dence from Russia. Will the United States be asked to providerntroops to help Moscow recreate its empire under the U.N.rnflag, or will technical and financial support suffice?rnJohnson admits that China poses a problem, but he naivelyrnassumes that if given more responsibility in the world community,rnChina “will act more responsibly in consequence.”rnJohnson would also expand the U.N. Security Council to includernGermany, Japan, and India. Yet the more membersrnthere are in this “inner cabinet of the world community,” thernharder it will be to reach a consensus. Accustomed to thinkingrnin narrow Cold War terms where ideology was paramount,rnJohnson grossly underestimates the variety of issues that can dividernnations.rnYet in his much heralded work Modern Times, Johnson wasrnhostile to the Wilsonian world view, denouncing proponents ofrnthe League of Nations as “quasi-pacifists” bent on creating “arnsense of security which is wholly fictitious.” He rejected thernconcept of collective security, writing “nations eschew war exceptrnwhen their vital interests were at stake. How could frontiersrnbe indefinitely guaranteed by anything or anybody?” Johnson,rnlike so many other historians, has a realistic view of the pastrnbut is unable to translate this into a defense against current fadsrnof a quixotic nature.rnJohnson does see economic rivalry as a growing problem, butrnhe glosses over its importance by repeating the tired cliche ofrn”free trade.” If “history shows that trade wars have a depressingrntendency to erupt into fighting wars,” as Johnson believes,rndoes this not mean that the economic stakes are high? Toornhigh for responsible statesmen to ignore by adopting a laissezfairernattitude? Today, manufacturing in strategic industries isrncharacterized by imperfect competition, externalities, andrneconomies of scale. The gains from market dominance are notrnjust from immediate income but also from enhanced nationalrnsecurity and faster future growth. Thus the economic argumentrnfor “free trade” has lost its force while the political argumentrnfor strategic-industrial independence remains.rnThis leaves Johnson with the old argument from RichardrnCobden that free trade is “the grand panacea” under whose influencern”the motive for large and mighty empires, for giganticrnarmies and great fleets would die away.” This has always beenrnthe real appeal of free-trade theory. Yet prominent free-tradernadvocates like Charles Kindleberger and Robert Keohane havernconceded that a major power needs to act as the self-sacrificingrn”leader” to hold such a system together: one that will turnrna blind eye to the predatory policies of others, that will unilaterallyrnkeep its markets open and watch passively as its ownrnstrength is eaten away “for the good of the global system.” ThernUnited States has played this role for several decades, and therncosts have risen to the breaking point. It is, of course, easier tornbuild a consensus if the United States shoulders the burden ofrnintervention. But it is not true that only America has thernpower to act. The Europeans could have handled Bosnia, andrnthe oil-rich Islamic states could have come to the aid of theirrncoreligionists in nearby Somalia. But they refused. The costsrnwere deemed too high for projects that did not touch their nationalrninterests.rnIt is a credit to American compassion that the United Statesrnhas been in the forefront of emergency relief efforts. ButrnJohnson’s agenda goes far beyond this. He recognizes that thernproblems of Third World nations are of their own making, ofrn”bad, incompetent or corrupt government . . . or no government.”rnHe speaks glibly of a “new imperialism” whereby thernU.N. Security Council assumes responsibility for hundreds ofrnmillions of people. Such a scheme is almost certainly futile.rnBut even if it were not futile, American leaders have no right tornspend the nation’s blood and treasure on massive ventures unrelatedrnto the needs of the people they represent. If they forget,rnthe public should remind them. Somalia provided an objectrnlesson in this regard when a strong political backlashrndeveloped after a number of American soldiers were killed inrngun battles with the forces of warlord Mohammed FarrahrnAidid. The media tried to portray Somalia as another Vietnam.rnBut the two are not the same. In principle (though fortunatelyrnnot in scale), Somalia was worse. North Vietnam was a communistrnregime backed by the Soviet Union, and when therncommunists won in 1975 (after the Americans withdrew andrnCongress made draconian cuts in aid to South Vietnam) thernSoviets moved bombers and warships into the former Americanrnbases. It was a part of the global chess game that bore directlyrnon American security.rnCommunism has now collapsed almost everywhere, but thernleft remains opposed to any American military action to protectrnnational strategic interests. Thus the left opposed the PersianrnGulf War because it was a struggle for the control of oil. Andrnit is exactly because America has no strategic interests in Somaliarnthat made intervention so attractive to the Clinton administration.rnIntervention was to be a humanitarian act of “nation-rnbuilding” under the U.N. flag, an act of self-sacrifice tornuplift the poor in a new liberal world order. It was very much inrnline with the trustee system Johnson wanted to revive.rnBut the League of Nations trustee system, like the older systemrnof imperialism, saw nations administer territory in accordrnwith their strategic interests. The best examples are Britain’srnuse of league mandates to control Middle East oil fields andrnJapan’s use of mandates in the Mariana and Caroline islands tornform the outer bulwarks of its Pacific empire. When the costsrnof empire became too high or they were defeated in war, therntrustees withdrew. In contrast, the costs of altruistic interventionrnalways end up being too high. Though the loss of anyrnAmerican GI is a tragedy to friends and family, there is an unequalledrnhonor in having given one’s life for one’s country. Butrnbecause those who were killed in Somalia were supporting arnpolicy that explicitly served no American interest, they seem tornhave died for nothing. And that is what sparked the backlash.rnThe final appeal made by advocates of an expandedrnUnited Nations supported by the United States is the allegedrnfear that failure of American action means that the country isrnlapsing back into isolationism. This would be a sign thatrndemocracy itself is fatally flawed if it cannot rally itself on behalfrnof global leadership. Yet the United States has proved itsrnability to act forcefully when its real interests are at stake. ThernUnited States has fought just as many wars as any other majorrnpower—and has a better win-loss record than most. The massivernpublic support that manifested itself during the Gulf Warrnattests to the strength of the American patriotic spirit. The realrndanger comes if the United States is dragged into a series ofrnfruitless conflicts without benefit to the country. It is then thatrnpublic opinion becomes disenchanted and turns “isolationist,”rnthus undermining the ability of the country to maintain thernmeans and the will to defend its own interests. True conservativesrnare realists who understand that American blood, treasure,rnand moral energy are too precious to be wasted on barrenrnliberal “principles” unconnected to America’s actual needs.rnrn30/CHRONICLESrnrnrn