The moral complexities of the Muslim-world uprisings -- Douthat and Buchanan 

Warning of "The Cost of Inaction" is the first refuge of the Big-Government scoundrel. Some day I'll write a column headlined "Wolfowitz, Gore, Paulson" about how government officials use various imaginary bogeymen -- WMD, 20-foot sea-level rises, and utter economic collapse -- to grab more power.

No, we can't prove that this disaster is imminent, but do you really want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud?

Ross Douthat, the conservative columnist at the New York Times, deals with this sort of argumentation in a blog post today that follows on a great column he wrote yesterday. Douthat blogs:

Does anyone seriously think that the United States bears just as much responsibility for the horrors of the Congolese civil war (which we “let fester,” in Feaver’s phrase) as it does for the post-invasion violence in Iraq? As much responsibility for the casualties in, say, the various India-Pakistan wars as for the casualties in our own war in Vietnam? As much responsibility for the deaths in Europe from 1914 to 1917 as for the deaths in the Philippines during our occupation of those islands? We may bear a share of responsibility for casualties that result from our inaction rather than our actions, but the two ledgers aren’t comparable. To  argue otherwise would be to multiply American obligations beyond reason.

If you're thinking about America's proper role in the Muslim world, and about the nature of these uprisings, I also highly recommend Pat Buchanan's recent column focusing on Egypt:

Today, we read that, liberated from Mubarak, Muslims set fire to a Christian church in Sol, south of Cairo, then attacked it with hammers.

When enraged Christians set up roadblocks in Cairo demanding the government rebuild the church, they were set upon by Muslims as soldiers stood by. Thirteen people, most of them Coptic Christians, were shot to death on Tuesday, and more than a hundred were wounded in the worst religious violence in years.

Revolutions liberate people from tyranny, but also free them up to indulge old hates, settle old scores and give vent to their passions.

There are many difficult strategic, political, and moral questions to ask about U.S. involvement in Muslim world. Let's hope that simplistic reasoning and blind jingoism don't win out.

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Timothy P. Carney

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