Skip to main content

"Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets."
       - Max Boot

Max Boot is my favorite neoconservative. He is completely unfamiliar with the concept of shame and like the rest of his clan he won't ever flinch when it comes time to put somebody else's life on the line. Anyone whose conscience survives initiation into that club soon gets voted out.

Where Max really shines is as a polemicist. He's a good writer. He can turn a juicy phrase like few others. That one above, his juiciest ever—and I know writers, I know he looked at it and thought to himself, "damn, I am good ..."—went into a piece he wrote for the Weekly Standard not long after September 11.

"The Case for American Empire" was, well, the case for American empire.

Many have suggested that the September 11 attack on America was payback for U.S. imperialism. If only we had not gone around sticking our noses where they did not belong, perhaps we would not now be contemplating a crater in lower Manhattan. The solution is obvious: The United States must become a kinder, gentler nation, must eschew quixotic missions abroad, must become, in Pat Buchanan's phrase, "a republic, not an empire." In fact this analysis is exactly backward: The September 11 attack was a result of insufficient American involvement and ambition; the solution is to be more expansive in our goals and more assertive in their implementation ... [t]he question is whether, having now been attacked, we will act as a great power should.

Boot isn't exactly the kind of man Stephen Colbert applauded in his tribute to George W. Bush—he's not a man who "believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday." He's flexible. When he looks at Libya today, Boot doesn't think that the US should do the same thing there as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday; he thinks we should do the same thing better.

[W]e must not limit our war aims to simply toppling Gadhafi. We made that mistake in Iraq and Afghanistan. By not paying attention to what comes after the deposal of a dictator, we inadvertently created conditions for a long-term insurgency. In Libya it is imperative that the U.S. and our allies make plans now to insert a stabilization force after Gadhafi's downfall to help the National Transitional Council gain control of the country.

There's nothing in the piece to top "jodhpurs and pith helmets." How could there be? Boot is in the awful predicament of a man who knows that he long ago wrote the most memorable thing he'll ever have written. But the gall of it is right up there with anything he said in connection with those other invasions even though he's given up on empire and the heartache shows.

Needless to say, no one wants to see U.S. troops in another ground war - especially at a time of shrinking budgets and declining force size. The bulk of any such force in Libya should be provided by the Europeans since Libya is on their doorstep. But we can't simply wash our hands of the place. The sooner we defeat Gadhafi's forces and stabilize the country, the sooner we can achieve our objectives.

Er ... yes. If one's objective is to defeat Gadhafi and stabilize "the place," then the sooner one does that the sooner it will have been done, and the sooner we can apply the lessons of Libya to whatever troubled land cries out to us next.

Naturally, Boot's unblemished record of well-spoken idiocy has earned him a series of generous sinecures from varied and prestigious Institutes and Councils.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site