Si Vis Pacem, Don’t Listen to Joe Lieberman

If anything, the U.S. prepares too much for war and puts far too little effort into other aspects of statecraft.

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Geoff Ramsey urges Biden to change the stagnant Venezuela policy that he inherited from Trump:

As he usually does, Joe Lieberman is banging war drums:

A great Roman general said a long time ago, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” That is wise counsel worth following with Russia and Iran in 2022.

Hawks love to cite this phrase, which is originally traced back to Vegetius. He was not a “great Roman general.” He was the author of a military treatise written sometime in the late fourth or early fifth century. The exact wording from the treatise says, “He, therefore, who desires peace, should prepare for war.” This axiom often serves as a default justification for whatever harebrained hardline policy hawks want to promote at the moment.

Hawks usually interpret this phrase in the most combative and militaristic way possible. It does not have to be read this way, but this is the way that hawks choose to read it. For someone like Lieberman, it is not enough simply to prepare for war. He wants the US to seek conflict and rule out every path that might lead away from war. We see this in his recommendations for Russia and Iran policy: the US must concede nothing, it must increase its demands, it must throw more weapons into both regions, and it must ratchet up tensions with more threats of US military action as well. These are not recommendations to be prepared. They are a blueprint for stoking conflict.

Lieberman is the chairman of the poorly-named United Against Nuclear Iran, so it is no surprise that this is the Iran policy he wants. He is also an equal-opportunity militarist. He will endorse the same bankrupt coercive policies against pretty much any country that is at odds with the US Just as he did when he was a senator, Lieberman wants to pick fights with all potential adversaries at the same time. It doesn’t occur to him that taking a hard line against Russia and Iran simultaneously might overstretch US resources and put the US at a disadvantage in both regions.

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Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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