Waxing Hawkish

Well, I don't get to do this very often these days, but this Atrios post offers the opportunity:

[I]t's also true that taking the longer view it's not clear what the Great and Glorious First Gulf War actually accomplished that was positive. Obviously if you're a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family you're a fan. And, obviously, if you think that in the modern world someone should act as a global cop to prevent nations from invading other nations (irony overload causing brain damage here) maybe you're a fan.

The global cop question strikes me as something it's odd to raise and not to state an opinion on. It seems to me to be an excellent thing that the world's major military powers, led by the most major military power of all, supported by the bulk of regional governments and acting under the auspices of the United Nations beat back and punished a clear violation of an extremely basic norm of international law. The "irony overload" factor is real, but much more constitutes a reason for this country to engage in fewer (ideally none whatsoever) ill-motivated invasions in the future, not to become more tolerant of other countries' ill-motivated invasions. Which is all to say, I think Atrios is wrong about this. One can ironize all one likes, but as far as these things go the first Gulf War was a good idea.

And not just because saying otherwise is a damn, dirty hippie kind of thing to say. Some of the best-dressed people I know are skeptical about that kind of global role for the United States. If you're interested, the best analytic case against the Gulf War and the presumptions underlying it is Tucker and Hendrickson's Imperial Temptation: The New World Order and America's Purpose. I would say that whether or not past views on Gulf War I cast doubt on a person's credibility is going to come down (to be a bit banal about it) to what they actually said . . . folks who underestimated America's ability to beat a conventional adversary were obviously wrong, whereas folks who simply think US security could be optimally achieved by reorienting the military to a stricter self-defense mission haven't really been put to the test.