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Bradley J. Birzer foreign policy

I should really be preparing three lectures on the liberal arts and Christian Humanism I’m giving this weekend, but I became so infuriated by this article (well, what it describes) that I had to take a short break from lecture prep and vent. Not that I think The Imaginative Conservative should be used for personal venting.

Well, not normally, anyway.

Has any other reader of The Imaginative Conservative read the opening to this story in the Washington Post yet:

A group of 37 former administration officials, academics and foreign policy figures on Monday sent a letter to House Republicans urging them not to support any legislation aimed at defunding the U.S. military mission in Libya. The letter, which was circulated by the Foreign Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, comes as the House is poised to consider a defense appropriations bill that may serve as a vehicle for amendments on the Libyan conflict. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Friday that President Obama has not sufficiently answered lawmakers’ questions on the U.S. military operation and that the House may move to defund it as soon as this week. Most of the signatories of the letter are conservative-leaning foreign policy hawks, including former deputy assistant secretary of state Liz Cheney; former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz; Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol; former Bush administration senior adviser Karl Rove; and Randy Scheunemann, a former foreign policy advisor to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

What does “Conservative-leaning foreign policy hawks” mean? Really?

Now, as most of you know, I’m not always big on labels. I’m happy to be called a “conservative” or a “libertarian” or an “individualist” or a “non-front porch republican,” though I generally self-identify, perhaps somewhat pretentiously, as a “Christian Humanist” or “Augustinian Reaganite.”

I do know a few things for certain. I know I love Jesus, the U.S. Constitution, Human Freedom, and the Liberal Arts.

Frankly, such labels are merely another means by which a sloppy society and a sloppy way of thinking attempt to conform us, to make us less than men and women.

Happily, I’m a man of the Right, a despiser of ideologies and every variety of statism.

But, I do know that real men oppose centralizing power in the hands of one person or one branch of government. And, I never doubt the manhood of a conservative.

So, if 37 “Conservative-leaning foreign policy hawks” want Obama to keep bombing—in a manner immoral and unconstitutional and Truman-esque—the peoples of Libya, I have a very hard time believing them men (and, by default, conservatives).

At least the New Dealers had the guts to call themselves liberals and progressives as they interned fine Americans of Japanese ancestry and nuked their homeland mercilessly.

As I look over the list of 37 signatories, I see a lot of humans claiming the label of conservative without having a clue as to what to conserve. These humans—whether in the Nixon or Bush administrations; or most likely both—look far more like radicals and revolutionaries of the French variety than they do American patriots of order and liberty.

If the American people want war, that’s one thing. If they do, they need to go through their representatives in the House and ask the House to declare war and the Senate to concur.

American society as a whole needs to decide this, after prolonged discussion and recognition of the weighty principles involved.

But, one president abusing his constitutional authority to the point of non-recognition of the constitution does not a legitimate war make, no matter what 37 neo-cons might desire in their warped, inhumane, little progressive hearts.

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6 replies to this post
  1. The level of noise on this issue is so low as to not be heard. I am astounded that a President can take us to war based on the UN's approval and the American people sit back and say nothing. The attitude is as if it is "quaint" to say a President needs authorization to do so. Madison said "The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature". This prevents one man taking a country to war, not from need but of want of doing so. We need more rants like this one!

  2. Great post Brad. One label you ignored is the 'humanitarian conservative'; translation per Russell Kirk,"…, humanitarianism; a belief that mankind can be improved through the application of utilitarian principles, without divine aid." What will come of Libya after our ‘game theory’ approach to humanitarian efforts?

    The following is the last paragraph from George Will's column on America’s ‘humanitarian’ regime change efforts in Libya–Will's comments are prescient.

    "On Dec. 29, 1962, in Miami’s Orange Bowl, President John Kennedy, who ordered the Bay of Pigs invasion, addressed a rally of survivors and supporters of that exercise in regime change. Presented with the invasion brigade’s flag, Kennedy vowed, “I can assure you that this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.” Eleven months later, on Nov. 2, 1963, his administration was complicit in another attempt at violent regime change — the coup against, and murder of, South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem. The Saigon regime was indeed changed, so perhaps this episode counts as a success, even if Saigon is now Ho Chi Minh City."

  3. John, your quote "invading Libya then, for geopolitical rather than "moral" reasons, would have exposed layers of problems our experts could not have even imagined" says it all.


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