I was listening to the Neal Boortz radio show in the road to Atlanta last week and he fielded a caller who was likely a young Libertarian who was advocating the rejection of the U.S. as a welfare state and a “warfare state”.  He was speaking in a tone that had memorized all the correct Libertarian talking points but Boortz quickly demonstrated how little thought he had put in them.

The caller was quoting the words of the founding fathers to suggest we should return to the isolation of pre WWI and WW II. Boortz  questioned, “Do you think that one nation will likely dominate the world?”  After trying to weasel out of a direct answer, the persistence of the host finally got a reply.  “Yes” the caller said.

Neal then asked, “Which country would you prefer to be that dominant force?”

Again the caller tried to weasel out of direct answer because he had never really given the subject much thought. After the normal Boortz badgering for a straight answer the caller replied, “not the United States.  The United States should dominate economically, not militarily.”

Not dissuaded by the caller’s attempt to stay within the canned responses he had absorbed from his obviously limited study, Neal repeated, “who WOULD you want to be the dominant global military power.”

I do not recall if he ever got an answer.

The conversation voiced the limitation of the Libertarian Party.  Even though we have had more than our share of military misadventures and foreign policy failures, we face an imperfect world and often have to make a decision from several options that are all bad.  Unelected political critics and pundits never have to be politically accountable.

If we accept that there is evil in the world and that there is likely to be a dominant military power I would prefer that power to be the United States, and this is why.

  • The United States is the most religiously, culturally and ethnically diverse country in the world and would be less likely to wage a war to enforce a theocracy or ethnic dominance.
  • The United States is a nation of laws. Even though our military has had events like My Lai massacre in Viet Nam and the more recent Abu Grab, these events are rare, unacceptable, and often pale in comparison to what our enemies do. And more often we hold the perpetrators accountable.
  • Contrary to the caller’s suggestion, the United States is not a “warfare state”. While we engage in battle most of our soldiers are not career  soldiers and we currently function without a draft.  Our soldiers are postal carriers, home builders and teachers who shoulder arms for short durations. Our army is one of citizen soldiers.
  • Our democracy holds our leaders accountable who lead us into war.  Rightly or wrongly the administration and  Congress changed hands largely due to concern over the conduct of the war in Iraq.  What other country of military consequence has that safety valve?
  • What other country has sacrificed so many of their own to free another country for no material gain?  We have proven ourselves willing to make sacrifice for principles rather than assets.

Foreign policy is difficult and we obsess far more on our failures, which are many,  than our successes. We are an impatient country and we want our wars to be quick and cheap.  But Neal Boortz made an excellent point.  There is evil in the world and some country will be a dominant military power.

I would much prefer that power to be American. Remember that on Memorial Day.