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February 6, 2009

Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty: The Battle Continues


by Doug Bandow

The Bush administration came to represent everything bad about American foreign policy. George W. Bush is gone. But the foreign policy remains. The battle for peace, prosperity, and liberty continues.

It's a difficult and frustrating struggle. Although the two big political parties create endless sturm und drang when fighting for votes, they actually disagree on surprisingly little of substance. Listen to George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama on Iran, and the differences are hard to parse. Analyze NATO expansion, talk about "humanitarian" intervention, and discuss troops in South Korea, and you won't find a peacenik among leading policymakers. War and the threat of war are central to U.S. foreign policy.

Not war to protect America from an existential threat, preserve the American people, territory, and constitutional system, and ensure American liberty and prosperity. But war to transform the globe. War to exert U.S. power. War to enforce compliance with Washington's dictates. War to demonstrate the American government's will. War to promote democracy. War to establish credibility. War to assist allies. War to stop dominoes from falling. War to arrest drug dealers and warlords. War to demonstrate leadership. War to settle other people's civil wars. War to enact regime change. War to make peace. George Orwell lives.

Of course, there are occasions when war is an awful necessity. But not often. War should always be a last result, not a matter of choice. And most certainly not a matter of promiscuous choice. In recent years the U.S. has used or threatened to use force in Lebanon, Libya, Grenada, Panama, Haiti (twice), Bosnia, Serbia, Somalia, Iraq (twice), Pakistan, and Afghanistan. American officials freely talk about bombing Iran and North Korea. Influential policy advocates suggest invading Iran and Syria. Individuals lobby for intervention in Rwanda and Sudan. Always war and more war.

The arguments against war should be obvious. Deaths of Americans and those in the lands attacked, many of whom supposedly were being helped. People wounded, maimed, and displaced. Societies disrupted. Monies wasted. Hostilities inflamed. Seeds of new wars planted. Conflicts which turn cake walks into charnel houses.

There's no reason to think that much will change with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton running U.S. foreign policy. The specific wars might be different. But the death and destruction will continue.

And so must the fight for peace, prosperity, and liberty.

Admittedly, it's hard not to grow frustrated, feel the battle is hopeless, and give up the struggle. We must persevere, however. The saying may be trite, but is nonetheless true: if not us, whom? If not now, when? The advocates of intervention and war remain ever active. So must those of us who desire peace.

It has been a great pleasure for me to write "Foreign Follies" every week for nearly three years. I hope at least some readers have found it as enjoyable to read.

I've now switching roles, having moved back to the Cato Institute, where I'll be more of a policy analyst and less of a controversialist. I will miss the chance to throw brickbats weekly, but will be promoting the same ends in a somewhat different fashion. I wish my friends at Antiwar.com well and look forward to continuing the battle for peace alongside you, Antiwar's loyal readers.

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Archives

  • Squaring the Pentagon
    3/12/2009

  • Balancing Beijing
    2/27/2009

  • The Asian Century
    2/20/2009

  • Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty: The Battle Continues
    2/6/2009

  • Diplomatic Means to Militaristic Ends
    1/30/2009

  • Investigate and Prosecute the Bush Administration
    1/23/2009

  • Assessing the Bush Administration: A Foreign Catastrophe at Every Turn
    1/16/2009

  • An American City on the Euphrates: US as Iraq's Friend or Overlord?
    1/9/2009

  • Coming Soon: The Disunited States?
    1/2/2009

  • Peace on Earth: Once a Year?
    12/26/2008

  • What Foreign Policy Agenda Will President Barack Obama Set?
    12/19/2008

  • Force: The Real 'F' Word
    12/12/2008

  • From Colony to Superpower
    12/5/2008

  • A Return to Liberal Warmongering? Peace Advocates Must Continue the Battle
    11/28/2008

  • Learning from John McCain's Mistakes: Supporting Aggression in the Caucasus
    11/21/2008

  • Barack Obama Takes Charge: Time to Leave Iraq
    11/14/2008

  • The American People Render Their Electoral Judgment: Time to Finish Off the Neoconservatives
    11/7/2008

  • Conservative Fantasies: A World Never More Dangerous
    10/31/2008

  • Constitutional Peril
    10/24/2008

  • The NATO Alliance: Dangerous Anachronism
    10/17/2008

  • Economic Collapse: The Financial Death of the US Empire
    10/10/2008

  • America Between the Wars
    10/3/2008

  • Time to Tell Irresponsible Allies No Thanks
    9/19/2008

  • U.S. vs. Them
    9/12/2008

  • The Hothead and
    the Finger on the Button
    9/5/2008

  • Georgian Fantasies: Where are the Americans?
    8/29/2008

  • The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
    8/22/2008

  • Washington's Laughable Lack of Self-Awareness
    8/15/2008

  • Which China Will We See?
    8/8/2008

  • Staying Out of Iraq Was the Truest Test for Any Prez Wannabe
    8/1/2008

  • The Lion and the Unicorn
    7/25/2008

  • John McCain: The Candidate of God Mars, the God of War
    7/18/2008

  • Exit Iraq, and Leave No Bases Behind
    7/11/2008

  • What Does China Think?
    7/4/2008

  • Turning the Recurring Joke of a New European Defense Policy into Reality
    6/27/2008

  • Strengthening the US-South Korea Alliance: For What?
    6/20/2008

  • The Cult of the Presidency
    6/13/2008

  • Waging War Only When Necessary
    6/6/2008

  • Heroic Sacrifices for Foolish Causes: Memorial Days Past and Present
    5/30/2008

  • Ain't My America
    5/23/2008

  • This Time, Avoid the Lebanese Quagmire
    5/16/2008

  • Another Needless Confrontation
    5/9/2008

  • Christianity and War
    5/2/2008

  • Inconvenient Truths About John McCain
    4/25/2008

  • Iraq: Tell Us How This Ends
    4/11/2008

  • Reclaiming Conservatism
    4/4/2008

  • Crisis Postponed?
    3/28/2008

  • John McCain: Blowing Up the World at 3am?
    3/21/2008

  • Mr. Adams's Last Crusade
    3/14/2008

  • Turning China into the Next Big Enemy
    3/7/2008

  • Make America's Policy of Promiscuous Intervention the Issue in November
    2/29/2008

  • No End in Sight: Iraq's Descent into Chaos
    2/22/2008

  • Operation Iraqi Occupation: A Decade, Century, or More?
    2/15/2008

  • Election 2008: What's a Peacenik to Do?
    2/8/2008

  • The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration
    2/1/2008

  • Korean Troubles Old and New: Time to Bring the Troops Home
    1/25/2008

  • The Great Defense Budget Black Hole
    1/18/2008

  • Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary
    1/11/2008

  • Misguided Meddling in Pakistan
    1/4/2008

  • Michael Huckabee: Foreign Policy Moderate?
    12/28/2007

  • The Forgotten Man
    12/21/2007

  • Embarrassed to Explain US Foreign Policy
    12/14/2007

  • Creating Crisis: Another War in the Balkans?
    12/7/2007

  • Khrushchev's Cold War
    11/30/2007

  • Interest Group Foreign Policy
    11/23/2007
  • Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh's blog at www.brickburner.org. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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