Understanding the Moral Rationalization for Foreign Interventions

Sen. John McCain in Afghanistan

Brian Larson of the American Conservative magazine dug up an old profile of Sen. John McCain’s stance on the use of military force abroad. The context is different, but the principle is the same used for the domestic intervention into the lives of Americans. It highlights a reason why the scope of government power continues to expand.

Quoting Justin Logan of the Cato Institute, “while most politicians looked at injustice in a foreign land and asked, “Why intervene?” McCain seemed to look at that same injustice and ask himself, ‘Why not?'”

McCain’s attitude reflects the dominant cultural attitude to accept the moral argument that we owe our lives to others, that our lives only have meaning to the extent that someone sacrifices for another. If you have the ability to stop an injustice, you have a duty to act, not because the person in danger is of any importance to you, but because your life is to be of benefit to anyone but yourself.

This idea is exemplified by McCain’s notion that we must have reasons not to go searching for monsters to destroy. To do anything less would be immoral, supposedly.