At the very least, those who want to expand the scope of our gunboat generosity ought to be less tiresome. ~James Antle
One can always hope, but it seems to me that demanding an ever-wider scope for interventionism must necessarily be tiresome to people who don’t think it is the task of the U.S. government (or any other government) to solve all the woes of the world. The interventionists will always berate the rest of us for our callous indifference, and we will roll our eyes at their fanatical impulse to meddle in the affairs of other nations. Meddlesome people are naturally going to be tiresome. The key, then, is to get them to stop being so meddlesome.
It seems to me that discussing the possibility of military action in Burma ought to be, if not out of bounds, such a futile exercise that no one would be interested in doing it. The possibility of military action in Burma should be so remote, and seem so bizarre that talking about it would be a bit like speculating about how you would decorate your house on the moon. From my perspective, we might as well talk about military action in Congo or Nepal or perhaps Cabinda (what sort of heartless villains could not be moved by the plight of Cabinda?), because these make as much (and as little) sense as talk of intervention in Burma. Kaplan says that intervention seems like a simple moral decision, but is more complicated, but it doesn’t really seem to be anything of the kind. The Burmese junta is a criminal and brutal regime, and it oppresses and abuses its people. This was true last year when they were smashing protests and has been true for years as they slaughtered the Karen. What is now supposed to make intervention in Burma more compelling is the scale of the regime’s inhumanity, when we have gone along quite satisfactorily until now largely untroubled by the regime’s brutality, and we have very deftly avoided intervening in other states where the death toll has been greater and the ongoing suffering every bit as severe. If there were a moral imperative to intervene on behalf of the Burmese people, it should have moved us to intervene years ago. In fact, there is not such an imperative to intervene. Pragmatic arguments about why an intervention might not “work” or whether it would cost too much miss the heart of the matter, which is that there is neither a duty nor a right to intervene in the affairs of other states.