Thursday, September 12, 2002

Roderick Long joins the ranks of bloggers, with an essay on his still-dovish and still-anarchistic interpretation of September 11, and of what came before and has come since. I won't respond in any serious way, since I don't think I'll be able to match the job that Brink Lindsey has done over the last year in articulating why he doesn't agree with that stance. But I will say that the last year has made me more interventionist than I had ever thought conceivable, by convincing me that even the internal affairs of other states can pose a mortal threat. The central example: libertarian foreign policy is predicated on trade. In 1991, I was firmly of the camp that said, "Even if Saddam gets control of the Saudi oil fields, he'll still have to sell the oil for it to be of any use to him; so, ultimately, who cares, in any way stronger than caring about the somewhat increased market share he'd control that would allow him to raise prices?" (And a mere price increase had to be weighed against the costs of war; it was not itself a likely justification for going to war.) I now believe that the endless flow of American dollars into Saudi hands has financed the spread of a vicious and deadly ideology, has even financed the growing dominance of that ideology over other, benign forms of Islam, and has done so even in the United States. And I believe that even the government of a free and religiously tolerant society ought to take notice of such trends and developments, in a fashion other than saying "Well, when they kill some of us, we'll take them to court and demand compensation." Trade is sometimes the beginning of the story, not the end. And I say this as someone who remains convinced that free and open trade is among the most central goals of a foreign policy. But: do I think the world would be improved if the U.S. withdrew from Saudi Arabia, withdrew its support for Israel, stopped offending the murderers with an interventionist foreign policy, and continued to buy oil ad infinitum from the Saudi government, thereby continuing to enrich the Wahabbi clerics and their movement? No, I'm afraid I can no longer bring myself to believe such a thing.

Of course I welcome Roderick's contributions; he is someone who has taught me a great deal over the years and whose opinions and judgments carry weight with me. But on this set of issues, I can no longer agree with him

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