Foreign Policy & War

The Inanity of the Cold War

There were many inanities that came with the Cold War, the 45-year period of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. In fact, one might easily argue that the entire Cold War was an exercise in inanity. U.S. officials, of course, have always maintained that the Cold War was necessary to prevent the Soviet Union from imposing communism ... [click for more]

War of Pure Defense: A First Sketch

Few thinkers have ever set forth (much less developed) the rather straightforward idea of purely defensive war, i.e., war limited to repelling invaders — and otherwise doing nothing at all. The term “defensivism” would suit the case, but since philosopher Eric Mack put it (in my view) to different and rather conventional use almost forty years ago (“Permissible Defense,” ... [click for more]

War, Big Government, and Lost Freedom

We are currently marking the hundredth anniversary of the fighting of the First World War. For four years between the summer of 1914 and November 11, 1918, the major world powers were in mortal combat with each other. The conflict radically changed the world. It overthrew the pre-1914 era of relatively limited government and free market economics, and ushered ... [click for more]

The Political Economy of “Exporting” Democracy

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson justified the American entry into World War I on the ground that it was necessary to make the world “safe for democracy.” Since that time, U.S. presidents have used this same line of reasoning to justify military interventions around the world. More than eight decades after Wilson’s decree, George W. Bush stated that “it ... [click for more]

Empire, Security, and the War State

The War State: The Cold War Origins of the Military-Industrial Complex and the Power Elite, 1945–1963 by Michael Swanson (CreateSpace 2013), 430 pages. In the October 1958 issue of The New Yorker, near the high-water mark of McCarthyism, the novelist and literary critic Mary McCarthy famously wrote, “Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.” ... [click for more]

America as the Neo-British Empire

Foreign-policy realists and relative noninterventionists, among others, want to commit Americans to offshore balancing, an idea drawn from various English political-economic sources. After the Glorious Revolution (1688) securing the Protestant succession, influential English statesmen sought to make European balance-keeping central to their foreign strategy. Another view, deducible from 19th-century British practice (and formally called Hegemonic Stability Theory), wants the ... [click for more]
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