David R. Henderson  

Henderson on the Case for a Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy

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On Thursday evening, September 12, I will be giving a speech in Marina, California.

The title: The Economic, Moral and Constitutional Case For a Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy

Details are here.

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COMMENTS (10 to date)

Thank you for working to carry the ball down the field. Wish I could drop in to hear how you address this group. And to hear their questions and how you respond.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

Will you consider all the factors of the present vulnerabilities of the United States and its American culture?

Here is part (edited) of my commentary today on a UK blog site:

what makes Hezbollah the “most powerful force in Lebanon?” Weapons?

Are Hezbollah and the Syrian regime instrumentalities (proxies) of or for the Persian theocratic oligarchy? [I use Persian to differentiate the diversity of the many peoples of Iran]

War, in the classical sense requires an enemy. It should be apparent that the designated enemy of the Persian theocratic oligarchy Is Western Civilization, particularly in the representative form of the United States, the American people and their culture.

We have not yet accepted, as we probably should, the intent of that designation as enemy. That intent is to enforce a decision (the function of classic war) as to the culture that shall be permitted (by those with means and will) to exist.

Perhaps it may be possible to avoid classic war by actions that will diminish the means and will of that intent, at least to the point at which that oligarchy may be required to spend its efforts upon reorganizing and reestablishing means, rather than exercising them.

To that end, actions less than classic war can be and should be taken to reduce the facilities (proxies such as the present Syrian regime, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.) by destruction if necessary, of means for the exercise of their will.

That is not to say that those actions will be taken; nor that there is the public will or administrative competence for a corrective actions. Rather, it is a description of the vulnerabilities we face, which could be mitigated if the facts were faced honestly and realistically.

Disclosure: To the extent it matters for judgment of the opinion expressed, this writer did see action in WW II.

MikeDC writes:

@ R Richard Schweitzer

I think you make a very astute point about understanding the nature of Iran's war against us, I would take it further in two ways and disagree with one point.

Point of disagreement: I don't see that war by proxy does anything but feed means and will of the ruling Iranian regime. Unless we were to utterly destroy the proxy (Assad, Hezbollah, etc), which we are not contemplating, these attacks will just be additional fuel for the "American is an enemy" fire.

On the other hand, I'd take your point further in two ways.
1. To make clear, the Iranian regime makes war because it's existence is dependent on control of Iranian society and culture.

2. It follows, then, at least to me, that the best way to defeat such an enemy and end the war is to undermine their control of Iranian society and culture. Rather than flooding them with bombs and blocades, the best approach would be to repeatedly and consistently attempt interaction and openness.

Every social and economic interaction brings a regime of that sort closer to collapse.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

The following is a brief excerpt from civilization and its Enemies, by Lee Harris (2004):

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

[emphasis added]

H/T Glenn Reynolds @ Instapundit today.

David R. Henderson writes:

@R Richard Schweitzer,
It's hard to respond to the Harris quote without knowing the context. I'm not even sure who "they" are.
But I did respond to Harris back in 2002. Here's the link.

9-11 is the anniversary of another momentous event. One from 40 years ago. This would be a good time to remember How Chile Became a Free and Prosperous Society.

Though as James Rolph Edwards honestly puts it, it was a Painful Birth.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

@David Henderson:

Thank you for the link which I read. It appears to be on the point of why some would designate us as an enemy.

It is not my intent to contend with or engage you on these issues, since I am merely a reader of scholars of which group you are one.

From that reading, much of it of historical content, it seems plausible to conclude that the Persian theological oligarchy (not the Iranian people) and others of similar identifications, are dependent upon their ideology for their individual significance in life; that they have concluded the ideology requires the sustainability of the cultures out of which it arose; that the sustaining elements of those cultures have been in disarray or decay and are threatened by the existence of, exposures to, and intrusions of, Western Culture, on whose peripheries those threatened cultures lie.

In this case, it may not be so much a Clash of Civilizations as it may be a conflicting differentiation of the roles of cultures within societies of differing ideologies.

Of course, we have experienced the effects of being designated an enemy, even within our own Western Culture, principally by those of other ideological objectives (related nonetheless to individual requirements for significance from possession of power).

@MikeDC: I am sorry if I was not clear that my remarks were not about "Iranian Nationalism." Obviously the Theocratic Oligarchy has been attempting to apply those cosmetics. But the historical evidence (the Jurists of Islam) points to the real source reason for the designation the oligarchy has made.

MikeDC writes:

@ R Richard,
What do you think "the source reason for the designation the oligarchy has made" is?

Based on your original post, I thought that reason was "That intent is to enforce a decision (the function of classic war) as to the culture that shall be permitted (by those with means and will) to exist."

I don't disagree with this, but I think your view is "the Persian Theocratic Oligarchy wants to enforce a decision that their theocratic culture should exist everywhere, and our (Western) culture must be destroyed".

That is, probably, the stated aim of the Persian Theocratic Oligarchy. They'd love for the whole world to be ruled by the Persian Theocratic Oligarchy. However, that's probably a utopian view, even for a Persian Theocratic Oligarch.

My view is that "the Persian Theocratic Oligarchy can only exist in a culture they control completely. Declaring an enemy (Western culture) is a tool for them to maintain that control."

Put simply, we are in no danger at all of being forced to adopt their culture. They, however, would be wiped out nearly immediately if the Persian people were given the free choice to adopt our culture.

In that sense, the Western culture is an enemy of the Persian Theocratic Oligarchy. But in a deeper sense, their true enemy is their own people, and their war is the war to enforce the theocracy's will, and the theocracy's culture upon them.

We are their enemies only tangentially, because our existence demonstrates their "rule" over the people of Iran is tantamount to waging war upon them.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:


You may be discounting excessively the hold of the dominant common ideology of those peoples in Iran.

There is nothing "tangential" about the designation of "America" (the core of Western culture) as the enemy. Regardless of domestic oppression necessary to focus efforts on the enemy, we (our culture) are that enemy. That is a focal point for the combat of classic war, to force the decision as to the survival of cultures, which the oligarchy regards as defense and attempts to cloak in nationalism amongst other guises.

Your optimism is laudable but our culture is changing as well, as it has been, for all of the 20th century, and the impacts of these contests caused by problems within other cultures is not without effect.

MikeDC writes:

@R Richard:
You may be discounting excessively the hold of the dominant common ideology of those peoples in Iran.

I could be, but I don't think so, because the evidence strongly suggests that the regime has to use violence to keep that ideology dominant over those peoples. A regime that's reliant on secret police and opening fire on public demonstrators is obviously in much more danger of collapsing than expanding.

This doesn't mean the regime isn't dangerous, since it might embark on external war to help maintain internal control, but it should be obvious that in the classical sense a regime that's struggling to control it's current population has little hope of expansion.

For all our weaknesses in the West (as Adam Smith said, there's a lot of ruin in a nation), we're much better off than they are. Generally people flee there to come here. Not the other way around.

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