Last week in NRO, Jonah Goldberg nicely encapsulated the Obama Administration’s recent decision to help root out and destroy the LRA in central Africa.
President Obama notified Congress that he’s sending about 100 combat-equipped troops to advise African forces on how best to kill or capture (but hopefully kill) one of the truly hideous villains breathing today, Joseph Kony, and destroy his militia cult, the Lord’s Resistance Army….
Under Pres. George W. Bush, critics might have called this sort of thing an instance of “cowboy foreign policy.” I never understood why the term was an insult. Cowboys do good when they can and where they can. They may not go looking for trouble, but they don’t hide from it either. Yes, in movies and books, cowboys usually only shoot when somebody else has shot at them first. But every now and then a villain comes along who is so vile, so repugnant, so contrary to decency that the cowboy does what he has to do on the grounds that some men just need killing.
Joseph Kony strikes me as such a man.
Though dismissing the Administration national security arguments for this intervention as probably overblown, Goldberg is right that Obama was “absolutely right to do it.” I can hear already the “but it is not in our national interest” drivel, so save your pixels. The bottom line is that I’m only interested in the “national interest” to the extent that it supports the interest of humanity. And the sister argument about respecting national sovereignty (which I care more about, but not that much more) is even more ridiculous in this case. Kony isn’t anyone’s sovereign ruler. He is just a thug and a monster.
Charging in on a white horse with guns blazing is not always the wisest course of action. Indeed, it may be the case that it is usually, even if there seems to be compelling humanitarian reasons, not the wisest course of action. Military interventions can undermine larger foreign policy interests of the U.S. and, in some cases, the welfare of interests of the people they are designed to assist. But such arguments are not trump cards to play to avoid moral responsibility for the brutal rape, torture, and murder of thousands of innocents. It is in our national interest to do what we can, where we can, if we can.
Any decent cowboy knows that. Unfortunately, the rabid isolationists do not.