OPINIONSrnUnjust Warrnby Gregory Pavlikrn’War is the trade of kings.”rn—John DrydenrnThe Costs of War:rnAmerica’s Pyrrhic Victoriesrnedited by ]ohn V. DensonrnNew Brunswick: Transaction;rn494 pp., $49.95rnThe single greatest force for consolidationrnof the national state is war. Arntruism, but one that American conservativesrnhave been loath to admit. Ideologicallyrncommitted to anticommunism, thernconservative movement fell into locksteprnwith liberal troops in the Cold War, inrnthe process absorbing liberal platitudesrnand integrating them into their ownrnworldview. The old wisdom, expressedrnby the high Federalist Fisher Ames, thatrna “military government can make a nationrngreat, but it can not make themrnfree,” fell by the wayside and, judging byrnthe editorial stand taken in NationalrnReview and the Weekly Standard, hasrnremained there.rnThe neoconserv’ative dream of empirernbears no resemblance to the principledrnopposition to war and militarism of olderrnconservatives—whom William ApplemanrnWilliams labeled the only true noninterventionistsrnof the 20th century.rnWhether the close relationship betweenrnconservative ideologues and the expansivernmilitary state will remain intact is anrnopen question; state patronage and respectabilityrnin the eyes of a liberal/neoconservativernestablishment may trumprnwhatever limited commitment to principlernexists on the right. On the otherrnhand, as conservatism in America becomesrnincreasingly divorced from placernand circumstance, continuing its em-rnGregory Pavlik is the editor of ForgottenrnLessons: Selected Essays of JohnrnT. Flynn (Foundation for EconomicrnEducation).rnbrace of each previous set of liberal reformsrnand ideological spasms, it continuesrnto produced outraged voices of principledrndissent. One likely result will be arnrethinking of conservative support forrn7merican foreign policy.rnTo a certain extent, this process has alreadyrnbegun. In recent years, some effortrnhas been made to restore the anti-war critiquernof previous generations of rightwingersrnto its place of centralit)’ in Americanrnconservative thought. The Costs ofrnWar is a part of that project, and certainlyrnthe most comprehensive work of itsrnkind. The antholog’ centers on a seriesrnof papers delivered at a conference of thernsame title hosted by the Ludwig von MisesrnInstitute in 1994. The contiibutionsrncover a range of topics, which ratherrnloosely include studies of American involvementrnin war, analyses of the longtermrneffects of an activist foreign policy,rnand specific theoretical papers examiningrnthe costs and causes of war. Yet thernsingle element that holds sway is the sociopoliticalrntransformation promoted byrna belligerent foreign policy. In particular,rnthe costs to republican institutions,rndecentralized government, individualrnrights, the national economy, and socialrnnorms are measured in terms of thernchanges effected upon them.rnAll of the chapters dealing with particularrnwars and the issues surroundingrnthem are instructive. The Costs of Warrnillustrates a number of important lessons,rnmost notably the utility of war for businessrnaggrandizement and the stiengtheningrnof state power over private domesticrnaffairs as a consequence of war. A slightlyrndifferent approach is taken by thernlate Murray Rothbard in his chapter,rn”America’s Two Just Wars.” Those twornconflicts—the wars for American andrnSouthern independence—were largelyrndefensive and decentialist. The real importancernof Rothbard’s paper is the attentionrnit pays to classical international lawrnand to the primacy that classical internationalrnjurists placed on neutrality. Thernmodern interventionist creates a largelyrnmythical version of a conflict, drawing arnstark contiast between the forces of Goodrnand the forces of Evil. According to therninterventionist logic, once the forces ofrnGood have been identified, it is incumbentrnon all moral peoples everywherernto intervene on their behalf. Yet, asrnRothbard notes, “classical internationalrnlaw . . . was virtually the opposite. In arntheory which tried to limit war, neutralityrnwas considered a positive virtue.” Thisrnis, of course, in stark contrast to the interventionistrncondemnation of neutrality asrnsomehow morally delinquent, if not odious.rnNot only was neutrality itself respected,rnbut neutral states had rights, includingrnthe right to trade fireely with anyrnand all belligerents. Rothbard shows thatrnmodern international law, which doesrn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn