Foreign Policy & War

TGIF: The 100th Anniversary of the Great State Crime

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This week marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the four-year bloody nightmare that claimed 16 million lives — 7 million of them noncombatants — and wounded over 20 million people. That would have been bad enough, but the conflict was merely Act One in a much bigger war. The “peace” settlement vindictively branded Germany uniquely ... [click for more]

The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba

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When I saw the headline about the U.S. government and Cuba in my newspaper the other day, I thought I’d awoken in 1961. It was a Twilight Zone moment for sure: “U.S. program aimed to stir dissent in Cuba.” I expected Rod Serling to welcome me to “another dimension.” But it was 2014. The AP news report said ... [click for more]

In Foreign Affairs, Not Doing Anything Is the Thing to Do

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The heartbreaking violence in the Middle East, Ukraine, and elsewhere carries many messages, but here’s one Americans shouldn’t miss: The United States — no matter who the president is — cannot manage world conflict. The corollary is that when a president tries to manage it, things will usually get worse. Foresight is always defective, and tragic unintended consequences will ... [click for more]

The Death of Empires

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Balance: The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America by Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane. (Simon and Schuster 2013), 296 pages. One of the perennial questions historians address is why empires fell. In his 1987 bestseller, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Yale historian Paul Kennedy theorized that every empire reaches a tipping point ... [click for more]

TGIF: War, Peace, and Murray Rothbard

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With wars raging in the Middle East, it seems like a good time to revisit a classic work by Murray Rothbard (1926–1995), the economist, historian, and political philosopher who had a lot to do with the birth and evolution of the modern libertarian movement. His “War, Peace, and the State” is something that all peace advocates — ... [click for more]

Again, the Isolationist Smear

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It doesn’t take much to be smeared as an isolationist by leading Republicans. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who appears to be running for president again, and former vice president Dick Cheney — not to mention Sen. John McCain, Gov. Chris Christie, and other members of the GOP establishment — can always be counted on to drag out that insult ... [click for more]

Foreign Aid Clobbers the Third World

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The U.S. government loves to preen about its generosity to the world’s downtrodden. However, a long series of presidents and their tools have scorned the evidence that their aid programs perennially clobber recipients. Nowhere is this clearer than in the sordid history of U.S. food aid. Food for Peace was devised in 1954 to help dump abroad embarrassingly huge crop ... [click for more]

TGIF: Smedley Butler and the Racket That Is War

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From 1898 to 1931, Smedley Darlington Butler was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. By the time he retired he had achieved what was then the corps’s highest rank, major general, and by the time he died in 1940, at 58, he had more decorations, including two medals of honor, than any other Marine. During his years in ... [click for more]

The Noninterventionists Told You So

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Contrary to popular belief, there is no satisfaction in being able to say, “I told you so.” This is especially so with Iraq, where recent events are enough to sicken one’s stomach. Yet it still must be said: those who opposed the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in March 2003 — not to mention his father’s war ... [click for more]

TGIF: We Were Warned about the Rise of Empire

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American critics of U.S. foreign policy (as well as some neoconservative supporters) often refer to the United States as an empire. This is not an emotional outburst but a substantive description of the national government’s role in the world. But what exactly is an empire? This question is all the more relevant today with Iraq is being consumed ... [click for more]

Sgt. Bergdahl and the Fog of War

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The “fog of war” is a reference to the moral chaos on the battlefield as well as the rampant confusion. Individuals kill others for no other reason than that they are ordered to. Things deemed unambiguously bad in civilian life are authorized and even lauded in war. The killing and maiming of acknowledged innocents — in particular children and ... [click for more]
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