The Crisis of Our Times

"Not by force of arms are civilizations held together, but by subtle threads of moral and intellectual principle." -Russell Kirk

Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A Momentary Lapse of Reason: Conservatives in the War Party

The Following Article was Published in The Wayne Review, Wayne State University's "conservative" publication, in its September 2004 issue.

The bugle sounds. The charge begins. And on the battlefield our guy, the good guy, always wins. Its also fitting that the good guy is exactly that, by the virtue of his always being right. Combat is always a noble endeavor. And the cause is always clearly just. Or so it was in the romanticized novels I loved as a child when such visions seemed real. Unfortunately, these idealized pictures faded as the child became aware of the actual realities of the twentieth century--the senseless wars, the foreign policy catastrophes, and the lack of respect for the wisdom of the past.

I would like to say that such realities disillusioned me into the conservative I am now, but my evolution was much more subtle though these aspects surely made their mark. To some folks reading this, the idea that my awakening to the realities of war (and world) had an effect on the creation of a greater conservative tendency in my heart, sounds illogical. Maybe it should; especially to those most familiar with the Hannitys, OReillys, and Bushs out there. But conservatism has always had the tendency to rail against war, sometimes with great reaction and still today a large pocket rail against the stupidity of our foreign entanglements.

The fact that the conservative movement spurred out of the ashes of WWII with a suspicious eye on war and those who called for it enlightens few. The names Richard Weaver, George Santayana, and Murray Rothbard, perhaps do less. But the words of Russell Kirk should vibrate through the core of every conservative mind. In The Politics of Prudence, Kirk wrote that a "soundly conservative foreign policy, in the age which is dawning, should be neither interventionist nor isolationist: it should be prudent. Its object should not be to secure the triumph everywhere of Americas name and manners, under the slogan of democratic capitalism, but instead the preservation of the true national interest, and acceptance of the diversity of economic and political institutions throughout the world." It followed that Dr. Kirk steadily and warningly opposed the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Currently, we are back in the Gulf under the pretense to end terrorism foreverwhat connection the country had to the 9/11 attacks I am ignorant of, though the Weekly Standard tries to inform me. The weapons of mass destruction that we knew were there, arent--at least not until we brought them over and proceeded to destabilize a once semi-stable country. We ended a brutal tyranny, true but it was a secular tyranny with a predictable hunger to remain in control, which feared the fundamentalists who would prefer to overthrow Mr. Hussein in favor of a theocracy. If we wish to fight terrorism, it might be a good idea to not increase the chances of the formation of a terrorist state by destroying a secular country in the hotbed of the Middle East.

Or so is my thought--though the Goldbergs, Bennetts, and DSouzas tell me Im wrong. These conservatives seem partial to the Soviet ideal of a benevolent global hegemony, as long as the U.S. plays big brother. These modern Alexanders ignore the tragic fates that every empire in history procured. They ignore Russell Kirk. They blow off the Vatican. They disgrace the Constitution. They close their eyes to every conservative institution and tendency in the West.
Edmund Burke calls to these men, why engage in wars halfway around the world, at incalculable expense in men and money? They answer back to end tyranny around the world through Pax Americana. There is no question about how undesirable such a thing would be, nor do the consequences look positive from my perspective. The only question I have is how conservatives can be persuaded by an idea thats so hostile to conservatism. Id like to believe it is on account of a momentary lapse of reason. And I hope that conservatives and America recover from this lapse of reason, even just momentarily.


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