Libertarian Hawks?

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Max Borders, over at the Institute for Humane Studies, makes a strong case for them at TechCentralStation. And naturally I agree.

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  1. Speaking of Libertarians and foreign policy, has anyone else seen this?

    http://www.badnarik.org/PressRoom/archive.php?p=1057

    The LP is holding a Meetup event, and they want every to wear black to “to mourn the deaths of the thousands of people who have died as a result of U.S. government policies.”

    When are they holding this event, you ask? Sept. 11.

  2. I think whether a libertarian is a dove or hawk depends on whether they come to libertarianism from anarchism or from classical liberalism.

    For the anarchist, goverment is always the problem. Anarchist believe violence is unnatural. They believe that all violence is ultimately a government project. Reducing government reduces violence in a linear fashion. Such libertarians tend to be doves.

    For the classical liberal, freedom from violence is an unnatural and unstable state maintained only by continuous conscious effort. They believe that a finely tuned government, with just enough powers to stop internal and external violence, creates an artificial bubble of non-violence in which people can be largely free. Such libertarians tend to be hawks.

  3. “The Randians were superhawks.”

    Superhawks! That’s fantastic! Did they have suits with mechanical wings, or just jet packs? Or were they gored by the talons of radioactive hawks as kids, and in times of need (like if someone nearby was about to attend church) have actual wings sprout from their backs?

  4. There are two dilemmas. The first is aptly described by Thoreau… how does a nation state defend itself from terrorists. One presume given the size of America’s military that no nation save North Korea want to go “head to head” with the U.S.

    The second dilemma: What is the appropriate course of a nation-state when a “thugocracy” is behaving very badly, i.e., genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc. If a nation-state poses no threat to a country like the U.S., does the U.S. have any responsibility to intercede… at least from the perspective of a libertarian foreign policy. Whether one believes it or not, one of the argument for invading Iraq was to stop the killing of ethnic minorities (like the Kurds).

    This, I think, highlights the difference between a citizen in a free state and a nation-state. As noted by Mr. Fletcher, in a nation of laws, a citizen is generally protected. There is no such structure in the universe of nation-states.

  5. “Even if a 9/11 scale attack occurred *every month*, that would still mean more Americans would die in traffic accidents each year than in terrorist attachs. Terrorists have no power to deprive us of our liberties, and at worst they have the power to kill small fractions of the American populace.”

    You are an idiot.

    Judgement has been rendered.

  6. “It IS an existential threat, metaphysically.”

    What planet do you live on McClain? On my planet there are 285 million Americans, they have an economy of 11 trillion dollars and the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. Even if terrorists knock down a skycraper somewhere in the country every single day, it would be background noise. There is *no* realistic threat of an al-Q army marching down the Avenue of the Americas and imposing shari’a on US citizens.

  7. Shannon,

    I think whether a libertarian is a dove or hawk depends on whether they come to libertarianism from anarchism or from classical liberalism.

    And I think you’re creating more unproveable distinctions out of your ass.

  8. SR: The Islamists’ real goal is to overthrow the secular-type gov’ts in certain Middle Eastern nations, building up a base to establish Worldwide Jihad Inc., and so forth.

    Yes, it’s true that al-Qaida et al can’t literally decimate the U.S. population. But that’s not what they’re going for.

  9. SR, keep it coming, you’re cracking me up!

  10. Yeah, that’s why I used the word “metaphysically.”

    If repeated, severe terrorist attacks change the culture of the U.S. to the point where we start committing genocide again – against muslims this time – then the ugliness coming out of the middle east will have caused the U.S. that I grew up in, that I know and love, to cease to exist.

    In its place will be something else, still called the U.S.A., but a lot less warm’n’fuzzy.

    That’s what I want to prevent by going overseas and setting things straight.
    Pre-emptively.

    You and your ilk seem to believe the U.S. is already a monster. That’s probably why you can’t see my point.
    The country that nuked Mecca? That country doesn’t exist yet. It could.

  11. Mackey,

    There is a difference between their “goals,” and their “abilities.” I am sure environmental radicals would like to send us back to the neolithic (indeed, “Back to the Neolithic!” was a rallying cry at one time for Earth First!ers), but that doesn’t by itself make them an existential threat.

  12. As a hunter, I know it is possible to kill an elephant with a small caliber bullet. Shot placement is everything. Terrorists need not conquer America. The goal, I think, is to create an isolationist America… an America that does not export its decadent culture, that does not support Israel and does not interfere in the tribal politics of the Middle East. While terrorists cannot rule America, they can change America… and perhaps already have.

  13. Shannon, leaving your ass aside, your definition of anarchism only takes into accoung the leftish variety, and ignore right anarchism (anarcho-capitalism), which has always been quite comfortable with the use of force, and only wished to eliminate the government’s monopoly on it.

  14. I was a hawkish Libertarian during the Cold War, but I came to the Party by way of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan. I buy the pre-emptive argument of the War on Terror too, but I don’t think the pre-emptive argument applies to Iraq. You know the drill, right?

    There was no Al Qaeda collaboration. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq posed a threat to the United States, but that threat was more effectively blunted in conjunction with our traditional allies i.e. enforcing the no-fly zone and letting the UN do its job. Indeed, invading and occupying Iraq actually exacerbated the threat that Iraq posed to America.

    I haven’t seen anyone make the charge that in order to be a Libertarian hawk you have to condone America’s invasion of Iraq, but I get the sense that this is generally accepted to be the case.

  15. Just to make the point clear, an “existential threat” is a threat to the existance of something (in this case, the U.S.). It would seem that for a movement to be an existential threat it would have some ability to carry to transform that threat into reality.

  16. Yes, SR. I have more fear of our govmit “jack booted thugs” bustin my door down than a “Towel head uprising”.

  17. “Even if terrorists knock down a skycraper somewhere in the country every single day, it would be background noise.”

    Tell me you are kidding. Every day, a skyscraper blows up, and there’s no change in the quality of life for Americans?

    At any rate you are ignoring that an entire city could disappear. Of course, according to you, we could probably lose a major metro area every year or so with no problem, which is about what 365 buildings a year would amount to.

  18. RE: Shannon vs. Gunnels:
    For what it’s worth, this libertarian hawk used to be more into classic liberalism.
    Anarchy, like nihilism, is just a mood. Even when I loudly expressed such moods as a teenage punk in the 80s, I was never stupid enough to actually BELIEVE IN anarchy as a political philosophy. After all, “believing in” shit isn’t very cool….

  19. Anyone who supports(ed) the decision to invade Iraq is not a libertarian. It is known from PNAC documents that reasons presented by the administration for invading Iraq were mere pretext.
    No evidence has been presented, before or after, to indicate that Iraq presented any knid of imminent threat to the US.

    How can a libertarian support a minimalist government domestically and a large powerful one internationally? One contradicts the other, for the latter requires oppressive taxation at home, plus the bureaucracy to implement it, and various controls on what citizens may do abroad.

    While our government has gone a ways to disarming the citizenry, it is unable to defend us in any particular, leaving us unable to defend ourselves when terrorists take over a plane with 98? utility cutters.

    In fact, government is not really concerned with defending us, but with defending its own position and power over us, whatever lying politicians will tells us.

    A libertarian hawk must be, in fact, a market oriented statist.

  20. Sam:
    The gov’t is not “over” us.
    It IS us, it SERVES us, and sometimes it serves us poorly because we choose poorly.
    That’s what “government of, by, and for the people,”
    or “Democracy” means.
    Maybe you’re one o’those psuedo-libertarian anarchists?

  21. Per Mackey: “The Islamists’ real goal is to overthrow the secular-type gov’ts in certain Middle Eastern nations, building up a base to establish Worldwide Jihad Inc., and so forth.”

    Yes, and if they take over a state, and if they launch attacks on other countries, they can be dealt with appropriately (see, e.g., Afghanistan; I supported the overthrow of the Taliban).

  22. “If repeated, severe terrorist attacks change the culture of the U.S. to the point where we start committing genocide again – against muslims this time – then the ugliness coming out of the middle east will have caused the U.S. that I grew up in, that I know and love, to cease to exist.”

    That sounds like a good reason to work on changing the “lower jaw-for-a-tooth” mentality that the hawks on this forum are already evincing, rather than an argument for murdering (in the second degree) thousands of innocent Iraqis now to avoid hypothetically murdering (in the first degree) millions of Arabs later.

  23. What do you mean by “anti-Cold War” and “pro-Cold War?” Did the division fall more or less along Republican/Conservative and Liberal/Democrat lines?

    Maybe those categories were a little too sweeping. The antis generally favored bilateral (sometimes unilateral) disarmament, endorsed the nuclear freeze, criticized the CIA, opposed covert ops in places like Nicaragua, etc. The pros fell along a spectrum, from folks who were semi-isolationist (opposed the Vietnam War, thought Europe should pay for its own defense, etc.) but supported other elements of the Cold War (SDI, contra aid, whatever), to people closer to the standard Republican outlook.

    The division did not, contra Shannon Love, fall along anarchist/classical-liberal lines. Many limited-government libertarians were hard-core doves; some anarchists, such as David Friedman and Eric Mack, were not.

  24. I am intrigued by the argument that we have to stop the situation in the Middle East from getting any worse, because if we don’t then something REALLY bad will happen and then the US will go on the warpath and butcher Muslims around the world.

    Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that in the long-term we can in fact change the Middle East by overthrowing various oppressive regimes and “draining the swamp.” Let’s suppose that this does in fact cause terrorist networks to shrivel up and evaporate in the long term. And I think my emphasis on the long term is appropriate, because whenever the situation in Iraq is criticized many of the hawks on this forum point out that stability can’t happen overnight.

    Well, what about the short-term? What if in the short-term we inflame so many people that we cause MORE Muslims to join terrorist groups and MORE wealthy Muslims to donate to terrorist groups? What if the apocalyptic attack comes in the short term and then we become the monster that nukes Mecca, as McClain fears?

    Sure, that’s a bunch of hypotheticals. But if McClain wants to posit that the US might become a monster in response to terrorism, surely I can posit, for the sake of argument, that Uncle Sam Jekyll might become Mr. Hyde sooner rather than later.

  25. The government is not US. WE are “the people”. The government is the edifice of political control, peopled by bureaucrats and poilticians who all, in real life, serve their own ends, just like the rest of us, but with rather more power to do so.
    Democracy is a con game by which people consent to be ruled under the illusion that that have some say over how they are ruled.
    However, as individuals, our say is diluted to the point of being meaningless. Democracy is not the same as freedom. Grop rights and power are of little use to the individual.

    “It may be true that you can’t fool all the people all the time, but apparently you can fool enough of them to run a large country.”
    Will and Ariel Durant

  26. Glad you at least supported the overthrow of the Taliban, SR.
    But do you see why your approach looks less than ideal?
    We know what the bad guys are up to but, according to your plan, we have to sit and watch while they:
    1st: Turn some more countries into fortified Talibanesque hell-holes.
    2nd: Repeat their atrocities of September 11th.
    Ounce of prevention? Pound o’cure? How’s that work again?

    And everybody who’s all, like: “Saddam didn’t have anything to do with 9/11!!!!”
    Yeah, well, Mussolini didn’t have anything to do with Pearl Harbor either. I guess we shoulda left him alone, huh?
    Gosh, we seem to have this habit of taking out fascist dictators even when they don’t pose a direct and immediate threat to us.
    Isn’t that just awful? Those poor li’l fascists….
    😉

    thoreau: as usual, you’re making a good point.
    I’ll have to actually think that one through a bit but, short answer: I think they’ll fold first.

  27. There’s no problem with making a libertarian case for overthrowing nations that enslave their citizens. The ‘initiation of force’ is the government that is enslaving its people, and the libertarian response is to free those people militarily. No problem.

    This is one area where Ayn Rand split with traditional Libertarians. She said that a government gains its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. Therefore, dictatorships should not enjoy unlimited sovereignity, and the decision to overthrow one and liberate its people becomes not so much a moral question as a question of tactics and capability. There is no moral imperative to overthrow such governments, but neither is their a moral imperative to leave them alone. They do not enjoy the consent of the governed, and are therefore little more than thugs squatting on an exceptionally large piece of land.

    And Hobbes was right – in a totally anarchistic society, there is no way to resolve disputes among men and society devolves into rule by the strongest. That’s why Hobbes invokes a sovereign power given the right to use force to uphold the social contract. And Libertarians agree with this, which is why they support the existance of a military, police force, and courts of law. Such thinking need not end at your own border.

  28. McClain-

    Mussolini didn’t plan Pearl Harbor, that’s for certain. But Italy was an open and declared ally of Japan and Germany.

    Here’s what it comes down to: I’m very skeptical of the hawkish sentiment (expressed by many on this board) that we need to “drain the swamp” because that will somehow bring about a big change in the whole culture of the Middle East and deprive terrorists of recruits.

    If you point to a government that’s funding terrorism against the US, the military can overthrow it. If you identify a terrorist training camp or WMD factory, the military can bomb it. If you identify a terrorist leader, special forces can capture him. If you identify a terrorist cell, the CIA can monitor the members.

    But if you identify a sick culture, well, I’ve seen no proof that the government is good at fixing it. The rule of law, representative government, free markets, civil liberties, these things take time. Outsiders can certainly help, and have done so in various places from time to time, but there’s no guarantee that outsiders will always be able to help. Even worse, sometimes outsiders make things worse if they go in with blunt instruments.

    Really, a lot of the hawkish justifications for invading Iraq strike me as social engineering on a very grand scale. And I’m very skeptical of such things. In fact, as soon as I became skeptical of social engineering I stopped voting for Democrats.

  29. McClain:

    “But Libertarianism as a philosophy says “uh…whatever works, I guess…I dunno….””

    You don’t know much about libertarianism. The truth is embodied in the slogan “Libertarians do it on principle.”

    thoreau:

    “Most of us simply subscribe to the notion that gov’t should be small and mostly stick to defending us from force and fraud.”

    Right; with an emphasis on US.
    During the time period that Jesse Walker describes at 11:52, I took a more hawkish position because I considered that the Soviet Union represented a REAL threat to us. And, this threat was not one largely engendered by our government’s interventions as the 9/11 attack was. That defending ourselves from Soviet aggression liberated millions from Soviet tyranny, I considered a wonderful dovetailing. I still appreciate Reagan’s part in ending this threat to us with relatively little blood shed on his watch. His conspiring with the Pope to destabilize the commie thug regimes of E. Europe was a thing of beauty.

    By the same calculus, I oppose the Iraq war because Iraq was never a credible threat to our security. The only fair and prudent thing for our government to do now is to bring our troops home before any more die sans good cause. (I remember writing that when the American death toll was just 700 or 800) What reasonably expected outcome in Iraq could possibly justify any further American deaths?

    Let’s take for a moment the neocon prescription of “preemption” at face value. Even if we allow that, we should still condemn the neocon’s favorite, our government’s financing of the Israeli government’s murderous and thieving occupation. This action has our government participating in the repression of a people, a Mid-East people in this case. And, our government’s financing of the occupation is what led to 9/11. This intervention certainly made us less secure. For the same reason, we should oppose our government’s financing of the repressive Egyptian and Jordanian regimes.

    What a sick joke these three actions make out of our government’s claim that their goal is to make the Arab world freer!

    When before, I said that we should take the neocon recommendation of “preemption” at face value, I meant as opposed to the consideration that it is mostly just a pretext to have our government take out the enemies of the current Israeli state.

  30. It does not compute. Insufficient data.

  31. “And everybody who’s all, like: “Saddam didn’t have anything to do with 9/11!!!!”
    Yeah, well, Mussolini didn’t have anything to do with Pearl Harbor either. I guess we shoulda left him alone, huh?

    I’m not familiar with your arguments in the past, so I don’t know if this is the case with you; but your statement is emblematic of the shifting arguments used by Iraq hawks to justify the war…

    …So he had nothing to do with 9/11, there was no Iraq/Al Qaeda collaboration, there were no weapons of mass destruction, and we were probably safer when the Hussein regime was contained in conjunction with our traditional allies? …But there’s no denying that Saddam Hussein was a bad man, so that’s the justification we?re going to use now!

    That is really getting tired already.

    Could Saddam Hussein have lived his life as harmless to the United States as a Franco? …I don’t know, maybe. But he sure as hell isn’t comparable to Mussolini. Mussolini was a formal ally of a nation which formally declared war on the United States and attacked our allies, etc. That is unlike Saddam Hussein in a number of ways, the most obvious of which is that there was no collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

    P.S. …ehhh Thoreau beat me too it.

  32. In re Fascist Italy during WW II, Mussolini declared war on the US on Dec. 11, 1941 (the same day Hitler did), clearly making Italy a legitimate target. A better analogy is Finland which, although part of the Axis, did not declare war on the US.

  33. Sorry, that last post was directed at McClain.

  34. Dan:

    “There’s no problem with making a libertarian case for overthrowing nations that enslave their citizens.”

    Sure there is a problem, a big problem. If these oppressive nations do not pose a threat to us, it’s an aggression of our government against us for it to force us to participate in overthrowing them.

  35. By the same calculus, I oppose the Iraq war because Iraq was never a credible threat to our security. The only fair and prudent thing for our government to do now is to bring our troops home before any more die sans good cause. (I remember writing that when the American death toll was just 700 or 800) What reasonably expected outcome in Iraq could possibly justify any further American deaths?

    American deaths indeed…

    If we were to abandon Iraq now, in all probability, the country would turn into exactly the kind of place the Bush Administration portrayed it to be–a safe haven for terrorist groups who would use the country’s resources to attack us, maybe even here at home.

    There’s also a question of honor.

    If America was to abandon Iraq, and Iraq was to go through a horrific civil war, it would be a stain on our national character. Pushed further, if Iraq was to, subsequently, go the way of…I don’t know…say…Cambodia, it would be such a stain on our national character that, like Germany trying to rid themselves of their demons, it could take us generations before we regained a moral sense of ourselves.

  36. Incidentally, the Mises Institute just put up a nice selection of quotes from the founder of IHS, F.A. Harper, which pretty much go against everything Max Borders wrote: http://www.mises.org/blog/archives/002459.asp#more

  37. Ken, how many Americans struggle with their “moral sense of [them]selves” over the approximately 3 million or more Vietnamese killed during the Vietnam war? And aren’t the handful that do struggle with it typically mocked by the very sort of people cheerleading for more invasions of Arab and Muslim countries on this board and elsewhere?

  38. I favor Dan’s argument over that presented by Mr. Barton. As I read the response, Barton seems more concerned about his individual sovereignty than the enslavement (or genocide) of another people.

    At the risk of catcalls from libertarian purists, I think free nation-states have some measure of obligation to further the cause of freedom. To me, this means standing against genocide, ethnic cleansing, slavery, etc. Of course, for a nation to take any action against such “evils” (if you will pardon the phrase), it may mean offending the tender sensibilities of some citizens, and yes, even a measure of risk.

    I also agree with Mr. Schultz. Having waded into Iraq, America now has a responsiblity to see the ugly business through to the end.

  39. thoreau,
    I’m sticking with the WWII paradigm (I honestly think the Vietnam paradigm is a much worse fit, but there’s the whole damn debate in a nutshell.)
    We did what we had to do with Germany, Japan, and Italy: they’re all better off for it. As are we. Was it social engineering? If so, it was the kind that actually works.
    Right now, if you’re a young man in the middle-east and you’re not ambitious, you can eke out a living and try to stay out of trouble and hope nothing blows up. But something probably will blow up.
    If you ARE ambitious, or just sick of things blowing up, what can you do?
    Emigrate. If they’ll let you.
    Or try to claw your way up the thugocratic ladder.
    Or turn to religion: a religion which happens to be shot through right now with intemperate revivalists who will fill your head with hate and nonsense and introduce you to some other disaffected guys who know somebody who knows some, uh…shady characters.
    When the U.S. comes in and starts shooting the shady characters and thugocrats, yeah, there’ll be some local, short-term blowback. But most of that is from creeps who ALREADY hate us and ALREADY want to kill us all.
    Let’s flush ’em out and mow ’em down. (“Bring it on!”)
    The rest of the folks over there will have a lot fewer creeps in their neighborhoods, and some potentially very fruitful chaos to work with.

    Oh, and everybody who’s, like:”It’s all about Oil!!!” Yeah, when grownups fight wars, they do it for legitimate reasons of state.
    As opposed to playing Robin Hood.
    Or cowering in your house while hoping the bad guys don’t burn it down.
    Don’t bitch about the economy and then pretend it’s a good idea to leave huge oil reserves in the hands of foreign tyrants.

  40. thoreau said:
    “In fact, as soon as I became skeptical of social engineering I stopped voting for Democrats.”

    So “draining the swamp” is the Republican’s Great Society for Islam.

    See thoreau. You need me to interpret for you.

  41. Can the hawks here at least agree that if our government takes it upon itself to overthrow other governments, it should also demonstrate a very high degree of competency?

    I think it’s strange how some libertarians are convinced that the military is somehow more efficient and less corrupt than say, public education or the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development or any other government program that is typically inefficient and corrupt.

  42. SR,

    Shortly before Nixon’s death, I saw an interview in which he was asked if he had any regrets. Although I suspect he had an itemized list, I expected him to deny having any regrets at all. He responded to the question with the observation that his nightmares were populated with the corpses of Khmer Rouge victims and Vietnamese Boat People.

    I struggle with our moral sense of ourselves; I think it’s our greatest asset. It inspired us to make great sacrifices for great causes like abolishing slavery, fighting Fascism and defeating Communism. It inspired us to become Freedom Riders, and many other good things too. We’re already rife with cynicism. If we were to become the direct cause of one of the grandest catastrophes of the 21st Century, the result would be devastating to out moral sense, and that would be tragic…

    …for me, personally if for no one else.

  43. McClain,

    You said, “When the U.S. comes in and starts shooting the shady characters and thugocrats, yeah, there’ll be some local, short-term blowback. But most of that is from creeps who ALREADY hate us and ALREADY want to kill us all.
    Let’s flush ’em out and mow ’em down. (“Bring it on!”)”

    I think the problem with this argument is that the U.S. doesn’t JUST shoot “shady characters and thugocrats.” They also tend to kill a good number of civilians. And I know that if my son were clumsily blown to bloody bits by any organization that didn’t even bother to count him as killed, I’d fight that organization to my dying day.

    And I think that’s what’s happening in Iraq.

  44. Mr. Barton:
    “we should oppose our government’s financing of the repressive Egyptian and Jordanian regimes”
    Yeah, or at least make sure we’re getting what we pay for. Egypt and Jordan should be housebroken by now. We need to yank the leash a little harder, or cut ’em loose.
    As for me “not knowing much about libertarianism:” yeah, nobody does. That’s why it’s not a real force in American politics.
    Also, what’s your, uh, “solution” to the um, well, I guess you might call it the “Israeli Problem?”

  45. Les, there are free market alternatives to the kind of government programs you mention, but not in the case of national defense. For me, that accounts for the different attitude.

  46. Les,
    We’re killing a lot fewer civilians than we did in WWII. I guess if too many bitter survivors learn the wrong lesson, we’ll just have to go back and leave fewer survivors next time around.
    And what’s so un-libertarian about inflicting our incompetent gov’t agencies on foreigners? Red tape and mindless bureaucracy is good enough for us, it damn well better be good enough for our enemies!

  47. Joe:

    I’m not sure if you’re still following this thread, but I’m fairly familiar with “anarcho-capitalist” arguments and can’t say that I’ve ever seen any anarcho-capitalist advocate the use of force. The non-agression principle is the reason they oppose government in the first place, so supporting aggression (or force) of any kind is against their principles. Where did you read about a right anarchist proposing the use of force? I’m not calling you a liar, I’d just really like to read it.

  48. Jose Ortega y Gasset:

    “I think free nation-states have some measure of obligation to further the cause of freedom.”

    What is the origin of this “obligation”? When free nation states force their citizens to participate, they make the citizens less free. I don’t feel an “obligation”, but I do have the desire that other peoples living under tyranny be relieved. I do not, however, feel justified in forcing you, via politics, to help me realize this desire.

    If we cut off our government’s funding the Israeli government’s occupation, and the thug Egyptian and Jordanian governments as well, we would end our personal financing of some certain tyranny.

    Also, look at how many nations have been made freer via the free trade in recent years. Our government’s armies could not have accomplished this.

  49. matt, I’ve seen a number of people on this very page who seem to fit the bill as “anarcho-capitalists” who view the use of force to defend one’s property and interests as the legitimate right of every individual.

    And, they everyone else, they’ve been know to push the envelope in their definition of “defend” and “rights.”

  50. McClain:

    “Egypt and Jordan should be housebroken by now.”

    Is all you care about; is how well they serve our government’s wishes? What about the fact that they use our tax money to oppress their citizens?

    My solution is the same for the Israeli, Egyptian, and Jordanian governments:

    Cut them off from our tax money. It’s only fair, and prudent as well.

  51. Dan,

    The ‘initiation of force’ is the government that is enslaving its people, and the libertarian response is to free those people militarily. No problem.

    Quite honestly, the issue doesn’t really concern their oppression.

    This is one area where Ayn Rand split with traditional Libertarians.

    Ayn Rand was a cultist; she should be taken with a grain of salt.

    She said that a government gains its legitimacy from the consent of the governed.

    At best she plagiarized this from others (as she did with all of “her” ideas).

    There is no moral imperative to overthrow such governments, but neither is their a moral imperative to leave them alone.

    Which of course avoids the question.

    Re: Hobbes:

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? If you actually read Hobbes, you’ll discover that he grants powers to rulers make society powerless to stop a monarch, etc. In this way, rulers stay in the “state of nature,” and act domestically and internationally as if they are. This is one of the fundamental flaws in Hobbes’ work, one which Locke, Montesquieu, Mill and others worked mightily to overcome.

    Another criticism of Hobbes is that his views of “human nature” are colored by the times he lived in; indeed, we should be rightly suspicious of such reductionist viewpoints about “human nature” as being biased by unique or anecdotal personal experiences.

    Jose,

    At the risk of catcalls from libertarian purists, I think free nation-states have some measure of obligation to further the cause of freedom.

    That just begs the question. From whence does this obligation flow?

    McClain,

    We did what we had to do with Germany, Japan, and Italy: they’re all better off for it. As are we. Was it social engineering? If so, it was the kind that actually works.

    I will make this point again; in large measure any post-war efforts the US made in these countries weren’t very effective (e.g., Marshall plan); these countries picked themselves up by their own bootstraps. Furthermore, neither of them were invaded for some social engineering crusade; they were invaded because they attacked/declared war on us; they were direct and immediate threats to us.

    The rest of your remarks are beside the point.

    Ken Schultz,

    Although I suspect he had an itemized list, I expected him to deny having any regrets at all. He responded to the question with the observation that his nightmares were populated with the corpses of Khmer Rouge victims and Vietnamese Boat People.

    It can be strongly argued that without Nixon’s meddling in Cambodia that the Khmer Rouge would have never come to power; prior to 1970 they were a marginal, unpopular organization; from 1970-1975 (post-coup), they grew in power and in some degree popularity.

  52. Rick,

    Doing what you suggest would be like refusing to support your illegitimate child because he was conceived immorally. One who does wrong should not only admit the wrong but try to limit its bad consequences.

  53. McClain,
    I totally support giving Egypt $0 every year. Of course, that means Israel gets $0 a year as well. From what I’ve heard, this would be more popular in Egypt than in Israel.

    Also, if we housebreak Egypt, where are we going to send captured prisoners to get tortured.

  54. crimethink-

    How will sending more money to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel improve anything over there? It hasn’t thus far, why should it now?

  55. McClain,

    The main problem with the WWII analogy is that the U.S. wasn’t the only one fighting Germany, Japan, and Italy. The Soviets (Zhukov and his primary competitor, whom I can’t remember) had at LEAST as much to do with the German surrender as the United States, and perhaps more.

    The Japanese fought mostly the U.S. after Pearl Harbor, but when they realized that they were also going to have to fight the Soviet Union, and that the USSR could defeat them quite handily, (c.f. Manchuria) Hirohito finally agreed to surrender. There were elements of his military that even then thought they could make the Americans pay enough to be able to negotiate a conditional surrender that would keep their military establishment intact. I heard a story there was an attempted coup that failed only because the power went out in the Palace (because of a bombing raid in another city) and the tapes that Hirohito made acknowledging the surrender to the Japanese people couldn’t be found in time and destroyed.

    So if the WWII analogy is appropriate, where is the overwhelming force going to come from? I can’t see a likely scenario that doesn’t involve “causing the U.S. that I grew up in, that I know and love, to cease to exist.

    “In its place will be something else, still called the U.S.A., but a lot less warm’n’fuzzy.”

    Then again, I’m not too bright, so maybe there is a scenario that I’m just too dense or uncreative enough to see. I’m hoping you’ll let me know what it is. Thanks.

  56. Anyone else notice Bush’s flip-flop on funding authority for the new National Intelligence Director post?

  57. You say: “they use our tax money to oppress their citizens.”
    I say they’re not housebroken.
    Same difference; tomato / tomahto.
    But you seem to be making Sam’s mistake: I don’t see the gov’t as a greater & hostile power. I see it as my super-powered but retarded servant.
    If I can get that servant to go beat up some bad guys, it’s less likely to make a mess of the house.

  58. McClain-

    The problem is that your stupid henchman might also hurt a lot of innocent people along the way and create even more enemies for you to deal with. That’s why he should only be sent out with very specific and narrow objectives, not just “Go kick some ass in the Middle East and take out a bunch of bad guys.”

  59. …You’re going to have to justify those odds, and even if justified, we can still monitor and defend against the threat with out our government’s occupation

    I don’t think you’re disputing that Al Qaeda is already operating in Iraq; they?re operating in the Sunni Triangle in particular. I’ve read of alleged ties between Al Qaeda and Kurdish groups in the North. Is there any question that, if we left right now, Southern and Western Iraq would quickly come under the influence of Iran? I am taking the next logical step in regards to what I think those groups would be up to with American forces out of the way, but I don’t think I’m stretching much.

    In regards to defending ourselves against such threats without occupation, as I wrote above, I agree with the idea of pre-emptive war in principle; I just don’t think there?s very much in regards to the Iraq War that anyone can point to and call pre-emptive. If some of the aforementioned groups, a la Afghanistan under the Taliban, became state sponsors of terror against Americans, then, even if our original invasion was the reckless act of an incompetent administration, another invasion of Iraq, to my mind, would become entirely justifiable.

    The best way to redeem our national character is not to worry about speculative “what ifs”…

    I like to think of myself as being quite the prognosticator, but, now that we’ve destroyed the Hussein regime and trashed the old coalition, predicting a civil war absent some kind of peace keeping force doesn’t require much speculation.

  60. I’m afraid “Go kick some ass in the Middle East and take out a bunch of bad guys” is about the most nuanced and specific message the gov’t, as a whole, is capable of understanding.

  61. In that case, maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to play outside the fence.

  62. Mo:
    “if we housebreak Egypt, where are we going to send captured prisoners to get tortured?”
    I’m sure we’ll manage, somehow.
    As far as money to Israel: I thought we were paying ’em to NOT open another 6-day-war-size can o’whoop-ass on those second-rate punks who keep provoking ’em. D’you really think we should let those crazy Zionists off the leash?

  63. I always enjoy these discussions. The principled side of my nature agrees that Afghanistan was a good idea. Bin Laden was there, and the Taliban was given a choice. We had proof, we were reasonable, and we acted. Would we have gotten Bin Laden with we acted sooner? Our military is a little on the large side to effectively make surprise attacks. The other question is would we have gotten Bin Laden if we concentrated on Afghanistan?

    I don’t see any evidence of the impending threat from Iraq that was claimed. Our evidence appears to have sucked. The one guy that was on the ground, Blix, didn’t have evidence, and was characterized as a bungler at the time for not having it. I remain unconvinced that Iraq lives up to the threat invisioned.

    My practical side says, “So what?” The restrictions on Iraq were a failure, resulting in punishing the people, and not Hussein. Ending that nonsense, and getting rid of Hussein seems like a net positive. The additional net positive is that the “Bush Doctrine” will never get the same free ride again. People who support that abysmal policy, generally support it because Bush is their guy, but would be hard pressed to agree that it would be a good policy in the hands of any loyal opposition (if such a thing can be imagined in partisan circles). A test that many partisan rarely consider, but should (remember the outcry over the Line Item Veto when Clinton used it?).

    Now how does all this experience tell me I should vote in November? I have no qualms about Afghanistan and the use of force there. I have no qualms about the outcome of Iraq, but disagree greatly with the principles behind it.

  64. It can be strongly argued that without Nixon’s meddling in Cambodia that the Khmer Rouge would have never come to power; prior to 1970 they were a marginal, unpopular organization; from 1970-1975 (post-coup), they grew in power and in some degree popularity.

    I was clicking through the channels on television last night; I’m not one to give a lot of credit to the American public at large. But of all the things that are generally known about American History, I suspect that this may be the most widely unrecognized.

    Good intentions aside, I suspect it’s so widely unrecognized because in the minds of those who do know what happened, we were only indirectly responsible. But that wouldn’t be the case if we abandoned Iraq and something similar to the Khmer Rouge happened there.

    We invented evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, and we invaded Iraq over the objections of our traditional allies. Because of that, we are responsible for whatever happens in Iraq. If we didn’t want that responsibility, then we shouldn’t have invaded.

    P.S. If only we could anticipate all those damn unintended consequences!

  65. thoreau,

    I agree with your point at 04:43 PM, but I think that crimethink was responding to my advocating bringing our government’s troops home from Iraq right now.

  66. McClain,
    If Israel attacked Egypt unprovoked after the funds got cut off, they’d lose credibility here and a lot more. Besides, the PR hit of attacking the first Arab country that opened up diplomatic relations unprovoked (Egypt learned its lesson re: attacking Israel) would be devastating. If there wasn’t a just cause, our government would bend over backwards to prevent it (Egypt is pretty harsh on terrorist types).

    Outside the press, how exactly is Egypt provoking Israel?

    And you’re right, we always have Pakistan (personally, I’d love to see Egypt cleaned up more than any other country in the world).

  67. Again I am astounded by the argument that a 9/11 every month would not destroy America utterly, that there is no danger of Iran marching down Main St., so we have no justification for foreign intervention.

    How one can even pretend that they have this level of tolerance is beyond me. Doing nothing in the face of repeated bombing is the choice to allow New Yorkers to die at the hands of terrorists. To me, you’d better have a damn good reason to make that choice. What is the principle you are maintaining atop that pile of bodies?

    The incessant libertarian dovish squak that nonintervention exempts you from ‘blowback’ needs to be dragged out into the light for examination. The price of nonintervention in this case is AT LEAST a 9/11 every month, loss of wealth that goes with the disruption of the economy, increased demand for government services as roads and jobs are blown up, an undeterred threat to every American every month, and tolerance for the oppression of freedom craving Arabs under regimes that support bombing. How smug can you be to say that doing nothing as a self evident principle offsets all that?

    It is also important to view accountability consistently. If we hold that it is the obligation of Arabs to choose freedom and overthrow their tin pot dicatators and repudiate Wahabbism, and if we hold that they are accountable for their own misery by way of tolerating tyrants and terrorists, then they can only be so innocent when said tyrants and terrorists start blowing up our cities. You have to understand at some point that claims of innocence will fall on deaf ears. All those people cheering in the street as they watch Americans burning alive and jumping to their deaths? They are absolutely part of the problem. They willfully make persuit of the actual perpetrators impossible, and they therefore must understand what the consequences of that choice will be.

    By the way. It occurs to me that anyone willing to fly planes into buildings with the intent of inflicting maximum casualties is not above nuclear terrorism. How about a nuclear weapon every month? How many dead and dying neighbors would make a dove reconsider the unadulterated virtue of impotence?

  68. “My point was that terrorism (even the use of dirty bombs, suitcase nukes, etc.) poses no existential threat to American society.”

    A suitcase nuke going off in a major city, combined with the panicked-animal attitude so many citizens seem to possess could very well be an existential threat.

    The evacuations and their aftermath would shake the nation and Rule of Law to the core.

  69. Jason, what CIA briefings do you have access to that even begin to suggest “The price of nonintervention in this case is AT LEAST a 9/11 every month”?

  70. Mo:
    I didn’t mean Israel would attack Egypt.
    Think Syria. And those Iranian reactors.
    A big part o’the reason Saddam DIDN’T have nukes is Isreal.

  71. crimethink:

    “Doing what you suggest(bringing our government’s troops home from Iraq right now) would be like refusing to support your illegitimate child because he was conceived immorally. One who does wrong should not only admit the wrong but try to limit its bad consequences.”

    That’s an interesting ethical question in the general case. However, I don’t find your analogy too compelling. One always has an ethical obligation to support his/her child because it was the result of their voluntary action. (I’m leaving aside the consideration of the obligation of a mother to a child conceived via rape) There is no such obligation on the part of a citizen who is forced by the government to finance bad actions of that government, such as the attack on Iraq, to fix the mess that the government has made. (Private action is another matter, and is ok, and may even be considered commendable.

    There is a better case to be made for the ethical obligation of people who took political action for the war (in and out of government), and (maybe) those who have profited from the war.

    The government forcing its citizens to pay to try to fix the mess that the bad actions (the Iraq war) caused is like a repentant thief reasoning that it is OK to steal $10 from 100 people so as to make restitution to a victim from which he/she stole $1000.

    As a practical consideration, recent history in Iraq defies the idea that our government’s troops are likely to fix things up, if only they will just stick around.

  72. McClain,
    But the leash attached to foreign aid only has to do with Egypt, which is why Israel was able to bomb Saddam’s reactors without violating Camp David. Israel isn’t contractually bound (by Camp David) to avoid hitting the other two baddies.

  73. Rick-

    Although there is much that I agree with you on, I’m usually reluctant to base my criticism of foreign policy on the fact that it is tax-funded.

    The simple fact of the matter is that even an ideal libertarian government will have a military, and that military will be funded by some sort of tax. Maybe some purists have come up with a funding scheme for gov’t that goes by a name other than “taxes”, but at the end of the day that’s what it will be. If you’re going to base your critique on the fact that we were forced to pay for it then you’d have to apply the same criticism to ANY military action, even one that you considered to be purely defensive.

    Or, if you want to argue that none of our military actions over the past however many years have been defensive (let’s leave that debate aside), I could point to some other legitimate action of the gov’t like, say, the incarceration of murderers and thieves convicted by a jury that found them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. (If you like we can even assume that the criminal is being held in a jail run by a private contractor, just to keep this as ideologically pure as possible.)

    Anyway, the fact that something is tax-funded is not in and of itself a sufficient criticism. Military actions should be judged on their merits or lack thereof, not on the fact that they are tax-funded.

  74. SR:

    That was in response to the notion that a 9/11 per month was not destructive to American society. I did not mean to suggest that a terrorist attack per month was the minimum result of navel gazing.

  75. Ken Shultz at 04:52 PM:

    “Al Qaeda is already operating in Iraq; they?re operating in the Sunni Triangle in particular. I’ve read of alleged ties between Al Qaeda and Kurdish groups in the North.

    Even if it is ALL true, it does not substantiate your original claim that upon our government’s troops departure that Iraq will become:

    “a safe haven for terrorist groups who would use the country’s resources to attack us, maybe even here at home.”

    There are to many variables at play to make anything like that determination. BTW, the Israeli government is definitely working with Kurdish groups in an attempt to foment action against the Iranians. The prospects for their success are unclear.

    “now that we’ve destroyed the Hussein regime and trashed the old coalition, predicting a civil war absent some kind of peace keeping force doesn’t require much speculation.”

    Except that there’s not a lot of evidence for it. The US “Peace keeping” force seems to be the target here as Iraqi forces or police are only attacked if they are in service to the US troops. Note that Shia towns in the Sunni North and Sunni towns in the Shia South are not under attack. There doesn’t seem to be some civil war brewing.

  76. Jesse,

    I’m not sure the Randroids would appreciate being classed as “libertarians.”

    I think “libertarians,” at least in the contemporary sense, refers mainly to the movement that grew out of the mass exodus of Rothbard and Hess and their followers from the YAF. And it was pretty non-interventionist.

    This is not necessarily meant to disparage (or excommunicate) pre-1970 libertarians like Objectivists, the FEE, or the fusionists at the National Review. But I don’t think the term “libertarian” was widely used then.

  77. Jason Ligon:

    “The price of nonintervention in this case is AT LEAST a 9/11 every month”

    This claim goes beyond simply being unsubstantiated, right into the realm of bizzaro world since it was exactly our government’s interventionist foreign policy that brought on 9/11. Note that the 9/11 commission report reveals:

    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who conceived and directed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was motivated by his strong disagreement with American support for Israel, said the final report of the Sept. 11 commission.

    http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/news/nation/9222612.htm

    It was exactly our government’s intervention in support of the Israeli occupation that motivated the attacks.

    “The price of nonintervention is…tolerance for the oppression of freedom craving Arabs…”

    Our government’s intervention in the form of funding the Israeli government’s occupation, and the thug Egyptian and Jordanian governments finances the oppression of Arabs.

    “All those people cheering in the street as they watch Americans burning alive and jumping to their deaths? They are absolutely part of the problem”

    It’s the actions of our government that breeds this animosity. We have to make it clear to the Arab world that our society is a very different thing than the stupid actions of our government. That we are about the many liberties we enjoy; freedom of speech, capitalism, freedom of association, private property…and the things that these liberties engender such as prosperity and tolerance.

  78. I want to add that we need to also make it clear to people in Arab countries and Iran, that we also struggle with our own government and that we have lost some of our liberty to our government. We must tell them that a ramification of our loss of liberty to our government over the years is that the government has given financial support to regimes that oppress Arab peoples as with the Israeli government’s occupation, and the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes. Also Uzbekistan (Not Arab, but Muslim).

    But, we should also let them know that the ultimate government in our republic is our constitution and that the Constitution allows us to fight back when our elected government gets out of hand.

  79. “”All those people cheering in the street as they watch Americans burning alive and jumping to their deaths? They are absolutely part of the problem”

    It’s the actions of our government that breeds this animosity.”

    Mr. Barton,

    Wow. You’re even more ignorant than I thought.
    Were some terrorist group (or government) to do something like 9/11 (i.e. INTENTIONALLY KILLING INNOCENT CIVILIANS) in a country hated to America (Iran, NK, Syria, etc.), I know no rational, decent person that would cheer that.
    No matter one’s grievances with a government, there is no reason to cheer the death of innocent civilians.

    The fact that people cheered 9/11 is, IMO, much less a reflection of our “decadence” and/or foreign policy than their utter reprehensiveness.

  80. thoreau,

    Thank you for making it clear to me that I’m not being clear enough.

    “Military actions should be judged on their merits or lack thereof, not on the fact that they are tax-funded.”

    I agree, and the primary merit, before the consideration of any others, is that the military actions in question is required for our security. Where the question of taxation enters is that it is unfair to tax people for a military action that is unnecessary for their security, such as the Iraq war and occupation.

  81. Andy,

    I’m not saying the reaction is right, it’s hideous. I’m saying that this reaction is bred by our government’s insipid foreign policy.

  82. As an anarchist I don’t trust any organization with a dime of my money. But, if I did, instead of anything hawkish, I’d put it into facilitating inter-cultural exchanges, helping refugees, creating areas of refuge.
    Instead governments put money into both fences and weapons: typical insanity.
    (At least guns and butter made a little more sense?)

  83. What were libertarians saying about foreign policy during the Cold War?

  84. Kevin: You’re right, but the universe of self-declared libertarians is larger than that. (And it does include many Randians, though the official Rand cult of course disavows any association with the l-word.)

    I’m trying to be purely descriptive here. My own views of what’s most consistent with libertarian principles are another matter.

  85. I don’t know Joe, why don’t you tell us.

  86. Joe:

    Sorry it took me so long to respond. I think we have a confusion in terms and it’s my fault for not clarifying my statement. No libertarian or anarcho-capitalist is against using force when an agressor threatens your property. That’s basic self defense. What I meant by force was initiation of force, or agression. That’s what ancaps object too, which is why they also object to government in general.

  87. Beats me. I’m asking, because on the one hand, they’re pretty hands off, but on the other, they’re fiercely anti-communist.

  88. excellent article by Max Borders! I had not seen Baily’s article earlier – so, thanks for linking to it now.

    I think it is possible (in fact, it is great) to be a libertarian at home and a hawk when it concerns national security.

    I listen to Neal Boortz often; he is a Libertarian (spoke at the convention this year) who sounds like a neocon on the War-related matters.

    I would rather vote for Kerry than for the LP idiot in Nov (as a protest against LP).

  89. And covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.
    — Thomas Hobbes

    Taking Hobbes to heart is not particularly encouraging; especially given how wrong he turned out to be.

    You might say they’re doves at the dinner table, perhaps worried they’ll be shunned by their peers.

    Oh please! Victomology!

    The libertarian hawk takes her cues from Hobbes, not Locke, as the spaces mostly untouched by globalization are, in her view, like a state-of-nature.

    Hobbes was incorrect about the “state of nature” (were his perscriptions about domestic governance right? – I think not). So the argument is based on a bad premise to begin with.

    She understands that freedom does not drop like manna from heaven, but is earned drop-for-drop and coin-for-coin by the sacrifices of blood and treasure.

    This is also a myth; freedom has come about in many ways that have very little to do with warfare (and you implying that warfare is the source of rights by the above blood and filthy lucre argument). Arguing that there is one and only route to freedom is ahistorical at best.

    In short, social contract theory is a constructivist enterprise. And if you stand outside the covenants of Man, you are presumed “enemy.”

    Social contract theory posits a fiction – and stating that a “social contract” is proper because it exists (which is essentially the author’s argument) is a circular argument. Furthermore, we have apparently some underlying majoritarian notions here that need to be ferreted out as well.

    Some of my favorite freedom-loving publications have steered their editorial styles into the hashish den of protest music and anti-Bush priggishness.

    I knew that our President-Savior had to be mentioned somewhere in here.

    …calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq…

    That’s a legitimate view.

    …calling for the US to extend Constitutional privileges to enemy combatants…

    That’s a legitimate view.

    …and claiming that it will be impossible to bring democracy and the Rule of Law to the Middle East.

    Another legitimate view with a hell of a lot of historical evidence to back it up.

    But I would have always preferred to hedge my bets that given enough of the appropriate initial conditions, Iraqis would find that — in the absence of a dangerous dictator — they would begin to form of the mutually beneficial relationships with one another that bring about prosperity and peace.

    This begs the question; sure the “appropriate initial conditions” are needed, but they don’t exist, and they haven’t been fostered by the Bush administration, and it appears that they can’t be. Hell, they can’t even get the security issue dealt with.

    And if we fail, the failure will have been a practical one, not a moral one.

    So what? Indeed, it doesn’t matter whether the failure is practical or moral.

    I am one of those who doesn’t fancy the idea of staring down the point of a chemical warhead before I decide to act. (Even if such warheads turn out to be a chimera today, they won’t likely be tomorrow.)

    So what? This is a throw-away, bullshit statement; indeed, its a red herring that doesn’t address the initial argument. I have no issue with invading a country if it is a threat to the US; I do have a problem with invading a country merely because its a human-rights cesspool – and the pre-emptive argument has ultimately devolved down to this point it appears.

    In the nuclear age, when the degree of certainty that you will be attacked is at fifty percent, you are as good as done for in terms of your ability to protect yourself.

    Fifty percent? Where the fuck does you get this from?

    Thus, preventive action in a world of uncertainty is, unfortunately, the only reasonable course.

    Oh bullshit. There are lots of reasonable courses depending on the nature of the issue; foreclosing the rest based on a dogmatic prediliction for one is downright stupid.

    For the more like us they are, the more likely they are to enter into the tenuous human covenants that are our only means of having peace.

    Apparently there is more than one reasonable option then. Talk about a flip flop!

  90. Of course “libertarian” hawks somehow lightly glide over where the money and blood comes from for these projects…

    Let’s hear from some freedom-loving people who actually had the experience of living in a “civilizing” empire (i.e., Britain), the pseudonymous “Cato”:

    Cato?s Letters No. 87:

    If we consider this question under the head of justice and humanity, what can be more detestable than to murder and destroy mankind, in order to rob and pillage them? War is comprehensive of most, if not all the mischiefs which do or ever can afflict men: It depopulates nations, lays waste the finest countries, destroys arts, sciences, and learning, butchers innocents, ruins the best men, and advances the worst; effaces every trace of virtue, piety, and compassion, and introduces confusion, anarchy, and all kinds of corruption in publick affairs; and indeed is pregnant with so many evils, that it ought ever to be avoided, when it can be avoided; and it may be avoided when a state can be safe without it, and much more so when all the advantages proposed by it can be procured by prudent and just methods.

    Cato’s Letters No. 17:

    [Leaders] will engage their country in ridiculous, expensive, fantastical wars, to keep the minds of men in continual hurry and agitation, and under constant fears and alarms; and, by such means, deprive them both of leisure and inclination to look into publick miscarriages. Men, on the contrary, will, instead of such inspection, be disposed to fall into all measures offered, seemingly, for their defence, and will agree to every wild demand made by those who are betraying them.

    Cato’s Letters No. 94:

    Standing armies are standing curses in every country under the sun, where they are more powerful than the people.

    It is certain, that all parts of Europe which are enslaved, have been enslaved by armies; and it is absolutely impossible, that any nation which keeps them amongst themselves can long preserve their liberties; nor can any nation perfectly lose their liberties who are without such guests: And yet, though all men see this, and at times confess it, yet all have joined in their turns, to bring this heavy evil upon themselves and their country.

    I never yet met with one honest and reasonable man out of power who was not heartily against all standing armies, as threatening and pernicious, and the ready instruments of certain ruin: And I scarce ever met with a man in power, or even the meanest creature of power, who was not for defending and keeping them up: So much are the opinions of men guided by their circumstances! Men, when they are angry with one another, will come into any measures for revenge, without considering that the same power which destroys an enemy, may destroy themselves; and he to whom I lend my sword to kill my foe, may with it kill me.

    Great empires cannot subsist without great armies, and liberty cannot subsist with them. As armies long kept up, and grown part of the government, will soon engross the whole government, and can never be disbanded; so liberty long lost, can never be recovered. Is not this an awful lesson to free states, to be vigilant against a dreadful condition, which has no remedy.

  91. re: ruthless. ahem, dear ruthless, putting your head in the sand does not in any way make you safer. and supporting the inter-cultural exchange, while necessary, is not supported by current world events to be a shield. i’m not sure what part of the world you have been to, or what current events you like to follow, but let me tell you something that may come as a suprise to you: there are bad people out there that want to do bad things to you, your family, and your community that simply can’t be reached through the civil discourse channels. you reach them by either capitulating to them, in which case you and those that share your views, become the first to go against the wall, or you wipe them off the face of the earth. that’s not our choice, but theirs. wake up and smell the coffee friend. we do not live in a fluffy clouds and fleecy lamb world.
    i suppose we could throw up a wall around the entire u.s.a., and pull our head in from world affairs, but then those of us inside that wall would become inmates, not citizens.

  92. Is there a libertarian Hawk? Go ahead and define abortion as murder rather than liberty, and they are called Republicans who are against library censors.

  93. Ronald Bailey, etc., have yet to demonstrate how something which they oppose domestically as lacking efficacy (namely an interventionist government), works abroad. That they ignore the wisdom of Burke is also troubling. That Bailey fails to recognize that Germans and Japanese chose the sorts of societies and governments that they wanted, despite American, etc. efforts to create something else (indeed, the continuity with the past is startling), and that these societal traits were well in line with their past, is also revealing.

  94. gary..

    we really dont have to have paradise in those countries (though, of course they would ideally be minimalist night watchmen states)

    we do need them to be states controlled by their people and not focused on war, but rather on advancing economically

    and the point isn’t interventionist government (as in regulatio etc) abroad… its in ending states and people that mean to do myself and others harm… you know, the whole self defense of others…

    we can solve our problems very quickly, but we’re trying to be nice and use as little force as possible… but, they’re always bottled sunshine to clear things up quick, with no long term intervention.. what’s your preference?

  95. Nice false dichotomy there.

  96. Nice to see someone point out how some of us Libertarians are actually in favor of overthrowing fascist dictators.
    Instead of pretending the middle east is not America’s problem.
    Or pretending we can solve that problem without killing any bad guys.
    Maybe we hawkish Libertarians don’t waste our time marching and yelling in the streets, but we do vote.
    And, much as we might wish for a better option, most of us will be in the Bush column this time around.

  97. Joe: There were libertarians for the Cold War, and there were libertarians against the Cold War. The Libertarian Party, the Cato Institute, and the now-defunct magazines Inquiry and Libertarian Review came down on the anti side. Reason was more hawkish (though it had one or two dissenters on the staff), and there was a “defense caucus” within the LP. The Randians were superhawks.

  98. Libertarian ideas can only work in a stable society with a prevailing rule of law. This creates the foundation for the social and contractual networks that make the society work. In the absence of this stability, libertarian ideas don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.

    We have an island of reasonable stability here in the West, one which needs to be defended from the modern day Mongols. You can either turn the West into a fortress, or you can go out and try to flush the Mongols out and eliminate the threat.

    I have no doubt which one will work better, though neither option is appealing.

  99. Have we discussed the topic that scientists recently discovered the pleasure we get from revenge? Have any of you hawk internalized that?

    Take a terrorist to lunch I say.
    I get no kick from kickin’ ’em.

  100. Do you idiots actually believe the stuff that rolls out of your mouths? “Mongols” my ass… Even if a 9/11 scale attack occurred *every month*, that would still mean more Americans would die in traffic accidents each year than in terrorist attachs. Terrorists have no power to deprive us of our liberties, and at worst they have the power to kill small fractions of the American populace. The only power on Earth capable of inflicting mass repression on American citizens is the US government itself.

  101. The modern day Mongols seem to be quite peace-loving, and focused on their own quiet development. Why would we want to fight them? 😉

    Jesse,

    What do you mean by “anti-Cold War” and “pro-Cold War?” Did the division fall more or less along Republican/Conservative and Liberal/Democrat lines?

  102. Ruthless: You’ll have to try a little harder if you want to be a successful troll.
    SR: I’m sorry you don’t get the difference between accidents and premeditated murder. Hope you haven’t been serving on any juries lately….

  103. Strawman meet McClain, McClain meet strawman. My point was that terrorism (even the use of dirty bombs, suitcase nukes, etc.) poses no existential threat to American society.

  104. Hey,

    we really dont have to have paradise in those countries (though, of course they would ideally be minimalist night watchmen states)

    And have I argued that this was a requirement? Nope.

    and the point isn’t interventionist government (as in regulatio etc) abroad… its in ending states and people that mean to do myself and others harm… you know, the whole self defense of others…

    I am afraid that interventionist in that sense does mean regulation, etc. However, the presumption here is that thugocracies as a rule mean to do Americans harm. I don’t believe that this is the case. Indeed, the vast majority of the world’s thugocracies have no desire to become America’s enemy. So we have some definitional issues here.

  105. The problem is that foreign policy is mostly a question of methods, not principles. (Yes, yes, I know, everybody can come up with an allegedly principled defense of their own hawkish or dovish position, but just hear me out.)

    We all more or less agree on the goal: Stop terrorists from attacking the US. We all agree that this goal follows from the simple principle of defending people from force or fraud.

    We disagree profoundly on the best method for achieving that goal. Some think that we should get as aggressive as possible on the offense and remove every fascist dictator who might be even indirectly linked to a terrorist group. This will not only discourage other governments from aiding terrorists, it will (supposedly) bring peace and hope to a region that’s spawning terrorists. Others think that this action will have too many unintended consequences and actually make things worse, and that a minimalist approach of infiltrating and destroying stateless terrorist networks is the way to go, coupled with military action against any governments that we can directly link to terrorist networks that have attacked the US.

    Today I’ll refrain from debating the issue of which approach is better. I’ve hashed out those arguments ad nauseum. My point is simply that we all more or less agree on the principles, but we disagree profoundly on the application. That makes it so difficult to say that there’s really a “true” libertarian foreign policy.

    Now, the more philosophical types here could probably add some more axioms to the non-aggression principle, and if they worked hard enough they might be able to uniquely specify a foreign policy that follows from those axioms. That’s all well and good, but most of us aren’t philosophers. Most of us simply subscribe to the notion that gov’t should be small and mostly stick to defending us from force and fraud. Where we go from there is a question of application, not principle.

  106. Yeah, thoreau, you’re right. Which explains why Libertarianism is such a marginal force.
    This election will be decided on foreign policy: agressive or passive? Pick one.
    The libertarian candidate this year says “passive.”
    So screw him, whatever, might as well vote Nader or Kerry.
    But Libertarianism as a philosophy says “uh…whatever works, I guess…I dunno….”

    Oh, and: SR? It IS an existential threat, metaphysically.

  107. My foreign policy philosophy derives from the same point that Todd Fletcher makes: libertarian society is based on a rule of law that can enforce property rights, among other things.

    You don’t have that on the world stage. There are international laws, but no controlling authority–the UN is nothing like a sovereign government. So I’m much more pro-defense than most libertarians (small-L).

    That being said, not being a pacifist doesn’t make me a hawk. Making terrible war upon countries, some of whose citizens are heathens who want to take ahr jahbs blow us up, does not necessarily make for a sound philosophical or practical point of view. To me, that’s the fundamental difference between Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan was completely legitimate, as it was a government that was actively harboring the poeple who had demonstrably come over and done us wrong.

    Iraq, on the other hand, was a war against somebody who’d like to see us come to an ill end, but to what degree they were doing anything about it was in question. So being a libertarian in favor of the kind of military that can do Afghanistan and Iraq doesn’t mean I have to support the decision to go into both.

    Of course these are fine points, and as thoreau mentions, the largest considerations are more practical than theoretical. Once you believe it’s acceptable to go to war at all to respond to something like 9/11, the major debate is how to best accomplish it more than the ideological purity of this or that action.

    Nonetheless, I think my distinction is valid, and certainly I think that trying to project the way I’d like the government to behave at home onto the international arena is a fool’s errand.

  108. Hard to tell what MY mistake is in McClain’s view as it seems that he has made some assumption as to what my perspective encompasses.
    The government is not YOUR “super-powered but retarded servant”, it’s everyone’s and no one’s.

    Whatever it is, it’s not what you would like it to be, or what anyone would like it to be.
    It is the manifestation of human expedience, laziness, fear, group think, wishfull thinking, etc.

    So many people suffer the dictator syndrome, where they think the government would work just fine if they were in charge.

  109. “The simple fact of the matter is that even an ideal libertarian government will have a military, and that military will be funded by some sort of tax.” Not necessarily so. There is a body of literaure on private defense alternatives. If these alternatives were available, then most of the posters on this thread could be perfectly free to be libertarian hawks, because their own money would be funding the military ventures they believe are necessary. If you want military intervention, perhaps I cannot dissuade you. However, you have no right to confiscate my money to fund military ventures I am morally opposed to simply because you believe they are necessary. If you want to be a hawk, volunteer to fight the war yourself, and do it with your own money.

  110. To all the hawks:

    I am all for helping to liberate other people: give me power to conscript and I’ll send your children to die for the cause. Heck I might even send you.

    The tradition of volunteering to go and help others was a bad idea. Yeesh, those who want to help got to do the helping with their own bodies. What nitwits to think in such primitive ways.

    My children are more equal than yours so they’ll stay out of harms to make sure that the supply of cannon foder, er conscripts, er helpers, er liberators, do not run dry.

    Deo Vindice
    Jaime

  111. Jason Ligon,

    Again I am astounded by the argument that a 9/11 every month would not destroy America utterly, that there is no danger of Iran marching down Main St., so we have no justification for foreign intervention.

    (a) Nations have undergone far worse and survived.

    (b) Well, one way to measure the danger of a foreign foe is to determine whether they any real ability to harm you; in the case of Iraq that has not been demonstrated.

    Doing nothing in the face of repeated bombing is the choice to allow New Yorkers to die at the hands of terrorists.

    Who argues that we should do nothing? No one. Such a choice is NOT argued for. You however are illogically equating doing something to stop those involved with 9/11 with invading Iraq. They aren’t neccessarily the same thing.

    The incessant libertarian dovish squak that nonintervention exempts you from ‘blowback’ needs to be dragged out into the light for examination.

    There is a difference between attacking one’s enemies, and attacking thugsocracies because there are thugocracies; you are illogically equating the two.

    The price of nonintervention in this case is AT LEAST a 9/11 every month, loss of wealth that goes with the disruption of the economy, increased demand for government services as roads and jobs are blown up, an undeterred threat to every American every month, and tolerance for the oppression of freedom craving Arabs under regimes that support bombing. How smug can you be to say that doing nothing as a self evident principle offsets all that?

    You appear to imply here that if the US were directly attacked that some are arguing that the US should not counter-attack; can you please demostrate anyone making this argument besides yourself? Its certainly NOT an argument I have made.

  112. Jason Ligon,

    The animosity comes from A) The poverty and obvious backwardness of those living under muslim theocracies and B) The successful redirection of anger about such a sorry state at the icon of western success by politial movement that wears religious garb.

    If its poverty, one wonders why so many of the folks involved with 9/11 come from affluent backgrounds? The terrorists have real beefs with their own governments and with the government of the United States; some of these things are legitimate criticisms and some are not, and perhaps none are a cassus belli in themselves (though what is and what is not a proper cassus belli can be argued about until the cow’s come home).

    The large war is creating conditions of increasing wealth in the region.

    There is a “war to create wealth?” Is this going to be a bit like the “war on drugs?” 🙂

    The clerics on the one hand and the tyrants on the other do their best to ensure control of society, which means keeping people desperate. There will be no victory on the wealth front until those guys are gone.

    I dunno, the Saudis have no problem with folks being wealthy.

    A childish insistence that this is all about Israel is nothing more than a blanket acceptance of jihadist propaganda that happens to comport with a policy preference you hold.

    Israel is a major compotent of their ideology; dismissing this is ignoring reality.

    Without our funding of the occupation, Israel will have to rely on killing people for security to a much greater extent than they do now.

    Please justify this wholly unsubstantiated claim.

  113. SR
    For what it is worth, i’m agreeing with everything you are saying, especially liked the Cato Letters.

  114. Rick Barton,

    “…it does not substantiate your original claim that upon our government’s troops departure…”

    Actually my original claim didn’t specify that Iraq would become a terrorist paradise upon the departure of our troops. I suspect, rather, that a civil war will occur first, and a terrorist breeding ground supported by a state or quasi-state will probably develop shortly thereafter.

    The US “Peace keeping” force seems to be the target here as Iraqi forces or police are only attacked if they are in service to the US troops.

    As long as American troops are in Iraq, no faction will have complete autonomy, and, in that way, the presence of American troops represents a threat to every faction. Common enemies often bring factions together who would otherwise be fighting each other. For all we know, if our troops were removed, the major factions in Iraq would go after each other like vicious dogs.

    While it’s true that I can’t point to a civil war in progress, there are a number of factors suggesting that a civil war is likely. There are the arbitrary borders drawn by European imperialists. There’s a cultural majority historically mistreated by the minority in power. There’s oil. Suggesting that, in the absence of an intervening force, such kindling is likely to catch fire doesn’t seem like a slippery slope to me, and, quite frankly, it doesn’t seem very controversial either.

  115. A libertarian state would not prevent the raising and deployment of a private army to intercede in foreign affairs. The population of a libertarian nation is not necessarily 100% libertarian, nor even necessarily majority lib, as the primary libertarian requirement is limited government, not total agreement on principles. Interventionist hawks could pursue their megalomania, but without endorsement or direct aid from the state.

    In a sense, the foreign states might see Libertopia as a “rogue state providing haven for terrorists”. Wars become non-national in nature.

    (Few current nations have demonstrated the will to attack such rogue states, so Libertopia would be condemned by the UN, but mostly unmolested)

  116. Regarding the question of whether it is possible to be both a libertarian and a hawk:
    An interesting comparison could be between the Soviet Union and China. Both were/are evil, repressive communist regimes. With the Soviet Union, the US spent untold billions fighting the cold war, finally the soviet union collapsed. At the time of the collapse, many people predicted that the former soviet union would become a democracy and embrace free enterprise. Instead the former soviet union continues to be a thugery, just smaller and in a somewhat different form.

    Contrast that with how the US has dealt with China. No cold war, instead trade, trade, trade.
    And China is gradually becoming more liberal and definitely more capitalistic.

    From a libertarian point of view, the China approach is definitely the way to go.

    “if trade crosses borders, soldiers won’t.”

  117. Gary:

    “Who argues that we should do nothing?”

    SR for one argued that a 9/11 every month is not something we should worry about, that the perpetrators of such acts are should not be characterized as ‘Mongols’ because they have no ability to hurt us.

    In addition to this blatant bit, there are numerous arguments that retaliation is fine so long as no one gets hurt except confirmed terrorists, which means retaliation is not fine ever. Oh, and taxpayer funded militaries are immoral, so retaliation using that vehicle is immoral irrespective of target choice.

    “(a) Nations have undergone far worse and survived.”

    Oh, well, nations have survived the plague, so we shouldn’t worry about bioterrorism. Japan survived the bomb, too. They can’t kill us ALL and destroy utterly our political institutions, so why bother retaliating? If that isn’t the argument, why bring it up?

    “(b) Well, one way to measure the danger of a foreign foe is to determine whether they any real ability to harm you; in the case of Iraq that has not been demonstrated.”

    Another way is to take him at his word. Our respective criteria for self defence don’t equate. I am willing to treat a guy with one hand in his pocket as though he has a gun if he won’t show me his hands. You are comfortable assuming he doesn’t have a gun as long as you can’t see it.

    “There is a difference between attacking one’s enemies, and attacking thugsocracies because there are thugocracies; you are illogically equating the two.”

    Saddam Hussein was an enemy of the United States, make no mistake. We are arguing over capability, not intentions. Attacking a weak enemy who is also a thug has costs and benefits. Attacking a stronger enemy has costs and benefits.

    “If its poverty, one wonders why so many of the folks involved with 9/11 come from affluent backgrounds? The terrorists have real beefs with their own governments and with the government of the United States;”

    Poverty attracts the masses. The ESSENTIAL problem of terrorism is that it is fostered and tolerated by the masses. If we get to a point where jihadists are viewed as bearers of plague and misery by the masses, the rest is relatively easy. Terrorism ceases to function if there are no ‘innocent’ people willing to serve as human shields for the ‘actual’ terrorists.

    I don’t think you are disputing this. What you seem to believe is that Israel is a primary attractor for the masses, and what I believe is that Israel is a convenient excuse that could as easily be replaced with the South American marxist spiel about the US stealing all the Arab money. I frankly don’t give a flying crap what OBL feels I should be doing. Concentrating on Israel is concentrating on a minor premise.

    IMHO, what motivates medium wealthy jihadists (i.e. those willing to blow themselves up) is loss of stature that is concomitant with the poverty that surrounds them. Pan arabism and the muslim empire, such as it is, has produced nothing but misery compared to the rest of the world. The poverty all around causes people to laugh at the arabs as incompetent, perhaps even to laugh at Islam.

    The last group is the guys running the show. They are wealthy and are primarily interested in attaining and maintaining fiefdoms. OBL isn’t flying planes into buildings, and he is running like hell to avoid being blown up.

    Re: funding Israel.

    Why does Israel maintain an active military presence in the occupied territory? Every time the military pulls back, the PLO or the PA, supposedly in charge of security, facilitates more bombings. The maintenance of an active military presence on your border is very expensive, and is only possible for long durations because we help fund it. With satisfaction, some smirk that if we leave, the occupation ends. I am arguing that this is simplistic reasoning. The underlying cause of maintaining military presence and sustaining periodic incursions into the West Bank, as far as Israelis are concerned, does not go away with the withdrawal of American dollars. If the need remains constant and the funding to sustain a dominant force for an extended period of time evaporates, some are satisfied that Israel will simply give everything back and that will be that, while I am skeptical. Fighting with your hands tied behind your back is the privilidge of wealthy forces. The force that Arabs faced in Yom Kippur understood that a sustained strategic defence is not possible in their situation, so they compensated with aggression. Remove the money that permits sustained dominanace, and that may well be the option again.

  118. Jason Ligon,

    Arguing that it would not hurt us is NOT the same thing as arguing that one should not doing anything about it. You’re jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions.

    Oh, well, nations have survived the plague, so we shouldn’t worry about bioterrorism.

    And when did I say we should do nothing? You’re jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions.

    Another way is to take him at his word.

    And when did I say that one should take Saddam at his word? I clearly have not stated this.

    Our respective criteria for self defence don’t equate. I am willing to treat a guy with one hand in his pocket as though he has a gun if he won’t show me his hands. You are comfortable assuming he doesn’t have a gun as long as you can’t see it.

    And if you shoot and kill him and he had nothing in his pocket then you’ve committed homocide with a weak justification or excuse for your behavior. Sorry, but you’re creating a false dichotomy here.

    The ESSENTIAL problem of terrorism is that it is fostered and tolerated by the masses.

    Care to substantiate this comment?

    I don’t think you are disputing this. What you seem to believe is that Israel is a primary attractor for the masses, and what I believe is that Israel is a convenient excuse that could as easily be replaced with the South American marxist spiel about the US stealing all the Arab money.

    People have real problems with Israel’s actions; nothing can explain away this reality. That Arab governments are themselves problematic doesn’t mean that Israel’s actions aren’t problematic as well.

    Concentrating on Israel is concentrating on a minor premise.

    If terrorists state that it is a MAJOR PREMISE, then ignoring it becomes foolish after a point.

    IMHO, what motivates medium wealthy jihadists (i.e. those willing to blow themselves up) is loss of stature that is concomitant with the poverty that surrounds them.

    Loss of stature? To whom?

    Pan arabism and the muslim empire, such as it is, has produced nothing but misery compared to the rest of the world.

    Such comparisons are silly and founder on the rocks of objective criteria.

  119. Jose,
    Cute little fable. If I have a toddler who cannot swim, and I cannot swim, and I take him on a boat ride in a lake without a life jacket, that makes me a stupid idiot and a criminally neglectful parent. While it would be great if Bob jumped in after my kid, exactly how does the fact that I am abysmally stupid exert a moral claim on him?

  120. Ideologues and who they don?t like – The neat thing about ideological nutcases is that they?re quite happy to tell you who they think are to blame for the entire world?s problems and what they?d like to do to them. The ideologue who graduated summa cum laude from Nutcase U., the Austrian fellow with the moustache, disliked Communists, Pacifists, and Jews due to his blaming them for the unpleasant outcome of The Great War (the one the interventionists fought to make the world safe for democracy naturally). When the Arabian fellow with the beard and his followers tell us who doesn?t make their love list and why (Israeli occupation of Palestine, American occupation of Arabia, et cetera), I think it?s safe to take them at their word here.

    Non intervention ? Switzerland has a high level of prosperity, modernity, and ?freedoms? yet I?m not aware of any spectacular feats of aviation recently taking place there or ?Death to Switzerland? rallies routinely (ever?) taking place throughout the world. They also haven?t been involved in a foreign war since 1515. Perhaps there?s a connection?

  121. Virtually every individual Bob would save the kid, as instinct (or gamble for a hero fuck). A society-sized group of Bobs have to take time to assess the information and coordinate action, as they are not all present on the scene.

    The fable presents a principle as separate from the human who holds it. Principles guide actions, but are not actions in themselves.

  122. “Arguing that it would not hurt us is NOT the same thing as arguing that one should not doing anything about it. You’re jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions.”

    Then what IS the argument? Why would one bring up that terrorists should not be treated as mongols because they can’t really hurt us even with a 9/11 every month if one isn’t arguing against treating them like mongols?

    “And if you shoot and kill him and he had nothing in his pocket then you’ve committed homocide with a weak justification or excuse for your behavior. Sorry, but you’re creating a false dichotomy here.”

    Run that argument by a cop some time and see what he thinks about it. Absolute failure to show your hands will get you lawfully shot. Yes, we are to Saddam as cop is to suspect.

    “The ESSENTIAL problem of terrorism is that it is fostered and tolerated by the masses.

    Care to substantiate this comment?”

    You mean like, ‘OBL said X, so it must be true?’ We are all only offering opinions, even you, so ‘substantiate’ only means so much here. Terrorists depend on anonymity and a complicit or compliant populace to hide them. Why are there any terrorists alive in Afghanistan? Why are there any alive in the West Bank? Because non terrorists can support the cause by making retaliation with precision impossible. In the absence of such cover, terrorists would be easy to find, and they would all get dead or captured. Driving a wedge between the populace at large and the truly committed jihadist is the best we can hope for. Leaders of terrorist organizations and tyrants in middle eastern countries get leverage by propagandizing against a common enemy. It just seems to me that trying to conform our behavior to that which is unpropagandizable is missing the point.

    “People have real problems with Israel’s actions; nothing can explain away this reality. That Arab governments are themselves problematic doesn’t mean that Israel’s actions aren’t problematic as well.”

    Sure they have real problems with Israeli policy. People disagree about things all the time. The question is, to what extent are people in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan truly motivated to blow themselves up over the plight of the Palestinians? You think to a great extent, I doubt that very seriously. Again, we are both offering opinions.

    “If terrorists state that it is a MAJOR PREMISE, then ignoring it becomes foolish after a point.”

    Only if one views the public rabble rousing statements of terrorists as truly indicative of anything other than the preferred propaganda line. How much weight do you give the unibomber manifesto?

    “Loss of stature? To whom?”

    Come on Gary. Nit pickism again. It might occur to the objective eye that the muslim world is not exactly, er, modern. GDPs are low, and if you remove oil, truly abysmal. Major contributions to the world by the muslim world stopped a little while ago.

    “Such comparisons are silly and founder on the rocks of objective criteria. ”

    In some respects, perhaps. I don’t know what objective criteria could place the muslim world along side western democracies in the last 200 years, though.

    Aside: It is a Gunnelsian tendency to engage in Nitpickus Post Modernius. Didn’t anyone tell you that there are no objective criteria? You seem to have a deep and abiding love for deconstructing positions to demonstrate wise neutrality. I don’t think it is really the case that most arguments have to pass some sort of universal neutrality test to be valid, and as long as we define ourselves clearly, comparisons are a perfectly valid exercise. You repeatedly accuse me of jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions about positions as in the ‘it won’t hurt us is not the same as we shouldn’t do anything about it’. It is perfectly reasonable to derive from that comment, ‘well, if it doesn’t hurt us, and there is a cost to doing something about it, and I know GG has time and again said that we can only defend ourselves from real threats, and a threat is defined to be something that can harm you, I can’t imagine why GG would do anything about it.’ Your response is a distinct but unenlightening sort of ‘you are jumping to unwarranted conclusions about my position,’ without specifying what your position actually is. It just seems to me that many of your good points are buried under casual dismissals of arguments that don’t contain a deconstructed chain of reasoning from first principles. Certainly your positions, if spelled out, are subject to the same analysis, but there is a forest and trees distinction that we probably try to maintain.

    Back to the case at hand. Besides, I am arguing precisely that such comparisons aren’t silly to everyone. There is much of Us and Them in Islam. The state of communications makes comparisons easy and public to anyone above a certain level of wealth (bearing in mind who we are talking about here). Pan arabism is certainly a movement along these lines. It is a consolidation of us against them.

  123. Mark the moment…It was at 6:01 PM, Eastern Daylight Time, September 10, 2004, the day before September 11, when Jason Ligon coined the term, “Gunnelsian”.

    What do you have to do around here to get such an honor? Now Gunnels has his own word! I was already impressed by the emergence of anti-Gunnels, not-joe and the like. I was hoping that somehow I might some day rank a not-Ken Shultz, but now Gunnels one ups us all and gets his own word!

    If more than a couple of people use the word “Gunnelsian” in print, I think they’re supposed to add it to the Oxford English Dictionary.

    Putting aside the question of how to get your own word, I have to wonder what my word, if ever I was lucky enough to get one, might be. “Shultzian” doesn’t do it for me, and I’d hate to become a verb as in, “He had a really good argument going, but then he “Shultzed” it.

  124. Jason Ligon:

    “The question is, to what extent are people in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan truly motivated to blow themselves up over the plight of the Palestinians?”

    You may continue to choose to ignore the evidence that our government’s support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land motivated 9/11 but the evidence that it did is overwhelming. For the last time on this thread:

    “Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who conceived and directed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was motivated by his strong disagreement with American support for Israel, said the final report of the Sept. 11 commission.”

    http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/news/nation/9222612.htm

    “With satisfaction, some smirk that if we leave, the occupation ends.”

    There are those on the Israeli right, albeit a much more free market right than Sharon represents that contend exactly that. The important point for us is that if our government wasn’t financing it, and it is a shameful thing for our government to do anyway, 9/11 probably wouldn’t have happened. It makes no sense for our government to keep financing this land grab by an industrialized nation. The occupation has nothing to do with Israeli security. What in the Hell kind of security zone moves civilians into it? It has every thing to do with a “Greater Israel” land grab.
    Note that when Winston S. Churchill III in 1973 asked Ariel Sharon, “What is to become of the Palestinians land?” Sharon answered: “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in twenty-five years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.”

  125. Jason, most of your post was incomprehensible to me but a few bits stood out as worth commenting on

    ?Terrorists depend on anonymity and a complicit or compliant populace to hide them.?

    Mohammed Atta and company were living among the complicit and compliant population of what country before taking their pilot auditions?

    ?In the absence of such cover, terrorists would be easy to find, and they would all get dead or captured.?

    Since the government of that country couldn?t find Mohammed and his merry men then it?s obvious they were sheltered by the local populace. So do we need a preventive war against that country?

    ?Leaders of terrorist organizations and tyrants in middle eastern countries get leverage by propagandizing against a common enemy.?

    Heard anyone calling for perpetual wars against Islam/Arabs/et cetera lately?

  126. Can there be something like a libertarian hawk, knowing that interventions abroad often means war and that, pace Randolph Bourne, war is the health of the state? (Liberal interventionists don?t have that problem of course, because contrary to libertarians they are quite happy with a big and healthy state.) I think Max Borders is right in the sense that i do believe that there can be something like a libertarian hawk. If Bourne is right, and war is the health of the state, then, even as a libertarian, we must ask the question, what state? If a democratic state starts a war against a totalitarian state, let?s say Iraq, and the consequence of that war is the elimination of that totalitarian state, then i?m quite happy to support such a war. A democratic state is preferable to a totalitarian state because a democratic state can be reformed towards a more libertarian one without war. Libertarians have quite some instruments, like think thanks, lobbying and so on, to make domestic reforms possible. Of course even a totalitarian state can implode without war, like the former Soviet Union did. But even in this case there was enourmous outside pressure, such as the defense buildup under Reagan, which could have provided the “tipping point”, the same way American intervention did in Iraq.

    There is a second reason to forget Bourne?s dictum and go for a “hawkish” foreign policy (i.e. intervention). There is something more important than the health of the state, that is, the health of the individual. Removing a dictator, preventing genocide or stopping civil war maybe good for the “health” of the American state-sponsored military-industrial complex, but it is, i think also morally the right thing to do. It prevents that the rights of the individual (foremost life, liberty and property) are violated. Removing Saddam and the Taliban were the right thing to do, so would be the halting of the genocide in Darfur. It saved and an can save lives, and brought and can bring liberty to millions of people. But we need a “state” for that. Let?s hope that that state is a democratic one, that respects individual rights and is based on a free market economy. For that we need libertarians who concentrate on domestic reforms and stop whining about liberal interventions that are bad for the health of foreign states but good for individual rights. Libertarian hawks, in two words.

  127. Cool discussion. For those who oppose interventionism, do you oppose it on principle (i.e., that one nation should not force other nations to adopt a more liberal, democratic government, even if such intervention might have generally positive results), for pragmatic reasons (“sure, ideally I don’t mind the U.S. getting rid of a nasty dictator, but practically speaking this causes more trouble than it’s worth”), or a mixture of both?

  128. “It’s the actions of our government that breeds this animosity. We have to make it clear to the Arab world that our society is a very different thing than the stupid actions of our government. That we are about the many liberties we enjoy; freedom of speech, capitalism, freedom of association, private property…and the things that these liberties engender such as prosperity and tolerance.”

    The animosity comes from A) The poverty and obvious backwardness of those living under muslim theocracies and B) The successful redirection of anger about such a sorry state at the icon of western success by politial movement that wears religious garb.

    The large war is creating conditions of increasing wealth in the region. But, guess what, we all know that is not going to happen in a theocracy. The clerics on the one hand and the tyrants on the other do their best to ensure control of society, which means keeping people desperate. There will be no victory on the wealth front until those guys are gone.

    A childish insistence that this is all about Israel is nothing more than a blanket acceptance of jihadist propaganda that happens to comport with a policy preference you hold. In a terminal cancer patient, you have diagnosed the sniffles.

    Should we be in bed with Israel to the extent we are? Maybe not, but there are consequences to every action. Without our funding of the occupation, Israel will have to rely on killing people for security to a much greater extent than they do now. The sad truth in that region is that occupation breeds resentment, but it is the only measure that has had any success in slowing the tide of bombings. The fence is a damn good idea if you ask me, but ultimately irrelevant to the war against terrorists.

  129. A Fable

    A libertarian fellow (we’ll call him “Bob”) asks a woman for a date. “OK,” she say, “but I have to bring my young child.” Bob takes her and her toddler son on a romantic boat ride on an idyllic lake. The toddler falls over the side. The woman screams that she can’t swim and yells to Bob, “Save him!”

    Bob looks at her puzzled. “But saving a child is well outside of the bounds of our implied dating contract.”

    The woman’s jaw drops. “You have to save him; he can’t swim!” Bob strokes his jaw and replies, “From whence does this supposed obligation come?” Bob then quotes an obscure and lengthy passage from a libertarian thinker while the child thrashs in the water.

    The woman, wildly desperate, screams, “I’ll do anything you want; I’ll have sex with you! Just save him please!” Bob smiles and agrees… but by this time the child is bobbing face down in the water, quite dead.

    Bob, of course, is disappointed. “Had you not wasted time with irrational outbursts,” he observes, “the free market would have provided a mutually beneficial solution.”

    “I can’t believe you let him die,” the woman wails. Bob tries to comfort her. “Look at the bright side,” he says. “At least my principles are safe and sound.”

  130. “Mohammed Atta and company were living among the complicit and compliant population of what country before taking their pilot auditions?”

    I can’t help but think you missed the point. If there was no tolerance for their presence, if they were perceived by members of their homeland as criminal murderers, we would only be dealing with a few nutcases. Terrorism writ large is the problem that these folks are heroes to a great many people. We would have reduced the problem to McVeigh proportions, which is what I presume you are getting at. The problem is those guys dancing in the street. You don’t see that with unibomber successes. The only reason terrorists aren’t dead or captured in similar proportions to other violent criminals is that they are a cultural phenomenon. Don’t all you doves remember crying that you can’t kill AQ because others will just take their place? That is precisely my point. Those guys dancing in the street absolutely serve as willing shields for terrorists.

    You tell me, where does the Atta trail run cold after the fact, or do you perceive that Atta himself is the only real problem?

  131. “Heard anyone calling for perpetual wars against Islam/Arabs/et cetera lately?”

    Oh, yes by all means that is a perfectly reasonable comparison. No difference at all.

    I believe the call was for perpetual wars against Muslims that support terrorists, against Arabs that support terrorists and probably against et cetera that support terrorists. If you know a terrorist is living next door, and you fail to turn him in, THAT is complicity.

  132. Jason hit it right on the head.

    No one is arguing that Isreal has some bad policies, (at least no one on this thread). The point at hand, though, is that when you have people dancing in the streets over the horrific deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians it’s a whole new ballgame. Even at Pearl Harbor, the target was a military one.

    Of course, one could make the argument that by destroying the WTC, the terrorists goal was to make a significant dent in the economic power of the US , thus reducing funding for what they view as anti-Arab policies (i.e. our unconditional support for Isreal). That would be understandable in itself. However, the fact that they chose to maximize the civilian casualties (crashing commercial airliners full of people into office buildings in the middle of a workday) says quite a bit. I haven’t heard too many Arab commentators saying “well, i can comprehend the desire to cripple their economy, but the intentional desire to kill so many innocent people is inexcusable.”

  133. Jason,

    Your conclusion that the terrorism from the Arab world directed toward us is just a result of poverty and theocracy ignores the compelling evidence that it is a reaction to our government’s intervention in the Mid-east. They don’t hate us, they hate the actions of our government.

    In his 9/11 Fatwa Bin Laden told us the three reasons for the 9/11 attack:

    1. The American military in the Arabian Peninsula too close to Mecca. (This idiocy is at last ended)
    2.The blockade if Iraq.
    3. American government support for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestinian land.

    http://www.ict.org.il/articles/fatwah.htm

    Jason:
    “A childish insistence that this is all about Israel is nothing more than a blanket acceptance of jihadist propaganda…”

    This statement ignores the evidence that it was exactly our government’s intervention in support of the Israeli occupation that motivated the 9/11 attacks.

    Note that the 9/11 commission report reveals:

    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who conceived and directed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was motivated by his strong disagreement with American support for Israel, said the final report of the Sept. 11 commission.

    http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/news/nation/9222612.htm

    Jason:

    “The sad truth in that region is that occupation breeds resentment, but it is the only measure that has had any success in slowing the tide of bombings.”

    What?? There were hardly any bombings before 67′. (if any at all) The occupation is obviously not about security-what a weird security zone it is that they put civilians in! The occupation is about the “Greater Israel” idea that is motivated by religious nut balls in Israel.

    “The fence is a damn good idea if you ask me, but ultimately irrelevant to the war against terrorists.”

    It’s an instrument of grand theft. Were you a fan of the Berlin Wall too? Wheather or not you like, and I loath, the “fence” is not what is relevant. The problem is that our government is paying for it and the blood of the victims of 9/11 is all over that insane policy.

  134. Whenever I participate in debates like this, I am reminded that Man is not so much a Rational Animal as a Rationalizing Animal.
    Everyone is right, with sound arguments to prove it, and all the facts back them up.
    If you disagree with them, you must be ignorant, or a bad person, or incapable of logic.
    Still, it?s interesting to see what excuses people come up with to justify their prejudices.
    And people sometimes change their minds?.
    I would?ve laughed at the thought of voting for Bush in 2000, for example.
    And here I am, making excuses for the guy and planning to vote for him, just because he attacked Iraq. Go figure.
    I found some of what?s been said here thought provoking (even if one of those thoughts was ?Oh THAT?S why the Libertarian Party will never amount to anything: because it?s full of charmlessly tendentious crypto-anarchists.?
    On that note: good fable, Jose!)
    But I think I?ve said my piece. If it didn?t make sense to you, eh?whatev.
    Viva Bush! 😉

  135. Just to clarify, I don’t think it’d be right to cripple our economy!!!

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