Hayek Doesn’t Stop at the Water’s Edge

In the miasma (here and here) of people explaining why they got the war wrong here is Jim Henley explaining why he got it right.

I wasn’t born yesterday. I had heard of the Middle East before
September 12, 2001. I knew that many of the loudest advocates for war with Iraq
were so-called national-greatness conservatives who spent the 1990s arguing that
war was good for the soul. I remembered Elliott Abrams and John Poindexter and
Michael Ledeen as the knaves and fools of Iran-Contra, and drew the appropriate
conclusions about the Bush Administration wanting to employ them: it was an
administration of knaves and fools…

Libertarianism. As a libertarian, I was primed to react
skeptically to official pronouncements. “Hayek doesn’t stop at the water’s
edge!” I coined that one. Not bad, huh? I could tell the difference between
the government and the country. People who couldn’t make this
distinction could not rationally cope with the idea that American foreign policy
was the largest driver of anti-American terrorism because it sounded to them too
much like “The American people deserve to be victims of terrorism.” I
could see the self-interest of the officials pushing for war – how war would
benefit their political party, their department within the government, enhance
their own status at the expense of rivals. Libertarianism made it clear how
absurd the idealistic case was. Supposedly, wise, firm and just American
guidance would usher Iraq into a new era of liberalism and comity. But none of
that was going to work unless real American officials embedded in American
political institutions were unusually selfless and astute, with a lofty and
omniscient devotion to Iraqi welfare. And, you know, they weren’t going to be

What all of us had in common is probably a simple recognition: War is a big
deal. It isn’t normal. It’s not something to take up casually. Any war you can
describe as “a war of choice” is a crime. War feeds on and feeds the negative
passions. It is to be shunned where possible and regretted when not. Various
hawks occasionally protested that “of course” they didn’t enjoy war,
but they were almost always lying. Anyone who saw invading foreign lands and
ruling other countries by force as extraordinary was forearmed against the lies
and delusions of the time.

More here.

The reasons why I opposed the war are given here.

Hat tip to Brad DeLong for the link.


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