Open borders advocate Bryan Caplan talks about good and bad arguments for pacifism in his blog post How Not to Be a Pacifist. The blog post talks about the Vietnam War and the morality of US intervention in the conflict. Caplan argues that while there were strong humanitarian reasons to oppose the communist regime in Vietnam, these ends would have been better served through a policy of open borders in the US for refugees from Vietnam. He bolsters his case by considering the 300 days of open borders between North and South Vietnam.
The case that emigration is an important weapon in the battle against communist and other tyrannical regimes has been made elsewhere as well, but Caplan’s argument adds a new twist by comparing open borders with wars of liberation. My paraphrasing of his argument would be that if you think that a humanitarian injustice justifies a military intervention (war of liberation) you should also think it justifies open borders for the victims of that injustice. With this in mind, let’s look at the chart of possibilities for a person’s attitudes towards wars of liberation and open borders:
|Rows represent attitudes to wars of liberations, columns represent attitude to open borders for victims
|Support open borders for victims of tyrannical regimes
|Oppose open borders for victims of tyrannical regimes
|Support wars of liberation
|Uncommon, but consistent. Found among some neoconservatives and internationalists (liberal and libertarian). Example: My co-blogger Nathan Smith (his views on Iraq)
|Common, but inconsistent. Include significant fraction of mainstream US conservatives
|Oppose wars of liberation
|Uncommon, but consistent. Example: Bryan Caplan (blog post)
|Uncommon, but consistent. Found among paleoconservatives, some isolationist liberals. Example: Steve Sailer (article)
The top right quadrant — support wars of liberation but oppose immigration — is the most interesting because it seems prima facie inconsistent, yet is widely held by a large number of people who identify themselves as conservative in the United States. Unfortunately, I don’t have any convincing theory or idea to explain this inconsistency.