The War Party Tantrum
Voters keep rejecting the colonial project, but institutional America won't take no for an answer
Niall Ferguson, Scottish historian and Hoover Institution Fellow, published a Bloomberg column yesterday mourning the death of the imperial project. Americans are incorrigible in their selfishness, it seems, insisting on domestic investment when they should be volunteering to die in faraway deserts and jungles with smiles on their faces, like 19th century Britons:
Most Americans have no great enthusiasm for spending large parts of their lives in far-flung hot, poor and dangerous countries… Today, fully 57% of Republican voters, and 51% of Independents, say that “US interests are better served by using our resources to improve life for ordinary Americans at home.” Just a third agree that “US interests are best served by supporting freedom and democracy around the world when they are under threat.” I am with the minority on this question…
Ferguson lustily supported the War on Terror and never forgave George W. Bush for failing to commit enough lives to colonize Iraq, which in our combat-squeamish hands became, he lamented, “a Haiti on the Tigris.” Now he’s beside himself that a population not even being asked to send its own sons and daughters to death refuses to back open-ended war in Ukraine. America’s “attention deficit disorder,” he complains, “is now so severe that the public expresses impatience with wars it is merely being asked to support with money and material.”
Ferguson reads like a parody of a U.K. imperialist, like Colonel Mustard reading The White Man’s Burden on endless loop. The tone of recent columns suggests he’s never interacted socially with someone worth less than two million dollars. In September, he conceded the U.S. made commitments to Ukraine totaling $76.8 billion, and “like anything involving the word ‘billion,’ that sounds like a lot of money.” However, he wrote, that paltry sum “amounts to just 0.33% of U.S. GDP,” a pittance compared to wars in Vietnam (five times that percentage) or Iraq (four times).