In light of Bruce Frohnen’s essay which references the “combox” conversation between Kevin Roberts, John Willson and myself, I am taking the liberty of publishing my comments regarding my essay (Pat Buchanan essay) below. I have sanitized it a bit as my wife said we should play nice.
- Kevin,…I don’t believe Buchanan is a pacifist, and I know I am not. However, I do believe that prudence demands we count the costs of our actions, especially so that we learn from the past and may make better decisions in the future. Certainly 4,200 U.S. dead, 35,000 wounded, and $700 billion is a very high cost indeed.
Is it not legitimate to ask was it worth it?
Should we have stayed in Afghanistan for almost 10 years after we destroyed the terrorist training camps we went there for? Are you so much more enamored with the new political structure in Iraq (voting followed by chaos and violence) over the old system (dictatorship followed by repression and violence)? Is it truly a conservative position to go beyond punishing the terrorists, and destroying their camps, with a 10 year attempt to remake Afghan political culture in our own image? Come now, you must admit this has all the signs of going from justified military action to hubris on a grand scale. Or perhaps you don’t.
Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet, and other notable conservatives, have expressed great concern that centralization and militarization have been the greatest threats to preservation of the principles of the American Republic. They were not pacifists. They were true patriots who wished to guard against taking actions to destroy the enemy which may simultaneously lead to undermining the ordered liberty we claim to fight to preserve. Is the current TSA/NSA security culture in our nation consistent with freedom in this or any other century?
I am for taking military action against those who clear evidence indicates threaten the safety of our Republic and its citizens. But, does this necessitate a permanent military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan? How about Germany, South Korea and Japan? Is there no end to this? If not, I fear that we must (as Brad Birzer has suggested on this site) admit that the Republic is lost and that we fight to defend a democratic empire. Kevin, I would welcome a duel if you think me a pacifist. I say kill the enemy and come home. Don’t move into his house and call it self-defense.
did I say there are no terrorists? No. Did I recommend doing nothing as a response? No. I accept that there are terrorists and that they present a threat to our citizens. Many of them are followers of Islam. I have no idea if they believe in fascist political theory. I don’t think you do either.
A necessary step in Afghanistan was to go in and take out the terrorists training camps and to make clear to the government of the country we would not tolerate them harboring terrorists. But, did this necessitate moving in for the next 10 years? I think not. Nation building in the middle east is not a conservative approach. It is radical and expensive. Not to mention deadly.
Will you admit that the militarization of the Republic is a bad thing and that wars, in two nations simultaneously, for almost 10 years have massively increased the power of the national government? Is this perhaps more dangerous to the long term health of the Republic than even the loss of life we experienced on 9/11? If not, what about waging war in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and several former Soviet nations all of which have terrorist bases similar to Afghanistan before we got there? Must we wage war in, and establish permanent military bases in, every nation where terrorists reside? Is this the work of a Republic or an Empire? Every empire had security reasons, to go along with economic ones, to justify permanent military occupation.
I will say this again. Kill the terrorists. Destroy their bases. When necessary, go back and do it again. That is prudent application of military force against the enemy. It is not pacifism. Just don’t occupy foreign nations for decades, longer than WWI and WWII combined. That is foolishness. And I don’t believe it is conservative. I appreciate your commitment to our nation’s security. I disagree with your specific support of an imprudent military and foreign policy approach.
- I will only add a personal note…my son is also an officer in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division (1st Brigade Combat Team). I take our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq very seriously, and personally. I accept a policy which may end up getting my son hurt or killed (I pray this does not happen) in order to defend our nation from terrorists. I despise the idea of him paying such a price for a plan for “democracy in the Middle East.”
All I ask for, beg for, is a prudent use of our military. Never one drop of blood for an American empire. Kill the terrorists, destroy their bases and bring our boys home. I believe it is conservative to choose American lives over a goal of changing the culture and politics of foreign nations.
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