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On Exceptionalism

[ 62 ] April 6, 2011 |

My WPR column this week is on American Exceptionalism:

Does the United States have a special responsibility to manage international affairs? This question has come to inform much of the debate about the role that the U.S. is currently playing in military operations over Libya. Glenn Greenwald of Salon has argued that the idea that the United States has the right to intervene in the internal politics of other countries has its source in a widespread acceptance of American Exceptionalism, the notion that the United States is different, special and privileged compared to other nations. Writing from a realist perspective, Stephen Walt echoed this claim, arguing that both neoconservatives and liberal interventionists hold exceptionalist views of the U.S. role in the world.

Both Greenwald and Walt suggest that the idea of American Exceptionalism has a destructive effect both on world politics and on U.S. domestic politics, with Greenwald phrasing the question in this way: “Does the U.S. indeed occupy a special place in the world, entitling and even obligating us to undertake actions that no other country is entitled or obligated to undertake? And, if so, what is the source of these entitlements and obligations? Is it merely our superior military power, or is there something else that has vested us with this perch of exceptionalism?”

Four points worthy of slightly longer discussion:

  • American Exceptionalism is, as a phenomenon, wholly unexceptional.  Almost every state or nation has an ideologically charged vision of its own relevance.  More powerful states tend to have the most expansive of such visions.  The French understanding of civilizing mission is an example of this, but there are obviously also Exceptionalist understandings of German, British, Japanese, Russian, Turkish, and Chinese global responsibilities.
  • Anyone who rises to the leadership of a major world power is extremely likely to have internalized some sort of Exceptionalist vision.  Anyone who rises to such a position without having internalized the Exceptionalist vision is  extremely likely to act as if they have internalized such a vision.
  • On the whole, these Exceptionalist understandings of foreign policy roles are probably unhelpful from several angles.  On the one hand, they detract from the rational, realist calculus of foreign policy means and interest that someone like Stephen Walt might prefer.  On the other hand, they tend to grant the presumptive, hypocritical “right of interference” in the affairs of others that so irritates Glenn Greenwald.
  • The case for “aspirational exceptionalism” is complicated, but I think there’s something there.  As I suggested, not all visions of American Exceptionalism are the same, and some (although not the strain most recently dominant) are actually anti-interventionist.  Consequently, I think that it can be worthwhile to try to fight the fight on the ground that Exceptionalists choose, although much care must be taken.  For example, I think that How Would a Patriot Act is most definitely a book that would fit comfortably in the “aspirational exceptionalist” milieu.

Comments (62)

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    I’m sorry, but the only thing exceptional about America anymore is how exceptionally fucking stupid and gullible most of us are.

    We are a nation of profoundly stupid and ignorant people, led my malicious, stupid, hateful, ignorant, fearful and cruel children:

    Beevis and Butthead are part of The Teafeltcher Caucus in the House.

    And Bill and Ted are having excellent adventures in our Senate.

    • Robert Farley says:

      Meh. I don’t think we’re really any stupider than anyone else. And short/medium term fluctuations aside, I don’t think that we’re really any stupider now than we’ve been in the past.

      • c u n d gulag says:

        You’re probably right.
        It was more localized, so you didn’t get to hear right wing talk radio, or watch FOX News become a trendsetter in TV cable news.

  2. chris says:

    Well, there’s always Spider-Man’s Law. We have chosen to purchase, at immense and arguably even Mephistophelean price, great power. *Does* that come with great responsibility, and if so, should we have thought more about that before ultra-militarizing to such an extent?

    I think the U.S. isn’t essentially exceptional, but there’s little doubt that in the current state of world affairs, it is circumstantially exceptional.

  3. el donaldo says:

    Exceptionalism is unexceptional, but American Exceptionalism does have a unique flavor connected to its self-aggrandizing narrative of religious and then political freedom that is not confined to the U.S. alone. There was a lot of blather on both sides of the Atlantic in the 19th C about the U.S. being an apotheosis of Western culture as it shook off the shackles of church and court in its westward move into a “virgin” continent that would then move back eastward in a wave of Enlightenment that would free the globe. And that was a Hegelian lefty narrative!

    • Robert Farley says:

      I dunno. French mission civilisatrice is kinda all about being a self-aggrandizing narrative that wasn’t confined to France alone. Imperial Russia envisioned itself as the center of the one true Christianity, and saw a historic responsibility for protecting that wherever and against whomever Russia decided it needed protecting against. The Soviet Union modified the substance, but kept the intervention. Interwar Japan saw itself as uniquely capable of and responsible for the liberation of East Asia.

      Self-aggradizing narratives of national uniqueness with effect not confined within borders aren’t at all unusual…

      • el donaldo says:

        I was less than clear. I meant unique in its content, which is in itself hardly exceptional, not its transnational discursive nature. But thanks for expanding the examples. As an Americanist it’s a struggle sometimes to think trans-Atlantically, much less globally.

  4. wengler says:

    The US used to be unique. There are several times in world power politics that bore this out. The US once had a severely Constitutionally-limited military. Not since 1941 of course. The US had a monopoly on nuclear weapons from 1945-1949. I suppose other countries would’ve used that leverage to make the world bow down before them. There were half-attempts by the Truman administration to put nuclear power under UN control-that would’ve certainly been exceptional.

    The US these days in not exceptional at all. It is captured by the foreign plundering of its capitalist class. Resources from the Middle East and Africa. Slave labor from East and South Asia. The worker that makes your clothing in Bangladesh is making far less than the downtrodden sweatshop worker in the Lower East Side in the late 19th century. The systems that keep these workers from revolting are the same as they ever were-the truncheon and the jackboot.

    So in the early 21st century, the US has created the most unexceptional country in existence: rich feeding off the poor, the powerful crushing the weak, and the limited liability corporation dictating national policy for profit.

    • Robert Farley says:

      One might object that the US capitalist class was exceedingly effective at brutal plundering even before 1941, and that the connection between such plundering and an adventurist (exceptionalist) foreign policy is not altogether clear…

      • dave says:

        And that, if you come from any part of the Americas south of the Rio Grande, the idea that US foreign policy was unadventurous before WW2 is ridiculous.

      • wengler says:

        And yet the US did it with a substantially smaller military, even with the Philippine War. The growth of the Navy presaged the transition of the rest of the military though.

        The volume of military interaction with the rest of the world grew exponentially after 1941. The imperial outposts were mainly confined to the plunder of the Spanish-American War. After WWII there were American bases on five continents. With that amount of projected force, Constitutional limits on executive authority become quaint and unrealistic.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      “The US had a monopoly on nuclear weapons from 1945-1949.”

      This is a rather broad definition of “exceptionalism.” Having a technological advantage for 4 years may be unique in the most technical sense of the word but is hardly useful in defining American exceptionalism.

      • wengler says:

        I declared it exceptional because the US had the ultimate weapon of power and did not use it to take over the world.

        Attempting to take over the world was a very fashionable notion at the time.

        • chris says:

          “Ultimate weapon of power”? Isn’t that a little melodramatic?

          How would you suggest taking over the world with (IIRC) a single-digit number of nuclear weapons? At the time we didn’t even have enough to *destroy* the world, a far easier task than taking it over.

          • wengler says:

            Nuclear weapons have an extraordinary demonstration effect. You don’t have to nuke many cities before a non-nuclear power will capitulate.

  5. John Emerson says:

    I dislike the “exceptionalism” label because many nation are exceptional in one way or another. Behind the label seems to lie the idea that of course nations are governed by scientific laws and political scientists understand these laws, so any given nation is just one instance of lawful behavior.

    Switzerland strikes me as exceptionally exceptional. With a messy federalist government, four official languages, two dominant religions, and a topography dissected by lofty mountain ranges, the Swiss state is (like states in the Balkans and the Caucasus) remarkably fragile.

    • Vance Maverick says:

      Except empirically.

      • John Emerson says:

        Switzerland is an outlier. In a long run of trials, Switzerland-type-nations are extremely unstable. Most of them, in fact, have ceased to exist. Many of them never came into existence at all. Scientifically speaking, Switzerland is merely anecdotal.

  6. John Emerson says:

    Before WWI the exceptionalists wanted to stay out. I’m willing to argue that they were right. If they were wrong, it’s mostly because the expansion of American power would have been slowed, not because of any good we did by going to Europe.

    • dave says:

      Lafayette? Who the frack is Lafayette?

    • wengler says:

      The only way I figure it is that Wilson was afraid of not having a seat at the table at the next “what are we to do about the world?” meet-up and the US was going through one of its perennial paranoid moments(the Germans and the Mexicans will come pouring over the border!).

  7. joe from Lowell says:

    This is a very odd time to be having this discussion, when American foreign policy is more enmeshed in collective actions within the UN and NATO frameworks than at any other time in my life, and arguably since World War One.

    Is following France and Britain into Libya, based on a UNSC resolution brought in part by the Arab League supposed to be an example of America thinking of itself as “different, special and privileged compared to other nations?”

    Is the action in the Ivory Coast demonstrative of “French Exceptionalism?”

    I guess it isn’t just the generals who are always fighting the last war.

    • rea says:

      American foreign policy is more enmeshed in collective actions within the UN and NATO frameworks than at any other time in my life

      How old are you, Joe? I’m old enough to have lived during the Korean War, so I certainly couldn’t say that. Arguably anyone alive during the Cold War, with a NATO army confronting a Warsaw Pact army across Europe, couldn’t say that. And I don’t see how NATO action in Libya is much different than NATO action in former Yugoslavia, except for being more timely. You kids today . . .

      • wengler says:

        If the US and Europe want to do something…

        If the rich countries get together and decide something is right…

        If those Wikileaks cables proved anything, it is that many of the world’s ‘leaders’ get many of their directives from the US state department. Those that don’t will inevitable become history’s greatest monsters.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          If the US and Europe want to do something…

          If the rich countries get together and decide something is right…

          Establishing the UNSC as the arbiter of the legitimacy of the use of force between nations is the worst possible system, except for all the others.

          • DocAmazing says:

            Except that we’ve exceeded what the UNSC called for.

            Other than that…

            • joe from Lowell says:

              Says you.

              Sadly (for you), the UNSC doesn’t seem to think so.

              And I’m inclined to take their word for it.

              • DocAmazing says:

                Perhaps you could link to the UNSC’s resolution, point out what it calls for, and contrast that with what’s been done. You know, compare what the UNSC called for with what we did.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                Or perhaps we could just look at what the UN itself is saying.

                But, like everything else you’ve written here, that is irrelevant to the point. The actions we’ve taken in the air war in Libya, even the ones you’ve unilaterally decided go beyond Resolution 1973, were actions that were 1) taken in conjunction with the same countries that are “driving the train” in both NATO and the UNSC, and 2) not dictated by the United States to our allies, but the reverse.

                So, as far as the actual, relevant topic I’m still optimistic you might discuss – that is, the unusual absence of clear American leadership in this action, and what relationship this development has to the topic of American exceptionalism – the point you’re raising here doesn’t really apply. We still wouldn’t be the engine on this train.

              • DocAmazing says:

                Yeah, there’s just that little reading comprehension thing there: the Secretary-General was praising the no-fly zone, and that was it–kinda like the UNSC resolution. He had no praise for the rest of the intervention.

                Again, believing that our input is irreplaceable is pretty much Ameerican exceptionalism by definition.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                Yeah, there’s just that little reading comprehension thing there: the Secretary-General was praising the no-fly zone, and that was it–kinda like the UNSC resolution.

                So, in other words, in the UN Secretary General’s statement about the operation, he doesn’t have a single word to say about the alleged violation of the UN’s authority, while praising the people who allegedly violated it. I know, maybe he had a gleam in his eye that totally proves how pissed he is.

                Again, believing that our input is irreplaceable is pretty much Ameerican exceptionalism by definition.

                If anyone is reading this, please note how utterly irrelevant any actual facts might be to this judgment. By definition, believing that a NATO operation requires an American presence is false. By definition – not because there is any evidence to support this notion, but by definition, meaning that this statement is true regardless of the objective facts.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              Ah, so, the utter lack of any complaint by the UN about what you, individually, have decided they should be upset about, in the UN statement about what they think about the operation, actually proves your point.

              But, then, I’ve yet to see a single event that didn’t prove your point, so that’s not too surprising.

              Again, believing that our input is irreplaceable is pretty much Ameerican exceptionalism by definition.

              Even when that “belief” is held by the British and French? Are they American Exceptionalists, too?

              You know, Field Marshall, the question of whether our resources are necessary for this operation is a reality-based one. It actually depends on things like numbers and objective facts. By defining the answer you don’t want to hear as being ideologically suspect, regardless of the actual underlying facts of the question, you’re writing yourself out of that community.

              • DocAmazing says:

                Dude, look, you’ve established that you’ve never heard of air-launched cruise missiles; it doesn’t occur to you that the UK and France might want us around for political cover rather than military need (‘cuz it takes the full military might of NATO to maintain a no-fly zone in a North African country); you still seem to think that nothing worth doing can be done without US input; and you have serious reading comprehension issues regarding UN and Arab League directives.

                Engaging you further is pointless. We get it: any discussion of American exceptionalism that mentions current US military engagements is thread-jacking. Further repetition is not required.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                Writing silly things like “you’ve never heard of air-launched cruise missiles” doesn’t cover the underly hole in your argument.

                It doesn’t occur to you that the UK and France might want us around for political cover rather than military need

                Or maybe they like our cooking. OR MAYBE all of those trillions of dollars we’ve spent actually does give us military capabilities beyond those of our allies, that are being used in this operation.

                You’ve offered nothing except your feelings to support the laughable claim that NATO doesn’t want or need American assets for military purposes. Oh, wait, I take that back: you’ve also defined the observation that they do have such needs, regardless of any factual basis, to be ideologically unsound.

                Quite impressive, that.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                it doesn’t occur to you that the UK and France might want us around for political cover rather than military need

                Even if this flight of fancy were true, it is wholly irrelevant to the point you keep weaseling out of addressing: that we are devoting resources to an operation when we are not driving the train.

                Saying that we’re “political cover” for the French and British is an acknowledgment that this is their baby, and our role in making it happen was secondary.

              • DocAmazing says:

                Let me know when you’re done blowing wind.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                I trust if you had an answer, you’d have posted it.

                Posing as someone who’s very impressed by himself doesn’t actually keep anyone reading the thread from noticing when you can’t answer a point.

              • DocAmazing says:

                Right. NATO is but a kitten, dependent on us to take on such a titan as Libya. The fact that the UN hasn’t dragged Obama to the dock at the Hague means that they fully support regime change–just like the Arab League does.

                You make assertions without proof. When you do provide a link, it indicates something quite different from the point you’re trying to make with it. The fact that your position is also that of tha Administration doesn’t make it reality-based, just “respectable”. You still haven’t addressed the issue of the perception of US military power as indispensible–nor have you provided any evidence that French or British commanders consider it so.

                But hey, keep swatting at the voices that you are hearing, no matter how measured or far away.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        I’m old enough to have lived during the Korean War

        Arguably anyone alive during the Cold War, with a NATO army confronting a Warsaw Pact army across Europe, couldn’t say that. And I don’t see how NATO action in Libya is much different than NATO action in former Yugoslavia

        In all three of those cases, the US was the driving force behind the operations, and other countries were our partners in what were primarily American actions.

        That’s not the case in Libya at all. The United States isn’t the engine on those train, the way it was in every other allied and NATO action in either of our lifetimes, and beyond our lifetimes.

        That’s a rather significant departure, and it’s amazing to me to see so many people skip right over it without noticing.

        • DocAmazing says:

          Well, then, since the British and the French have everything in hand, let’s GTFO and let them handle things. We’re not needed here.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            Good job telling us that – and let me make sure I have this straight – are against the Libya intervention! Against, right?

            OK. Now that we’ve cleared that point up: Did you have any thoughts on the topic of American Exceptionalism and its relationship to how much of a leadership vs. partnership role we play within international institutions?

            • DocAmazing says:

              Yes. When our leadership is not needed, and our partnership is no longer required, it’s time to go home.

              It’s really nice that we aren’t the main driving force behind this bombing and intervention. Now that we’ve given ourselves a medal for Getting Past Exceptionalism and Kicking Imperialism, how about we draw down our military involvement? You know, actually act like what we’re claiming to be.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                When our leadership is not needed, and our partnership is no longer required, it’s time to go home.

                Only one of these, and not the other, is even arguably the case.

                That’s an interesting “my way or the highway” stance you’re arguing, though. We shouldn’t be involved in any UN or other international actions unless we’re 1) providing the bulk of the forces and 2) commanding the dictating the shape of the operation?

                Sounds a little American Exceptionalist to me.

                Oh, and once again, you’re against the Libyan intervention, right? Against? I just want to make absolutely certain I understand what you’re saying.

                Because this point is 1) so incredibly relevant to the comment you’re replying to and the subject of this thread, and 2) apparently so poorly-understood that it needs to be repeated in every comment, and every thread utilized as a forum for making that point.

              • DocAmazing says:

                See, here’s the part that you ignore. Being imperialists, as we are, we perceive that we must get a piece of any imperial action. This we do in a variety of ways: through the IMF, through NATO, and through these cobbled-together coalition projects. The exceptionalism part comes in when we feel that we’re indispensible and just must be part of the whole thing (and that our motives are pure). We’re not indispensible, however; we weren’t needed for this (the UK’s got plenty of ALCMs); if we were needed for this in the beginning, we aren’t now; and arguments that we’re Just So Special that the entire enterprise would just go to the dogs if we weren’t part of it carry with them more than a whiff of American exceptionalism.

                So now that we’ve decided that we’re not exceptional, and since our coalition partners have the situation in hand, can we get out now?

              • hv says:

                I don’t read it as “my way or the highway” … I read DocAmazing’s claim as something like: the proof of our non-main-driving-forceness is in the draw-down. Nothing less.

                When the draw down happens, you will have a case. When all you have is a promised future draw-down, waxing rhapsodic on the multilateral paradigm seems naive.

                We have been promised draw-downs before.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                hv,

                It appears that Doc is not, in fact, making the argument you’re attributing to him.

                He’s just back in his so-called-anti-imperialist drone, and isn’t actually making a point about exceptionalism at all.

                I mean, he feels the need to describe a mission authorized by the UN Security Council, that didn’t even originate with us, an an imperialist adventure we undertook with “a cobbled together coalition.”

              • DocAmazing says:

                Actually, Doc is trying to make the point that remaining in a cobbled-together coalition that no longer requires our input because we see ourselves as indispensible is American exceptionalism. You might want to respond to that, rather that trying to turn Resolution 1973 into a pretzel, or accusing me of thread-jacking.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                Doc,

                we weren’t needed for this (the UK’s got plenty of ALCMs); if we were needed for this in the beginning, we aren’t now

                Thank for your opinion, General DocAmazing. Oddly enough, the other militaries involved, and our own, don’t agree. They seem to think that our air-refueling capacity, our naval assets, and other resources we bring to bear are necessary for the operation.

                The thing is, this isn’t a matter of opinion. This isn’t a question that can be answered by checking your policy preferences and picking the response that best advances them.

                So now that we’ve decided that we’re not exceptional, and since our coalition partners have the situation in hand, can we get out now?

                Is there some reason why you keep attributing a plainly-false statement, that I have explicitly disputed already, to me, and pretending that my alleged acceptance of it is even tangentially related to this discussion?

              • DocAmazing says:

                You make the error of assuming that anyone gives a shit about your acceptance.

                I didn’t attribute the claim to you (just the anti-exceptionalism), and your inability to count British missiles is quite beside the point.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                hv,

                the proof of our non-main-driving-forceness is in the draw-down.

                But that oh-so-convenient standard founders on two points:

                1) It is absolutely possible for a coalition partner to supply a meaningful amount of the firepower without being the main policy force,

                2) The question of whether we were or were not the driving force behind getting the coalition together, getting the resolution through the UNSC, and getting NATO together has already been answered. The events by which that came to be have already taken place. Regardless of how much firepower we’re devoting to this event, it was still primarily the British and French who made this happen, and we went along with them.

                If we continue to devote significant resources to an operation that was primarily put together and designed by the French and British, that wouldn’t refute my point (that we’re using our power in a less America-driven way), but rather, provide even more proof of it. On the other hand, if we drop almost completely out of an operation that we didn’t play a primary role in causing, then that would be evidence that we aren’t really interested in using our power for non-America-centered operations. In other words, just the opposite of your point.

              • hv says:

                joe from Lowell, you have misunderstood my post. My first paragraph was a transition, an introduction, describing thoughts I produced based on what I read.

                The further paragraphs are my own advocacy, and it is not contingent on my read of DocAmazing being accurate.

                If you have misunderstood the advocacy chain, allow me not to fully clarify: I advocate the arguments in my post.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                hv,

                When the draw down happens, you will have a case. When all you have is a promised future draw-down

                But my case doesn’t rely on the drawdown at all. I can point to the actual political process that preceded this operation, in which the French and British were way out in front of the US. The question of how many resources we’re putting into it isn’t the point.

                1) It is absolutely possible for a coalition partner to supply a meaningful amount of the firepower without being the main policy force,

                2) The question of whether we were or were not the driving force behind getting the coalition together, getting the resolution through the UNSC, and getting NATO together has already been answered. The events by which that came to be have already taken place. Regardless of how much firepower we’re devoting to this event, it was still primarily the British and French who made this happen, and we went along with them.

                If we continue to devote significant resources to an operation that was primarily put together and designed by the French and British, that wouldn’t refute my point (that we’re using our power in a less America-driven way), but rather, provide even more proof of it. On the other hand, if we drop almost completely out of an operation that we didn’t play a primary role in causing, then that would be evidence that we aren’t really interested in using our power for non-America-centered operations. In other words, just the opposite of your point.

              • hv says:

                If we continue to devote significant resources to an operation that was primarily put together and designed by the French and British, [...] On the other hand, if we drop almost completely out of an operation that we didn’t play a primary role in causing,…

                I can envision more than these 2 options. In fact, I feel that I can come up with empirical examples that lie outside these 2 options. You may wish to meditate that perhaps you regard this proposition as “already been answered” (with emphasis!) because you have limited the options.

                When the draw-down happens, this intervention counts as an example as you describe. Until then, forgive me if I insist on a margin of uncertainty for claims which you may regard as concrete.

              • hv says:

                I can point to the actual political process that preceded this operation, in which the French and British were way out in front of the US.

                I can do the same for Viet Nam.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                I can envision more than 2 options as well, but those are the two directions: towards a large presence, or towards a smaller one. At one end would be a completely American operation, and at the other end would be one with no American assets at all.

                Similarly, I can envision different degrees of American leadership, from “My way or the highway” to “Whatever you say, boss,” with many variations in between.

                You may wish to meditate that perhaps you regard this proposition as “already been answered” (with emphasis!) because you have limited the options.

                I think you must have misunderstood. The question is already answered not because of anything having to do with the drawdown at all, but because of the already-known political activity that preceded the war. We already know how the French and British took the lead on making this happen and what it would look like, not us.

                When the draw-down happens, this intervention counts as an example as you describe.

                You are simply assuming as a proposition the idea that the level of resources we are putting into the operation is a reliable proxy for whether our role in making it happen was that of an instigator or a partner. I dispute that claim. It is entirely possible for us to put significant resources into an operation that we didn’t play a major role in bringing about.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                I can do the same for Viet Nam.

                Gaah, you’re not going to start telling me about the SixtiesMan, are you?

                ;-)

                Perhaps you could be a little more explicit – how does anything having to do with the Viet Nam War bear on the point that the Libya operation was conceived and birthed by countries other than the US, and we are contributing to a coalition effort that wasn’t actually driven by us.

              • hv says:

                I am trying to answer without getting snarky… are you unaware that the Viet Nam “operation was conceived and birthed by countries other than the US” (to use your language), and we went along with them? Or do you not regard Viet Nam as an essentially American event, where reasonable people might say America was the main driving force?

                My claim is some possible troop deployments can trump the origins of any operation. Drastic American escalation would make it less salient that France proposed the motion and Britain seconded it.

                You go too far when you say:

                You are simply assuming as a proposition the idea that the level of resources we are putting into the operation is a reliable proxy for whether our role in making it happen was that of an instigator or a partner.

                Look how you need to make my statement so much more absolute; I don’t think you cross the line into straw-person, but you are certainly not analyzing these arguments cleanly.

                Oh, and the word “instigator” starts to shift the goal-posts. “Main-driving-forceness” is what I claimed and you chose to dispute; and that can shift from the instigator very easily.

                In Libya, the instigator(s) is already established. Whether the instigator = the main-driving-force is not yet 100% determined.

    • hv says:

      Allow me to insist, on Mal’s behalf, that we adjust for the growth of NATO.

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