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March 21, 2013

Iraq, Ten Years Later

A conservative writer, T.P. Carney, questions whether it was "conservative" in ambition in the first place.

Not only have the costs -- human, monetary and political -- become glaring, but the unconservatism of the war has become hard to ignore.

War is the antithesis of fiscal conservatism. The war drove up federal spending, piling a trillion dollars onto the debt, killing Republican credibility on spending restraint and later helping justify President Obama's trillion dollars in tax hikes.

War also strips away limits on federal power. Constitutional restraints get tested in times of war. When that war lasts a decade and has no clear finish line, this untethers the state all the more. The precedents Bush set for indefinite detention and warrantless wiretaps will empower every future president.

Randolph Bourne, a leftist intellectual who opposed World War I, wrote that war is the health of the state. As such, it is a cancer on the rivals of the state -- civil society and individual liberty.

And consider the Bush administration's ambitious talk of remaking Iraq as a stepping stone to remaking the region. This national-greatness conservatism has a clear echo in Obama's national-greatness liberalism, which aims at "remaking America" and promises "we do big things."

Rallying behind Bush's ambitious "freedom agenda" meant abandoning a core insight of conservatism: that big ideas and big plans are dangerous because human knowledge and ability to predict consequences are limited much more than our planners tend to imagine.


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posted by Ace at 02:34 PM

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