The Myth of Good and Bad Nations

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by Lew Rockwell, Lew Rockwell:

The gang of neocons who control brain-dead “President” Joe Biden view international politics as a struggle between good and evil nations. Sometimes, it isn’t the people of the enemy nation who are viewed as evil but the demonic leader of the enemy country, who, if not Satan himself, is seen as a reasonably close approximation of him. Thus, today the evil Vladimir Putin is seen as engaged in a brutal conquest of Ukraine and the heroic Israelis are seen as engulfed in worldwide battle against anti-Semitism. Propagating these ideas helps the neocons in spending billions of dollars in aid to the favored nations and sending them weapons that threatens the thermonuclear destruction of the world.

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In fact, international politics is a struggle between nations with conflicting interests, not a struggle between good and evil powers. Such conflicts are inevitable in a world of powerful states, in which the principles of the free market are flouted. As Ludwig von Mises has taught us, nations impede the free flow of goods in trade. This policy leads to wars, as nations struggle to obtain resources under their control, rather than buy these resources from suppliers. As Mises says in Omnipotent Government, (1944) “’Progressives’ and nationalists were . . .not themselves concerned with the maintenance of the international division of labor; they advocated government control of business which must necessarily lead toward protectionism and finally toward autarky.”(p.228)

The neocon efforts to demonize the enemy are nothing new, and in what follows, I’m going to discuss a number of examples to show how pervasive this pattern has been in involving America in unnecessary, destructive, and costly wars.

Let’s begin with the most salient case of all. For the neocons, it’s always Hitler. The Munich Conference of 1938 shows what happens when we fail to stand up against evil. The facts don’t bear out what they say. Hitler was indeed an evil dictator, but America had no valid reason to go to war against him. Hitler did not aim to attack the United States, and fighting against him helped Stalin, who killed more people than Hitler did, in taking control of Eastern Europe.

Furthermore, Hitler’s policies during the 1930s aimed at the peaceful revision of the punitive and unjust Treaty of Versailles. A European War resulted only after the unwise and unenforceable British and French guarantee of the Western boundary of Poland. The eastern boundary against Russia was not guaranteed, and Poland lost territory to Russia after the Russians invaded Poland on September 17, 1939.

The great Murray Rothbard notes that Hitler’s policy before 1939 was improvised, responding to particular circumstances. He did not have a plan for “world conquest” as the neocons continue to allege today. “Hitler was not bent on world conquest, for which he had armed Germany to the teeth and constructed a ‘timetable.’ Hitler, in brief, (in foreign affairs) was not a uniquely evil monster or daimon, who would continue to gobble up countries diabolically until stopped by superior force. Hitler was a rational German statesman, pursuing — with considerable intuitive insight — a traditional, post-Versailles German policy (to which we might add intimations of desires to expand eastward in an attack on Bolshevism). But basically, Hitler has no ‘master plan’; he was a German intent, like all Germans, on revising the intolerable and stupid Versailles-diktat, and on doing so by peaceful means, and in collaboration with the British and French. One thing is sure: Hitler had no designs, no plans, not even vague intimations, to expand westward against Britain and France (let alone the United States).”

Even in this “worst case” example, the neocon legend of good versus evil nations is false. But the legend didn’t begin with World War II, the “good war.” During World War I, the Committee on Public Information blamed the war on the evil German Kaiser and spread false atrocity stories to inflame public opinion against Germany. We were told about nuns who had been raped and children with their hands cut off. As a result of this propaganda, German-Americans were persecuted and some cases, opponents of the war were beaten and killed. The result of Wilson’s crusade to “make the world safe for democracy” was the Treaty of Versailles, which paved the way for Hitler; and the overthrow of the Russian and Austrian Empires, which led to unsolvable conflicts among European irredentist nationalisms.

The neocons are still peddling the legend of evil Kaiser Bill today. They are inveterate Germanophobes. For example, Jacob Heilbrunn, a leading neocon, says that “’Kaiser Wilhelm II was a monster.’ He says that had Wilson failed to enter the war, the result would have been disaster for the world. The opponents of entering the war feared the malign consequence of doing so for domestic liberty, and they were right. Nevertheless, Wilson’s policy was justified.”

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