James says I have exaggerated Peter Lawler’s charge against “isolationists” when I wrote:

[t]he idea that the central complaint among non-interventionists on the right is that U.S. wars are driven by anything so rational as pursuit of new markets is just hilariously wrong…

Now Lawler said plainly that he thinks so-called Midwestern isolationists indulge in a postpolitical fantasy, according to which “greedy capitalists” cause wars and that wars can therefore be cured by somehow eliminating said capitalists. It may be true that my description disfigured Lawler’s original statement, but only in that it tried to make sense of a nonsensical, false statement. Allow me to rephrase: the idea that non-interventionists on the right believe that wars are caused by “greedy capitalists” is hilariously wrong. James says that I didn’t like Lawler’s linking of “anti-capitalism” to isolationism, but the issue isn’t whether I like it or not–it simply isn’t true that the people Lawler was criticizing believe what he claims they believe.

Even when certain “paleo” critics recognize a close relationship between economic globalization and U.S. hegemony, or criticize the “empire of consumption,” they do not hold the views about war Lawler attributes to them. Indeed, a recurring theme in our criticism of most military interventions over the last two decades has been how draining and wasteful of American resources these have been. Quite often, we have criticized interventions because they have gained America nothing but casualties, debt and global hostility. On the whole, we have emphasized the ideological forces propelling the U.S. into one deployment after another. More basically, non-interventionists don’t disagree that the United States should be prepared to fight wars, and many of us consider a high level of preparedness for defensive warfare necessary to avoid entering into larger, costlier wars. Lawler’s remarks on these points were wrong and misguided from start to finish.

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