I’ve gone over the knowledge problem associated with foreign policy before, and I believe it is sufficient to say that libertarians were right in deflating predictions by hawks that the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq would go over smoothly. Hawks on both the Left and the Right oversimplified the situation in the Middle East. Their condescending tone towards both the Iraqi people and the broader Middle East guaranteed failure from the outset. Anybody who believes that a state – no matter how wealthy and powerful – can just waltz in to another state – no matter how poor and weak – and impose its will upon it is a fool.
Gene Healy reports from DC:
In a 2001 debate on Iraq with former CIA Director James Woolsey, my Cato Institute colleague, then-Chairman William Niskanen, argued that “an unnecessary war is an unjust war” and one we would come to regret having fought.
Niskanen was right. A new report from the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University tallies up the costs: nearly 4,500 U.S. troop fatalities, an eventual budgetary cost of some $3.9 trillion and more than 130,000 civilians as “collateral damage.”
Bill Niskanen, who passed away last year at the age of 78, never tired of reminding conservatives that war is a government program — and an especially destructive one at that.
If you add up the harsh economic sanctions imposed upon the Iraqis by the Democrats earlier in the decade, the 130,000 civilian toll increases significantly (to about half a million, most of whom were children).
Only a foreign policy based around commerce, peace and honest friendship will succeed in both the short and the long runs. Luckily for us, it appears that there is a growing consensus on this argument among the population of the United States. It helps that most advocates of the war are either remorseful or they are becoming more and more discredited by the day. From Hitlery Clinton to Dubya to John McCain, the old guard is steadily giving way to a breath of fresh air. Air that is more suitable for a republic dedicated to individual liberty.