Thursday, March 27, 2008

George Washington, traitor

When you read debates about the Iraq war, it's striking to see which opinions are considered respectable and which are considered beyond the pale.

Here's a quote from an isolationist kook who sounds like Ron Paul: "The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible." Here's another from the same guy: "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them."

As you can guess from my headline, both quotes are from George Washington (the 1796 farewell address.)

Megan McArdle knows what to do with people who oppose roaming the world looking for wars to get into -- dismiss them. On her blog, she concedes that the people who opposed the war turned out to be right, but then warns that many such weren't the right kind of people: "Other peoples' opposition was animated by principles that may be right, but aren't really very helpful: the pacifists, the isolationists, the reflexive opponents of Republicans or the US military. Within the limits on foreign policy in a hegemonic power, these just aren't particularly useful, again, regardless of whether you are metaphysically correct."

Note the presumption that if you have doubts about the wisdom of hegemonic power, you aren't useful. As Thoreau writes at Unqualified Offerings, "If the most thoughtful critics of a disaster, the ones with the best track record of predictions, are also the ones with ideas that fall well outside the status quo, well, maybe that means something!"

Meanwhile, over at Instapundit, Charles Martin weighs in on a depressing choice: Who is more libertarian, McCain or the two Democratic front runners? Martin writes, "I can see a libertarian case against McCain, but you go to an election with the candidates you've got. Does Matt [Matt Welch] really think McCain would be *more* of a libertarian disaster than "It takes a village"/"We're doing it for your own good" Clinton or the "it would be a mandate, but it's a *voluntary* mandate" Messiah of Change?"

Well, Charles, it's arguable that McCain is the biggest disaster of all, because he's the least likely to do anything about the war machine and the ongoing slide into a National Security State.

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