"What do you want to do today, Brain?"
"Same thing we do everyday, Pinky.... Take over the world."
In response to my denial post
, Mark argues that America's problem isn't denial but a failure of the will
to confront evil. At root, this is Green Laternism
gone totally haywire, as Mark seems to think every problem in the whole world could be solved through strong application of American Will. But while this practically unrealistic (not every problem can be solved by mere willpower, and America doesn't possess infinite resources to enact will into policy), the disjuncture with reality is actually less frightening to me than the theory itself. The "will" Mark demands America use would appear to involve the US invading, occupying, bombing, or otherwise attacking a huge chunk (well over half) of the world over the course of the last 60 years.*
But Mark doesn't just want to impose American will on any country. It's not even the relatively simple metric of imposing our will on evil countries. Evilness is certainly a part of Mark's criteria. But the bigger one is alignment
. Countries which are doing nothing actively wrong, but seem broadly aligned on an anti-American axis, are legitimate targets of our Will (Chile, 1973). And, as Mark's post was a prolonged justification for allying with undeniably evil groups (such as death squads) so long as they were on "our side", I assume the reverse is also true: a country that is aligned with us ought to be spared facing America's Will -- or even get the support of American Will against rebel forces. Beyond that, for countries or organizations who are not aligned for us or against us (or perhaps, are too unimportant to matter), then evilness becomes the defining factor (Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army, for example).
So, using that as our criteria, which countries in the post-WWII era should have faced (or benefited from!) America's Will? Well, let's start with the one's that Mark appears to explicitly endorse in his post: Chile, Nicaragua, North Korea (he says we shouldn't have accepted the "stalemate" at the end of the Korean War), Vietnam, Uganda. Where else? Well, there are the other locations where America has Exerted Our Will since World War II; places such as Iraq, Columbia, Granada, El Salvador (hell, virtually all of Central America saw US Marines at one point or another during the 20th century), The Balkans, and Iran (imposing the Shah). Each of these would seemingly be okay with Mark. But now let's move into hypotheticals. Where did American Will fail to manifest itself, when it should have?
Start with the Americas. We already mentioned that basically all of Central America was forfeit, but Cuba deserves special mention for being the Communist Big Papa -- and the Bay of Pigs hardly was a sufficient statement of Will. Venezuela, today, is an easy mark (and we did support a coup there). Bolivia? Maybe. Brazil escapes because it went socialist (Lula) after the Cold War ended, but during the Cold War it was an ally (so who cares that it tortured folks constantly?).
In Europe, we have -- the entire Soviet Bloc. And the Soviet Union. But particularly Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Could France be considered anti-American enough to render it vulnerable to America's Will? Maybe.
Africa is another place where we could justify sending troops nearly anywhere this side of Botswana, either to overthrow communist leaning dictatorships or to support Western-leaning regimes against communist backed rebels. But certainly, Libya, Sudan (even prior to Darfur, with the North/South civil war), Ethiopia, Rwanda, Rhodesia (supporting the White apartheid government), South Africa (ditto), and Angola all were legitimate targets of The Will.
The Middle East, amazingly, gets mostly a pass, on the grounds of "alignment". Iraq is an exception -- but only after the Cold War (when they actually were gassing their own people, they're cool. Invading Kuwait is a problem). Syria, too, probably should face the Will of America. But Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, UAE? All okay.
Central Asia is a fun one. Pakistan escapes -- narrowly -- on alignment grounds. Uzbekistan, despite being far eviler than Pakistan, is an easier non-call than Pakistan, as it is firmly on our side. But Afghanistan gets to enjoy US will twice
: once in support of the Taliban against the Russians, and once in support of the North Alliance against the Taliban. Iran, obviously, must face American Will again.
East Asia also sees plenty of action. We already got Korea, and China, too, is a definite. Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are further obvious choices. Indonesia gets supportive Will of America in its anti-communist fight as Suharto slaughtered 300,000 people. He may be a sonofabitch, but he's our
sonofabitch, after all.
So what's the final tally? Basically all of Latin America and Eastern Europe, and most of Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, Chile, Venezuela, Columbia, the USSR, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Iran (twice), Afghanistan (twice), Iraq, Syria, Korea, and Libya. And possibly France. Some places we did attack (but in many of these, Mark thinks that still our Will was not sufficiently imposed), some we did not
I don't oppose the use of military force in all circumstances. But this...this is imperial hell. I am glad we have not "The Will" to undertake it."I believe in something greater than myself. Building a better world. A world without sin...."
"I don't murder children."
"I do. When I have to."
* * *
* In the comments, Mark denies that his "will" is necessarily military force. But every example he's ever given of the proper use of will was a military option, and I can't conceive of a non-military response he would find sufficiently "willful" in most of the countries I'm laying out. Indeed, in some of the cases, he finds even what military response the US did initiate to be insufficient (Vietnam, Central America). But for the sake of defusing conflict, I'll refer to what Mark wants to do to these nations as "imposing our will."