Oakeshott and War

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
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In the NYT, Brooks “argues” with Oakeshott:

We can’t know how Oakeshott would have judged the decision to go to war in Iraq, but it is impossible not to see the warnings entailed in his writings. Be aware of what you do not know. Do not go charging off to remake a society when you don’t understand its moral traditions, when you do not even understand yourself. Do not imagine that if you conquer a nation and impose something you call democracy that the results will be in any way predictable. Do not try to administer a country from behind a security bunker.

I try to reply to these warnings. I concede that government should be limited, prudent and conservative, but only when there is something decent to conserve. Saddam sent Iraqi society spinning off so violently, prudence became imprudent. The Middle East could not continue down its former course.

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