This question perplexes me: how is it that in the modern conservative mind, when it comes to domestic and economic policy, government can’t do anything right and the people making the decisions are imbeciles, but when it comes to foreign policy, these exact same people suddenly become geniuses?
Conservatives hate the idea of centralized economies.
The political right champions “free markets,” minimal regulation and generally embraces “laissez faire,” at least in theory.
Of course, conservatives are right.
Centralized economies fail because no matter how smart they might be, centralizers cannot comprehend enough information to properly manage an economy. Pause for a moment and consider all of the variables that go into even the most simple economic decision. Then multiply that by about a billion and you get some idea of what the centralizer pretends to control. Soviet economists Nikolai Shmelev and Vladimir Popov acknowledged this reality in the wake of the collapse of the Russian economy.
No matter how much we wish to organize everything rationally, without waste, no matter how passionately we wish to lay all the bricks of the economic structure tightly, with no chinks in the mortar, it is not yet within our power.
And it never will be.
Human beings simply can’t predict and account for every outcome and consequence of a given policy. These unforeseen consequences wreak havoc on an economy. Each intervention leads to unanticipated problems. The centralizer responds with additional interventions that create even more negative consequences leading to more interventions creating a vicious and unending cycle.
Even when acting with the best of intentions (not always the case), the meddling of centralizers generally leads to irreparable harm. As Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus observed, “the evil in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”
Conservatives get this when it comes to economics, but when it comes to foreign policy, they turn into ardent centralizers.
Questioning U.S. intervention across the world enrages modern conservatives. They will run through a litany of reasons justifying American military meddling in foreign lands, from the moral imperative to free the oppressed, to the moral imperative to “spread democracy,” to the moral imperative to provide relief to the suffering. If they fail to convince the non-interventionalist of the wisdom of these actions, the will resort to calling him an isolationist or “unpatriotic.”
These modern conservatives are centralizers at heart.
They make the same mistake as the socialist economic centralizers. They see problems, and in their arrogance, they believe they have foresight and capacity to solve them through the proper application of government. Of course, these modern conservatives make the same fatal errors as the progressive economists – they fail to account for their own lack of knowledge and their own inability to foresee the unforeseen consequences of their actions. Like the socialist economic centralizers, these modern conservative foreign policy centralizers creates a never ending cycle of intervention, negative consequences and more intervention.
One only need to look at Iraq to see this truth vividly illustrated.