Let's see. First the Times ran an "op-classic" on Sunday, a 1990 think piece on the wisdom of invading places like Myanamar. On Wednesday, Robert Kaplan pondered the wisdom of such an intervention on humanitarian grounds, prompting Josh Marshall to remark, "But I have an even simpler idea. Why don't we not invade any more countries for a while?" George Packer took it up at his New Yorker blog, observing that "It seems that there’s no such thing as an uninvited humanitarian mission of foreign soldiers that doesn’t turn into something more -- something ugly." before noting in the very next paragraph that "And yet this might be what’s necessary in Burma." Lisa Schifffren provided the predicable right-wing response at the Corner: "On the speculation about a humanitarian invasion of Burma, it's clear that NRO readers are on to the fact that liberals will only use force when our own national interests are not at stake."

Correct me if I'm missing other conversations about the wisdom of invading foreign countries, but I think the take-home point is that few in the opinion-generating business are really serious about re-evaluating the wisdom of invading and occupying other countries. It's always going to be premised on either our national "interest" or security from the right, and always going to be premised on humanitarianism from the left. During the dark days of the run-up to the Iraq War it really became clear that the only daylight between a neocon hawk and a liberal interventionist was the labels. Now that that war has exposed the folly of using the blunt instrument of the military for whatever purpose suits our political zeitgeist, it's a race to differentiate the liberals from the neocons, without ever seriously taking stock of the unprecedented decline in American moral authority in the world, not to mention our increasing inability to actually carry out and fund these foreign policy adventures. Like it or not, idealism is dead in American foreign policy, and apparently only the pundits didn't get memo.

--Mori Dinauer