War frequently leads to large increases in taxes, regulation, and government spending—both for the military and ostensibly unrelated domestic programs. Conservatives should not ignore that war is the most prominent cause, directly or indirectly, of the massive welfare state that has been erected in the United States. Many conservatives today might argue that despite the conflict-induced ill effects of ballooning government, war is sometimes necessary for US security. However, this analysis shows that even most of the nation’s big wars were unneeded, foolish, or counterproductive—particularly the post–World War II prosecution of small imperial brushfire wars and nation building.

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