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Should we stay or should we go?

So-con vs. Libertarian

Michael Coren and Karen Selick - November 8, 2004

From: Michael Coren mcoren@westernstandard.ca
To: Karen Selick kselick@westernstandard.ca
Subject: Intervening in foreign conflicts
Date: October 25, 2004 8:33 AM

Recently Paul Martin made a speech before the UN advocating and justifying western intervention into troubled and war-torn nations. Obviously the man is a hypocrite, in that the military has been emasculated and is increasingly incapable of peacekeeping. Be that as it may, there is a deeper issue here. Whilst I reject the Wilsonian idea of world policemen, there is a moral imperative for those who can to help those who can't. In other words, if tribes in Africa are slaughtering each other and we in the West can stop the chaos, we have a responsibility to do so. We should, for example, have done something to stop the Soviet rape of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Our failure led to untold suffering and made the world far more dangerous. There is a difference between selfish imperialism and the strong, ethical defence of a neighbour in trouble. Remember, we intervened in 1939 over Poland. Surely you don't think we were wrong.

From: Karen Selick kselick@westernstandard.ca
To: Michael Coren mcoren@westernstandard.ca
Subject: re: Intervening in foreign conflicts
Date: October 25, 2004 11:55 AM

There's no room to debate the Second World War here, but I'm not sure the Poles were utterly delighted when we snatched them from Nazi tyranny and delivered them instead to Soviet tyranny. Regardless, the problem with Martin's "responsibility to protect" is that it would free foreigners from oppression by increasing oppression at home. Suppose a mugger accosts you at gunpoint, saying, "Hand over your wallet. I'm sending the money to Sudanese peacekeepers." That's still theft, despite the thief's altruistic intentions. The same principle applies when the state takes your money. You might prefer to pay for your elderly mother's U.S. hip replacement, ending her agony. But Martin thinks the agony of the Sudanese should have priority. Why should his altruistic preferences trump yours? The state exists to defend its own citizens from violence, not to violate its citizens to help foreigners. Voluntary donations from those wishing to help Sudanese war victims are the only moral solution.

From: Michael Coren mcoren@westernstandard.ca
To: Karen Selick kselick@westernstandard.ca
Subject: re: Intervening in foreign conflicts
Date: October 25, 2004 2:37 PM

Of course the Poles were outraged when the Soviets took power; we should have stopped the Communists as well as the Nazis. But that rather destroys your own argument. Stalin could only have been halted by a massive show of force from the western Allies, and you're against such foreign intervention. Karen, have you thought this through? Putting aside the amoral aspect of allowing powerless people to be slaughtered, the argument is simply fatuous. It takes no account of the need to protect our economic interests abroad or the fact that so much foreign involvement has concerned the domestic economy in the first place. You also seem to have contradicted one of your recent libertarian rants where you said that state borders were meaningless. If so, there is no such thing as a foreigner. And of course we submit to a greater "altruistic preference"--otherwise I, for example, would be allowed to steal your purse in the high street!

From: Karen Selick kselick@westernstandard.ca
To: Michael Coren mcoren@westernstandard.ca
Subject: re: Intervening in foreign conflicts
Date: October 25, 2004 3:17 PM

Canadians collectively had no duty to save Poland from either Hitler or Stalin. The point is that intervention doesn't necessarily help, and frequently backfires, in ways unimaginable beforehand. Besides, you can't bring freedom to the world while enslaving your own people. That's inevitably what happens when a country goes to war. Resources are commandeered; liberties curtailed. When the war ends, the scope of the state has always been permanently ratcheted up. See Robert Higgs' book, Crisis and Leviathan. War is indeed the health of the state. "We" collectively do not have economic interests abroad, except for a common interest in free trade. Some of us have investments abroad; others don't. The latter shouldn't have to pay to protect the former. Think how much better off the world would be today if western oil companies, unsubsidized by American military backing abroad, had invested their money only in peaceful, low-risk countries, rather than the perpetually war-torn Middle East. Underdeveloped countries wanting to attract investment capital would have to follow the West's example and learn how to keep the peace. Then there'd be no need for us to defend them.

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