Jordan Bloom passes along this quote from Kelly Ayotte in an update to his post:
There is always a temptation to rationalize and discount evil, to disengage, to draw within ourselves, to isolate.
I know what Ayotte wants to convey here and it’s not very interesting. What I do find interesting is Ayotte’s assumption that this applies only to people on the other side of the foreign policy debate. Hawks frequently resort to rationalizing and discounting unjust and atrocious behavior when it is being committed by the U.S. or an allied or client government. They are among the first to defend cruel policies that harm civilian populations with ends-justify-the-means arguments. They often argue that the U.S. should avoid diplomatic engagement with authoritarian governments for fear of “appeasing” them, they are the first to demand the recall of ambassadors and to call for the cutting off of relations with other governments, and their answer to many international disputes is to shut down trade and communication between the U.S. and another country. The truth is that hawks such as Ayotte often loathe engagement when it is diplomatic rather than military in nature, and they are very quick to want to cut off ties and isolate other countries in order to compel their governments to give in to their demands. Hawks define engagement in terms of their preferred coercive policies and hate real proponents of engagement with other countries.