Tibor R. Machan
by Tibor R. Machan
I have done is watched the 60 Minutes interview and some of the
follow up discussions, so I am no expert here at all. But I am a
citizen and a somewhat articulate one at that, so it may be worth
hearing me about.
is something odd about what I did hear about the alleged Bush plans
to invade Iraq and divvy up its oil regions. The plan was hatched
by Bill Clinton & Co. and then, yes, considered by Bush as possibly
a worthy endeavor. What this tells me is that neither Clinton foreign
policy wonks, nor Bush had anything against using the U.S. military
to embark upon foreign military ventures entirely in the absence
of aggressive actions against the citizens of the United States
that seems to me to matter most, not whether the invasion plans
were forged before or after 9/11/2001. There was, after all, no
credible link between Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein even after U.S.
intelligence experts started to look for it. In the politics of
the entire fiasco, neither Democrats nor Republicans come off as
that is no great surprise. After all, Bill Clinton didnít hesitate
to take the U.S. military to the Balkans, not once but twice. The
only thing Clinton and the Democrats have going for them, if you
can so characterize it, is that they have tended to link such military
excursion to humanitarianism, while the Republicans, given their
perhaps deserved, perhaps not so deserved reputation of favoring
prosperity, are more credibly associated with military adventures
serving various economic vested or prospective interests. Which
is more just? Which is more decent?
the prevailing moral climate, in which doing stuff for your fellows
is always considered more ethical than doing things for yourself,
the Clinton bunch comes off looking better, I am sure. Even if they
are duplicitous in their self-identified altruism, it seems to be
much easier to get away with the "But I did it for you"
line, than with the "In my best interest" line.
of this related even remotely to the current posturing of the bunch
of Democrats making so much hay out of the fact that Bush took the
U.S. military to war against Iraq. There is no evidence at all that
Clinton wouldnít have done the very same thing, except for the fact
that the grass roots of the Democratic party needs to have this
altruistic, humanitarian excuse for war recall Wilson wanting
to "make the world safe for democracy."
Republicans, and their neo-conservative gurus, tend to play a different
tune even when it comes to exporting democracy. Democracy abroad
is good for us, since democracies tend not to go to war against
each other! And a peaceful world is, for them, supposed to be good
for us, for promising trade, however much it also suits the folks
over there. So, once again, for some folks the Republican rationale
for war is less ethical than the Democratic one.
my money, of course, neither excuse works. Going to war so as to
secure one's good is wrong, just as it is wrong to go to war so
as to help others. The only just war is a defensive war.
usual, I take it back to ethics in interpersonal relationships.
I may not beat up others either for my or their good, only if they
attack me first (or are clearly about to do so). It is sheer paternalism,
condescension, to impose on others what one (possibly quite rightly)
deems to be good for them. But the other approach is also wrong:
to attack people, rob them or assault them, because we may advance
some goals of our own, isnít justified either.
short, we are not to treat other adults as our own children, whose
well-being is our responsibility up to a certain stage of their
lives, nor as our serfs or slaves. And when one takes this simple
but true ethical principle into international relations, it spells
out "defensivism," not interventionism, be it for humanitarian
or self-interested reasons.
you will notice, Democrats never lay out this line of opposition
to Bush. Which is not surprising, given their history of allegedly
humanitarian imperialism. So, the question before us as citizens
and possible voters is, which of these meddlesome folk are a safer
bet in Washington. As far as I can tell, neither, only I tend to
be in a super-minority on that score.
him mail] holds
the Freedom Communications Professorship of Free Enterprise and
Business Ethics at the Argyros School of Business & Economics, Chapman
University, CA. A Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford
University, he is author of 20+ books, most recently, The
Passion for Liberty
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).
Copyright © 2004 Tibor Machan