Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Doctrine

Reading commentaries online on Memorial Day emphasized for me that we should exercise extreme prudence when committing our troops to the battlefield. It's commonly held that to get foreign policy decisions right you need a "doctrine." George W. Bush had a doctrine, which was to never negotiate with "evil" and to aggressively promote freedom and democracy globally, including through the use of armed forces. Obama, on the other hand, has been criticized for not having a doctrine, causing him to flail. In my view, Obama's approach is better; it's the essence of pragmatism to respond according to the needs of a situation rather than the demands of an ideology. Clearly, though, Obama has gotten it wrong sometimes as well.

So maybe a doctrine is in order after all. Here's mine. Do not engage in armed conflict if we aren't prepared to give all the returning vets all the support, help, and attention that they need. It's unconscionable that we send troops into war without  being adequately -- no, supremely -- prepared for their return. The only circumstance in which we might be allowed to be a little unprepared would be if we needed to move quickly into a major war out of self-defense. This clearly has not been the case with any of the wars we have waged over the last two decades. That we go into conflicts without a clear and explicit acknowledgement of our responsibilities is an outrage. Under my doctrine it wouldn't happen as frequently.

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