Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Courage Of Their Convictions

Daniel Larison:
Yet it is the fall of the Soviet Union on account of its own internal weaknesses that suggests just how unnecessary interventionist policies really are from the perspective of the American interest. Had it been taken over by the USSR after the war, western Europe would have been more, not less, indigestible than eastern Europe and might well have hastened the break-up of the Soviet empire.
During the past few years, I've often noticed that those most likely to sport flag pins on their lapels are also least likely to have faith in the ability of America's values to triumph on their own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing to me how many libertarians (like Larison) seem to consider knee-jerk isolationism to be an American value, and thus seem perfectly willing to throw other democracies to the wolves. Amazing, too, how they gin up dubious historical arguments to back up their positions.

11/29/2007 8:44 AM  
Blogger Luke said...

The triumph of ideas is not the same as a military triumph. In fact, it is extremely different. Truly great ideas have a life of their own, and require exemplars and nurturing as they take root elsewhere, not large-scale invasions.

11/29/2007 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Kilfarsnar said...

Excellent point, CR. I have often thought this about many ideas, from government to social policy to religion. When the president set up the Guantanamo Bay detention center and came up with all of the nifty new legal procedures, I thought "what's wrong with the legal system we have?" This is a point I wished the Dems would make, but never did. Why does Bush have so little faith in our justice system?

The same can be said about our cult of Capitalism. Americans seem so threatened by anything that looks kinda like it might be socialism (except Social Security and unemployment insurance; they're the "good ones" I guess). Why? Will it expose Capitalism as somehow inadequate for all tasks? Let each system stand on it's merits.

I won't even get started on religion. Some serious insecurity there...

But to the original point, I also don't get why people can't let the superiority of our governmental system stand on it's own and lead by example. Sure, it's not perfect, but we knew that (oops, there goes American exceptionalism). Why all the insecurity? Have some faith people...

11/29/2007 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yet it is the fall of the Soviet Union on account of its own internal weaknesses that suggests just how unnecessary interventionist policies really are from the perspective of the American interest"

But necessary from the prospective of _Western European interest_, surely? I mean, the Soviet Empire's collapse might have been hastened by an effort to absorb Western Europe, but is subjecting Western Europe to the joys of a few decades of Communist rule worth getting the USSR to collapse in, say, 1977 rather than 1991? It would probably be a poorer and more fucked-up world, for one thing...

Perhaps it's the word "interventionism" which is the problem here. In it's sense of "starting unecessary wars in vague expectations of improving things", we can (most of us, anyway) agree it's a Bad Thing: but in the sense of "projecting military force abroad to deter aggression", I'd say it's been a net plus in the last 60 years of Europe.

I mean, if the USSR had overrun western Europe, there wouldn't _have been_ a rich democratic western Europe to act as an example and exemplar to add a great deal to the American "argument..."


11/29/2007 9:34 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

It is not isolationist to be a non interventionist. It is what our country was founded on. Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR put that to bed a long time ago. We have been French Jacobins for a very long time. Kind of like the old bugs bunny cartoons..."no, I'm Napoleon!"

"In reviewing the history of the English government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not
blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry
on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes."
- Thomas Paine, Rights of Man
All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones.

~Benjamin Franklin

A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as when single; and a nation that makes an unjust war is only a great gang.

~Benjamin Franklin

Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.

~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.

~George Washington
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.

~George Washington
Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.

~James Madison

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

~James Madison

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.

~James Madison

It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.

~James Madison

Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.

~John Adams

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak...

~John Adams

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

~John Adams

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

~John Quincy Adams

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.

~John Stuart Mill

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?

~Mahatma Gandhi

11/29/2007 11:38 PM  
Anonymous Kilfarsnar said...

Great quotes Goldhorder!

11/30/2007 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ah, the NeoConfederate has decided to chime in.

And FDR, too...clearly Washington warning a small, weak and barely united US to steer clear of foreign entaglements means we had a moral obligation to allow Hitler to finish the job.

Perhaps I'm being unfair here, but I tend to get a bit suspicious of the agenda of people who imply FDR entering WWII and Lincoln holding the country together were _bad_ things. Wilson, OTOH...(that sanctimonious, KKK-loving bungler....)


11/30/2007 1:00 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

I have no agenda other than not believing a bunch of nonsense taught in the public school system about our "great leaders". Designed specifically to teach Americans to obey their "bettors" in DC. It has become excepted knowledge (even by Public university History departments) that FDR manueved the US into WW2. The embargo of Japan and the attempt to cut Japan off from oil supplies(an act of war itself) guaranteed a Japanese sneak attack at some point. The Historians of course argue that he did it for our own good. He was forced to because there was wide spread opposition to entry in Europe's war bases on the results of Wilson's "War to end War" WWI.

Just because things sound good and make us feel good about ourselves doesn't make it true either. The economic hardships suffered by Germany after WWI brought about the Nazi regime. Wilson's failed attempt to bring about a fair peace caused Germany to blame their hardships on France and Britain. The Nazis tapped into that and rebuilt their army and militarized society.

What was the world to do at this point? Confront Hitler? Start WW2 right away? The Russians lost 20 million people fighting the Germans off...By staying out of the early fighting the US was in a perfect position to mop things up. We did. We then took the mantle from Great Britian as world financial leader at Bretton Woods. It all worked out Great for us except it ruined our independence and character. Look at what we are now. It is the easy money and power that has ruined us....great at first but we are a shell of our former selves. Our money is a joke now. Inflation is hidden from the public. Everybody thinks you can get rich by working in finance. Only a fool makes anything useful. Look at all those dumb Asians as they send us all this great stuff...and all we have to do is print paper. This glorification of war and our leaders in DC has planted the seeds of our own demise. Everybody looks to Uncle Sugar to keep things nice and easy. Every year it gets harder and harder. Our founding fathers were not politicians. They were revolutionaries. They tried to prevent this from happening by restraining future politicians with the constitution. Sadly they failed.

My agenda is only to point out our failure. And to warn the smarter citizens to buy gold and protect your own. Because this nonsense isn't going to last much longer.

12/03/2007 10:26 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

By the way...not entirely sure Lincoln wouldn't agree.

“As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.”
- Abraham Lincoln

Not that waging war on the South was anything but making sure the North's cash cow didn't break away. The North paid for its industrialization from the Southern export/import trading. The tariff was the major revenue generator in the old days. Abolitionists were thought of as crazy loons until industrialization came along. Blacks owe their freedom more to James Watt than Lincoln. You greatly underestimate the greed of man. People only seem more moral today because scientific advancements have allowed us to be more moral. Self interest trumps morality nearly every time. Not a very romantic portrait I admit...but just because something sounds good doesn't make it true.

12/03/2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Kaleberg said...

What embargo of Japan? Weird.


I always said that Ronald Reagan was the last Communist. By the early 70s the USSR was run by opportunists who joined the party because that was where the money was. By the mid 70s the Soviet Empire was losing money. It paid to invade Czechoslovokia in 1968, but would not have paid to invade Poland in 1980. (Afghanistan was another story. To be honest, I was on the Russian's side in that one.)

I always figured that Reagan's big defense buildup was all that was holding the USSR together. 90% of the party speeches went on and on about the American threat as The Great Patriotic War II. If we hadn't been bulking up our navy and talking about attacking Murmansk, the Evil Empire might have collapsed several years earlier.

12/04/2007 10:47 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

The Roosevelt Myth: Books: John T. Flynn

The New Dealers' War: FDR and the War Within World War II
Thomas J. Fleming

12/06/2007 10:59 AM  

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