PCR: From your extensive research into previous U.S. wars, have you drawn any conclusions that shape your thinking about the present situation?
RH: One conclusion stands out: from the Civil War onward, engagement in war has left Americans less free when the war was over than they had been before the war. In countless ways, the warfare state has proved inimical to the preservation of liberty, just as patriots such as James Madison warned us long ago that it would. War brings higher taxes, greater government debt, increased government intrusion in markets, more pervasive government surveillance, manipulation, and control of the public. Going to war is the perfect recipe for expanding the size, scope, and power of the federal government. You have to wonder why so many conservatives, who claim to cherish liberty, enthusiastically embrace the government’s schemes for plunging the nation into war.
“War is the health of the state”, Randolph Bourne once wrote. He wasn’t wrong. I’m continually amazed at conservatives who cannot see that even though wars eventually end, they always leave our liberties so diminished, and treasuries so empty, that in the long run – even when we win – they are almost never worth fighting.