Everybody out of the pool!

This morning’s Boston Globe has a column by a fellow named Micah Zenko, “a research associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a doctoral candidate at Brandeis University.” In his piece, Mr. Zenko has a simple solution to the world’s problems: an immediate end to all military occupations everywhere. He suggests that the US announce that this is the new cornerstone of our foreign policy, and we are withdrawing from Iraq immediately to demonstrate our commitment to the idea.

My head hurts at the mere thought of this notion. No average moron could conceive such a plan. Something this stupid can only come from someone far too educated.

First of all, let’s look at the examples Mr. Zenko cites: India in Kashmir, Morocco in Western Sahara, Turkey in northern Cyprus, and Israel in Palestine. I don’t know much about two of those, but the dispute in Kashmir is more of a territorial dispute, while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far, far more complicated than a simple “occupation.” For one, Israel tried not occupying Gaza, and look how well that has turned out.

Secondly, let’s look at a few “occupations” that Zenko omits mentioning. Let’s start with Syria and Lebanon. Syria insists that it is only there at the invitation of the Lebanese government, neglecting to mention that the government is mostly made up of its puppets — and a good chunk of those are members of Hezbollah, the terrorist group that has the blood of hundreds of Americans on its hands.

Thirdly, I find myself wondering just how Mr. Zenko considers enforcing his edict. After all, the standard final answer to such demands is force. The ultimate force is to invade and overthrow the government, then occupy the nation until a new (presumably friendlier) government is installed. Mr. Zenko is saying that we can’t do that any more.

Of course, Mr. Zenko recognizes certain exceptions to his plan:

There should, of course, be exceptions to a non occupation doctrine: international peacekeepers or foreign militaries authorized by the UN Security Council, peacekeeping or stability operations recognized by the consensus of international organizations such as NATO, short-term humanitarian interventions intended to prevent future mass killings such as the British intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000, and deployments welcomed by the recognized government of a state.

1) “(A)uthorized by the UN Security Council.” We saw with Iraq how easy it is to bribe the various member states of the UN Security Council (France, Russia), or how one nation can stymie the efforts of the rest to protect its own interests (China).

2) “(P)eacekeeping or stability operations recognized by the consensus of international organizations such as NATO.” Um… other than NATO, what organizations exist that could do such a thing? More importantly, what organizations exist that could do such a thing without the United States playing a key role?

3) “(S)hort-term humanitarian interventions intended to prevent future mass killings such as the British intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000.” As I recall, that was how the US involvement in Somalia started. Or how the French shot up a crowd in the Ivory Coast in 2004.

4) “(D)eployments welcomed by the recognized goverment of a state.” Ah, there’s the rub. As I pointed out above, Syria’s occupation is with the blessing of the recognized Lebanese government. Likewise, the US occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq are also with the acceptance of both recognized governments. Hell, back in World War II, the Nazis set up a puppet government (filled with all-to-eager-to-collaborate officials) in France. It’s standard operating procedure when you invade: set up a government friendly to your goals among the natives, and do your dirty work behind and through them.

A nice fantasy, Mr. Zenko. Pity it bears so little resemblance to reality.

Merry Christmas!
"Let my people vote"
  • Great Idea, except, EVERYBODY ELSE starts first. It will have so many supporters and will catch on so quickly we’ll have world peace by tomorrow.

  • _Mike_

    Follows the same line of flawed reasoning that control laws do. People who will obey gun control laws aren’t the ones posing a danger…. countries that would adhere to the agreement aren’t the problem.

  • cubanbob

    Zenko is living proof that one can be an educated idiot. But an educated idiot is still an idiot. Using his premise China ought to quit Tibet, Russia Chechnya, Canada Quebec, Spain and France the Basque Country. France Corsica and her overseas territories, the UK should dissolve itself and let Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland go their separate ways and the Arabs should leave the Middle East and North Africa post haste. And that is just a partial list.

    That Harvard can employ such an idiot like Zenko is reason enough to yank their charitable and non profit tax exempt status and disqualify them from receiving federal subsidies from 529 plans, student loan plans and direct federal funding. The tax payers should not be forced to underwrite such stupidity. Let the become another Bob Jones University.

  • Steve Crickmore

    I thought Syria with great fanfare removed its troops from Lebanon last year.. Yes, I am well aware of Hezbollah’s continuing presence, but I believe they have more indepedence from Damascus than you credit, Jay. It’s standard operating procedure when you invade: set up a government friendly to your goals among the natives, and do your dirty work behind and through them. That didn’t work in Iraq in 2003. Remember the early unsuccessful attempts to install Ahmad Chalabi, the longtime CIA asset as the Iraqi caretaker leader, only to be rejected by the Iraqis.
    The harsh reality is that 3 and half years on the majority of Iraqis, may still want democracy, but they to want the Americans to leave more. American unilateralism even renewed under Bush’s ‘way forward’ simply won’t succeed in the hostile climate of the middle east.. Jay, half your threads about the ‘medievalness’ of Islam’ I submit as supporting evidence.

  • The Cyprus one’s another winner there. Yeah, there’s a Turkish occupation. Well, the Greeks on Cyprus were herding the Turks into tiny enclaves, killing them randomly, and finally had a coup where they were going to unify with Greece. That would tend to scare you if you happened to be Turkish. So the Turks invaded to protect their fellow Turks. Now, they certainly haven’t been perfect, but they should not have to leave without some concessions from the Greeks, who (enabled by the EU) seem to think they have done no wrong ever.

  • Glenn M. Cassel,AMH1(AW), USN, RET

    Me thinks the boy needs a severe whipping with a switch. I gave dirt bags like this 20 years of my life in Service to this Country. Ok, I automatically don’t like him. I’m a simple man, get over it. After all, you are adults.
    Anchors Aweigh!

  • epador

    To honor Daniel Handler’s literary sojourn into adolescent fiction (instead of his earlier fiction about adolescents), we should initiate a “Mr. Poe” award for the most oblivious-to-reality-well-meaning-adult.

    I nominate Micah Zenko, though I suspect tough competition to arise if the definition of adult is taken rather loosely.

    Following Mr Zenko’s suggestion would certainly lead to a Series of Unfortunate Events.

  • paulathome

    Also have to get the PRC to leave Tibet -sure- no problem.

  • I’m all for it. There is already a UN Resolution that authorizes the US and coalition troops to be in Iraq. The resolution has been extended through the end of 2007. Zenco doesn’t suffer from too much education, he suffers from being an idiot who could stand a lot more. Learning how to do a Google search and being able to read the results would be a damn good start. He’s a Liberal, neither will help his case so he’s not likely even try. Liberalism can only defend its existence through through dishonesty.

  • diogenes

    “No average moron could conceive such a plan. Something this stupid can only come from someone far too educated.”

    There is a great quote from Orwell. “One has to be an intellectual to believe such things. No ordinary man would be such a fool.”

    The invitation loophole is big enough to drive an invasion force through. When the Soviets invaded Afghaistan, they claimed to be invited by the Government. There was a little bit of a credibility issue as the person who they said invited them (Amin) was immediately executed when they arrived. Doonsebury had a quite funny cartoon satirizing this.

  • Faith+1

    Well, the other flaw in his “plan” is having the US be the first to back down. Without US forces the UN and NATO are effectively de-fanged. Oh, we pretend it’s a multi-national force but I’ve been on enough “NATO” and “UN” deployments where it’s always 90% US forces and token representation from other countries that it’s really a joke.

    Also, without US military airlift and sealift capabilities the UN is completly isolated and useless as proven during the tsunami relief.

  • Zenko is living proof that one can be an educated idiot.

    I live in the same town as the University of Oregon. Every time I read an OpEd piece in our local paper, I glance down at the end where the author’s CV is usually listed. If it says something like “Joe Blow is the adjunct professor of [some discipline] at the University of Oregon”, I can pretty much take it to the bank that the article is going to be a craptacular display of idiocy.

    And if the [some discipline] in question is a soft science such as sociology, psychology, or (heaven help us) “peace studies”, I know I’m in for a lollapalooza.