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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Why Americans Don’t Invade Canada

Trade and migration have made us one society


In this new and excellent Learn Liberty video, philosopher Peter Jaworski asks “What is war good for?” Although he concedes that the set of justifiable wars isn’t empty, he rightly argues that the case for war should be held to an enormous burden of proof. Almost all real-world wars are good for nothing — or worse.

I have only one objection to what Peter says in the video. It’s a small objection or, really, it’s an addition. Countries whose peoples trade extensively with each other are less likely to go to war with each other not only because people in those countries don’t wish to disrupt the productive and mutually advantageous economic relationships they have with each other.

Countries whose peoples trade extensively with each other are less likely to go to war with each other also because these peoples together, through their trade with each other, become integrated into one larger society.

The more extensive is trade (and migration) across political boundaries, the less do political boundaries define social boundaries between the trading peoples. For example, Americans and Canadians are highly unlikely to go to war with each other not only indeed, not even chiefly because neither Americans nor Canadians wish to disrupt the mutually advantageous economic arrangements that now unite them. Americans and Canadians are highly unlikely to go to war with each other because, in fact, Americans and Canadians even (if somewhat less so) the Quebecois are really part of the same society.

Cross-posted from Cafe Hayek.


  • Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a Mercatus Center Board Member, and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University.