What is it about war and foreign intervention that turns so many otherwise sensible people into uncritical romantics? The number of e-mails that I’m now getting from friends and strangers, most of whom berate me for not grasping the “necessity” (to quote two correspondents) for Uncle Sam to murderously and brutally bomb hundreds of thousands of civilians in 1940s Japan, is depressingly large.
To these free-market and conservative friends and correspondents, I again pose the question: why are we to trust the judgment, truthfulness, and commitment to the public welfare of politicians when they uncork war or other military (or even strategic diplomatic) actions on foreigners given that we thoroughly distrust their judgment, truthfulness, and commitment to the public welfare when they, say, regulate campaign contributions, set minimum wages, regulate financial markets, and centrally plan the money supply? Do American politicians naturally know more about foreign affairs than about domestic affairs?
Are these politicians so principled that the opportunistic lies and deceptions that they routinely commit when intervening in the domestic economy are ones that they would never dream of committing when intervening in foreign affairs and when conducting war?
Why do you readily see as false or as half-truths all the happy and shining tales, told by friends of economic intervention, about the necessity and the wondrous results of the likes of the New Deal, the Federal Reserve, and LBJ’s ‘War on Poverty,’ yet accept without question similar tales told about the necessity and the wondrous results of the adventures of Uncle Sam’s battalions, war ships, and war planes?
Why do you detest and distrust politicians when they unleash administrators, but applaud and trust these same politicians when they unleash armies?
Are the words “we’re doing this for purposes of national security” a miraculous incantation that transforms venal, office-hungry, and poorly informed politicians and bureaucrats into something better than venal, office-hungry, and poorly informed politicians and bureaucrats?