November 9, 2014 – Many people have taken to task the advocacy of nonintervention regarding the Islamic State (ISIS) in my article, “Post-9/11: Doubling Down on Intervention or Choosing Nonintervention“.
My primary reasons for defending noninterventionism are because a) intervention destroys freedom, and b) it fosters blowback and bankruptcy (the stated goal of al Qaeda).
Sadly, after helping the U.S. bomb the Middle East the past 13 years, Canada is now learning the lesson of blowback the hard way. Loss of freedom, and more spending to fund the loss of freedom, will follow. “Is this the ‘new normal’ for Canada?” the headlines scream. Who knows. But it certainly is blowback.
But back to ISIS and nonintervention:
The general argument against nonintervention is that ISIS will grow in strength if the U.S. does not intervene. True?
Firstly, the New York Times says of ISIS:
“American intelligence agencies have concluded that it poses no immediate threat to the United States.”
Not that we should always believe the Times or intelligence agencies, but point taken.
There are also reports that ISIS has mismanaged much of the resources they have. And clearly, though ISIS’s sensational use of social media is a powerful recruiting tool, they aren’t making many friends in the region and are subject to blowback themselves.
There is the humanitarian crisis to consider, though. Yes—this gnaws at the heart. But again, the head questions how long the U.S. can continue intervening before it bankrupts itself.
Blowback and imminent bankruptcy should be reason alone for nonintervention. But there’s also the case that ISIS will self-destruct based on value-free, sound economics.
Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises would deem ISIS unsustainable, in large part because ISIS represents the most radical form of interventionist socialism. How long can ISIS, financed by violent coercion and plunder, producing nothing, practicing the most implosive kind of redistributionist economics, sustain itself?
“Socialism is unrealizable as an economic system because a socialist society would not have any possibility of resorting to economic calculation… It is a means to disintegrate social cooperation and to bring about poverty and chaos.”
Similarly, the Foreign Policy Research Institute says the terror group’s economy is “untenable” and that support for the terrorists could already be eroding:
“The leadership of the [ISIS] has shown little interest in economics beyond a crude socialism—confiscating the property of their enemies and distributing it to their supporters… if current electrical outages and fuel shortages are followed by increased unemployment and sharply higher food prices, then support for the ISIL authorities will weaken.”
Time, and tragically, more bloodshed, will tell.
But Mises presents a greater lesson here for the U.S.:
“No foreign aggressor can destroy capitalist civilization if it does not destroy itself.”
This truth not only reaffirms the case for nonintervention, but also for the U.S. to turn back toward free market capitalism. This is the opposite direction from the socialist, interventionist road the U.S. has taken for the last century, which has witnessed the Federal Reserve, the income tax, the unsustainable expansion of the welfare/warfare state, and the erosion of civil liberties. All are mutually-inclusive hallmarks of socialism. All hinge on force and violence, implied and actual. All point to imminent self-destruction. The War on Terror has accelerated the self-destruction.
More intervention will not achieve any of what little, vague goals the U.S. has in this new chapter of the perpetual War on Terror. Bring the troops home and defend the homeland at home, first by shoring up the economy and financial foundation.
But don’t take it from me. Heed the wisdom of the founders on nonintervention, specifically James Madison:
“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
And Thomas Jefferson:
“Having seen the people of all other nations bowed down to the earth under the wars and prodigalities of their rulers, I have cherished their opposites, peace, economy, and riddance of public debt, believing that these were the high road to public as well as private prosperity and happiness… The most successful war seldom pays for its losses… War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.”
Where do you think your freedom is going? Please comment.