America the Innocent

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It’s been springtime for Neocons at Wash. U. this semester. After our close encounter of the weird kind with Ann Coulter just a few weeks ago, we had Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard speaking yesterday. One thing I’ll say is to his credit right now. He’s no Ann Coulter. Where she was immodest, anti-intellectual, crude and unmindful of pesky details, he was conservatively dressed, intellectual, polite and full of obscure details. He paid lip service to fiscal conservatism, while also mentioning that the “new era” inaugurated by 9/11 required much larger military budgets and fiscal conservative concerns being a “secondary issue” in politics for a (long) while.

Here is the question I asked him during the Q&A after the lecture:“Your story of U.S. foreign policy casts the U.S. government in a strangely passive role… Terrorists acted during the 80s and 90s, the Middle East got crazier somehow and the U.S. suffered for its passivity. But of course the U.S. government was busy busy busy during that period, imposing sanctions on Iraq credited with a million civilian deaths, placing trooops in Saudi Arabia, the Muslim holy land, and funding and arming the Israeli gov’t no matter what it did. Did the U.S. government’s actions have nothing to do with the rise of terrorist attacks on U.S. targets?”

The main points of his response were:
-Lebanon 1983 proves that terrorist attacks on U.S. targets preceded all this intervention. [I assume he means the attack on U.S. military personnel that were, for some reason, INTERVENING in Lebanon.]
-The sanctions on Iraq were supposedly the more multilateral, gentle way… It would have been more merciful to invade Iraq a long time ago. [Invasion as a mercy. Let us ponder this amazing contention.]
-and, in short, Yes, the terrorist attacks were not a response to the U.S. actions I mentioned.

Thus we have the innovative Kristol theory of cause and effect… There are no consequences for American action, only for passivity. Only when we move are there no ripples in the water. Heavy, man.

1:00 pm on March 19, 2004