Friday, March 11, 2011

My Alma Mater's Brightest Star

I had no idea while attending it in the late '80s and early '90s that it would home to "our foremost historian of classical liberalism" — The Indispensable Raico. About his "masterly collection of essays, [in which] he follows the practice of his great predecessor Lord Acton," reviewer David Gordon writes:
    Raico’s severe judgments stem from a carefully considered view of foreign policy. Classical liberals see war as a principal means to enhance the power of the predatory state. We should shun that false god, military glory, and instead seek peaceful cooperation among all peoples. Here Raico’s guide is another champion of classical liberalism in the nineteenth century, Richard Cobden. “He looked forward to a time when the slogan ‘no foreign politics’ would become the watchword of all who aspired to be the representatives of a free people.” Such a policy of nonintervention stands squarely in accord with American tradition. Washington Farewell Address, Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, and John Quincy Adams’s declaration in 1821 that “America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy” clearly demonstrate that what is derisively termed “isolationism” has firm roots in our history....

    The sum and substance of Raico’s argument is that the wars of the twentieth century, far from demonstrating that nonintervention is an outmoded ideal overtaken by events, triumphantly vindicate it. Power-seeking politicians, whether they portray themselves as idealistic world-savers like Wilson and Roosevelt or openly revel in war for its own sake like Churchill, ought not to be viewed as models for future policy; rather, they should be shunned as enemies of peace and progress.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.