In a column in today’s Elmira Star-Gazette, John Stossel discusses militarism. Stossel writes that libertarians like himself favor a small military limited to defending us against direct attacks. Stossel would have us leave the rest of the world alone whatever the consequences. He argues that attempts by our government to intervene in foreign affairs are certain to go wrong. He would significantly reduce military spending making America stronger economically. Stossel writes:
Our military should be used for defense, not to police the world.
It is an appealing vision.
Stossel’s strawman is former UN Ambassador John Bolton, a hawk. Stossel says Bolton would have us intervene by making war whenever our interests are threatened anywhere. Stossel writes:
Bolton thinks it’s dangerous and provocative for America to appear militarily weak. He supported the Iraq War and says that if Iran were close to getting nuclear weapons the U.S. should attack.
Stossel argues against this view citing failed interventions in Viet Nam and Iraq. I agree with Stossel to the extent that aggressive militarism is dangerous, unwarranted, and likely to be futile.
Stossel doesn’t mention any middle ground, but there is no need to accept either Stossel’s view or Bolton’s. America can have an active foreign policy, cooperating with others, without intervening militarily at every crisis. We should carefully choose our battles, possibly intervening in foreign affairs reasonably, responsibly, and appropriately when justified.
© William Hungerford – June 2014