Will to Build Nations Isn’t Enough

by Don Boudreaux on September 20, 2009

in Foreign Aid, Hubris and humility

George Will speaks out eloquently against the hubris of ‘nation building.

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Anonymous September 20, 2009 at 12:38 pm

I concur strongly. I take issue with Will’s recent zeal on Afghanistan, insofar as I think we have some tasks there still to accomplish besides nation-building, but I agree very much with his thoughts on nation building.

Anonymous September 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I am all for nation-building…through article IV of the U.S. Constitution as the opportunities present themselves and application is sought.

sandre September 20, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Where was George Will, when Bush was in the Whitehouse?

Anonymous September 20, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Criticizing his nation-building foreign policy:


Why do you ask?

MWG September 21, 2009 at 3:52 am

Wow, I agreed with sandre. I though conservative all walked in lock step with Bush.

Anonymous September 21, 2009 at 5:27 am

It was my understanding that conservatives don’t much like Bush.

Anonymous September 21, 2009 at 9:51 am

Your understanding would be correct. :’)

Anonymous September 21, 2009 at 10:11 am

True – people take the “where was he when…” too far in most cases. But althought he was criticizing nation building, he was certainly not calling for a pull-out from Iraq, was he? That may be more what sandre was refering to. Some of us were saying “thanks George, but what took you so long”.

Anonymous September 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Spending American tax dollars building a nation is a luxury that no president should have. It is one thing to have troops in a foreign country for the sake of national security. When people talk stupid things like ‘spreading democracy’, it pisses me off. When this country becomes perfect in every way, we can worry about other countries…until then can we please spend our money on us?

Anonymous September 21, 2009 at 1:49 am

I would love to see libertarians take into their calculations more often the central truth of Will’s essay: “It is human to hate.” Too often, libertarians seem to think that trade will erase hate. Under certain cultural conditions, it will. But absent those cultural conditions, trade is merely a way of profiting from the enemy you intend to destory.

Sam Grove September 21, 2009 at 2:51 am

It is human to experience many feelings, but we have to be alert to those who arouse passions for evil purpose.

It is also human to make friends, even with those from other lands and trade promotes friendship while war making promotes hatred, and hatred is often promoted to induce war making.

Anonymous September 21, 2009 at 5:49 am

“trade is merely a way of profiting from the enemy you intend to destory”

Since the profit is mutual, I’m not sure trade is a successful strategy either for destroying your enemy, or for getting others in your clan who benefit from the trade to go along with you.

Mr. Stevenson September 21, 2009 at 11:10 pm

I have always been skeptical of nation building in both a practical sense and a moral sense. However, one thing that has always given me sympathy toward the idea is a reflection on our own history. I’m skeptical that we ever would have been successful in our own revolution if it were not for the French. Even though nation building was never an actual interest of the French at the time, their aid was critical to our independence. While I’ve never been behind the “export of democracy” as a regular responsibility of our government, I sympathize with the idea that with out a bit of a “push” freedom might have too many odds stacked against it.

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