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Civil Societies Cannot be Built – They Must Emerge

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

William Kristol argues that “American principles” require Uncle Sam to intervene more vigorously – with force, if necessary – in the revolutions now sweeping through the Middle East (“Obama’s moment in the Middle East – and at home,” Feb. 23).

I disagree.  While we should cheer for liberalization to grow and spread throughout the Middle East, American principles counsel our government not to interfere.  One of these principles, after all, is that government (even our own) is an inherently dangerous agent best kept on as short a leash as possible.  Another of these principles is that top-down social engineering is bound to have undesirable unintended consequences – a fact that is no less true when the social engineers are headquartered in the Pentagon and the State department as when they are headquartered in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.  The same government that Mr. Kristol so often, and rightly, criticizes for making a mess of matters here at home is unlikely to become a shining example of efficiency, rectitude, and Solomaic wisdom in foreign lands.

Donald J. Boudreaux