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May 1, 2009

Cato Institute director criticizes interventionist U.S. policy

[img id="77678" align="alignleft"] Chris Preble, director of foreign policy for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, criticized interventionist U.S. foreign policy at a talk in Pick Hall Tuesday.

Preble explained that U.S. policy since the Cold War has favored interventionism to deter rivals and provide for U.S. safety. “We are the world's policeman,” he said, “and this was by design.”

Although he argued that rare instances, such as direct attacks, make intervention necessary, Preble stressed that predetermined criteria are not enough to determine when the use of U.S. power is appropriate. In the complexity of world politics, he said, this policy often leads the United States to intervene in situations about which it is not sufficiently knowledgeable. This invites wrath on both sides of the issue, ultimately working against U.S. interests.

Preble argued that interventionist policy is detrimental for other countries as well. Expecting routine assistance, they resist building their own defenses. Terrorism, he said, is often a result of their citizens’ attempt to have a say in these interventions when they are given no direct voice. Additionally, intervention fails to address the underlying causes of conflicts within these countries. Preble said that that many countries hold the underlying belief that U.S. intervention is their “destiny,” an attitude he declared “inappropriate to modern politics.”

Preble stressed that military size and funding, especially in the army and Marine Corps, should be decreased. Unlike many critics of intervention, Preble said the common argument for military decrease, which proposes that current military spending is unsustainable, was likely false. However, he added that to do so without changing any other aspect of policy “would be worse than doing nothing at all,” and that it was also necessary to change U.S. viewpoints on intervention.