John Stossel

There is no cure for military inefficiency any more than there's a cure for waste at the post office. The point is that we should rely on government central planning as little as possible.

Today, some people want the military to contain China, chase terrorists, train foreign militaries to chase terrorists, protect sea lanes, keep oil cheap, stop genocide, protect foreign states from aggression, spread goodwill through humanitarian missions, respond to natural disasters, secure the Internet, police the Mexican border and transform failed states into democracies.

Politicians have a hard time saying no to such noble-sounding goals. But the list is endless, which is part of the problem.

Transforming states -- nation-building -- is the worst form of central planning.

Running for president 11 years ago, George W. Bush called for a "humble" foreign policy and said, "I don't think that our troops ought to be used for nation-building." Yet four years later, he was nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Candidate Bush, rather than President Bush, had the right idea. We have tried to build a working democracy in Afghanistan for more than 10 years now. Have we won hearts and minds? No. A recent poll of Afghans found just 43 percent had a favorable impression of the United States, way down from 83 percent in 2005.

Nations are too complex for outsiders to "build." Nations are organic bottom-up things. Saying no to nation-building is not isolationism.

Ron Paul is in good company when he says an interventionist foreign policy makes enemies and provokes danger to ourselves. It's time we stopped confusing defense with policing the world.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate