Right of Greenwald

I think it's interesting that when I wrote a long post criticizing Gideon Rose that mentioned as an aside that I think "Glenn Greenwald's views are a bit too far to the left" mostly seemed to prompt comments calling into question my motives for making this observation. Well, I made it because I think Glenn's views are a bit too far to the left! It's a little hard to say, because he overwhelmingly does critique, but what I had in mind in particular was this:

But the notion that the U.S. should not attack another country unless that country has attacked or directly threatens our national security is not really extraordinary. Quite the contrary, that is how virtually every country in the world conducts itself, and it is a founding principle of our country. Starting wars against countries that have not attacked you, and especially against those who cannot attack you, is abnormal.

Re-reading, Glenn doesn't explicitly endorse the view that all wars fought for reasons other than strict self-defense are illegitimate, but that's what I took him to be saying, it's something he very well may believe, and it's not something I believe. To me, in addition to fighting wars in self-defense it's also quite appropriate for us to engage in acts of collective self-defense in order to help other countries repel acts of aggression. The Korean War and the first Gulf War would be the key examples here. I also think there are circumstances in which it's a good idea to deploy military forces with UN authorization as peacekeepers or possibly for other humanitarian purposes.

I took Glenn to be making a claim about the desirability of scaling America's global role even further back than I would favor. Perhaps he doesn't think that. Certainly, there are people I know and respect who do think that. My point was that whether or not one agrees with the strict self-defense doctrine, there's ample reason to wonder why, exactly, the foreign policy consensus is so lopsided in terms of the vicious attacks it launches on dissenters from the left while tolerating and sometimes collaborating with the most egregious knee-jerk militarists imaginable.

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

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