The steady confidence that many American conservatives (and many “liberals,” for that matter) have in the ability of U.S. military might to successfully subdue evil abroad never ceases to astonish me. The same conservatives who wisely warn against the risks of unintended ill consequences of government intervention into domestic economic affairs seem largely oblivious to the same (I would argue much greater) risks attendant upon government intervention into foreign political affairs. Utterly baffling. Art Carden writes sensibly on this matter over at EconLog. A slice:
That terrible people do terrible things does not mean that good people can stop them without ultimately making matters worse. I think Bryan’s “Common-Sense Case for Pacifism” is relevant to the President’s claim that we will “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS leaders (here’s coverage from the local paper).
War is an occasion for bluster, bravado, and cheap talk. Shoveling BS can be fun when we’re explaining how you will suffer humiliation when the sports team from my area defeats the sports team from your area. BSing is something else entirely when lives are in the balance; borrowing from Alex Tabarrok, we should tax it by expecting people to bet.
Bruce Fein warns against war. A slice:
In sum, anyone who believes ISIS is a non-trivial threat to ordinary Americans at home, at work, or at play would be frightened of their shadows. Indeed, if the danger ISIS presents to the sovereignty and people of the United States satisfies a threshold to justify war, then we should not tarry in attacking Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Cuba, the Mexican drug cartels, or otherwise. Moreover, even if we destroyed ISIS, the dynamics behind its creation would remain to create a new variety, just as ISIS has eclipsed Al Qaeda: namely, utterly dysfunctional and tyrannical Arab governments ruling over artificial nations whose boundaries were drawn by a handful of donnish European diplomats a century ago with ulterior motives.