After 9 days overseas straining first in Marseille to understand French and the other languages in this diverse port city, then trying to understand the people of Barcelona, watching tv was something that produced little fruit except the comic fruit when watching The Simpsons and their version of Homer in a foreign language. It was a great treat to watch Chris Hayes' show this morning. Not only because i understood the language, but because Hayes moderated an intelligent discussion of US foreign policy and how this relates to Hillary Clinton and the recent Benghazi hearings.
I did my best to keep up with the Benghazi hearing on BBC, but I did have a few other priorities that interfered with BBC's take on the hearings. I understand that many on the Left believe Rand Paul was disrespectful, and I understand many on the Right were outraged that Clinton asked why it matters if there was a prostest leading to the terrorist act or not. What Hayes and his guests did was go beyond this controversy to the heart of US foreign policy in the Mideast and Northern Africa. I won't list the names of the guests, but they were all experts on Africa or foreign policy in general. I would like to discuss the general ideas and to say I agree mostly with the positions put forth by Phylliss Bennis and Horace Campbell.
Although Campbell held a non-interventionist position, I suspect he and I would disagree on forms of interventions -- in other words, I suspect Campbell welcomes reconstructive, peaceful intervention from super-powers like the US, although he made it clear that the French will do nothing but harm in Mali and North Africa in general. I agreed mostly with Phyliss Bennis's non-interventionist position regarding US interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, etc., although I'm sure we agree on very little when it comes to economic interventionism by government powers. In other words, I don't think either Bennis or Campbell are "vulgar" libertarians who share my broad-ranging non-interventionist ideas.
Hayes made the claim of Devil's Advocate when he pushed back on Bennis's and Campbell's criticisms of US interventions, but I suspect he was uncomfortable with the association of failed interventions with the Obama administration and how this association reflects poorly on Clinton. Hayes couldn't escape, though, the conclusions, either as Devil's Advocate or as a partisan protecting a popular President and Sectretary of State. Hayes countered Bennis and Campbell by saying that Syria has followed the implosion of Libya without direct US intervention and that history shows these implosions happen even when the US is not involved. This is a weak counter, because even if it's true that implosions like this happen in the Mideast and Northern Africa whether the US intervenes or not, then let's not bother intervening and wasting precious human lives and material resources. Unless Hayes can show successful interventions that justify US involvement, then his counter argument fails.
Campbell shot back that recent history shows US interventions are the causes of negative consequences in this region -- plus we are looking at myriad interventionist moves in the region since the US first started intervening long, long ago-- some effects are so far removed from original causes it's practically impossible to follow the trail from current effects to original causes in a 2 hour debate. The logic of the debate works against Clinton's proclamation that the US has to intervene in the Mideast and Northern Africa to prevent instability and the increase in terrorist influence in the region. From my perspective, Campbell and Bennis were right regarding the failure of US interventions. To continue and interventionist policy as Clinton has recommended is insanity. If Republicans and Democrats could look beyond superficial, modern, faux-patriotism and reclaim the original classical liberal position of non-interventionism held by many Founders in the beginning, maybe the US can get back to a major focus on strong defense, free trade, peace and universal prosperity.
The grand, meddling schemes of Clinton, Obama, Rice and others on the Left and McCain and Graham and the like on the Right, are leading us to disaster and leaving trails of misery in our paths.