The Corner

Today’s Editorials

We have two very fine editorials on NRO today. 

On the new agreements with Iraq, I am less enthusiastic than my colleagues (who, to be sure, are not exactly breaking out the champagne).  I contend in an article just posted on the homepage that the main problem we have is that the Iraqis don’t like us very much — and that’s a major, major problem, since victory will be determined not by whether Iraq establishes a lasting democracy but by whether Iraq ends up as a reliable U.S. ally against jihadist regimes and networks (necessary to preserve the blow that’s been dealt al Qaeda, and necessary down the line against Iran).

On the G-20 Summit and the enhanced prospects for a global, supra-national overhaul of economic regulations, I agree wholeheartedly with the editorial’s economic points in opposition.  The editors argue, for example:

It has become necessary, in order to ward off straw men, for conservatives to stress that we do not favor the abolition of all regulation. But global regulatory regimes tend toward more regulation than is needed or wise. They remove incentives for countries to make market-based improvements to existing regulations, and the bureaucracies charged with overseeing them inevitably fall prey to mission creep.

Just so.  Still, I would add a more basic objection the editorial does not make.  We are a constitutional republic dedicated to the proposition that free people enjoy self-determination in the details, great and small, of their lives.  That’s the main reason why we favor the free-market:  it promotes economic liberty rather than having a governmental entity pick winners and losers. 

Global regulatory regimes that shift control from the several states and the American people to other nations, transnational bureaucrats, and supra-national tribunals defy constitutional limits on government.  Indeed, our Constitution theoretically (albeit too infrequently in practice) rejects regulatory regimes that shift control from the states and the people to the federal government. 

It is important to press the constitutional argument here.  Objections based on economic incentives are important, but their persuasive force ebbs and flows with circumstances.  To the contrary, the constitutional objection remains always the same.

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