Here on the 87th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s declaration of war that ushered the United States into World War I, I think it is appropriate to resurrect some superb commentary from the great Ludwig von Mises in his book, Omnipotent Government:
The fateful error that frustrated all the endeavors to safeguard peace was precisely that people did not grasp the fact that only within a world of pure, perfect, and unhampered capitalism are there no incentives for aggression and conquest. President Wilson was guided by the idea that only autocratic governments are war-like, while democracies cannot derive any profit from conquest and therefore cling to peace. What President Wilson and the other founders of the League of Nations did not see was that this is valid only within a system of private ownership of the means of production, free enterprise, and unhampered market economy. Where there is no economic freedom, things are entirely different. In our world of etatism, in which every nation is eager to insulate itself and to strive toward autarky, it is quite wrong to assert that no man can derive any gain from conquest.
I cite these points because I’ve grown tired of the endless neocon-Wilsonian mantras about making the world safe for democracy, which, for these neocons, entails imposing U.S. will upon whole regions of the world. Imposing procedural democratic rules in the absence of economic freedom, at home or abroad, and in the absence of any cultural appreciation of the role of freedom in human life, will make the world safe for no one.