Richard Ebeling emails:
I participated in the May 10, 2016 “Libertarian Angle,” webinar sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation, with the Foundation’s president, Jacob G. Hornberger, on the topic: “The Interventionism of the Two World Wars, Part I.”
In part I, the focus is on the world before the First World War in America and in Europe. Throughout the nineteenth century, American foreign military interventions were few in number and duration (except for the Mexican War). In Europe, following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, wars were limited in their duration and their destruction, at least when fought between the European powers.
This was due to the prevailing political philosophy of the time – classical liberalism. Though never practiced consistently or fully anywhere, its idea that governments were meant to respect and protect the private rights of their citizens to life, liberty and property under impartial rule of law, assured a greater primacy to the individual over the state.
In international affairs, this led to international agreements on the “rules of war” – the treatment of civilians and non-combatants, and to prisoners-of-war. It also formalized rules and limits on military engagement, even if never always followed and implemented in practice.
But in the last decades of the nineteenth century, counter-revolutionary forces emerged and gained momentum: socialism, nationalism, and imperialism. These helped set the stage for the cataclysm that broke out in the summer of 1914.
The webinar runs for about 35 minutes.
Part 2 here.