Thursday, February 24, 2005

Tough Questions

The latest issue of The American Conservative includes Pat Buchanan’s piece, “The Anti-Conservatives.”

He lays into President Bush for what Buchanan calls his “worldwide crusade,” and rides him especially hard for his most recent State of the Union address.

Here’s Buchanan’s first point:

A conservative knows not whether to laugh or weep, for Mr. Bush has just asserted a right to interfere in the internal affairs of every nation on earth. Why? Because the “survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” But this is utterly ahistorical. The world has always been afflicted with despots. Yet America has always been free. And we have remained free by following the counsel of Washington, Jefferson, and Adams and staying out of foreign quarrels and foreign wars.

What Buchanan fails to recognize is that our enemies are different, and their tactics have changed. In the time of Washington, Jefferson, and Adams, global travel was not easily accessible to the masses, and no known weapons gave a tiny group of individuals the power to murder millions.

The President is absolutely correct to assert that the “survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” He does not claim that we cannot be free unless all other nations are free – such a claim would fit Buchanan’s description: nonsense. President Bush is simply pointing out a fact that seems self-evident to me (especially in light of 9-11): expanding globalization means that a few America-haters can wreak havoc on our country, even with limited technology and resources.

Buchanan calls the President’s current plan a “prescription for endless war.” He then quotes Madison, “No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Though I doubt it, he may be correct. However, the alternative is worse: a prescription for endless fear.

(on a side note, as long as the factories are turning out H2s with leather seats and Bose stereos instead of HMMWVs with armor plated doors and .50 caliber machine guns you’ll have a hard time convincing me that America is truly at war, but that’s a different conversation)

As I see it, our options are either restricting our freedom to passively protect Americans from those who would do us harm, or conducting operations to destroy said enemies. Currently we are operating on the spectrum between all-out war and complete passivity and isolationism, and I think we’re in an acceptable position.

<>When faced with the choice between fear and prolonged war for the cause of freedom, I’ll quote another famous American, Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty, or give me death.”

I have much more beef with Buchanan’s argument, but it’ll have to wait, as my time is short, and I have miles to go before I sleep.