Monday, September 7, 2009
Goldwater's Military Action Caution
I am currently reading Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative—the book, many would argue, which provided a common intellectual rallying point for the modern conservative/libertarian movement of the late twentieth century.
Though I have long been a Goldwater fan, I have never read his magnum opus until now. Page after page is filled with great points, nuggets of wisdom, and simple explanations of why individual liberty suffers at the hands of a large, intrusive state.
As I was reading over the weekend, I came to a chapter dealing with the Cold War. It was in this chapter that I came across such a beautiful representation of a man who truly loves liberty.
In reference to a desired victory over the Soviets, Goldwater notes, “If possible, overt hostilities should always be avoided; especially is this so when a shooting war may cause the death of many millions of people, including our own.” (84)
Did you catch that? “…including our own.”
Sen. Goldwater was not merely concerned with the loss of American life, though that was of great importance to him. He valued even the lives of our Soviet enemies. He saw the humanity in the Soviet people and the waste and devaluing of human life by the senselessness of unnecessary war.
In claiming, “if possible, overt hostilities should always be avoided; especially is this so when a shooting war may cause the death of many millions of people, including our own,” Goldwater showed a few things. First, he would go to war if necessary (yet only through constitutional means I assure you). And second, life should never be taken unless absolutely necessary as an act of defense. And furthermore, even the lives of our enemies should be shown proper value.
Let us not be hasty in acting when human lives are at stake. Remember, just because we as Americans may not have to see casualties, that does not mean that others will be spared.
War takes sons and daughter, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and foes on both sides. So let us never look forward to war. If we must truly defend ourselves, let us take the constitutional steps to do so. But let us realize the costs of military action—lives and livelihoods.
*note: If only Goldwater had been consistent and seen the value in the life of the unborn.