Obama is sorry for drone-killing two Western victims. What about all the other innocents?


Surely not.
Interventionism is a nation’s activity which is proactive and non-defensive. Therefore, reactive responses cannot be considered interventionist.
Let me put this simply. If you are attacked and enter in to a war as a means of defense, that cannot be considered an interventionist action. If you attack a country without first being attacked then you can be said to have intervened in the course of another nation.


Isn’t this the hinge upon which the debate of modern, preemptive warfare swings?

“We weren’t intervening because they would have constituted a threat had we not been so proactive.”

I’m not attempting to differentiate as a method of undermining an argument, more pointing out that the definitions have become so mired in the politics of war as to be useless labels.

“Against a dark background”


A politician misusing a word to defend their actions does not change the meaning of said word nor does it render the word meaningless. Only the misuse by the politician is meaningless.
When a politician uses the word viable to describe a 5 month old fetus, the meaning of the word viable is not then altered due to its most recent (mis)use.


But when the entirety of international warfare is preemptive intervention without the legal consequences of interfering in the machinations of a sovereign nation, what does that mean for the political reality of all war mongering nations? We bear the responsibility for such misuse and merely using argumentation that defaults to appeals to interpret using the letter of the law or the ‘official’ meaning of a situation is tantamount to sticking our heads in the sand. These types of arguments, wherein people stick fastidiously to definitions which may very well be true but which do not capture reality at all have always struck me as very weak sauce.

If enough people capitulate to the politicians misuse of such terms then by definition the words themselves change meaning. We are responsible for this redefinition in the same way we are responsible for allowing our politicians to perpetuate crimes against humanity without holding them responsible for such. It’s a mess.


So don’t capitulate… The meaning of the word does not change due to political misuse and we aren’t responsible for any redefinition due to misuse. That’s farcicle and without merit. Insisting that words have definite meanings is not sticking our heads in the sands… Accepting the misuse of our language and allowing it to become meaningless would be sticking our heads in the sand. While I generally agree with Wittgenstein’s view on language, I don’t believe that stance is applicable to a discussion on the politcal stance of the U.S. over 100 years ago. No, I think we can use the word as generally defined.

You do realize I was talking about the non-interventionist stance of the U.S. during the 19th and late 18th centuries right?


My defacto capitulation is not without protest but unless I can overthrow a government (I wouldn’t, couldn’t, stop reading my posts damn spooks) myself then I am responsible for those war crimes whether or not I’m a conscientious objector.

And, again, I do not accept such misuse but when everyone else does, by not holding politicians personally responsible for war crimes, the environment of politics and language shifts about us.

I do realise and I’m not really disagreeing with you except to point out that the realities of the modern conception of self-exculpatory warfare uses exactly the kinds of arguments you are using to redefine what it is doing to be legal and moral instead of and criminal and unconscionable.


America didn’t then have an empire to “protect”


Ok, I’ll bite. What politician has used the term non-intervention in regards to a proactive action? I have to assume there is one right? Otherwise, what are you talking about.

I’m pretty sure they use your argument that a words meaning alters to fit political realities and not my argument that such misuse is farcical.


So, where have we got to? Defensive, internal and interventionist?


Taking it out of context now?
Defensive referred specifically to the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, and the Philippine War. Internal referred to the Indian Wars, the Moro rebellion, and the Utah Mormon War. The sentence you quote differentiates between the two former from the latter hence the use of the word not.


Except when you can take over such a nation and retroactively amend their nationhood to be part of yours and therefor not external, or you can spin any kind of country to country interaction as an attack on ones sovereignty (if you didn’t manufacture the entire event yourself) or merely react to external forces such as sanctions, which are now a declaration of war, apparently. I’m saying that clinging to the letter of the law in such a way as to exculpate aggressive, war like actions is the problem and doesn’t take into account the political machinations which hide behind such purist interpretations. The problem is this kind of bullshit adherence to the letter of the law, ignoring real politik and the sticking of one’s head in the sand captures one’s self enforced ignorance of such realities ‘because the law models reality in another fashion, reality must be wrong’.


Damnit, we should get another thread, this is getting really tangential.

I have absolutely no idea what to call it though, this is a mire.


The Maine “attack” was not really an attack, it seems.

There were forces in the US that were eager for a war. The then-prez, don’trememberthenamenow, was against and held a lid on the attempts.

Then a ship, said Maine, blew up.

Guess who got conveniently blamed. And the war, the glory war that somebody wanted so much, could now proceed, the ship’s fate serving to fuel the bellicose rhetorics that convinced enough to vote the desired way.
Not unlike some more modern examples, the Iraqi adventures coming to mind. (Hi, Nayirah.)

Recent investigations are pointing towards a fire in a coal magazine, as bituminous coal used then was not exactly a stable material, outgassing methane, and being a fire and explosion hazard.


Agreed. I was speaking more to the impetus for entering in to war and not the actual facts of the event. McKinley was the president btw. It was perceived as an attack and the war was in reaction to that. Without the direct attack, the U.S. would have most likely not gotten involved to the extent which it did and remained largely isolationist.

EDIT to add: The question of the Main and the Spanish American War in general is why I chose to place the end of non-intervention at 1899 in my previous comments. Why someone later decided to say I was incorrect by using the Spanish American War as an example why, is beyond me.

The act of taking over another nation is interventionist no matter what you latter then do. That the politic of the time is not reflected in objective reality does nothing to change that fact.

As for your position on the letter of the law, that’s a different discussion. The law is only concerned with the law. It has nothing to do with reality, justice, truth, or whether or not the U.S. held to isolationist and non-interventionist policies for most of the 19th and late 18th centuries which goes to my original point that not all presidents are war mongers. That many are and that since WWII they have been puppets of a military industrial complex is a red herring and not germane.


LOL, our entire discussion is not germane. I concede that you are not technically incorrect within the boundaries of correctness you have apportioned to your intention.


The why is very important. During the Napoleonic Wars, the French and
English imposed economic sanctions on the U.S. and the English were
using impressment to abduct U.S. citizens. That’s not intervention,
that’s a sovereign nations reaction to external forces.

Nope. By that standard, North Vietnam was the aggressor because of Tonkin Gulf. Same with North Korea.

While there were a number of causes of the War of 1812 (and if you focus on only one, that is simply ignorant), US territorial ambitions in the Northwest Territories were a significant factor. The British had the long-standing goal of creating a large “neutral” Indian state that would cover much of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. They made the demand as late as the fall of 1814 at the peace conference, but lost control of western Ontario in 1813 at key battles on and around
Lake Erie. These battles destroyed the Indian confederacy which had been the main ally of the British in the region, and which would make up the proposed neutral state.

Impressment is a tricky issue. The British government did not recognize the right of any British citizen to surrender his citizenship. So according to British law, they were impressing draft dodgers. It was, to them, the 19th century equivalent of extradition. Certainly the US viewed naturalization of immigrants as a right of countries but Britain did not. In any case, if you want to argue that was the only cause of war, you’re simply wrong.

The Spanish American War was a war of aggression deliberately launched for territorial expansion.

Far from factual. They attacked a U.S. warship known as the Main.
Cuba wanted independence from Spain and the U.S. was sympathetic. That’s
another reaction to external aggression.

Completely false. The Spanish American war was fanned largely by Hearst Newspapers’ yellow journalism. While the sinking of the Maine (not Main) was a factor in Hearst’s propaganda, in fact a 1974 investigation by Admiral Hyman Rickover concluded that the explosion that sunk the Maine was internal, not external, and therefore an accident, not an act of aggression.

But the stage for war had been set years before due to US Sugar interests having a desire to suppress revolt in Cuba.

The Mexican war was also about territorial expansion.

Mexico declared war on the U.S. for annexing Texas at the request of Texans

The United States annexed Texas due to Manifest Destiny. I suppose you also think the people of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are justified in seeking for Russia to annex them? In any case, Mexico had already recognized the independence of Texas (at least as far as the Neuces river – the border was still unsettled). The US believed the border should be the Rio Grande, and the US ambassador to Mexico, John Slidell, returned to Washington arguing that Mexico needed to be “chastised.” Mexico stated its intent to fight a defensive war and moved troops into the disputed area. They routed a small detachment of American troops, causing James K. Polk to seek a declaration of war on the basis that the territory of the US had been invaded. NOTE: disputed territory – one could just as well argue that the presence of a US detachment represented an invasion of Mexican territory.

In any case, the US invaded in order to occupy all the territory to the Rio Grande. That is the one and only reason. Nothing at all to do with the entry of Texas into the union and everything to do with the determination of the borders of Texas.

You may think of Indian wars as internal but that is retroactively imposing a 20th century perspective

It’s internal simply because there was no intervention with an outside nation.

The Sioux, the Comanche, The Nez Perce, the Cherokee, and countless others would beg to differ with you on who exactly was an “outside nation.”


Or basically, ALL of the Native Americans beg to differ, since ALL the Native lands are now US territory.

But I’m starting to believe that this is an argument between invasion and Intervention.


They are now. They weren’t then. That was sort of the point.


Which one: the fact the America is stolen land, or that Intervention by America is Invasion?


It is murky in US history. I think what we have to be careful about is projecting current politics and attitudes back onto the 17th - 19th century.

At that time, all natives were viewed as foreign nations. That’s really indisputable and it governed how they were treated. Their political status today is really irrelevant.

Yeah, America is stolen land. But the only way to steal land is to intervene in sovereign nations. The US consciously did that, as can be seen from the political dialog of the time. I don’t think I have a clear distinction in my mind between the two. Maybe there is a continuum.