War is bad. Defending against war, that can be justified. But starting a war, well that is presumably very bad. Not that starting a war could never be justified. Just that the bar should be set really high. Not it sort of seems like war might help something. No you, and those watching you, should really worry that you are accepting excuses to start a war for other reasons.
Among all the policy arguments I accept, the above argument against war seems among the most solid. And among all the things policy can get wrong, war seems among the worst. So for me, war policy tends to trump other considerations. I haven’t said much about how I vote on this blog, but now I’ll say: I often vote on US presidents primarily based on their war stance. I voted against Bush in ’04, and and I’ll vote against Obama in ’12, because they both started wars without meeting the high standards I hold for justifiably starting a war.
I’ve argued before that the US should cut its vast military spending in half. Our spending half the world’s military budget seems to embolden us to start wars – this makes me all the more eager for that cut.
Added: Bryan Caplan has long had a similar position.