War and Natural Law

Soon I’ll have the ability to engage pieces like this again. I’m looking forward to it. For now, I’ll just forward it to your attention.


Larry Harman said...

I hit a paywall.

Grim said...

Oddly there’s not one for me, maybe because I’m accessing everything by smartphone right now. Try this PDF link.


douglas said...

Well, it's really well written and contains much truth.

There seems to me one problem, though perhaps it is not really a problem.
The world has less war in it, not more, than it used to. I'm also not sure it's fair to say the United States has tended toward more war rather than less since the middle of the twentieth Century. This is either an undermining of the basis for his thesis, or it's that other factors (spread of free market capitalism or limited versions thereof) have made a greater impact than even war could in international affairs.

Loved this line especially- "Dog's do not wag tails for nothing. American politicians do."

Grim said...

It's definitely a challenge to his argument: is the US really pursuing traditional statecraft, in which the end of war is peace for itself? Or is it pursuing global leadership, in which case the end of war is peace for all? The latter may not be attainable perfectly, but perhaps it has been attained to a greater degree than otherwise by US efforts.

That, of course, poses a legitimacy problem for post-WWII America. It doesn't draw its legitimacy from 'a common defense' for the world, but for the United States; nor from consent of humanity, but of the citizenry of the United States; nor from 'the common good' of humanity, etc.

But that's a different argument than the one he makes.

douglas said...

I'd have to reread it, but I think perhaps the real question is can the US have peace in a much 'smaller' world with more intertwined economies than we used to have without making some efforts at controlling the use of force in the world around it? Did WWII show us that we couldn't stay out of world affairs, or that we wouldn't? Perhaps a hybridized idea of maintaining as primary the consideration of American interests, but with the understanding that other elements in the World must be engaged with diplomacy, economics, or force so as to mitigate external threats at secondary spheres. But then, in some sense isn't that where we are? The disagreements coming about as a question of when things move into the second or first spheres of our interests. For example, is maintaining world market stability a second sphere issue? If yes, maintaining sea lanes, checking regional powers, and so forth then become second or even possibly first sphere issues. Is there really a way anymore to argue that we don't need to care about world markets and stability here in America? I'm skeptical. If we're going to be involved at some level already, doesn't it behoove us to try to take positions that presume some general good (as well as being in our own interests- this is an important intersection that must be maintained)?

Having said all that, what I think is interesting in light of his argument is that we're seeing things change as we moved from a quite progressive leader and State Department, to a leader (who is maybe starting to drag the State Department along) who was made in the world of building, where, as in farming, reality cannot be denied- but also where man make many of the rules, and so the psychology of man is part of the reality, and perhaps because of this, and in line with what Codevilla is saying, he puts proper perspective on both expectations and limitations. Perhaps that will be why, in the end and if he is successful, why he will have been successful in foreign policy. We shall see.