This past Thursday I had the pleasure of giving a dinner address to the Institute for Humane Studies Board of Directors. The purpose of the event was to honor Jerry Fullinwider upon his retirement from the IHS Board. Jerry was a founding member of the Board and worked closely with Baldy Harper to launch IHS in 1961. Over the decades he has been an unwavering advocate for freedom and has worked tirelessly to advance liberty through IHS and a variety of other initiatives.
I am personally grateful to Jerry and his family. I am an alumnus of IHS’s undergraduate seminars and am now a frequent participant in seminars as a faculty member, as well as a member of the Board. I am also very fortunate to hold the position of F.A. Harper Professor of Economics at the Mercatus Center which Jerry helped endow. Given this, it was a true honor to have the opportunity to speak at the event recognizing Jerry’s work and contributions.
The topic of my remarks was “Foreign Intervention: A Case for Humility.” I used the opening lines of Baldy Harper’s, “In Search of Peace” as motivation:
The topic of my talk is fitting not only given current global events, but also because it was a topic of great importance to Baldy Harper. The opening lines of his wonderful 1951 article, “In Search of Peace,” read as follows:
Charges of pacifism are likely to be hurled at anyone who in these troubled times raises any question about the race into war. If pacifism means embracing the objective of peace, I am willing to accept the charge. If it means opposing all aggression against others, I am willing to accept that charge also. It is now urgent in the interest of liberty that many persons become “peacemongers.”
Harper’s words are as relevant as when he first wrote them. My goal tonight is to urge all of you to fully embrace Harper’s call. Being a committed peacemonger is a controversial position even among classical liberals and libertarians, let alone among members of the two mainstream political parties. Indeed, any pushback against the current “race into war” against supposed foreign threats is met with the exact type of criticism noted by Harper over six decades ago. Let me provide four reasons why I am highly skeptical of foreign military intervention.
And here are my closing lines:
In closing, let me say that I realize that it is important to be aware of potential external threats to our liberties and freedoms. At the same time, it is crucial that we never forget that there is a significant internal threat to those same liberties and freedoms that we must battle on a daily basis—the State.
If interested, you can read the entire text here (my dinner comments were an abridged version).
Cross posted at Coordination Problem.