very few withdrawal advocates are going to be clamoring for intervention. Here, I guess, is where the hypocrisy comes into play.

But it's not actually hypocritical to favor interventions to prevent mass slaughter where you think such interventions will be effective, but not otherwise. The idea that consistency's sake requires one to either be a pacificist or else to support whatever military adventure happens to be fashionable in the Washington Post opinion pages at the moment is daft.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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