The following is a response to Greg Lawson's insightful comment about Theodore Roosevelt.
Theodore Roosevelt may have been a believer in “Machtpolitik,” but for all the flaws typically mentioned with respect to such views, the world does seem to require some relative stability. Clearly, there will always be problems and an element of anarchy in contrast to the views of legalistic liberal internationalists who believe law will solve all problems if adhered to. At the same time, having a power that can tilt in ways that keep “Great Power” conflict of the sort seen in 1914 and 1939 in check, must be seen as mostly, if not absolutely, a positive thing.
It wasn't that long ago, when the conservative mantra was "don't immanentize the eschaton!" Boy, how times have changed.
The wisdom in not "trying to create heaven here on Earth" is of course, the inherent acceptance that we are mere human. Today however, the fatal conceit has convinced conservatives to micro-manage the globe. A radical departure from the Old Right.
With that in mind, one must raise the question whether the complexity of global affairs necessitates a strong Executive to deal with rapidly developing issues with speed, discretion, and, perhaps depending on the circumstances, secrecy.
If you stop and think about it for a moment, "a strong Executive" is a radical change from our original principles. After 234 years of Lockean natural rights, we're being asked to adopt Hobbes instead. Up with Hobbes, down with Locke!
Sorry, but a "strong Executive" is simply too risky. Power has a horrible track record.
It is a perennial question of history whether a Republic can maintain it’s republican character as its interests expand to include larger and larger geographic areas thus forcing the republic into the realm of geopolitical calculation. History has not given us a conclusive answer at this point.
I'd say history shows that a Republic can't "maintain it's republican character as its interests expand to include larger and larger geographic areas." So the real argument is then, Republican Virtue vs. Geopolitical Calculation.
This is why the Old Right is antiwar. Geopolitical calculation is just another fatal conceit. Technocrats are not gods.
However, to attempt to shed the geopolitical responsibility once attained cannot be the response for those that want to retain the Republic. Rather, we should reexamine where our lost virtue has gone, for it is the lack of virtue, more than any other single cause, that erodes the ability of man to freely govern himself.
Our virtue was lost when we replaced Locke with Hobbes. For the non-nerds among us, let's look at the main differences.
John Locke vs. Thomas Hobbes
Locke: Man is by nature a social animal who mostly keeps his promises and honors his obligations. Generally, life is peaceful, good, and pleasant.
Hobbes: Man by nature is not a social animal, but a nasty, brutish animal. Society exists only by the power of the state.
Locke: Men are born free, equal and independent.
Hobbes: To survive, humans must obey the commands of religious and government rulers.
Locke: Humans know what is right and wrong, and are capable of knowing what is lawful and unlawful well enough to resolve conflicts. In particular, they are capable of telling the difference between what is theirs and what belongs to someone else.
Hobbes: Our knowledge of objective, true answers on such questions is so feeble, we cannot resolve practical disputes. Property exists solely by the will of the state and disputes are resolved accordingly.
Locke: Men have rights by their nature.
Hobbes: You concede your rights to the government (in return for your life).
Locke: Peace is the norm, as it should be. For the most part, we live together in peace by refraining from violating each other’s property and persons.
Hobbes: Men cannot know good and evil, and can only obtain peace through subjection to the authority of a common ruler.
Locke: Civil society precedes the state, both morally and historically. Society creates order and grants the state legitimacy.
Hobbes: Civil society is a creation of the state.
Locke: The only legitimate role of the state is to guarantee justice.
Hobbes: The concept of the just use of force is meaningless or cannot be known. Just use of force is whatever force is authorized
Liberty is the mother of virtue. Liberty creates self-sustaining order. Just look around you, it's the state who creates chaos.
We need to slow down this grand experiment in Big Government and be conservative. You know, as in cut back and play it safe.