the imaginative conservative logo

military republicWhat is the proper role of military power for a Republic? Is it the role of a Republic to maintain a large military presence in foreign lands? For what purpose would a Republic expend large amounts of blood and treasure to promote “democracy” in far away nations? What does this say in relation to countries, such as Cuba, which are much closer to us and living under repressive governments? Would the framers of our governmental institutions (Washington, Jefferson, Adams) support a long term (10 years in Afghanistan, over 50 in Korea) placement of troops in foreign lands? Is it the Republic’s duty to spend whatever is necessary (in lives and borrowed money) for as long as it takes to impose order in places where cultural mores and tribal hatred systemically undermine the conditions which are necessary for ordered freedom to flourish? Is the militarization of our foreign policy a reasonable price to pay for these efforts? Is it likely that our zeal to “make the world safe for democracy” will call for policies and expenditures which undermine republican principles in our own home? If we are in a state of fiscal & moral crisis in this nation is it responsible to make such expenditures even if the goals are determined to be legitimate? Are we truly in a position to tell other nations to get their house in order in light of the state of decay of our Republic?

 Books on this topic may be found at The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

Print Friendly

Published: May 3, 2012
W. Winston Elliott III
W. Winston Elliott III is President of The Free Enterprise Institute, Editor of Imaginative Conservative Books and Editor-in-Chief of The Imaginative Conservative. Mr. Elliott is Visiting Professor of Liberal Arts and Conservative Thought at Houston Baptist University. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Washington College and a Masters of Business Administration, with Honors, from the University of Houston.
"All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable."
15 replies to this post
  1. Hannity: "This is obviously some left-wing creep who has not listened to my program enough."
    Billy Kristol: "Weeelll, it isn't nuanced enough to say what he is really proposing. Mostly, he is simply wrong, and not worth my time."
    O'Reilly: "What moral crisis?"
    Rush: "With half my brain tied behind my back to give him an advantage, I would say that the other half of my brain can't come up with an answer."
    Willson: "No"

  2. "If we are in a state of fiscal & moral crisis in this nation is it responsible to make such expenditures even if the goals are determined to be legitimate?"
    ***Hell, even if there is no crisis and we're smelling like roses, no.

    "Are we truly in a position to tell other nations to get their house in order in light of the state of decay of our Republic?"
    ***But even if we were . . .

    John: you shouldn't put yourself in that company, not even in jest. It's like goofing around with Ouija boards.

    Brad: the loud one as opposed to the quiet one?


  3. Ok, thanks, Robert E. Lee, let's get our other REAL foreign policy expert, like Fox News contributor, John-rainbow bomb-Bolton. You know ambassador. Bol-ton, Winston like forgot too, that like, Iran is like, our biggest ENEMY, I mean Ambassador Bolton, why are we even like, talking to the UN about our, you know options anymore!?

    "Well Martha, this RAY-jeem, has demonstrated time and time again that they are all too willing to help Raytheon sell another $350 billion in defective stealth technologies that the Bush Administration ordered but Obama delayed so he could put solar powered cells on the weapons. Had this Prez-Dent not delayed for Amoeba powered cells we may have already detected signs of terrorist life through the Star Gate."

  4. Justin,
    A follow-up. In one of her early books Joyce Carol Oates devised a chance to write up an event as Time, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Nation, and several others would have published it. It was a hoot, and so true, to anyone who had the ears to hear. I don't have the talent to do what she did, but that was my intent.
    Best, John

  5. I wish these forums were more open to discussion, rather than being a gathering of yes-men. As a Hillsdale grad, I respect my old professor Dr. Willson but I think his isolationist views are wrong and even dangerous and his rough tone inappropriate. I wonder what Kirk would've thought about 9/11? Would he have dumped his isolationist views and his borderline anti-Semitic suspicion of neoconservatives, or would he have simply dug his feet further into the ground? Second, I don't like that this site tries to create a Kirkian ideology, ignoring Kirk's limitations.

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    My first thought is at least the "yes men" use their own names instead of hiding behind "Anonymous." My second thought is how weak it is to call Dr. Willson's views on neoconservatives "borderline anti-Semitic" without any specific instances cited. My third thought is of course you didn't address any of the specific questions addressed in my original post so I wonder if you have any worthwhile questions. Lastly, use better arguments, avoid name calling, use your own name and then you will have a better chance of having your comments posted in the future. And if you really don't like what we do on TIC why are you here? After all, it is still a somewhat free country.

    Winston Elliott III

  7. Dear Anonymous, if this really is your name, you're way out of line. Show me one statement of Kirk's that indicates he's an anti-Semite. Just one. You can't, because they don't exist. If you use such groundless accusations, I fully understand why you hide behind "anonymous." You're a liar and a coward, unworthy of the human race. Go seek redemption elsewhere. With no respect, yours, Brad

  8. Since my friends Brad and Winston have taken the "rough tone," maybe here we can clarify just a couple of things. First, "Isolationist" is pejorative, it has no historical or moral meaning, it was just a political ploy of New Dealers to discredit men and women who were trying to keep American foreign policy sane. Second, to underscore Brad's point about Kirk, there is no anti-semitism. It was a false charge by neocons who had no other way to attack him. The same is true of me, of Pat Buchanan, and of almost everybody else who has been so accused in the last twenty years. Third, there is no such thing as "Kirkian ideology." Russell spent his entire life fighting against ideology in all its forms. I have no difficulty in conducting civil–or, for that matter, uncivil–discussions with people who disagree with me. But let's first get the names right, and the ground rules. If indeed you do "respect" your "old" professor (and you're right, I am old) then just get a sense of humor and don't call names.

  9. I wonder what goeth on at Hillsdale nowadays (outside of Brad's bailiwick,i mean). Willson antisemitic? Or Kirk, whose respect for Judaism was also vast and deep? Kirk an ideologue? Does Central Hall have lead water-pipes?

    Mssrs Church and others here are clear on the classical and modern examples of how republics die if they miss Winston's point.

  10. I did not accuse Dr. Willson of anti-Semitism. I said Kirk was borderline anti-Semitic when he disparaged neoconservatives. See The Politics of Prudence pp. 174-175.

    Anonymity is encouraged on the internet for safety reasons. Most internet experts will tell you that using your real name of the internet is a very bad idea. Plus, you have the option of "Anonymous" under your comment box. Why is it wrong for me to use it?

    I am a serious and decent person who has defended Kirk for many years all over the internet and in my conversations with others. But I am not an ideologue. I see places where there is room for disagreement.

  11. As a new guy here at IC and someone who's been kicked off, deleted, and cast into 'moderation' purgatory for inappropriate thinking a sundry institutions around the 'net, maybe, we're being a little too sensitive with 'anonymous.' He has the right, perhaps duty, to seek to engage in the dialectic in any manner he chooses, assuming he's semi-polite, doesn't use the 'f' word, and keeps his droll cup clean; it is the internet, after all.

    Dr. Willson, an old pal from our Front Porch days when we were both treated in 'a manner rather rude' by our friendly, Kumbayaya academic leftists running the olde agrarian site is of a slightly different 'conservative' stripe then I, but he's absolutely right on the big stuff where Jesus and republican principles trump secular-statism of every sort(we can argue the 'little' stuff with perfervid intensity) and he's no Jew-hater. Actually, 'anonymous' serves the good purpose of stimulating discussion, an act that surely is good for an in depth analysis of the issues inherent in our contemporary crisis.
    I would, however, use my real name, but hey, I carry concealed.

  12. Bob, I know who you are, and I'm glad to see you here. I also appreciate your point about the pain-in-the-you-know-what who apparently was my student once upon a time, but who can't resist being nemesis and thinks it's a matter of principle to be faceless and nameless. As you know, I never, ever back down from a reasonable fight. Sometimes, like you, I even try to be prudent. I just wish I were better at it.

Leave a Reply