On Thursday 6th April, the United States launched 59 cruise missiles at President Assad’s Shayrat airbase, directly attacking the Syrian government for the first time in the conflict. According to local media, 4 children were among the 9 civilians killed. Russia, who had servicemen present at the time of the attack, were not happy. Other UN member states described the bombing as a violation of international law.
Nonetheless, establishment politicians were united in their gushing approval. The Tory wets were all in support. So were Labour moderates. And the fluffy Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, heaped praise on President Trump’s decision in an article for the Guardian.
Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that the liberal elite support military intervention – it is, after all, a knee-jerk, pseudo-humanitarian, big government initiative that has cost the British taxpayer £30 billion since 9/11. Oh, and global terrorism has concurrently risen by 400%.
But why on earth do the likes of Donald Trump and the Tory right support military intervention? As conservatives, we know that people get angry when the government spends their money on things they profoundly disagree with, even more so when those measures are counterproductive. But for some reason, the modern right – whilst acutely aware of the moral and practical failures of the collectivist approach in most areas – actively support its methods when it comes to defence.
The armed forces are branches of the public sector – tentacles of the bloated state. Unlike the private sector – which is funded and mandated through voluntary transactions – the public sector is funded through compulsory taxation and mandated by majority rule. And it is this that invalidates its mechanisms in matters of conscience, such as military intervention.
If we applied the pillars of modern conservatism (small government, individual choice, patriotism) across the board, then the United Kingdom’s foreign policy would be non-interventionist, with our armed forces explicitly reserved for defence of the realm. We would, however, respect the views of our hawkish brethren, and allow them to fight abroad in a privately-funded, personal capacity.
However, the right currently has a blind spot, an ideological impurity. The Conservative Party must start pushing for a defence policy that is effective, resourceful, considered and in the national interest. Or in other words, ‘conservative’.
Charlie Richards is a political blogger
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty