In Defense of Preventing Genocide

No doubt you have seen this post from Ace: Obama Says Preventing Genocide Not Enough To Justify US Presence In Iraq… And He’s Right (via Instapundit).

All arguments about Iraq have to be connected to the American national interest. … Talking about preventing a genocide merely to prevent a genocide is the sort of airy-fairy appeal-to-emotion unicorns-and-rainbows rhetoric that never much appealed to me, ever, even before the actual war. …

We’re not in this for the Iraqis. We’re in this for ourselves. It turns out that helping the decent Iraqis take control of their country and drive out the thugs is in our interest, but let’s not mistake their interests, and only their interests, for our own.

I like Ace, but I hope to see him retract this argument. Genocide of the Iraqis is not just some genocide of farmers and laborers in a backwards country that Americans never heard of. It is genocide of people who trusted America’s word, many of whom are trying to construct a just society in very trying circumstances. After all, for better or worse, we destroyed their government and upended their society. Their enemies are there to attack us and exploit the vacuum we created. If we abandon the Shi’ites and Sunnis to the tender mercies of al-Qaeda and the Quds Force, we add them to the shameful roll of American allies used and discarded – South Vietnamese, Hmong, Afghans, Kurds.

I agree with Ace that other American interventions must follow American strategic interest. Obviously there are many other compelling reasons to win in Iraq. (I would add one more: the loss of reputation suffered if we should jetison our Iraqi partners.) But to suggest that, in the absence of these reasons, the Iraqis can go hang, is revolting.

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