iWAR: The Weird Analytics Review

Anne-Marie Slaughter vs. Anne-Marie Slaughter

with 12 comments

Anne-Marie Slaughter, November 8, 2005:

Iraq, whether justified or not, is only the latest in a long line of ill-considered and ill-planned U.S. military adventures. Time and again in recent decades the United States has made military commitments after little real debate, with hazy goals and no appetite for the inevitable setbacks… Too often our leaders have entered wars with unclear and unfixed aims, tossing away American lives, power and credibility before figuring out what they were doing and what could be done…. It would restore the Framers’ intent by requiring a congressional declaration of war in advance of any commitment of troops that promises sustained combat.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, March 14, 2011

If we get a resolution, we should work with the Arab League to assemble an international coalition to impose the no-flight zone. If the Security Council fails to act, then we should recognize the opposition Libyan National Council as the legitimate government, as France has done, and work with the Arab League to give the council any assistance it requests. Any use of force must be carefully and fully debated, but that debate has now been had. It’s been raging for a week, during which almost every Arab country has come on board calling for a no-flight zone and Colonel Qaddafi continues to gain ground. It is time to act.

Needless to say, Ms. Slaughter did not fulfill her own minimum standards for sending U.S. troops into combat—including mentioning Congressional approval even once. So, the big question for a scholar and practitioner of such stature is: what the hell happened to all of her principles?

Written by Joshua Foust

March 18, 2011 at 7:10 am

Posted in Objectivity

12 Responses

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  1. Debate club tactics: quote selectively and ignore surrounding context.

    In fact, the difference between Iraq 2003 and Libya 2011 is patently obvious.

    In the former case, she is arguing that the use of military force was illegitimate because it did not have the support of the opposition party in the US nor the support of anyone else in the UN.

    She is now arguing that the use of military force here is legitimate because it has a UN resolution behind it as well as the support of factions in both parties.

    The principle she is using is that the source of legitimacy for uses of force is consensus, national and international.


    March 18, 2011 at 7:55 am

    • Except for her principle of Congressional approval, and a delineation of ways, ends, and means—none of which is in evidence in her case for Libya.

      Joshua Foust

      March 18, 2011 at 7:59 am

  2. Explicit Congressional approval in 2003 of a full-scale invasion of Iraq wouldn’t have happened. And it would in this case. Which is precisely her point.

    Another point lost in the fog of this cutting and pasting of snippets is whether the seeking of UN approval of use of military use of force=use of force. I think we are witnessing this morning how effective use of diplomacy has the effect of neutering your opponent’s grandiosity.

    For the sake of an entertaining counterfactual history, we might think about what could have happened had Bush gotten a UN resolution authorizing all sorts of force against Iraq in March 2003? Would Saddam have behaved as Qaddafi is behaving this morning, i.e. utterly backing down?

    This is the point of Prof. Slaughter’s arguments. Consensus behind the threat of force helps to avoid costly military adventures in the first place.

    With regards to ways, ends, and means; if we accept my theory, that the UN approval was sought as a means of diplomatic intimidation, then military ways, ends, and means are not really a topic. If we accept yours, which is that this is all leading to an Iraq-like use of military force, then I might have to concede.


    March 18, 2011 at 9:00 am

    • > And it would in this case.

      By which I mean, a Congressional approval of a NFZ would happen.


      March 18, 2011 at 9:14 am

    • “Lost in the fog of this cutting and pasting of snippets.”

      Okay, now you’re going to have to show were I excluded necessary context that invalidates the comparison I’m making.

      Joshua Foust

      March 18, 2011 at 9:30 am

  3. Slaughter 2005:

    “Today Congress deliberates on transportation bills more carefully than it does on war resolutions. Our Founding Fathers wanted the declaration of war to concentrate minds. Returning to the Constitution’s text and making it work through legislation requiring joint deliberate action may be the only way to give the decision to make war the care it deserves.”

    Slaughter 2011:

    “Any use of force must be carefully and fully debated, but that debate has now been had. It’s been raging for a week, during which almost every Arab country has come on board calling for a no-flight zone and Colonel Qaddafi continues to gain ground.”

    I think it’s clear here that the point is to deliberate, have a debate leading to a consensus. Right now Obama has the consensus of NATO, the UN, many on the right, many on the left, that a clear message has to be sent to Qaddafi will be spanked if he takes physical retribution from the thousands of anti-government civilians in Benghazi.


    March 18, 2011 at 9:39 am

    • A whole week of op-eds is not a consensus. The Right, and most importantly the DOD, have been very clear that they are, by and large, opposed to being on the hook for a NFZ. The push for this is being driven by a coalition of liberal interventionists and neocons, which is fine as far as it goes but the paleo and whatever else wings of both parties stand opposed (and just last week Hillary Clinton said the USG has “no interest”) in such a thing.

      To sweep that aside because France wants a NFZ is irresponsible, especially when American troops will be on the line for the majority of the activity.

      Joshua Foust

      March 18, 2011 at 9:45 am

  4. > Hillary Clinton said the USG has “no interest”

    Ha, then why is she sending her proxies out to argue for it? It’s fairly clear that Gates is the one who is opposed to it and she’s the one arguing for it. If you want an example of where you ignore the context in favor of one quote clearly intended for the purpose of “staying on message” when there’s a split in the administration.

    > To sweep that aside because France wants a NFZ is irresponsible

    France, and civilians in Libya, and the UN Security Council, and NATO.

    > Especially when American troops will be on the line for the majority of the activity.

    You must have insider information on this, because I haven’t seen any published details about the American troops “on the line.” If by American troops you mean the 90-or-so-man flight crews on a 12-minute long mission–oh wait, I thought putting planes over Libya was unbearably complex–I think you should subtract some because Canada and France are going to want to get in on it. But, then again, you need for this mission to happen before your point is validated. Slaughter’s point is, if you can get consensus behind you, you may not have to put troops in anyway.


    March 18, 2011 at 9:57 am

    • So wait, you’re looking at a situation where the Secretary of Defense is opposed to a NFZ and you’re calling it consensus? That’s batty and you know it.

      And unless you’ve administered an NFZ before, I don’t know why you’re so quick to dismiss the UNIVERSAL skepticism of the military on its ability to participate in one responsibly while also running two other wars. NFZs require a lot of people and assets to do the monitoring, and they are not, to borrow a phrase, “anti-septic.” A No Fly Zone is a totally different animal to the punitive bombing of Libya for a single night in 1986. You need to educate yourself on the logistics, command and control requirements, and consequences of this sort of thing.

      We were foolish to ignore the concerns of our military leaders before the invasion of Iraq (e.g. either go all-in early on with a ton of troops or don’t bother). We would be doubly so to ignore their concerns this time around.

      And again: there is no consensus. Germany, Russia, and China are all opposed to a NFZ, as is a substantial portion of the U.S. public and government. To sweep that aside on the assumption that maybe enough people threatening force will remove the need to use force is just irresponsible.

      Joshua Foust

      March 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

  5. You’re right, having a debate that leads to a consensus means everyone has to agree before the debate starts. If SecDef disagreed yesterday with the pursuit of a UN resolution I should hope he would have resigned by now. If Security Council member states weren’t getting a good deal out of this, they could freely use their veto, on which there are no restrictions.

    I’m not hearing military leaders weigh in on this issue–SecDef is a civilian. What are their concerns [preferably provide some links, unless you think the Powell doctrine applies equally here and everywhere]?

    What the UN authorized was “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.”

    That presumably does not commit us to actually implementing a NFZ, while allowing us to make very credible threats. Chambering a round is not invading a country.


    March 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

  6. You’ll note that I quoted Mullen in the comment above–“unbearably complex” should properly read “extraordinarily complex,” I suppose–and the questions to which Mullen’s answers were given represent the excluded context.

    Our military leadership–civilian or brass–doesn’t seem to have concerns so overwhelming as to require their resignation. God, I hope that a four-star or a chair of the JCF wouldn’t sign their name to something they didn’t believe they should put Americans on the line for.

    We’ve strayed far from Slaughter, though, whose point is basically that there needs to be a debate in the polis before you commit. In 2005, she said that maybe we ought to have a rule that folks in Congress have to get up on C-SPAN and put their position out there. In 2011, she says, okay, everyone has had a good chance to say their piece, now Obama needs to make a decision. So, you know, the principle is debate first, then decide.


    March 18, 2011 at 10:42 am

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