Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Triumph Without Self-Belief

Triumph Without Self-Belief

Since the end of the Cold War—a struggle on whose outcome both American liberty and the possible liberty of organized human life on this planet actually depended—the New York Times has supported almost every foreign intervention of the international “nanny state.”1 Indeed, those who found it absurd to raise up American and Western defenses against a Soviet enemy armed with nuclear weapons now find it reasonable to create American outposts everywhere, especially where no national interest is involved. Many Western intellectuals doubted, to say the least, that the West had expanded the possibility of a desirable society of individual rights, individual moral responsibility, and limited government, a possibility worth fighting and, if need be, dying for. Still more of those intellectuals doubted that the Cold War placed this Western reality at so great a risk that it made sense to allow the national security state to defend it from its terrible and concrete enemies.

One of the fruits of victory in the Cold War should have been the dismantling of the national security state, a return to noninterventionist foreign policies, and the restoration of a more limited government. The very forces that were not eager to defend the West, however, now would send its children and wealth around the world on missions that belie the very notion of limited government. Another fruit of that victory should have been an intellectual, moral, and above all historical accounting of who was right and wrong in their analyses of the Cold War itself, and why.

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