American imperialism is bad for America. It undermines our republican (small-'r') institutions, it renders the effort to roll back Big Government futile, and it corrupts our character as a people. It also kills those it is supposed to be "liberating" – a moral conundrum that none of the advocates of America's "benevolent hegemony" acknowledge, let alone have an answer to.
War has a degenerative effect on republican institutions, and fatally undermines the rule of law and constitutional government, for the simple reason that war is lawlessness. While we all pretend that there are "rules of war," and every nation swears to abide by the Geneva Conventions, everybody knows that this is balderdash pure and simple. If you want to see the "rules of war" in operation, take a look at that video of a U.S. Marine blasting the head off a wounded insurgent in a Fallujah mosque. That is the true face of war, which is why no American television station has dared show the full unedited footage.
War centralizes political authority and economic power, investing all power in the state – and assigning obedience, rather than freedom, to the top rank in the social hierarchy of values. This, for libertarians, is the crux of the matter.
All States are necessarily aggressive, first and foremost against their own citizen-subjects. They exist by plundering producers and redistributing the loot to their precinct captains and supporters. The State is perpetually at war with those it robs and regulates. An apparatus especially designed to maintain a monopoly of violence in a given geographical area, it is the perfect war-fighting machine.
Aside from the question of whether such an institution is a necessary evil, or should be altogether abolished, all libertarians must agree that the power of the State should be severely limited – and not only within its own borders but also beyond.
The quest for empire is, in itself, a form of corruption: it is the rot that eats away at the tree of liberty, invisibly hollowing it out and depriving it of its essence. Let us tend our own garden, and leave others in peace to tend theirs.
Friday, November 19, 2004
"Why we fight"
I'm not talking about Frank Capra's WW2 propaganda films here, but about Justin Raimondo's brilliant editorial on Antiwar.com today, worth quoting at length:
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The Raimondo "Why We Fight" editorial was a beauty.
I think libertarians and genuine conservatives also need to think about breaking down the artificial firewall between their domestic policy analysis and foreign policy views.
Here's what I mean.
David Friedman (like Milton Friedman before him) argues that in "the political marketplace" small, well organised interest groups outgun the broader less well organised public interest. It's the concentrated versus the dispersed and the 'seen' versus 'the unseen'.
I have some references to some discussion by David Friedman here for anyone wanting to dig deeper.
Market oriented thinkers are willing to apply this analysis to (say) tariff protection, but are apparently unwilling to jump the imaginary fence to discuss this effect at work in foreign policy.
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