There’s nothing ‘conservative’ about supporting foreign intervention

me in Spectator Coffee House:

I supported the Iraq invasion in 2003, by about 75/25, but I didn’t write about politics at the time and so never expressed any public opinion; I was from that generation that had watched helplessly as Africans starved in the 1980s and, following Bosnia and Kosovo, neo-colonialism in the name of liberalism and justice seemed like a good idea at the time. Iraq was a disaster, and for fairly conservative reasons.

One of the central planks of conservative philosophy is the law of unintended consequences; sometimes governments will become involved in complex issues and, by spending money and trying to help, will make things worse. The classic example of this is with welfare; Daniel Patrick Moynihan, ironically considered one of the founders of ‘neoconservatism’, wrote in The Negro Family: The Case For National Action that welfare intervention would make things worse by destroying families. That argument is widely accepted, or at least certainly by conservatives; throw money at dysfunctional families, and you will get more dysfunction, and in the meantime you will empower bad guys.

Just as for welfare, so with warfare, and there’s probably no area of activity that has more unintended consequences than fighting; things rarely go to plan, because there are so many variables and players involved, and when the peace treaty is signed the objectives as set out on day one rarely seem to be met. The Iraq invasion ended up with America very much reduced in power, and both Iran and Sunni militants (later to become Isis) strengthened.

Read it all there. Incidentally I forgot about Yemen (republic, dangerous).

What do you think?

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