Phyllis Schlafly, 1924-2016

by Corey Robin on September 6, 2016

News reports are coming in that Phyllis Schlafly, the longtime conservative anti-feminist who helped defeat the ERA and propel the Republican Party to power, has died.

Despite the tremendous damage she did to women, and progressive causes more generally, I had a great deal of respect for Schlafly, not least because she was a woman who managed to navigate—and amass—power in a man’s world, all the while denying that that was what women wanted at all.

That denial, coupled with the rampant sexism of her world, cost her dearly. It was none other than Catharine MacKinnon, her most formidable antagonist, who caught the full measure of Schlafly’s greatness, and tragedy, in two 1982 debates with Schlafly over the ERA:

Mrs. Schlafly tells us that being a woman has not gotten in her way. That she knows what she is saying because it happened to her. She could be one of the exceptional 7.8 percent, although who’s to know? I do submit to you, though, that any man who had a law degree and had done graduate work in political science; had given testimony on a wide range of important subjects for decades; had done effective and brilliant political, policy, and organizational work within the party; had published widely, including nine books; was instrumental in stopping a major social initiative to amend the Constitution just short of victory dead in its tracks, and had a beautiful, accomplished family—any man like that would have a place in the current administration. Having raised six children, a qualification not many men can boast of (and if so probably with less good reason) did not make the difference. I would accept correction if I am wrong, and she may yet be appointed. She was widely reported to have wanted such a post, but I don’t believe everything I read, especially about women. She certainly deserved a place in the Defense Department. Phyllis Schlafly is a qualified woman.

I charge that the Reagan Administration has discriminated against Phyllis Schlafly on the basis of her sex.


It was a devastating rebuttal to Schlafly’s position, yet it captured, with uncharacteristic tenderness and solicitude, a poignant truth about Schlafly: she was extraordinarily talented yet was denied the full measure of her greatness by the forces she so faithfully served.

I said this about Schlafly in The Reactionary Mind:

Even without directly engaging the progressive argument, conservatives may absorb, by some elusive osmosis, the deeper categories and idioms of the left, even when those idioms run directly counter to their official stance. After years of opposing the women’s movement, for example, Phyllis Schlafly seemed genuinely incapable of conjuring the prefeminist view of women as deferential wives and mothers. Instead, she celebrated the activist “power of the positive woman.” And then, as if borrowing a page from The Feminine Mystique, she railed against the meaninglessness and lack of fulfillment among American women; only she blamed these ills on feminism rather than on sexism.

When she spoke out against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), she didn’t claim that it introduced a radical new language of rights. Her argument was the opposite. The ERA, she told the Washington Star, “is a takeaway of women’s rights.” It will “take away the right of the wife in an ongoing marriage, the wife in the home.” Schlafly was obviously using the language of rights in a way that was opposed to the aims of the feminist movement; she was using rights talk to put women back into the home, to keep them as wives and mothers. But that is the point: conservatism adapts and adopts, often unconsciously, the language of democratic reform to the cause of hierarchy.

Antifeminism was a latecomer to the conservative cause. Through the early 1970s, advocates of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) could still count Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and Strom Thurmond as supporters; even Phyllis Schlafly described the ERA as something “between innocuous and mildly helpful.” But once feminism entered “the sensitive and intensely personal arena of relations between the sexes,” writes historian Margaret Spruill, the abstract phrases of legal equality took on a more intimate and concrete meaning. The ERA provoked a counterrevolution, led by Schlafly and other women, that was as grassroots and nearly as diverse as the movement it opposed. So successful was this counterrevolution—not just at derailing the ERA, but at propelling the Republican Party to power—that it seemed to prove the feminist point. If women could be that effective as political agents, why shouldn’t they be in Congress or the White House?

Schlafly grasped the irony. She understood that the women’s movement had tapped into and unleashed a desire for power and autonomy among women that couldn’t simply be quelled. If women were to be sent back to the exile of their homes, they would have to view their retreat not as a defeat, but as one more victory in the long battle for women’s freedom and power. As we saw in chapter 1, she described herself as a defender, not an opponent, of women’s rights. The ERA was “a takeaway of women’s rights,” she insisted, the “right of the wife to be supported and to have her minor children supported” by her husband. By focusing her argument on “the right of the wife in an ongoing marriage, the wife in the home,” Schlafly reinforced the notion that women were wives and mothers first; their only need was for the protection provided by their husbands. At the same time, she described that relationship in the liberal language of entitlement rights. “The wife has the right to support” from her spouse, she claimed, treating the woman as a feminist claimant and her husband as the welfare state.


When my book came out, I was interviewed by S.E. Cupp, the conservative journalist, on C-SPAN. In the middle of our interview, I had a Marshall Mcluhan moment, as Cupp read out some of these passages, and then told me she had emailed them to Schlafly the night before. Schlafly’s response? She said I was full of crap.

{ 93 comments }

1

megamike 09.06.16 at 1:13 am

In bizarro news, not only did Schlafly die today, she also started a PAC today called Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle PAC.
http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/forms/C00625285/1097864/

2

Mike Furlan 09.06.16 at 3:19 am

Is there really any reason to think that the ERA would have denied a wife the right to support by her spouse? (Who we now cannot assume would be a man?)

Was here career anything more than a big lie repeated vigorously?

3

Gareth Wilson 09.06.16 at 3:37 am

Her draft argument against the ERA really did expose a huge collective hypocrisy – at the time, the country really did think that teenage girls getting drafted and shot dead was worse than the same thing happening to teenage boys. So if that kind of sexism was acceptable, why pass the ERA? Of course whether the US still believes that is an open question.

4

RoyL 09.06.16 at 3:40 am

The strange irony is that I think we have reached a point in the United States where ERA could never be ratified today because of a majority portion of the American left. It would be viewed as a right wing plot.

The fights of the 1970s and ’80s seem so remote today.

5

Alan White 09.06.16 at 4:08 am

Schlafly adhered to what she took to be the New Testament “wisdom” of Ephesians. She defended the *right* of women to be subservient to men through Christ as was due her gender as granted by the Triune God. She said what she said from a narrow theocratic stance on politics.

“. . . she was extraordinarily talented yet was denied the full measure of her greatness by the forces she so faithfully served.”

Passively expressed meta-politico-parsing of leveraging power does not diminish the fact that she was evil. Any admiration for her prominence in all this is misplaced, and only serves to excuse the larger evil forces that enhanced her voice in the public sphere.

6

Alex K--- 09.06.16 at 4:28 am

@Alan White: “the fact that she was evil.”

What does it mean? “She served the forces of evil” is more or less clear, especially if one understands what counts as evil in the speaker’s moral world. But “she was evil” is something entirely different – and incomprehensible to me.

7

Alan White 09.06.16 at 4:31 am

She identified with her world-view. That’s all.

8

kidneystones 09.06.16 at 4:49 am

@4 I’m pleased you’ve situated Schlafly more properly within the Judeo-Christian tradition, rather than as a ‘feminist dependent’ of the male ‘welfare state.’ I went back and re-read her 1972 provocatively titled essay: ‘What’s wrong with equal rights for women’ and agree very much with Corey’s recognition of both her intellect and her influence.’ My only quibble was with his characterization of her in the concluding sentences of his quote from the Reactionary Mind, which you’ve addressed.

That said, you’re over-the-top assertion that the recently-deceased Schlafly was ‘evil’ and part of the ‘larger forces of evil’ seems a bit much. Schlafly was a product of her time and if was indeed ‘evil’ we’re going to have to add a great many names to that list, particularly those in non-Christian nations that just the same encode gender differences into law.

Schlafly, like Reagan, was a product of a particular place and time. She is an advocate for a particular world view which I do not regard as evil, but antiquated. She was proud of her way of life and eloquent in her defense of a world view that many still embrace, like it or not. I think Corey gets it about right.

9

kidneystones 09.06.16 at 4:50 am

10

Tabasco 09.06.16 at 5:04 am

Why didn’t Schlafly get a position in the Reagan administration? If the hypothesis is that it was because of her gender, Jeane Kirkpatrick got one, so did Elizabeth Dole and a few other women.

11

Alan White 09.06.16 at 5:09 am

With due respect, I’m sticking with my claim. She represents those who now from a theocratic perspective would prevent someone with a 30 week Zika diagnosed microcephalic fetus from obtaining an abortion. That’s wrong. I call it evil. Anyone who wishes to impose life sentences of pain on others from a theocratic perspective I call evil. She was of that ilk.

12

Paul 09.06.16 at 5:22 am

Meanwhile she was one of the Christian fundamentalists who was involved in a project described as Stretching To Make Trump “God’s Guy”- 25 Religious Right Justifications For Backing Donald Trump

13

Brett 09.06.16 at 5:48 am

It’s a pity that Schlafly didn’t survive long enough to see a woman become President, and for a second version of the ERA to pass. But I suppose it was a small enough victory for her to live long enough to see her accomplishments undone, and for her to be forced out of the organizations she founded and guided.

That said, I mostly pity her. A very intelligent, organizationally talented, capable woman who spent her life fighting on behalf of homophobia, sexism, racism, and the whole reactionary mix. Such a waste – can you imagine if her circumstances had been different? She would have been an absolute powerhouse on the other side.

14

Alex K--- 09.06.16 at 8:00 am

@Alan White: “Anyone who wishes to impose life sentences of pain on others from a theocratic perspective I call evil.”

I have no objection to this and I’m aware that Schlafly opposed any and all abortion, regardless of the circumstances. Whether her opposition stemmed directly from Catholic doctrine (a theocratic perspective) or from a personal conviction (often, but not always, the same perspective internalized into one’s conscience), I can’t judge.

15

casmilus 09.06.16 at 11:43 am

Jeane Kirkpatrick, ugh.

16

Saurs 09.06.16 at 12:10 pm

The strange irony is that I think we have reached a point in the United States where ERA could never be ratified today because of a majority portion of the American left. It would be viewed as a right wing plot.

Yes, contemporary left-wingers are the ones, at present, howling about gender- and sex-neutral bathrooms, adult women registering for selective service, and the preservation of male affirmative action through systemic, sex-based wage gaps. That’s what’s happening right now. Yes.

Likewise, there was no left-wing objection to the ERA. All labor unions supported it. There was no feminist argument against it on the basis of class and race. That’s the ticket.

17

Lee A. Arnold 09.06.16 at 12:42 pm

The subservience of women is no more an integral part of the mechanism of Waking Up in Judeo-Christianity than it is in any other religion. It was just a cosmic/social belief of those times, and so it was written into the scriptures. Schlafly’s real tragedy is the same as so many other women and men: they believe in the wrong parts of their traditions. So they live and die, managing and denying their psychological pain, without ever experiencing the “suspension of the default-node network, correlated with subjective reports of ‘ego dissolution’, to allow the increased functional global connectivity of the resting-state brain”.

18

Anarcissie 09.06.16 at 1:50 pm

I thought everyone (every more or less ‘normal’ human) had to under go ‘suspension of the default-node network’, for example, dreaming, or their brain would stop functioning. But new connections different from those of the ‘default waking states’ could usually be suppressed in waking life to get on with business, that is, strongly held beliefs and values, and the activities associated with them, to which much emotion is generally attached. It is probably as hard for a dream to change someone’s mind as it is for an argument or a cognitively-dissonant experience. And of course their minds might be changed in the ‘wrong’ direction. In regard to Shlafly, assigning a person to the Devil’s party (‘evil’) or diagnosing them as dysfunctional may be underestimating them.

19

Will G-R 09.06.16 at 6:21 pm

@ kidneystones: After reading that Schlafly essay, wow it (and she) deserves to be widely read and taken seriously. The refreshing thing about her argument as with paleoconservatism in general is that on some level it retains the old core of “conservatism” as an anti-capitalist ideology, mounting what might otherwise be a leftist critique of capitalist alienation — feminists want to turn women into wage-workers and being a wage-worker totally sucks! One could almost interpret her essay as a companion to the Marxian feminist Susan Federici’s essay Wages Against Housework, both of them pivoting on the idea that wage labor is terrible and turning women into wage-workers would be terrible, but Schlafly wants to see men retain this role anyway, where Federici seeks to turn women into wage-workers in order to bring about the radical abolition of wage labor itself. Of course, apart from any discontent with the oppression of women, what Schlafly is missing is a critique of “womanhood” as itself a social construct produced by capitalism as a means of domination… c.f. this from Federici:

Not only has housework been imposed on women, but it has been transformed into a natural attribute of our female physique and personality, an internal need, an aspiration, supposedly coming from the depth of our female character. Housework had to be transformed into a natural attribute rather than be recognised as a social contract because from the beginning of capital’s scheme for women this work was destined to be unwaged. Capital had to convince us that it is a natural, unavoidable and even fulfilling activity to make us accept our unwaged work. In its turn, the unwaged condition of housework has been the most powerful weapon in reinforcing the common assumption that housework is not work, thus preventing women from struggling against it, except in the privatized kitchen-bedroom quarrel that all society agrees to ridicule, thereby further reducing the protagonist of a struggle. We are seen as nagging bitches, not workers in struggle.

An analogously quasi-leftist paleoconservative argument is the white nationalism of Samuel Francis recently and insightfully cited as foreshadowing the Trump campaign. Francis describes his dissent from the “conservative” GOP party line of small government as a “comprehension that the flaws of the state as it is presently structured derive from its control and exploitation by the Ruling Class, that the elites themselves are the real enemy and that the state, while far too large and intrusive, is simply their instrument” — holy Marxism, Batman! And just like Schlafly with regards to womanhood, what white nationalists like Francis are missing is both any discontent with the oppression of nonwhites, and any recognition of the social construction of race by capitalism as a means of domination. (Of course the comparison would work better if Francis had been black, which only makes Schlafly’s position more noteworthy still.)

20

bekabot 09.06.16 at 6:31 pm

Is there really any reason to think that the ERA would have denied a wife the right to support by her spouse? (Who we now cannot assume would be a man?)

There is no reason to think so, because women have never had such a right, and don’t have it now.

21

Patrick 09.06.16 at 8:07 pm

Schaflys position always reminded me a bit of antebellum southern writings on freedom.

There was this popular idea that no one could be truly free unless they were free from want and toil, which could only happen if someone else did all the toil to satisfy your wants. As such, without slavery, no man could be free except perhaps the capitalist oligarch, and what odds you and I might be one of those?

Of course in real life only a small percentage of southern whites actually lorded it up on plantations, enjoying finery and culture and freedom from want and toil.

Similarly Schafly points out this ideal of the genteel mother, free from want or toil save the honorable toil of maintaining the sovereign home, a gleaming and pure place of refuge and culture. And she contrasts that with the rat race of life. But only a small percentage of real life homes are actually safe, secure, comfortable refuges from want and toil.

In each case this vision was being held up of this cultural ideal, but most people would never have it, and the rest of us have to live somehow too.

Kind of ironic that Schafly always seemed to have a higher opinion of women’s capacities than MacKinnon. But I suppose she had to, if she wanted to hold up some hallowed ideal of the wife as the cultured and valued Lady of the Estate.

22

Suzanne 09.06.16 at 8:24 pm

Historically it’s always been easier for women who speak in favor of the conservative status quo to get a hearing. Schlafly benefited from that, and also from having a rich husband who didn’t mind his wife traveling all over the place to tell people woman’s place was in the home. (Schafly’s slogan “Stop Taking Our Privileges” was peculiarly appropriate to her.) She enjoyed a long and yes, privileged life. There may be poignancy in there somewhere, but I’m afraid I’m missing it. She was a brilliant political organizer.

Schlafly’s “greatness” did a lot of harm to her country, but she could have done possibly even more in the Defense Department, so if sexism was indeed to blame (which it may not have been, since Reagan nominated the first female Supreme Court justice and there were other prominent women in his administration) – then I offer one muted cheer for that particular sexist omission. Thanks, Ronnie.

23

Anderson 09.06.16 at 9:18 pm

20: “There is no reason to think so, because women have never had such a right, and don’t have it now.”

Varies by state, but in Miss. at least this is untrue. “The duty to support the wife rests upon the husband ….” McNeil v. McNeil, 127 Miss. 616, 90 So. 327, 329 (1922). Cited as recently as 2014.

24

Collin Street 09.06.16 at 9:22 pm

I have no objection to this and I’m aware that Schlafly opposed any and all abortion, regardless of the circumstances. Whether her opposition stemmed directly from Catholic doctrine (a theocratic perspective) or from a personal conviction (often, but not always, the same perspective internalized into one’s conscience), I can’t judge.

Eh, you support the religion that you find compelling, which means that what the religion you follow recommends is just what you think you ought to do, at one remove. Not to diminish any religious people’s experiences, but if you’re doing good things on account of your religion it’s because you felt the need for a religion that told you to do good things.

25

Robespierre 09.06.16 at 9:46 pm

Among the evils visited by Mrs Schlafly on the world, let’s not forget how fucked up her son Andy turned out.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservapedia#Conservative_Bible_Project

26

kidneystones 09.06.16 at 10:02 pm

@20 Schlafley provides context in the linked essay. It’s a short read.

@ 19 Agreed.

@ 21 Yes and no. The notion that families formed and remain the principal unit of social organization across time and space simply because a subset of the population cooked-up a plan to impose some unworkable tyranny on women, in particular, and people in general seems very poorly grounded. That’s not what you’re saying, but it’s one possible reading.

Families provide benefits and trade-offs. We can argue (correctly, in my view) that power in families disadvantages women in many/most cases. But that’s a function of a broader systemic inequality. Schlafley is arguing both historically and relatively that women in America enjoy a better life than women elsewhere. And in many ways she was right.

27

Faustusnotes 09.06.16 at 10:24 pm

I have a vague memory of Susan Faldudi (?) in Backlash (?) writing a whole chapter on schafly’s suburban successors: the women of the born again Christian anti-feminist movement who devoted their lives to stopping women getting basic rights like equal pay, and to the extension of rights like child care. They were basically working full time – including using child care – to get women back in the home. Weird.

28

LFC 09.06.16 at 10:58 pm

Yeah Anderson, but it’s Mississippi. ;)

29

Chip Daniels 09.06.16 at 11:55 pm

@8 Re: Was she evil or merely antiquated;

If it is merely about this one woman, and a desire to pass judgment on her, I have no interest.

But for those who are interested in ethics and philosophy and politics, and want to influence them, it can be an occasion to reflect.

Things DO change; our mores, norms, ideas of justice and rightness; If tomorrow I found myself out of the mainstream and in opposition to the growing chorus, would I be evil or merely antiquated?

How to tell? Evil never seems that way to its practitioners. For those like me who have moved from one political camp to another, its disconcerting to remember my old self, how assured I was of righteousness, and see how wrong it was, and how evil the outcome was, intentional or not.

I guess this is where I have come to mistrust creeds and manifestos, the generalized theories that can be applied simply and universally. I’ve come to trust more in the testimony of people about their own experiences of justice and injustice.

Schlafly I think, never listened to the testimony of other women who weren’t from her time and place, and was deaf to their pain.

30

js. 09.07.16 at 12:06 am

31

LFC 09.07.16 at 12:15 am

Very good short piece by Katha Pollitt. (Reading it after drinking roughly a half-bottle of wine heightened the effect.)

32

js. 09.07.16 at 1:02 am

Wow, LFC, would not have thought that wine would heighten the effect :) But yes, it is a very good piece.

33

Cranky Observer 09.07.16 at 1:18 am

Always nice to sue one’s own family, claiming a trademark on the family name for a business entirely unrelated to one’s own:

http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/who-owns-the-right-to-the-schlafly-name/article_7d33e934-03e3-530a-86e7-f4c7a3bcffd8.html

(she lost)

34

Franck 09.07.16 at 11:05 am

Important to note that Schafly opposed desegregation and civil rights. Chait discusses this at length today.

35

JHW 09.07.16 at 11:28 am

Marriage does usually carry support obligations, but the usual rule today, in part because of how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Equal Protection Clause, is that these support obligations apply in a gender-neutral way. See, e.g., Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268 (1979) (invalidating Alabama’s alimony scheme because it protected wives but not husbands). The ERA was designed to solve the problem of the unwillingness of courts to read the Constitution to protect against legal sex discrimination; one of its ironies is that the same social phenomena that passed it out of Congress and got it ratified by most states also made it mostly redundant, as courts did precisely that.

36

TM 09.07.16 at 1:24 pm

19 re Samuel Francis: do you think it’s a novelty for reactionaries to appropriate the language of class war and to pretend to fight “the elites”? Somebody should have pointed that one out to Goebbels.

37

The Dark Avenger 09.07.16 at 1:27 pm

One of my great-uncles married a woman from NY. About 2 months after they got married, he came back from a hunting trip with some of his brothers to find all the locks had been changed.

She sued for divorce, asking for alimony, but the judge told her that marriage isn’t a meal ticket.

Oh, and by the way, history if full of people who worked hard to enslave others to their ideology. That doesn’t make them any more admirable or worthy praise compared to someone, like, say, Dorothy Day.

No enconiums for rat bastards in the future, please.

38

Will G-R 09.07.16 at 4:06 pm

@ TM #36, well sure, that’s a reasonable connection to make. Still if that neoliberalism thread is any indication, people here still seem to have a Godwin’s-Law aversion to pointing out reasonable parallels between old-school fascism and latter-day right-wing populism. My view as articulated in the other thread is that liberalism and fascism are complementary ideological aspects of the same concrete project of capitalist modernization, each positioning itself in opposition to the aspects of capitalist modernization embraced by the other: liberals seek to overturn the forms of identitarian supremacism engendered under capitalism by embracing a logic of elite-driven institutional reform, while fascists position themselves as popular revolutionaries against the capitalist ruling class in the name of the very hierarchical social structures like racism and sexism that have always been capitalism’s necessary supplements. Schlafly’s disgust at the working condition was ankle-deep, Francis’ denunciation of bourgeois faux-conservatism was waist-deep, and Goebbels’ (or especially the Strassers’) National Socialism was neck-deep into the latter category.

39

cassander 09.07.16 at 4:55 pm

>It was a devastating rebuttal to Schlafly’s position, yet it captured, with uncharacteristic tenderness and solicitude, a poignant truth about Schlafly: she was extraordinarily talented yet was denied the full measure of her greatness by the forces she so faithfully served.

No it wasn’t. Schlafly was against what became the centerpiece of Reagan’s foreign policy, arms control with the USSR. People who are against the president’s pet policies do not get senior appointments, regardless of their gender.

@Saurs

>Yes, contemporary left-wingers are the ones, at present, howling about gender- and sex-neutral bathrooms, adult women registering for selective service, and the preservation of male affirmative action through systemic, sex-based wage gaps. That’s what’s happening right now. Yes.

You’re joking, right? You must be. Never have I seen a more absurd assertion of the principle, “this animal is dangerous, when attacked, it defends itself.”

40

Suzanne 09.07.16 at 5:24 pm

Pollitt’s piece is all right, as far as it goes, but I am still unable to regard Schlafly’s failure to snag a government appointment as a poignant ironic tragedy as opposed to a blessing.

@3: It sounds as if you believe women weren’t eligible for the draft because of sex discrimination against men(?) However, times have indeed changed. Now that combat roles have been formally opened up to women in the US military, there is an assumption that eligibility for selective service will eventually go along with that, as well. Of course, part of the point of making the military an attractive career for women is to maintain the numbers of a volunteer army and avoid having to bring back the draft for men. So thanks to these military women, our brave boys need have no fear of the draft, for the present. Try to look at it that way.

41

cassander 09.07.16 at 6:18 pm

@Suzanne 09.07.16 at 5:24 pm

>So thanks to these military women, our brave boys need have no fear of the draft, for the present. Try to look at it that way.

The US military end strength from 1975 to 1990 was more than 2 million. Today, it’s 1.3 million. Of those, about 190,000 are women. Women are not sparing men from the draft, the draft will not come return because it would be astoundingly expensive, of little military utility, and immensely controversial.

42

stevenjohnson 09.07.16 at 6:47 pm

Higher manpower would be immensely more useful than the generals pretend. Ironmongery is no substitute for boot leather, save for military contractors (aka future employers of the elite of the officer caste.)

A large enough conscript army to actually conquer instead of the current policy of laying waste would indeed cost an immense sum of money. Despite Lupita’s inane suppositions, though, colonial empires have proven not to pay off very reliably, John Stuart Mill’s (and Kipling’s et al.) India being a glorious exception. A semimercenary volunteer force which is increasingly indoctrinated in partisan and sectarian ideology (something of a Christian/Republican version of Janissaries,) serves to destroy genuine independence.

As for being controversial, yes, by and large when not whipped into a panic, when given influence, the people are historically left.

43

phenomenal cat 09.07.16 at 6:55 pm

“Women are not sparing men from the draft, the draft will not come return because it would be astoundingly expensive, of little military utility, and immensely controversial.” Cassander @41

By ‘utility’ I assume you mean a draft makes it so much more of a political pain in the ass to commit American power to continuous military interventions around the globe and by ‘controversial’ I assume you mean a majority of Americans have no interest(s) in embodying the dream of “full-spectrum dominance.”

44

cassander 09.07.16 at 7:10 pm

@stevenjohnson

>Higher manpower would be immensely more useful than the generals pretend. Ironmongery is no substitute for boot leather, save for military contractors (aka future employers of the elite of the officer caste.)

Even if this were true, the fact remains that the military leadership as a whole is even more against a draft today than they were for it in 1972

>John Stuart Mill’s (and Kipling’s et al.) India being a glorious exception.

If India was profitable, and it’s at least debatable, it was profitable precisely because it did not rely on a large army of conquest, but used a small elite force.

>A semimercenary volunteer force which is increasingly indoctrinated in partisan and sectarian ideology (something of a Christian/Republican version of Janissaries,) serves to destroy genuine independence.

If you think the US military is some christian republican theocracy, you should try actually meeting some of the people in it.

@phenomenal cat

>By ‘utility’ I assume you mean a draft makes it so much more of a political pain in the ass to commit American power to continuous military interventions around the globe and

No, I mean that draftees make for bad soldiers.

>by ‘controversial’ I assume you mean a majority of Americans have no interest(s) in embodying the dream of “full-spectrum dominance.”

If that were controversial, congress wouldn’t vote massive defense budgets every year.

45

Gareth Wilson 09.07.16 at 8:00 pm

Yeah, people are equally against women and men being drafted these days, so it’s a moot point. There does seem to be some support for women’s colleges, women’s scholarships, women’s gyms, and women-only hours in public swimming pools. They’d all be gone if the ERA was passed.

46

cassander 09.07.16 at 8:23 pm

@Gareth Wilson

They wouldn’t be gone. They’d be allowed under the same unprincipled exceptions that allow affirmative action, racial scholarships, racial dorms scholarships, etc. despite the 14th amendment.

47

phenomenal cat 09.07.16 at 8:26 pm

“If that were controversial, congress wouldn’t vote massive defense budgets every year.”
Cassander @44

Eh, controversy over congressionally-approved defense budgets for global dominance is one thing. A wide cross-section of Americans actually EMBODYING said dominance in the form of IED fodder would be another, wildly controversial, thing. It might even provide a much need check on the flippantly callow use of military force and those lunatic military budgets.

And draftees make bad soldiers? That’s prime PR talking-point misdirection masquerading as conventional wisdom, circa 1991 Gulf War.

48

cassander 09.07.16 at 9:04 pm

@phenomenal cat

>Eh, controversy over congressionally-approved defense budgets for global dominance is one thing. A wide cross-section of Americans actually EMBODYING said dominance in the form of IED fodder would be another, wildly controversial, thing. It might even provide a much need check on the flippantly callow use of military force and those lunatic military budgets.

One, the cross section of America already in the military is pretty broad, but even if it got broader, 90% of the military never gets anywhere near an IED. Combat structure is such a small tiny share of a modern military that anyone who actually gets shot at gets a special medal.

>And draftees make bad soldiers? That’s prime PR talking-point misdirection masquerading as conventional wisdom, circa 1991 Gulf War.

This is based on your extensive investigation into the question, right?

49

stevenjohnson 09.07.16 at 9:25 pm

The modern combat command structure does indeed operate so that very few semimercenaries are required to risk their hides fighting Muslims/atheistic reds/dark skinned people. The officers are happy to kill for their jobs, but the rank and file are not so happy to die for their superiors’ careers. The reliance on firepower operated by remote control is one reason why the US military is so ineffective. Fortunately the exceedingly expensive weapons can be a source of profit.

My personal knowledge of US soldiers and recruits is almost all rank and file, just one officer (family by marriage in his case.) The ones I’ve known are very partisan and very sure being a Christian is good and being something else is evil. Superficial observers may see that many soldiers are unchurched, profane, and ordinarily libidinous. But only a fool thinks religious bigotry requires living a pure life.

50

stevenjohnson 09.07.16 at 9:28 pm

Pardon, an error, I forgot the National Guard major whose weekday job was high school counselor, who believed that USian kids were better (even better behaved,) than Chinese kids because they were Christian.

51

Anon39 09.07.16 at 11:33 pm

Stevenjohnson,

Not to discount your anecdata, but my experience is overwhelmingly the opposite. Three of the four line officers in our unit were agnostic or atheist, we were ethnically diverse and listened to bbc and npr. The fourth may have been technically Christian, I have no idea since it never came up in the several years I have known him. I’ve heard the air force has some weird evangelical issues, but never saw it directly since it wasn’t my branch.

The only person I’m still close to that even votes is voting for Johnson. Contrary to the, in my experience, wildly inaccurate and baseless opinions about combat arms officers that I see sometimes on this blog, the vast majority are apolitical. Most are skeptical of the federal government’s ability to manage things well, which is in no small part due to being exposed to the workings of several government agencies throughout their career and in retirement.

52

js. 09.08.16 at 12:03 am

I am still unable to regard Schlafly’s failure to snag a government appointment as a poignant ironic tragedy as opposed to a blessing.

Well, it could be a poignant irony and a blessing at the same time.

53

LFC 09.08.16 at 12:58 am

cassander @39
Schlafly was against what became the centerpiece of Reagan’s foreign policy, arms control with the USSR. People who are against the president’s pet policies do not get senior appointments, regardless of their gender.

The turn to a more arms-control-ish policy vis-a-vis the USSR really didn’t fully click in till Reagan’s second term. First term was more about defense spending increase, placement of medium range missiles in Europe in early 80s, and ‘2nd cold war’ in the form of aid to contras, Salvadoran right wing, Afghan mujahideen, Angola, etc. So she cd have gotten an appt somewhere in admin. And, after all, no one was more hard line than Jeane Kirkpatrick, the UN amb. In short, yr explanation I don’t think holds up.

54

LFC 09.08.16 at 1:01 am

p.s. oh yeah, I left out ‘Star Wars’. This was (rightly) seen as destabilizing by the Soviet leadership, which strongly opposed it.

55

LFC 09.08.16 at 1:13 am

pps All that said, all I know about whether Schlafly actually wanted and sought a job in the Reagan admin is Mackinnon’s statement quoted in the OP that Schlafly was “widely reported” to have wanted one. (This might well have been covered in the full-scale obits, so someone who’s read ’em can chime in on this.)

56

Alan White 09.08.16 at 4:25 am

Many of the more apologetic reflective obituary reflections on Schlafly seem to riff off the Socratic view that no one does evil willingly, and I am partial to that view especially as it anticipated the subtleties of socialization and acculturation. However that might leave open speculations of woulda-coulda-shouldas about willingness, it remains that the Socratic view is compatible with a claim that some people, in fact, are, or were, evil.

57

phenomenal cat 09.08.16 at 4:52 am

“One, the cross section of America already in the military is pretty broad, but even if it got broader, 90% of the military never gets anywhere near an IED. Combat structure is such a small tiny share of a modern military that anyone who actually gets shot at gets a special medal.” Cassander @48

It seems I wasn’t clear enough. I do not mean merely a more or better representative “cross section” of the population. A draft potentially puts everyone’s skin in the game–not just a cross section of everyone’s skin. It just might serve to concentrate the public’s critical attention on the the decisions of politicians and the FP establishment.

And I assume you know draftees make bad soldiers from leading a platoon or two? WWII was waged by all-volunteer armies, right? Anyway, your replies have avoided the much more salient point I was making so there’s no point arguing about the effectiveness of draftees serving in the military.

58

Cascade 09.08.16 at 5:31 am

@Phenomenal cat 09.08.16 at 4:52 am

And I assume you know draftees make bad soldiers from leading a platoon or two?

They make wonderful things called books. With them, you can learn things without doing them yourself. The literature on making good soldiers is vast. You should try reading some of it before deciding you know the answers.

>WWII was waged by all-volunteer armies, right?

Funny how draftees can beat other draftees. Even funnier how every army in that war went to great engths to ensure that there were plenty of long service troops mixed in with the draftees. Again, there is a massive literature on these subjects. You should read some of it before forming opinions.

59

ZM 09.08.16 at 6:52 am

I don’t really think women should be in the draft. I don’t particularly think that men should be drafted either although my grandfather was a soldier, but I don’t think women should have to be in the draft.

Men are more violent than women and more men want to be in the armed forces by choice, and probably most of the defence department decision makers are men too.

60

L.F. 09.08.16 at 7:38 am

“…power in a man’s world, all the while denying that that was what women wanted…”

Wanted or should have?

lff

61

TM 09.08.16 at 7:50 am

Many countries have male compulsory service and also declare equal rights for men and women. It’s an interesting case from a legal perspective. In the case of Germany and Switzerland, the contradiction has been justified by the fact that compulsory service was also explicitly in the constitution and as a special norm overrode the equality norm.

Had the ERA been ratified in the early 70s, perhaps the courts would have declared the male-only draft unconstitutional, but the result would probably have been to end the draft rather than to expand the draft to women, which I don’t think would have been politically feasible. I suppose that’s what opponents of the ERA were worried about.

62

Gareth Wilson 09.08.16 at 8:50 am

Declare, yes. Have, no. When you have an active draft, exempting women makes any notion of equal rights a complete sham, no matter what the constitutional pretext is. The US Selective Service requirement is just meaningless paperwork, so it’s not a big deal that only men have it. It’s actually typically European to declare a right and then walk it back for convenience. Both Germany and Switzerland have declared a right to free speech, then imprisoned people for their views of modern history.

63

ZM 09.08.16 at 9:24 am

A draft isn’t really a “right” though is it?

64

TM 09.08.16 at 9:30 am

Well legal texts are subject to interpretation everywhere. I would point out that the very existence of compulsory military service is incompatible with any meaningful notion of human rights – it takes away people’s freedom and often lives. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, my ass.

65

ZM 09.08.16 at 10:04 am

I am happy to support men not having to be drafted, but I am not going to support making women be drafted.

66

Suzanne 09.08.16 at 5:09 pm

@41: It is true that reviving the draft would have its risks. However, I have read, and not in advocacy or op-ed pieces, that the U.S. military is seeking to attract and retain female volunteers in part because they are needed and an all-volunteer army would not be sustainable without them. If/when I can I will look around for the link and post it.

@51: Okay, I’ll accept the “irony” part.

She wanted a post in the Administration and wanted one badly, and had some influential advocates:

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-balmer-phyllis-schlafly-reagan-appointments-20160908-snap-story.html

Pollitt writes that it was Schlafly’s expertise in the male-dominated defense field that ruined Schafly’s chances, but it seems Reagan and/or the Reaganauts just didn’t want her around, full stop.

67

Robespierre 09.08.16 at 6:02 pm

@61: nonsense. Someone’s right is everyone else’s duty to guarantee. See education, health, etc. . If guaranteeing public safety and national defence requires people working for it, so be it.

68

Gareth Wilson 09.08.16 at 6:59 pm

I don’t support the draft myself, but there are arguments that it’s necessary for national defense. If so, then exempting one group from the draft for arbitrary reasons violates everyone else’s rights.

69

cassander 09.08.16 at 7:01 pm

@Phenomenal cat 09.08.16 at 4:52 am

And I assume you know draftees make bad soldiers from leading a platoon or two?

They make wonderful things called books. With them, you can learn things without doing them yourself. The literature on making good soldiers is vast. You should try reading some of it before deciding you know the answers.

>WWII was waged by all-volunteer armies, right?

Funny how draftees can beat other draftees. Even funnier how every army in that war went to great engths to ensure that there were plenty of long service troops mixed in with the draftees. Again, there is a massive literature on these subjects. You should read some of it before forming opinions.

70

ZM 09.08.16 at 8:23 pm

Gareth Wilson,

“If so, then exempting one group from the draft for arbitrary reasons violates everyone else’s rights.”

You don’t have to exempt women from the draft for arbitrary reasons, there are real reasons. For example:

Women are usually smaller physically and less strong physically than men — women should be able to volunteer but probably it is women who are physically stronger than average who join the army in a combat role.

Women are naturally less aggressive than men and are also socialised from early childhood to be less aggressive as well.

Women are vulnerable to sexual violence from men during wartime, this is well established by accounts of war since classical times.

71

Matt 09.08.16 at 8:25 pm

nonsense. Someone’s right is everyone else’s duty to guarantee. See education, health, etc. . If guaranteeing public safety and national defence requires people working for it, so be it.

Is the comparison with education and health the one you wanted to use? The US didn’t draft people to medical or educational service even 50 years ago even though there was a far more dire threat to US citizens’ safety from (e.g.) lack of medical treatment than from the North Vietnamese Army.

I’m not exactly a pacifist but I am against compulsory service for any end. Even if you’re fighting the most fearsome and/or loathsome of enemies — the Confederacy or the Nazis, for example — I don’t think that justifies compulsory military service. Most wars fought by the US with draftees didn’t have such exceptional enemies to justify themselves with anyway. My quasi-pacifism goes this far: I believe that anyone who can either serve a military organization during a war or flee the fighting should be allowed to choose whether or not to flee. Even if the Nazis are invading and more of your less-able-to-flee neighbors will die if you choose to flee instead of enlisting. I’m not an actual pacifist because I also think it is admirable if you join the military to kill invading Nazis instead of running from them.

72

Gareth Wilson 09.08.16 at 9:11 pm

Weak, unaggressive men usually aren’t exempted from the draft.

73

ZM 09.08.16 at 9:44 pm

I think there was exemptions for people who wore glasses or had a limp and things.

74

phenomenal cat 09.08.16 at 10:08 pm

“They make wonderful things called books. With them, you can learn things without doing them yourself. The literature on making good soldiers is vast. You should try reading some of it before deciding you know the answers.” Cassander @66

Thanks, this will be useful when I have to learn things without doing things. Till now I had relied on sorcery and other forms of sympathetic magic.

Since we’re offering unsolicited advice (presumably for individual betterment that will eventually redound to the collective) you should actually address why narrowly defined U.S. military “utility” is more important than wider sociopolitical “utility.”

Oh, you know what, maybe you could address the “utility” of those stratospheric, congressionally approved military budgets. Even better, maybe you could really apply yourself and address the connections between the non-controversy of those obscene budgets (not just multi-trillions of dollars in total annual budgets, but trillions actually lost, unaccounted for, seemingly vanished into thin air) and our all-volunteer military. Then, if you’ve been reading real hard to learn things without doing them, you could address how those budgets reflect a serious lack of accountability (in terms of policy) and “utility” (in terms of social well-being) to and for citizens and what role an all-volunteer military might play in such dynamics.

Anyway, no big deal, just a little advice (tocreatemeaningfuldiscussionratherthantryingtoscorepointsovertheinternet)

75

ZM 09.08.16 at 10:36 pm

“Then, if you’ve been reading real hard to learn things without doing them, you could address how those budgets reflect a serious lack of accountability (in terms of policy) and “utility” (in terms of social well-being) to and for citizens and what role an all-volunteer military might play in such dynamics.”

This is off topic, but I think the volunteer military in the wars in the Middle East has been detrimental to efforts to either oppose the wars, or fight them more reasonably.

There was a lot more opposition to the Vietnam war, and resistance to the draft seems to be part of this.

The Vietnam war was fought as part of the Cold War, whereas the wars in the Middle East have been post-Cold War conflicts. I think it’s probably time to reappraise defence in the post-Cold War period. The Middle Eastern wars haven’t really worked, and their purpose is actually really unclear as well. What would they have looked like if they had worked? It’s not the Cold War where you want to prevent countries from joining the communist bloc. What were the actual objectives of the Middle Eastern wars? Now we just have ongoing civil wars in the Middle East with some international fence involvement too. It’s a schmozzle.

76

ZM 09.08.16 at 10:37 pm

“fence” should have been defence

77

phenomenal cat 09.09.16 at 12:12 am

“What were the actual objectives of the Middle Eastern wars?”

Great question…

78

TM 09.09.16 at 9:05 am

I agree that a gender specific service duty can’t really be justified but I also think that the draft can’t really be justified, especially when it isn’t even to defend against an attack.

64, 65, compulsive military service or really any compulsive service is a radical violation of personal liberty. One may think that such a violation is or can be justified in exceptional circumstances but it’s a violation nevertheless.

79

Will G-R 09.09.16 at 1:38 pm

@ ZM #72: I think it’s probably time to reappraise defence in the post-Cold War period. The Middle Eastern wars haven’t really worked, and their purpose is actually really unclear as well. What would they have looked like if they had worked?

On a purely economic level the purpose of military spending (I like to consciously avoid the euphemism “defen[s/c]e” as much as possible) is quite explicable, as a form of economic surplus recycling to keep advanced industrial capitalism churning. (“Now the labor leader’s screamin’ when they close the missile plants…”) For Christ’s sake, if a few thousand religious militiamen with surplus assault rifles can be slotted into the ideological role formerly occupied by a nuclear-armed global superpower that beat us into orbit, with the ideologues hardly missing a step and with military spending never taking the slightest dip, it should be clear that the need for some sort of existential conflict to justify military expenditures never had much to do with the existence or nonexistence of the USSR.

80

Cascade 09.09.16 at 3:19 pm

@zm

>What would they have looked like if they had worked?

They’d look the way Iraq looked in 2010, that is a country formerly on the margins of the American world system integrated into it with a relatively Democratic and functioning government, its dictators, genociders, and war criminals dangling from the ends of the ropes they so richly deserved.

That’s the ideal, at least. Skepticism is warranted on the question of whether or not this is something that the U.S. can consistently achieve at reasonable cost.

81

cassander 09.09.16 at 3:20 pm

@zm

>What would they have looked like if they had worked?

They’d look the way Iraq looked in 2010, that is a country formerly on the margins of the American world system integrated into it with a relatively Democratic and functioning government, its dictators, genociders, and war criminals dangling from the ends of the ropes they so richly deserved.

That’s the ideal, at least. Skepticism is warranted on the question of whether or not this is something that the U.S. can consistently achieve at reasonable cost.

82

ZM 09.09.16 at 4:45 pm

I am pretty sure you can’t wage war on countries for those objectives though cassander

83

ZM 09.09.16 at 4:51 pm

and I don’t think there was any clear plan to achieve those objectives even if you could wage war for them, which I think is dubious under laws of war

84

cassander 09.09.16 at 11:23 pm

@ZM

>I am pretty sure you can’t wage war on countries for those objectives though cassander

We’d better re-think WWII then…..

>and I don’t think there was any clear plan to achieve those objectives even if you could wage war for them,

the plan, to the extent there was one, was to pull a massive version of the invasion of Grenada, in and out in 6 months or so. That was probably never possible, and the desire for as short a short non-occupation ended up creating the circumstances that ensured a long occupation would be necessary.

85

LFC 09.09.16 at 11:57 pm

ZM
What were the actual objectives of the Middle Eastern wars?

Depends whom you asked.

But I’d say the most influential foreign-policy types in the GW Bush admin, the Cheney/Wolfowitz/Project-for-a-New-American-Century people, believed, or professed to believe, that the objective of the invasion of Iraq in ’03 was to create a democratic regime in the heart of the M.E. that would proceed to spread democracy around the region. By that objective, the war in Iraq was a failure. (And by some other metrics as well.)

The objective of the ’01 invasion of Afghanistan was to depose the Taliban (blamed, correctly, for harboring al-Qaeda) from power (which was accomplished, though the Taliban are still fighting as an very active insurgency of course) and to create some kind of minimally well functioning state in Afghanistan (which it really hasn’t).

The ’01 invasion of Afghanistan had a much firmer legal basis than the ’03 invasion of Iraq (which had very little to none, imo), but neither has in hindsight been a success. Hindsight is 20-20, but there was enough opposition to the ’03 Iraq invasion that one can say that that was a self-inflicted wound (on the part of US/UK and their allies). Saddam and various other malefactors were hanged, but the price, in lives, money and general chaos, was too high, and by a lot.

86

LFC 09.09.16 at 11:59 pm

clarification: the example of a democratic, ‘free’ Iraq was what they thought wd spread democracy etc. around the region. Which was a rather silly idea from the get-go, for a variety of reasons.

87

LFC 09.10.16 at 12:03 am

sorry, last one…
b.c it’s very, very hard to impose democracy from the outside. (WW2 and its aftermath is very much the exception here, not the rule.)

88

Mike Furlan 09.10.16 at 1:00 am

WW2 is not an exception.

If you kill 8% of the German population and show that you have the will and the means to kill all of the remaining Germans, then you will be able to impose democracy.

Japan lost 4% of it’s population in the war. Between US atomic and fire bombing, and the Red Army the Japanese also faced extinction. These facts were very persuasive.

The second US Iraq war that started in 2003 probably killed less than 1% of the Iraqi population. And, of course, since there was no actual justification for the war in the first place, there was certainly no support for the level of violence used in WW2.

Threatening to exterminate a nation, unless they become a Democracy is of course insane. But, should the North Koreans launch a nuclear strike on the US, for example, one of the minor consequences would be that the surviving North Koreans would accept a democratic form of government.

89

LFC 09.10.16 at 1:07 am

@M. Furlan
well, I take the point. I might put it a bit differently, but as it’s Fri. night (where I am, at any rate) I’m not inclined to quibble (or indeed to spend further time in the blogosphere this eve.).

90

LFC 09.10.16 at 1:16 am

Actually I will quibble on the wording of “Threatening to exterminate a nation, unless they become a Democracy is of course insane” — if you mean this to apply to WW2. Because the Allied demand was ‘unconditional surrender’, not ‘agree to become a democracy’. The latter might have been implicit, but it was not an explicit condition for the ending of the war. Also, of course, as people mentioned at the time of the Iraq invasion and occupation, Germany had had some experience, albeit troubled, w a democratic form of govt before (Japan though in a more attenuated form). Well, I think I’d better stop here before this spirals way, way off topic (which it already has, but whatever).

91

Collin Street 09.10.16 at 1:31 am

clarification: the example of a democratic, ‘free’ Iraq was what they thought wd spread democracy etc. around the region. Which was a rather silly idea from the get-go, for a variety of reasons.

Well, in my framework it’s all fairly explicable by pointing to the difficulties right-wingers have distinguishing between “the best choice” and “the choice I think is best” that leaves them ill-equipped to deal with disagreement: they thought that a democracy would make the choices they wanted, because they [biologically] didn’t realise that the iraqi population had interests that diverged from their own.

Dissent then gets attributed to wilful perversity, and you get bad — but predictable — results. But it’s inadvertant: if they’d known that the iraqi population might legitimately have chosen something that they didn’t want, they’d have gone whole-hog for either a dictatorship or a dissenting democracy, depending on personal factors. “Democracy, but when you chose something we don’t want we’ll shut it down and try again” is strictly worse than either option, for everybody, and wouldn’t be chosen by a reasonable person, IMO.

Like I keep saying.

92

F. Foundling 09.10.16 at 5:25 pm

OP:

‘Catharine MacKinnon … caught the full measure of Schlafly’s greatness, and tragedy’

‘it captured, with uncharacteristic tenderness and solicitude, a poignant truth about Schlafly: she was extraordinarily talented yet was denied the full measure of her greatness by the forces she so faithfully served.’

Personally, I’m not inclined to cry my eyes out over the possible lack of meritocracy in Sauron’s armies (feel free to replace with your preferred fantasy/theological/WW2 reference). I suppose that, to an extent, one’s ability to feel profound and boundless empathy in this respect might depend on the depth of one’s feelings about career and success in general.

OP:

‘I had a great deal of respect for Schlafly, not least because she was a woman who managed to navigate—and amass—power in a man’s world’ … ‘she was extraordinarily talented’

This sounds a bit … pagan to me. I have infinitely more respect for the most talentless, unskilled and unintelligent person using inefficiently her meagre abilities to benefit her fellow-humans than for the most talented, brilliant, accomplished and intelligent person using her abilities to harm them. And, more specifically, I have more respect for the most ignorant, obtuse dustman doing his job than for the most sophisticated, well-read, original and sharp-witted reactionary intellectual (and no, I don’t think the latter generally don’t know what they’re doing). Unless, of course, one uses ‘respect’ in the sense in which people sometimes speak of ‘respecting’ rattlesnakes or nature’s potential for hurricanes.

93

ZM 09.11.16 at 9:23 am

LFC,

I think the objectives for war in Afghanistan were problematic, and there was no good plan to achieve the objectives either.

I am not sure you can wage war on a whole country for the government harbouring a terrorist organisation. It seems a bit unfair since the whole country wasn’t terrorists. I am not convinced that regime change is an okay objective to go to war for either even if the regime is terrible. And they didn’t have a good plan to get a minimally functioning State either.

I was about 11 when the Berlin Wall came down, I don’t really remember the Cold War as something real, I mostly remember just the end of the Cold War and everyone being pleased. Of course I have read about the Cold War.

The first Gulf War was a shambles, then there was the intervention in Bosnia which I think was valid, the lack of intervention in Rwanda where I think there should have been an intervention, then the war in Afghanistan which I thought there was some case for but finally didn’t support, then Iraq which people made up reasons to go to war and the whole thing has been a huge disaster and the region is worse off now than before and the Syrian civil war seems endless.

Bosnia has been about the only successful and reasonable intervention since the end of the Cold War. I think the international community needs to work on some sort of methodology for decision making with regards to conflict and humanitarian interventions in the post-Cold War period.

Comments on this entry are closed.