The Instapundit has a new column up at Forbes and, as you’d expect, it sucks.
“War is the health of the state,” wrote Randolph Bourne, horrified by World War I and its excesses. And that phrase has been used by libertarians and opponents of state power ever since, as a reason why war is a bad idea.
Certainly the experience of World War I–and, in America, the dramatic expansion of state government power under Woodrow Wilson, as documented in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism–supports that argument. But subsequent history makes me wonder if war is really as healthy for the state as some other things that get less attention.
When you have to cite The Pantload in the second paragraph, you’re in trouble.
But when the next national crisis struck–the Depression, under FDR–the U.S. got a massive expansion of government that, unlike Wilson’s, has remained with us to the present day. FDR’s policies may have extended the Depression, but what is clear is that when the Depression was over, the New Deal remained. There was no return to normalcy afterward.
More fucktardery after the jump.
So what’s next?
Now we’ve had over five years of war in Iraq, finally winding toward a successful conclusion …
Is he fucking kidding? The violence is down because the Sunnis and Shiites have finished ethnically cleansing their neighborhoods.
… and in the process have spent a lot of money and made some changes in the law. But the changes in the law are promised to be undone by President-elect Obama, and the amount spent in five years on Iraq has already been dwarfed by the $5 trillion dollar tab run up during this fall’s bailout-mania.
Five trillion? Is that a number he pulled out of his ass? Shame the link doesn’t work …
Furthermore, war is politically risky in a way that new programs are not. Though people still speak of a decision to go to war as something done to enhance the political position of incumbent presidents, history doesn’t support that.
Tell that to the soldiers and civilians that have died since Bush was “re-elected”.
By contrast, presidents who push big social programs generally get a political boost and–because the costs and disasters of social programs are less obvious than the costs of war–there’s seldom any real downside.
So the notion that war is the friend of big government seems questionable to me, based on things that have happened in the past century at least. Rather, it seems that economic crisis, and economic intervention, is the thing to worry about if you want to keep government under control. Which bodes poorly for current times, when the war’s won but the bailouts are coming fast and furious. Eternal vigilance–especially now.
Shorter Glenn Reynolds: “As a Libertarian, I am saddened that our government will now spend money to help the people of this country rather than continue to finance the killing of brown people in far-off lands.”