Against Big Government and Pro-War: the Disconnect of logic.

President George W. Bush walks across the tarm...

President George W. Bush walks across the tarmac with NFO Lt. Ryan Phillips to Navy One, an S-3B Viking jet, at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego Thursday, May 1, 2003. Flying to the USS Abraham Lincoln, the President will address the nation and spend the night aboard ship. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since George W. Bush began fomenting the idea that we had to take Saddam Husein out, I have been praying that we would wake up and realize a bad idea when we saw it.  The problem with 9/11 was that we were blind-sided.  The natural tendency after such an incident is to blindly retaliate, swing back hoping to hit something, anything, as a way to ease our frustration at being caught with our pants down.  Such anger is seldom rational, which is why such actions usually lead to escalation and a whole lot unnecessary destruction.

Under a Republican president, the war hawks had a field day.  Under a Republican president, there would be no opposition to the buildup to war, as there had been under Clinton.  Loyalty to the Commander and a righteous cause of revenge would overshadow all logical thinking.  God bless America, and venerate the troops who wage this holy jihad against the evil enemy.

What has happened to us, America?  When did we ever set foot on foreign soil without the goal of repelling an aggressor in defense of our own land or the land of someone else?  When did our objectives change to include aggression against sovereign nations because we didn’t like the way they looked at us?  When did it become OK to fight wars because of what “might” happen?

Anyone who pays attention to history and looks at the results of American wars, past and present, is likely to understand that, while wars have never really helped the economy or the budget, they have always been good for greatly expanding the powers of government.  Anyone who looks realistically at George W. Bush’s presidency can attest that government nearly doubled in size during that time.  (We all tend to forget that, now that Obama has doubled it yet again.  Perhaps that has something to do with why he reneged on his promises to a speedy end to armed conflict.)  Of course, those with hands in the pie are gun-ho for war.  The question is, why are we, the peons, who clamor for Big Brother to downsize, willing to be duped by a slap in the face like Bin Laden?

Justin Logan’s article of May 1, 2008, bears a good reading.  I quote the following:

In his Wall Street Journal article, Barnett admits supporting the war even though he believed that it would go poorly. He concedes that “to a libertarian, any effort at nation building seems to be just another form of central planning which, however well-motivated, is fraught with unintended consequences and the danger of blowback” and that he is “disappointed, though hardly shocked, that the war was so badly executed.” A critic of the decision to go to war might then ask why one should support a war you expect to go badly. And given that the objective of the war was a massive social engineering project unprecedented in scope—the destruction and reformation of a regional order—how could libertarians have envisioned it going any other way than poorly?

Indeed, how is it simultaneously possible to oppose government involvement in education or health care on the grounds of the inherent lack of necessary knowledge, but believe that the federal government could invade Iraq and then unravel and reweave the fabric of a thousands-year-old society whose language we do not speak and whose tribal and confessional allegiances we do not understand? Following the insights of thinkers such as F. A. Hayek, libertarians are deeply skeptical that governments could collect and sort enough data to plan government health care or education effectively. Surely those difficulties are compounded when the goals are even more ambitious and the policies are conducted in foreign countries wracked by sectarian conflicts.

In defensive war, survival precludes all other considerations.  Any other kind of war has the same dynamic as any other kind of government management–the costs of bureaucratic incompetence usually greatly outweigh any benefits.

The problem with what passes for “conservative” thought these days is lack of consistency.  This is largely because, in the absence of logic, we allow ourselves to be swayed by our emotions.  “Proud to be an American” has replaced “humbled by the awesome responsibility of being an American.”  One reflects a swagger that begs to be knocked down.  The other reflects the real vigilance against tyranny, both from within and without.

Roosevelt was like Caiaphas in that he spoke a great truth without understanding what he meant.  He said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  In modern America, fear is what motivates us to throw logic to the winds and back absurd causes.  Our modern politician are fear-mongers.  We need to eschew what they tell us in favor of cold analysis of the historical facts.

Read Mr. Logan’s article.   Mr. Logan helps all of us to see through the rhetoric.


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