Does the Presidency make pacifists become hawkish?

Was there a missing “not” in this sentence? Because the two clauses seem at odds, and I can think of plenty of wars in that time that have not been a clear victory for one side or the other.

“Bush started in order to make money for Halliburton.”
Oh please, I would think after 7 years BDS would be gone by now. That argument is worn down to threadbare by now.

"Afghanistan always has been ungovernable and always will be, our attempts at nation building where no nation is possible to build have been a disaster. "
I agree with you.

I agree that it is ridiculous to think that. Although that’s at least a rational reason for starting the war. Bush’s reasoning wasn’t rational at all, and that’s a worse scar to carry into history.

You don’t do him any favor by reminding people of that.

I have a question to the OP and those with like thinking.

The OP is written as if a pacifist President would be preferable. Why would it be preferable to you to have a Pacifist President ?

As Jeremy Corbyn is finding out the hard way, when you get into the big chair, you find out what’s going on and have to make a decision about it. You can’t make a principled protest any more.

For me, a pacifist is one who avoids violent conflict. Conflict is inevitable, of course, so a pacifist would have to work to come up with effective solutions that are non-violent.

I believe that if we took violence off the table, we could come up with other solutions. I don’t think it will ever happen, but it’s a nice dream.

The pacifist/hawk dichotomy is definitely not accurate for any President I can think of, including Carter.

Obama makes an interest example because it’s likely he did a better job of continuing Bush’s military strategy than McCain would have.

Anyway, I think it comes down to sensitive information. Presidents have access to information that candidates do not - even a candidate with military, intelligence or congressional oversight positions. That information also comes with recommendations and the people making those recommendations remain largely unchanged when you switch Presidents. My conclusion is that once you see all of the information, a “pacifist” approach no longer makes sense, even if that’s the approach you would prefer from a personal or moral standpoint.

I’m not sure what the OP means. Ever since WWII both parties have sought American hegemony, through force if necessary. They just argue tactics. Take stuff like torture or domestic spying or bombing civilians or other reasons for the GOP to call the Dems a bunch of weak doves. When Dems complain about this stuff it’s not because it offends their morality (they’re amoral). It’s that it makes America look bad, which hurts its soft power, which limits options for manipulating others. Yeah, you could send in the marines, but it’s way the hell easier and cheaper to get the locals to do it for you. Plus you get some nice plausible deniability when they slaughter the resistance.

Jimmy Carter is a great example of this, since he supplied massive quantities of arms to Indonesia so they could invade and wipe out East Timor. He helped turn Afghanistan upside down. He supported the roster of ruthless Cold War era American-friendly despots as they butchered and suppressed their people. But he has a squeaky clean media image.

Check out the Carter doctrine:

You know you’re looking for trouble when you’re picking fights on the other side of the planet.

This. A sitting president gets a big-picture view that few others can.

I think it’s not so much a pacifist becoming more hawkish, but an idealist becoming more pragmatic. I’d like to think that even a rabid warmonger who became President would soften their tone.

I noticed that candidate Obama was all about respecting Pakistan’s sovereignty and not dropping bombs on them. And then when he became President Obama some military dude sat him down and said “Sir, these are the threats we are facing right now.” And President Obama said something like “We begin bombing in five minutes” and has not stopped since.

A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

  • Barack Obama, upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

A nice quote, but it’s an assertion without evidence, and (in the case of Hitler) untestable. It’s a justification for the status quo, which works reasonably well for those in power. There’s simply no incentive to try any weird pacifist ideas, never mind the difficulty of any coordinated multinational pacifist effort.

Like how Clinton defeated the Al Qaeda threat with a few cruise missiles, and how ISIL is now on the ropes after a year of targeted bombing?

Well I can’t find any evidence at all that a few bombs always eliminate threats to our country. History has spoken!

I suppose it’s untestable, but it’s kind of weird that even Gandhi – when writing a letter to Hitler, in hopes of explaining that nonviolent noncooperation can make rule impossible (because, hey, it’s not like a spoliator would just kill people and take their property, right? I mean, we’re clearly not talking about someone who wants the folks he’s looting dead, that’s just crazy talk) – only appealed to the big guy in the name of humanity to stop the war and bring his grievances to an international tribunal after pointing out that the alternative will involve him being defeated by military force:

Now, if he was in fact writing to a spoliator who in fact wanted land and bodies, then the first part was laughably irrelevant – but the fact that Gandhi of all people threw in that second part, to put stick before carrot, is in its own way just as jarring: why the heck did he mention it, if not because it was of course worth mentioning?

I’m not sure that Gandhi is the best authority to appeal to with regard to Hitler. Though he was a champion of non-violence, Gandhi was working with a completely different kettle of fish, colonial rule at a geographical remove. Anyone who appeals to Hitler in the name of humanity is, ipso facto, someone who doesn’t understand Hitler very well.

Hitler as a rogue executive politician could have been stopped by non-violent resistance, but I can’t see Gandhi’s methods working against the actual historical situation, where Hitler enjoyed popular support, had power, and was willing to use murderous force against his own people. Certainly not by 1945.

There are two aspects to non-violence:

  1. Will the methods work, at all?
    …I don’t think this has been demonstrated or refuted.
  2. Are the methods more efficient than violence?
    …I think it’s a given that non-violence is much less efficient at conflict resolution (at least in the short term) than violence. Whether it is better in the long term is another matter, and really depends how you measure “better”.

Ironically, Reagan did not directly prosecute military action. He did do that illegal Iran-Contra thing, may have signed off on the mujahideen project in Afghanistan (which some feel helped train and empower al Qaeda actors) and obviously escalated the Cold War to ridiculous proportions, but the incident in Grenada can hardly be described as warmongering. The candidates who position themselves as hawkish usually (though not always) tend to move doveward in office and vice versa.

But the underlying issue is, as with all wars, economic. Since there is little in the way of hazard to US turf itself, US military action is prosecuted somewhere else. If you dig a bit, you will probably find some sort of corporate interest with a big stake in the conflict. Corporations annoint the president and lever their power upon him. Even the most pacifist of leaders still must respond to the needs of business, which may lead to military adventurism.

A President’s job is to promote the general welfare of the people of the United States of America, in accordance with the limits of his role as defined by the law.

If that means attacking another country, then so be it. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. There is no obligation to play by playground rules.

As has been pointed out, you apparently do not know what a “pacifist” is, which is disgraceful for someone whose civic history includes the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., who was unquestionable a pacifist and yet the absolute last thing removed from playing “babies” and sitting back and asking for anything. King was as confrontational, and vastly more courageous, than any number of hawks.

That is of course literally absurd. The military does not and never has defended the United States “At all costs.” Even during World War II the military did cost-benefit analysis on how it planned to defeat fascism. The military has any number of restrictions on its power, as well it should in a democratic nation, that are set because the cost of not doing so is considered too high.

I dunno, invading a country that poses no threat to you to take the heat off of your failure in the middle east sound a lot like warmongering to me.

It seems a little unfair to demand that the pacifist solve WWII starting in 1942.

How about we start sooner than that?

I’m not a pacifist, because sometimes I think violence is the only solution. That doesn’t mean I think violence is the best method to solve most problems. In fact, it rarely is. I don’t go to work every morning and figure out who needs an ass-kicking, and then literally walk over to their desk and start beating them.

On the other hand, the peaceful office I go to every day is backed up by the threat of violence. If I start punching people at work, they’re going to fight back. And cops will be called, and the cops will use violence to haul me away. I’ll be violently put in handcuffs, violently searched for weapons, violently shoved into a police car, violently shoved in a jail cell, violently dragged into a courtroom, and violently put in prison. The last fistfight I’ve been in was in the 7th grade. But in a country without cops and courts and jails and laws, I’d probably have to violently defend myself all the time. And not only would I have to worry about someone attacking me, other people would have to worry about me attacking them. If I got really good at defending myself with my fists, I’d also be really good at attacking other people with my fists. The guy with the best fists wins. And then he gets his buddies together. And then he’s the king, and his buddies are his soldiers/cops. And the cycle starts again.

Anyway, anybody who declares that Jimmy Carter was a pacifist, well, they keep using that word but I do not think it means what they think it means. You aren’t going to volunteer for the US navy if you’re a pacifist. No US President has ever been a pacifist, even the ones who didn’t lead us into wars. There’s a difference between thinking a particular war is unwise, or a particular war is immoral, and thinking all war is immoral.