2013-09-09

Why Stop At Putin?

David Henderson writes about an article posted on InfoWars.com. The article implies that Putin's opposition to US intervention in Syria is grounded in the idea that he does not want competition supplying natural gas to the rest of Europe.

I did not read the full InfoWars article, I merely skimmed it and read Henderson's post at EconLog. I cannot vouch for any of the information supplied in the article or its accuracy. What I would like to point out is that, if one is willing to accept this argument, then there is no reason to stop this line of thought at Putin. Indeed, the InfoWars article does seem to imply that Obama's motives are no better than Putin's, i.e. that Obama wants to intervene in order to make the gas pipeline happen.

I remember back in the 90s the leftists of the world were pretty thoroughly enraptured with the old "petro-tyranny" arguments, the "American jingo-imperialism" arguments, and so on. It seemed so preposterous at the time, but I think that was because twenty years ago the world had not lost as much subtlety as it has since. People still believed in coyness. Nobody wore their lives on their sleeves (or Facebook pages). National secrets were still national secrets.

Now, on the one hand, I feel that the development of society has been a progression toward the better. I am far more comfortable in a world in which there are few real national secrets held by governments. We are all better off knowing that our governments are spying on us, and sending us overseas to drop bombs for the sake of our oil companies, and so on. We're better off knowing because we can't do something about it unless we know there is something that something needs to be done about.

But, on the other hand, it's a shame that we live in a world in which this sort of thing really happens. That old quote, mistakenly attributed to Frederic Bastiat, is exactly right: "When goods don't cross borders, armies will." One day, society will realize that free trade is the only feasible way to avoid war. The question is not if people will realize it, the question is how much death and stupidity must society wage before it finally learns?