Veni, Vidi, Vici


New at Reason: Who's left to invade? Brian Doherty surveys mankind from China to Peru, and opts out of the empire.

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  1. FUCKING ETA!!!!

  2. Why so sure it was them, JB?

    Fucking assholes whoever, anyway.

  3. fyodor,

    Spain was saying it was ETA at the time I posted; now its perhaps Al Qaeda, or ETA & Al Qaeda splinters; or something else.

  4. A lot can change in 24 minutes! 🙂

  5. fyodor,

    Yes. I’ve been on those very trains.

  6. The perils of mass transit in the Terrorist Age.

  7. My brother studied in Spain for several months in college. He said that one of the bombs went off just a few blocks from where he used to live. This will sound bad to some here, but it actually upset him more than 9/11. 9/11 was obviously awful, but he didn’t know any of the people hurt, he hadn’t ever been to the Pentagon or WTC. But he knows people who live right by where this happened. He used to walk those streets and take those trains. 9/11 upset him, but this upset him even more. I can understand why.

    I know some people would call my brother unpatriotic for that, but when you know the people and places affected by a bombing, nationality doesn’t matter. Those are familiar people and places, regardless of national allegiance.

  8. Re: the linked article

    Really really poor. Same things we’ve heard over and over again, rephrased with maximum smarminess. Thanks, Reason.

  9. nobody,

    The danger of mass ANYTHING nowadays!


    Well that’s only human nature, we care most about things and people with whom we share some connection. (Adam Smith hypothesized that an Englishmen would probably give up his pinky but no more to save all the people in China.) And I could see why having been there and known the people there might affect someone more than national identity. It’s pretty fricken sad and abysmal wherever this shit happens.

  10. I have also traveled on those very train lines. The train I was on was shut down for several hours while the police deactivated a threat.

    I remember wondering, how easy a target a train would be if you really wanted to kill people. But also what could you possibly hope to achieve?

    Either ETA or the Al Qaida. How would it possibly serve their cause to bomb civilians? I would think it would hurt their cause if anything.

  11. fyodor,

    Yes. I fully expected walking bombs roaming U.S. malls after 9/11. I still do. Won’t keep me from shopping, though.

  12. Rudyard Kipling tried to warn us about taking up “The White Man’s Burden” but Mckinley and TR liked the idea of an empire too much I guess.

  13. Excuse me, but while REASON has never exactly been militarist, they’ve also never seemingly been left partisan. This article seem like they could have come from Salon or the Nation in some aspects. The article makes the same basic assumptions about the reasons for the war, and the outcomes now, that places like make. Obviously the columns are up to their writers, but i’ve noticed a definite shift in Reason’s politics ever since the Iraq war, even on some matters of economics even, libertarians aren’t *supposed* to be center-left. Mr. Doherty seems to be practically sneering at the idea that maybe we could and should remove homicidal communist or theocratic dictators who have now, or are in the final stages of building nuclear bombs. I don’t expect Reason to cheerlead for either side, but they seem downright contemptuous of conservative motives and actions.

  14. Maybe that’s because Iraq was not threat.

  15. Do you feel so glib about Iran and North Korea that you’d take away the use of force because we may or may not have done the right thing for the wrong reasons in Iraq?

  16. Matt W,

    The current print issue has an article by someone who backed the war and goes to Iraq to find that just about everyone is glad Saddam is gone except a few formerly subsidized artists (the writer also finds the sitation disheartening for democratization prospects, though he concludes on a hopeful note). So I’d say Reason’s editorial policy is to cover the full range of opinions of libertarians on the matter. And Doherty’s perspectice certainly counts among those. I would direct your disagreements at he personally, not Reason as a whole.

  17. Matt,

    Residents of H&R are pacifists, with a few notable exceptions. The genuinely reasonable principle of not initiating force has morphed into a 21st Century version of 19th Century isolationism. Talk loudly, and carry a small stick.

    Let the flaming begin.

  18. >He gave up his WMDs after seeing what we did to Saddam. (Except that he apparently was negotiating to do so four years before we pummeled Baghdad.)

  19. Can we invade carbohydrates? That particular evil seems to be on quite a few minds these days.

  20. Who’s left to invade?

    Hmm… Well, Syria is a good suggestion. So is Saudi Arabia. Personally, I think the “war on terror” will come to a head there.

    Seriously, Reason editorial staff, stop running this crap. I already neglected to renew my subscription because of your preditable idiocy on foreign policy. I’m ready to stop reading the website too, and that’s free.

  21. B.P.
    “Can we invade carbohydrates?”

    Yes. And we will destroy them using the A(tkins)-Bomb.

  22. “The genuinely reasonable principle of not initiating force has morphed into a 21st Century version of 19th Century isolationism.”

    The 19th century was hardly isolationist.

  23. I have to agree with Matt W. The perceived position of this site has drifted to the left, ever since the war and almost makes the implicit assumption that to be libertarian is to be anti-war … anti-any-war.

    The libertarian position, as I have known it, is that protection of the commons is one of the most legitimate functions of government.

    Whether the Iraq War is justified is based on one’s assessment of the threat and the best way to counteract that threat. In the president’s assessment the war was justified. In my assessment, too, it is justified.

    If hoodlums are robbing and beating people in the neighborhood and they stand on the corner every night intimidating all into staying indoors, I want someone to come and remove them from the street corner. And, in essence, this is what is being done.

    And the fact that we may wind up deposing one of the most vicious dictators with an Iraqi democracy can only make the world better.

    This is NOT blind adventure. This reaction is well centered in our national culture. This is reminiscent of our response to the barbary pirates almost 200 years ago.

    And the rebuilding of Iraq is similar to that of Germany and Japan after WWII. If the Democrats placed country above politics, we would have the time to see that it goes as well also. If it fails because we only had 1 year instead of 5 to complete rebuilding, then I lay that at the door of the left.

    Libertarianism is based on the assumption of a well ordered world where all can get along and the terrorism of the few don’t intimidate the freedom of the many.

    I’ll support the president if he decides to hit Syria or Iran or North Korea also. The cold war is over, eliminating terrorism and rogue states is the war of our time.

    Now if you liberals want to discuss areas where the administration has over reacted and needlessly curtailed our freedoms, I’ll quickly switch sides and join the debate against this administration.

    But on the issue of the war and its justification, anyone with compassion for Iraqis, anyone with a belief that we have a right to protect our civilization, anyone with a world view that recognizes the leadership responsibility that we have inherited can clearly see that the Iraqi intervention was not done with malice toward the Iraqi people, was not done because the president enjoys putting soldiers in harms and was not done in a legal vaccuum.

  24. “But on the issue of the war and its justification, anyone with compassion for Iraqis, anyone with a belief that we have a right to protect our civilization, anyone with a world view that recognizes the leadership responsibility that we have inherited can clearly see that the Iraqi intervention was not done with malice toward the Iraqi people, was not done because the president enjoys putting soldiers in harms and was not done in a legal vaccuum.”

    Goodness, I thought I had all those things and yet somehow I still can’t agree with your point. Though I agree it wasn’t done with malice towards the Iraqi people, since the neocons really don’t care what happens to them. No it wasn’t done in a legal vaccum but that doesn’t make it legal. And again, while Bush probably doesn’t enjoy putting soldiers in harms way, he probably doesn’t give a rip about them.

    Meanwhile, Reason leaning towards the left? I wish, says the liberal. I think, maybe, just maybe, some libertarians at Reason think the Iraqi War was a bad idea. Doesn’t make them liberals. But if they want to come to our party, they’re more than welcome. Just don’t bring Nader, ‘kay?

  25. Murrel,
    I supported the war in Afghanistan to drain a swamp. I opposed the War in Iraq because I did not believe it was in our best interests. I thought it would unnecessarily antagonize our allies (especially if there were no WMDs), stretch our military thin and do little to reduce the risk of terrorism and democracy would not blossom when the seed was planted by an outside invader by force. I hope I was wrong and Bush would be able to create his beacon of democracy. So far the jury is out on the beacon for democracy, but the rest so far doesn’t look good. I believe that now that we have invaded, it is our responsibility to clean up the mess and ensure a stable transition to new, more liberal governance.

    As far as cutting and running for Iraq, Bush earlier made his desire know that he wanted to be out of Iraq by the summer. Thankfully, that doesn’t look like it will be the case.

    I would’ve supported a war against North Korea before Iraq because they are more of a threat to us. I would not support a war vesus Iran because I believe that would undermine the democratic grumblings of their people and would only further entrench the extremists. Syria is a cipher and a waste of American time and manpower. A war against Syria would be the definition of a blind adventure.

    Is sympathy for the people of Iraq reason enough to oust Saddam? There are pretty evil regimes and awful situations up and down, east to west on the African continent. A murderous regime is one that deserves to get overthrown, but it is not our place to decide. The concern of the American government is our interests first, then we can worry about others. If we do help other for the sake of being magnanimous, we’d better get NATO, at the very least, on board.

    I find it interesting that conservative that have long ridiculed the idea of nation-building and military adventurism are now solidly in that camp.

    When you bring up Japan and Germany, you forget one key point: they started it. It was their sytem and agressiveness that led to their downfall and destruction, so they were open to a new way of doing things. When an outsider agressor causes destruction and conquers you, you are less open to change.

  26. *snort* OK, so you admit you don’t think Iraq was invaded with malicious intent, nor that President Bush had some sort of grand scheme to cause mass death…So what, is your objection economic? I can understand that I suppose, its a realist position if nothing else, but its NEVER couched in those terms and hell will freeze over before Billing becomes a *real* issue to liberal policy.

    So I’d like to know what your general objection is? Do you actually believe the old song and dance that we’re there for oil (after being there a year with a price tag of 100bn and slowly haggling to develop a workable constitution, I think thats a pretty shitty explanation myself)? If imperial aspirations were in it primarily, I think we all could think of some place better, less contentous, to invade to stick an imperial feather in our cap.

    Oh, and to your two comments, I think both are pretty badly thought out. Even if one goes from the cynical assumption that “neocons” act geopolitically from a cold and heartless worldview, both of your claims wouldn’t make sense. First, neocons before anybody else would truly care what happens to the Iraqi people, remember that their entire geopolitical policy in large part rests upon the success and stability of a new Iraqi government, the last thing a neocon wants is dead Iraqi civilians and *especially* a civil war. Secondly, and i’ll be as utterly cynical as I can about this, even supposing President Bush didn’t give a damn about his soldiers lives, large casualties make for bad headlines and worse polling numbers, thus it would be another high priority for he and his cabinent to insure our soldiers are as safe as is reasonable.

    Oh yeah, and I know Reason’s seemingly pacifist policy isn’t shared by other libertarians, as the WSJ and the Objectivist both supported the Iraq War, for whatever thats worth.

  27. BTW, my post was meant for Heather, not Mo

  28. Matt, if the war was for cheap oil, it’s been a miserable failure. Have you seen gas prices recently? 🙂

  29. JB

    Nineteenth Century AMERICAN isolationist foreign policy.

    If you don’t count Mexico.

  30. Some days I wonder whether many of the writers on staff actually DO care about the future of the magazine or web-site.

    Perhaps they wish to parley the (eroding) credibility of Reason for some kind of “golden parachute”…a place in the Center-Left mainstream. It can be hard not to suspect as much.

  31. Matt W.,

    I don’t know much about the Objectivist-libertarian standoff, but from what I understand, Randians tend to be more supportive of private industrial capitalism.

    Other libs are former republicans who are from the Milton Friedman wing, who support the Fed Reserve, monetary policy, constitutional reform, etc.

    Then there are the radicals who support the demise of the Fed, free banking, non-industrialized, cartelized capitalism, in favor of a contract society based on voluntary associations and the sovereign individual.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  32. Andrew (Bigot),

    Why? Because they aren’t anti-gay bigots like yourself? You just gave me a reason to subscribe and to send gift subscriptions to about twenty other people. *LOL*

    Go on and play with your “duty to the state” fascist fellow travellers.

    Matt W.,

    Objectivists aren’t libertarians; indeed, their heads tend to explode when you claim such.

    And it is not pacifist to maintain that national security actually has to be at stake for the military to be exercised. The military is a dangerous institution; it should be used to promote untested theories that are not related to real national security issues. We’ve seen this before; it happened with Cambodia; the theory was called the “Guam” or “Nixon Doctrine”; and it ended up creating a constitutional crisis in America, practically murdering a foreign nation (Cambodia). And adventurist policy is an anathema to libertarianism in other words. BTW, I find it humorous that neo-cons like Andrew, who claim to love liberty so much, are the first to restrict it at home.

  33. Objectivists aren’t libertarians? Odd I had always been under the impression that they were its truest varient. What would the difference be between a libertarian and an objectivist be? theres been a split on foreign policy I know…it seperated me from the LP, but both are full Free-Market capitalists who support a strict interpretation of the constitution. Both are (or at least in the case of Reason should be) nationalistic in the sense that the maintenence of American power at this time is the best bet to insure the stablity and growth of free-market economies. I rather consider myself an objectivist…or at the least i’ve never found any of their ideological positions in disagreement with my own, so I guess i’m just curious what the differences are between the two in politics.

  34. I have been discussing this article with Mr. D.

    His point is that eventually all empires fade. OK.

    The question then is will we leave British Empire type wreckage or French? If the history of the last 60 years is any guide my guess is that after empire we will be left with friends (Brtis – Canada) vs enemies (France – Algeria).

    I do believe we are stuck with empire. So let us make it commercial and republican. Not a bad aspiration for the world.

  35. “If you don’t count Mexico.” Or Cuba. Or the Phillipines. Or Hawaii. Or…

  36. Yep. Reason leans left in some respects.

    How do I know? I followed the communist line on foreign policy in my youth. Hook, line, and sinker. I know it very well.

    A lot of what I hear from Reason these days on the war comes right out of the Communist play book. No surprise there. The Middle East is part of the wreckage left over after the collapse of the communists. If you take the side of the Middle East despots you are bound to sound like a communist.

    Most unfortunate.

  37. I suppose that is why the Randians are pro war. They through Ayn are a lot closer to the communists and know a communist argument when they see one.

    There is a great advantage too having started out with a close study of the left (for whatever reason). You are not so easily fooled by the reasonable sounding rhetoric.

  38. The problem with that theory, M., is that “the communist line on foreign policy” was not actually the communist line on foreign policy, but was in fact a “front” created by communists by picking and choosing bits and pieces of existing foreign policy positions that had nothing to do with communism. Thus, someone who is genuinely speaking from a Quaker or Jeffersonian fp position may well sound like a communist to you, because that is where you first heard something like the ideas they’re putting forth.

    Here’s a crazy idea; how about, instead of judging ideas on who the speaker reminds you of, you judge them on their merits?

  39. OK joe,

    On the merits communist ideas are bad policy even if Quakers and Jeffersonians mouth them for their own reasons.

    I left the left to get away from their foreign policy stupidity: American power is bad. Any exercise there of is an affront to the world as it ought to be.

    I was quite annoyed to find that the foreign policy stupidity of the left followed me into the Libertarian party. Count me among the many former members (and I was a stalwart too – I held office for three years in my local chapter).

    Google “Head Heart Belly” and M. Simon to find out why I left the party. You will also get my take on the Wizard of Oz.

    The short form: the Libs are very complacent when fascism is loose in the world. “Not our problem” is the constant refrain. You know the bit: “of course Hitler is evil – but we can get soap at a really good price from Germany. Willing buyers and sellers and all that.”

    The current refrain: “who cares what Saddam did to his people? Sure he was evil. But that was a problem for the Iraqi people not America. He sold us oil at the market price. And would still be doing so now if we hadn’t mucked things up.”

  40. Well, Mr. Simon, welcome to the foreign policy stupidity of the Right.

  41. M. Simon

    “…friends (Brtis (sic) – Canada) vs enemies (France – Algeria).”

    Canada is a poor example. Just like Australia and the US the indiginous population was small and was quickly removed to apartheid-like reservations. In Algeria of tried to make the indiginous population citizens of France and Europeans were never in the majority. The population of Canada, Australia and the US is basically British so they of course relate to Britain. The population of Algeria is Arab and resents having been occupied by France, just as the natives of Canada, Australia and the US resent the occupation of their land by Europeans.

    What about

    friends (France – Cote d’Ivoire(OK not a perfect example – except when the French intervened to restore order they were welcomed as saviors. Tell me somewhere the Brits or Yanks have done that)) vs enemies (British – Zimbabwe).

    If you consider almost anywhere that the indiginous population was in the majority the record of France as a colonial power is better than Britain’s.

    also try

    enemies (USA – most of Latin America (which the US has invaded and occupied at one time or another))

  42. Correction

    “In Algeria of tried” should read “In Algeria the French tried”

  43. Well Gadfly, you aren’t exactly a font of dialogue yourself, all you seem capable of is popping up to drop lefty soundbites. Oh, and as i’m sure others like me who lean right-libertarian have pointed out, how was Clinton’s foreign policy so much more sound than Bush’s? He too engaged in “dangerous imperialistic adventurism” if you like scare quotes and moronic rhetoric. He bombed Iraq, invaded Kosovo and Haiti, it doesn’t seem to bother most of you, and i’m not so great a hypocrite that I let it get my panties in a wad either, but you ARE being hypocritical.

  44. I see in the news today that we’re starting a new operation in Afghanistan to really, really, REALLY get OBL now. Must be an election coming up.

    As far as Clinton’s foreign adventures are concerned, I recall plenty of bitching from Tom Delay and the boys about it being politically motivated. Hypocritical, my ass.

  45. Here’s a nice Lefty quote for you.

    “The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today.”


  46. You know events in Spain have made me rethink everything.

    There may be no concious push for an American Empire.

    Empire may just be the result (fortunate or other wise) of the fact that there is a fookin war on.

    So the best thing to do to prevent American hegemony is to stop the attacks on America and it’s allies.

  47. Ah yes France – Cote d’Ivoire. I remember the recent demos there asking the French “peace keepers” to stay home and the Americans to come in their stead.

    Perhaps you are correct. Not a perfect example.

    The French. So predictable. To know them is to dislike them.

  48. The communist line was a front – yes. They took the best elements they could gather and used it aginst the Americans – so true.

    Now we have the supposedly hard headed Libertarians falling for this same false front put on by the latest group of fascists and totolitarians.

    So predictable but in essesce: “The world is not hurting because of us totolitarians it is those greedy meddling Americans causing all the trouble. We would be quite content to stay home and murder and enslave our own citizens if the Americans would just leave us alone.”

    Yeah. Right. Whatever.

  49. “…the recent demos there asking the French “peace keepers” to stay home and the Americans to come in their stead.”

    When was that? In your dreams? The political problems of the Ivory Coast are strictly internal (and a fairly common thing in post-colonial Africa; it took longer to happen here than in the British possessions) and occurred after many years of political stability. And no, when the French troops arrived the Ivorians practically re-applied for colonial status.

  50. “On the merits communist ideas are bad policy even if Quakers and Jeffersonians mouth them for their own reasons.”

    Which says nothing about the value of Quaker and Jeffersonian foreign policy ideas. They stand or fall on their own merits, and the fact that they’re may be repeated by communists has exactly zero relevance to the question of their merit – a question your inability to think critically leaves with the same useless answer. Never before have I seen someone work so hard to elevate ad homenim thinking to High Principle.

    “Empire may just be the result (fortunate or other wise) of the fact that there is a fookin war on.”

    Yes, if the US ends up having to put up with imperial problems, it will be because we stumbled into it and didn’t notice until we were waist deep, not because of a deliberate attempt to create an empire.

    “So the best thing to do to prevent American hegemony is to stop the attacks on America and it’s allies.”

    To be specific, the best thing to do is to prevent the attacks, not just respond to them. It is the military response to attacks that is taking us down the path to empire.

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