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War Fighting and the Loss of Liberty

Summary:
But if we forswear military intervention in other countries, are there any tools left to affect the world in a positive way? Yes, and one of the main ones is free trade. In 1750, the Baron de Montesquieu, whose philosophy influenced the Founding Fathers, opined that "the natural effect of commerce is to bring peace." More recently, economists Solomon W. Polachek of SUNY Binghamton and Carlos Seiglie of Rutgers have shown that a doubling of trade between two nations leads to a 20 percent decline in belligerence between those two nations. So we as Americans can help the world become a more peaceful place by supporting free trade and by engaging in trade ourselves. Furthermore, as Professor Tucker points

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But if we forswear military intervention in other countries, are there any tools left to affect the world in a positive way? Yes, and one of the main ones is free trade. In 1750, the Baron de Montesquieu, whose philosophy influenced the Founding Fathers, opined that "the natural effect of commerce is to bring peace." More recently, economists Solomon W. Polachek of SUNY Binghamton and Carlos Seiglie of Rutgers have shown that a doubling of trade between two nations leads to a 20 percent decline in belligerence between those two nations.

So we as Americans can help the world become a more peaceful place by supporting free trade and by engaging in trade ourselves.

Furthermore, as Professor Tucker points out, we should not worry about whether "Canada and Mexico get a greater advantage from our mutual trade than we do" because both sides gain from trade. He should have gone further. The greater gains from trade for Mexico and Canada are not, as he says, "a small price to pay for their good will." They are not a price at all. Again, both sides gain.

If we forswear military intervention in other countries' affairs, there will be times, to be sure, when we see bad things happening around the world that our government could have had the power to change. That is, to paraphrase the 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat, what's seen. What is unseen is the often bad consequences to ourselves--and to people in other countries--of U.S. intervention. So let's get rid of a grand strategy for the U.S. government and substitute our own strategy of peace and liberty.


This is the closing section of my "War-Fighting and the Loss of Liberty" at our sister site, Law and Liberty, June 11, 2018.

Read the whole thing.



David Henderson
David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

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