Occasional AmSpec contributor S.T. Karnick has a piece at TCS Daily arguing for withdrawal from Iraq shortly after the troop surge shows results. Whatever the merits of this position, his framing of it is more than a little peculiar. Karnick claims he’s laying out the classical liberal view of foreign policy. “Nation-building is simply not a proper function for government, according to classical liberal thinking,” he writes. That statement would seem to write John Stuart Mill, a defender of the British Empire, out of classical liberalism. If the author of On Liberty isn’t a liberal, no one is.
Mill’s views on the Empire were different from those of some of his liberal contemporaries, by the way. There simply isn’t any single set of narrow principles that define the “correct” classical liberal foreign policy (or modern liberal or conservative foreign policy, for that matter).
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