Beyond Minimalism

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Over at TCS, Pejman Yousefzadeh has a bone to pick with libertarian foreign-policy "minimalists," namely that minimalism is more about how the world should work than how it does work.

Yousefzadeh identifies himself as a foreign-policy "realist," a position he describes this way: " [T]he world is fundamentally anarchic, nation-states are the prime actors in this anarchic world and nation-states seek to maximize power, either for power's own sake or for the preservation of security." He notes that "while realists may not like the way the world works, they argue that realist theory is the best way to understand how it does work."

By contrast, "libertarian minimalists appear to lack . . . an alternative explanatory theory of how the international system works, one that would perhaps serve as the intellectual foundation for the idealist foreign policy platform of the libertarian minimalist school." Rather, "the libertarian minimalist school purports to explain how the world should work and how foreign policy should be conducted."

Yousefzadeh writes that "it is not enough to fashion an idealistic foreign policy. Libertarian minimalists must take the extra step to fashion a doctrine that debunks realism and supports their own foreign policy outlook. They must seek to explain how the international system is not a Hobbesian stage where the maximization of power is the central foreign policy goal, or that if it is, libertarian minimalism can somehow be consistent with the Hobbesian realist outlook."

There was a related exchange last year between Ryan Sager and Radley Balko. Ron Bailey on Libertarianism in One State? is here. Nick Gillespie's thoughts on defining foreign-policy success in the Middle East are here. The appearance of a Hobbesian "neolibertarianism" was noted here.

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  1. Is it realistic to think that going out of your way to find and disturb a hornet’s nest will be free of unpleasant consequences?

  2. “…nation-states are the prime actors in this anarchic world…”

    OK, is there anyone who can’t spot the fallacy it the above? Anyone? Is it really necessary to consider any of the rest of the flatulence from this author?

  3. While I’m generally in disagreement with describing a world full of governments as “anarchic,” I think his point is that we can view the world as anarchy insofar as individual nation-states operate in a framework devoid of a centralized world government.

  4. Yeah, that’s standard poli-sci jargon.

    Not that I agree with Yousefzadeh’s article, which does a better job of laying out his own foreign-policy views than of grappling with those of his opponents. Next time, he should try harder to comprehend the positions of the “libertarian minimalists” he criticizes — many of whom operate in the realist framework themselves — before he attacks them.

  5. Uh, wasn’t Michael Young just scoffing at “realists” for their lack of faith in government initiatives abroad?

  6. “Next time, he should try harder to comprehend the positions of the “libertarian minimalists” he criticizes — many of whom operate in the realist framework themselves — before he attacks them.”

    Hear, hear!

    “By contrast, “libertarian minimalists appear to lack . . . an alternative explanatory theory of how the international system works, one that would perhaps serve as the intellectual foundation for the idealist foreign policy platform of the libertarian minimalist school.”

    Once it clicks that the lion’s share of the “libertarian minimalist” school is grounded in realism rather than idealism, I would hope he would drop the suggestion that “libertarian minimalists” require an alternative theory of everything.

    …I’m no master of String Theory, but I don’t think String Theorists base their argument on the observation that their detractors don’t have a working theory of everything.

    …The Powell Doctrine doesn’t require the foreign policy equivalent of a working theory of everything. Arguing that our armed forces should only be used as a function of self-defense doesn’t require the foreign policy equivalent of a working theory of everything.

  7. Jargon aside, my own struggles with libertarian dovism rest with the near religious fervor surrounding the terms ‘backlash’ and ‘blowback’. It is just taken as a given that taking action always generates more problems than sitting on your butt. The next phase of the argument is argumentum ad alternate history, where everything wrong with the world would not be wrong if only the US had stayed at home. It is a completely unsubstantiated claim that forms the largest part of the consequentialist libertarian foreign policy argument.

    I have problems, too, with the ideological argument, that one can always have moral comfort so long as one watches and does nothing.

  8. R U A MNMLST?

  9. …Arguing that deposing Third World Dictators and projecting democracy by way of Reverse Domino Theory will ultimately serve America’s interests best does, to my eye, require a working theory of everything.

    …and so does central planning.

  10. What’s this? Libertarians constructing political theories with no resemblance whatever to how the world actual operates? I’m scandalized!

  11. I’m not sure who’s blaming all problems of the world on U.S. foreign policy. As for having “moral comfort” from inaction, this is absolutely correct from a libertarian perspective. The fact that you could do something does not mean you are morally obligated to do it, especially given the nature of modern war, in which the people killed are frequently innocent of any aggression. I believe the libertarian desire for no foreign policy derives from the non-aggression axiom, which some of you may be familiar with.

    A more practical way of looking at it, since some of you have a problem with pricipled ideology, is that defending foreign victims of aggression is a good way of turning a local conflict into an global one, or even if the war stays mostly localized, butting in is a good way of getting many more people killed.

  12. Anyone notice the inference from no centralized state authority to no moral or legal norms?

  13. Libertarian minimalists must take the extra step to fashion a doctrine that debunks realism and supports their own foreign policy outlook. They must seek to explain how the international system is not a Hobbesian stage where the maximization of power is the central foreign policy goal, or that if it is, libertarian minimalism can somehow be consistent with the Hobbesian realist outlook.

    Okay. I’ll bite.

    The bad premise the author is working from is that all international relations are war, bullying, and diplomacy. Rather, in fact, almost all international relations are trade, trade, and trade. To the nearest 10%, 100% of the people who deal with foreigners do so as part of private corporations and markets.

    A free society values the freedom of trade very highly — so much so, that it really doesn’t behoove it to make enemies abroad. The free society shows a very libertarian face to the rest of the world. Furthermore, that freedom of trade, and freedom in general, raises the standard of living of the members of the free society such that citizens of other societies want to emulate it.

    As free trade increases, the rising interdependence between members of the societies makes war an extremely costly prospect to broad swaths of both populations. The result of all this is that libertarian societies beget other libertarian societies, and nonaggression begets nonaggression.

    As the president reminded us in excusing regime-change in Iraq: democracies don’t make war on other democracies. As another example, the 19th century great powers were relatively peaceful primarily because of the rise of laissez faire economic thinking and the common gold standard. It was the nations’ differing inflations of currencies and the protectionism required to obscure their real values that led to the rising enmity between economic blocs and finally World War I.

    As an aside to appease the realists, note that the greater wealth, innovation, and organization of a free society means that provision of its own defense is better and cheaper than the war-making powers of belligerent states, especially considering that defense is much cheaper in general than offense.

  14. “As the president reminded us in excusing regime-change in Iraq: democracies don’t make war on other democracies.”

    I just googled and came across the following link:

    http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/demowar.htm

    I don’t know anything about this guy, but he seems to make a lot of sense on this question.

    …but his analysis only seems to deal with events prior to 1999, so I’m not sure if the McDonald’s observation is still accurate. Maybe we could go with Bob’s Big Boy? Is it not true that no two countries have ever gone to war while both of them had a Bob’s Big Boy within their borders?

  15. GENERAL: So he’s back.

    CONTROLLER: The Big Boy never really was gone sir. He’s still producing great food at low prices.

    Mwuhahahaha!

  16. Great link, Ken – it saves me the trouble of dredging up all of those examples myself. From my own reading of history, democracies have been as willing to go to war against each other as any other form of government – it all depends on perceived national self-interest, relative advantage and implicit or explicit external threats. France and Great Britain spent the better part of the 19th Century wondering whether the next war would find them fighting with or against each other – they did the former in the Crimea in 1854-55, and came very close to the latter in 1898 over Fashoda.

    It’s true that trade is a major driving factor in international relations, but to ascribe WWI purely to economic factors strikes me as overly facile. Britain was antagonized by the German naval buildup, Austria and Russia were at odds over the Balkans, France wanted Alsace-Lorraine back and was deathly afraid of German numerical superiority, and Italy was out for whatever it could get – there were many factors at work in the breakdown of the European political order in 1914.

  17. It’s true that trade is a major driving factor in international relations, but to ascribe WWI purely to economic factors strikes me as overly facile.

    I agree that economic factors alone did not cause WWI. And surely the protectionism building up before WWI was symptomatic of rampant nationalism in all the players that didn’t start declining until after WWII.

    Nonetheless, the loss of free trade in favor of protectionism within the great powers’ respective empires certainly prevented the bulwark against war of interdependent free citizenries that I discussed above.

    The thesis here is: Given a libertarian society, can it have a “minimalist” foreign policy in a “realist” world. Every power that started World War I was on the downhill slide away from libertarian principals — even Britain, which was the most free country in the world a few decades before.

    So, going with the thesis, if Britain had a “minimalist” foreign policy and had kept free trade as its standard of international relations, would there have been a World War I? If so, would Britain have fought in it? If not, would Britain have paid a high price for its nonintervention?

  18. When I read phrases like “agressive” foreign policy, I hear Iraq.

    …The suggestion that creating a democracy where once there was none is a “realist” policy seems strange to my ear; likewise the suggestion that skeptics are being idealistic.

    I’ve listened past others, I’m sure. Surely others have talked past me too. Part of this is a confusion of terms, I think. A small dictionary of terms might be useful for armchair theorists such as myself. The dictionary might make use of a time line, or, better yet, a family tree.

  19. Calling oneself realistic and one’s opponents unrealistic does not make either so. All individuals seek to further their own self-interest as they perceive it; for some that means exerting dominion over others, and when such ambition is wedded to access to military assets, aggression making use of those assets is a very real possibility. Duh. At this point let’s please recall that libertarian “doves” are fully prepared to use force in the event it is needed for genuine self-defense. Can pre-emption be considered consistent with self-defense? My girlfriend tells me that social programs are necessary to prevent mass rioting and violence, thus it is a form of self-defense. Anyone agree? True, there may come a point at which the distinction between pre-emption and self-defense blurs. But unless blurs are all we see, there is also a point at which the distinction is clear and self-evident.

  20. Among the major scholars who are foreign policy realists, most of them opposed the Iraq war. The philosophy behind this operation is based not upon realism, but rather upon a naive idealism… One that is Wilsonian in nature, and contrary to the principles of constitutional conservatism and pro-liberty republicanism upon which our great nation was founded.

    But I have been commenting about this for a few years now, so I won’t be doing so again at the moment.

  21. It looks to me as if most advocates of libertarian head-in-the-sand isolationism are not students of WWII. The idea that you can just mind your own business and things will turn out fine is, in my clear, clearly refuted by the events in that war.

    If anyone disagrees, I challenge them to come up with any plausible alternative scenario concerning Japan and Germany in the 1940s. We certainly could have stood by while Japan conquered all of East Asia and the South Pacific. With the right signals to them, we could have completely avoided being involved in WWII. And, without our involvement in supplying the Russians and British with arms, it looks likely that Germany would have conquered Europe.

    With the resulting resources and population base they would have had, both could have a built a war machine far more capable than the one that they had. And they would have no doubt viewed America as their biggest threat.

    Now, here’s the key question. Does anyone seriously believe that we would have never had to fight those powers? (Well, either that or submit to being dominated by those powers in various ways.) Because if you believe things would have just somehow turned out fine if we had just minded our own business, then I consider you utterly deluded, and there’s no point in arguing with you since we apparently don’t live in the same world.

    But presuming you understand that there was at least a high probability of fighting those powers, how does that affect the libertarian “stop them at the borders” strategy? Would you really have preferred that we fight a mechanistic war like WWII on our land, and endure the resulting desolation and deaths, instead of fighting them elsewhere?

    If you grant that (A) we probably would have been forced to fight such militaristic powers sooner or later (either that or become a vassal to one of those powers which I would hope any libertarian would abhor), and (B) it’s better to fight them on their soil than ours, then the case for pre-emptive action in a realist world is clearly established. Now all you can argue about is whether the Middle East rises to the level that triggers such pre-emption. But that is no longer a philsophical argument – merely a pragmatic one.

    The central disputed fact for the Middle East in such an argument is whether the Islamic fundamentalists would be likely to “live and let live” if we just withdrew, or if the outcome would be more like the rise of militarist Japan and Germany. And again, anyone who is prepared to postulate that the fundamentalists would “live and let live” are simply delusional. Their core philosophy calls upon them to spread their religion, by force if necessary. If they have power, and don’t use it to subjugate others to their religion, in their mind they are committing a sin to not use that power.

    Coincident with this argument, I would also argue that the advent of nuclear weapons tilted the balance towards more pre-emption. The consequences are so grave that, as far as I am concerned, assuming that religious fanatics would “live and let live”, or that it they don’t, we can the “stop them at the border” is simply insane. And if the US had no presence or significant influence in the Middle East, how in the world would we deter any fundamentalist who wanted one from acquiring a nuclear weapon? Our involvement there is a key element of any rational national defense.

    I don’t like using words such as “insane” or “delusional”. But, folks, I’ve been a member of the LP for fifteen years (recently quit), and I’ve been looking at arguments on all sides of the issue for longer than that. I understand libertarian philosophy. And I refuse to accept the idea that being a libertarian requires one to commit to a foreign policy that has never been shown to work and for which there is strong evidence that it cannot possibly be made to work.

  22. “If anyone disagrees, I challenge them to come up with any plausible alternative scenario concerning Japan and Germany in the 1940s.”

    Japan attacked us. It is the purpose of the military to defend America from attack. We defended ourselves. I have little doubt that Japan would have remained a threat to the United States without the devastation we showered on their homeland.

    Germany attacked our allies. An alliance is among the most effective means of self-defense. In that alone, Germany was also a war of self-defense. (I maintain that there are things that are justifiable under an alliance that wouldn’t be justifiable otherwise.) I also maintain that we would not have won the Cold War as we did without our allies, and that our allies may have acted differently had it not been for the contribution we made to the alliance during World War II.

    Please note the difference between World War II and the Iraq War. World War II was, essentially, a war of self-defense for the United States where, Iraq, clearly, was not. Afghanistan was a war of self-defense, was it not?

    Using the armed forces for the sole purpose of bringing democracy to places where it isn’t (assuming that’s possible) is not self-defense. Spin it all day long–it isn’t what it isn’t.

  23. For the record, I think the US was right to get involved in WWII.

    There are reasonable arguments to be made in favor of invading Iraq. Asserting that I would have opposed fighting Germany and Japan is not one of them. Those who can’t come up with anything better should do the more articulate hawks a favor and drop out of the debate.

  24. Japan attacked us. It is the purpose of the military to defend America from attack.

    That’s about the level of understanding of WWII I expected from you Ken.

    Japan attacked because we were restricting their access to raw materials. We feared their rise as a militaristic power, and started actions to counter them.

    We could have easily let Japan get what they wanted. Then Pearl Harbor would have been unnecessary for them. (In fact, Hitler was against the Japanese strike, because he didn’t want the US in the war.)

    But that does not mean we would never have been attacked. It just means Japan and Germany would have been in much better shape to defeat us when we did get in a war with them.

    So your answer is always wait until we are attacked? Fine, we were attached on September 11, and not by a nation, but by a fanatic ideology. We have taken steps to counter-attack that ideology. That incidentally meant taking out a ruthless Hitler-wannabe to create the right environment to counter the ideology.

    But that’s not good enough for you, is it? No, you think we should have just left old Sadaam in place, and to boot, you think we should have pulled out our presence there and let the Middle East continue to fester into the indefinite future. And wait until the next “attack”, I guess, which might have meant the incineration of an American city.

    But who cares, right? At least we would have maintained the purity of our libertarian souls.

  25. No, you think we should have just left old Sadaam in place, and to boot, you think we should have pulled out our presence there and let the Middle East continue to fester into the indefinite future. And wait until the next “attack”, I guess, which might have meant the incineration of an American city.

    Right. Because terrorists only go after those countries that don’t pre-emptively get involved in the Middle East.

    Well, Switzerland, it’s been nice knowing you. According to Mr. Bonaforte you’re due to be nuke any day now. See ya.

  26. Oh, wait, I got that wrong. Thanks to the invasion of Iraq the Swiss won’t be nuked.

    Switzerland, all I can say is that you guys owe us. I’ll accept my payment in the form of chocolate.

    Same for you, Thailand. You better send me some of your iced tea NOW!

    And that goes for all of the other countries that didn’t invade Iraq as well!

  27. Thanks to the invasion of Iraq the Swiss won’t be nuked.

    How much Swiss music is heard in the Middle East? How many Swiss movies are Middle Eastern teenagers watching? How many Swiss porn videos are being sold in the Middle East?

    Unless you are prepared to force all American companies to stop doing anything that Islamic fundamentalists consider sacrilegious (and that would be a fine libertarian policy, eh?) then they will perceive us as a threat. The pre-eminent threat, in fact, since we bleed away their young people from their faith more than any other factor.

    If you can’t tell the difference between how American culture and Swiss culture is perceived in the Middle East, it says a lot about why you believe in head-in-the-sand isolationism.

  28. “So your answer is always wait until we are attacked?”

    No, my answer is that Germany and Japan circa World War II aren’t comparable to Iraq because Germany and Japan were, in essence, wars of self-defense where Iraq is not a war of self-defense.

    …This seems to be a point of distinction between us. Where I believe that military force should be a function of self-defense, you, apparently, do not. Is that not the case?

    “Fine, we were attached on September 11, and not by a nation, but by a fanatic ideology.”

    Actually, we were attacked by the nation of Afghanistan, et. al. We invaded Afghanistan and deposed the govenment there–how could we have done otherwise? The government of Afghanistan supported, collaborated with and operationally was al Qaeda.

    What we did in Afghanistan, we did in self-defense.

    “…you think we should have just left old Sadaam in place, and to boot, you think we should have pulled out our presence there and let the Middle East continue to fester into the indefinite future.”

    I consider the benefit to America first. It seems to me that Iraq wasn’t much of a threat to America under the watchful eye of the coalition. We know Iraq wasn’t collaborating with Al Qaeda, and we know it didn’t present a nuclear, biological or chemical threat. Was what America got in return for the sacrifices of all those American lives, etc. worth it?

    …The dust hasn’t settled yet, but I don’t think so. I suspect you don’t think so either; otherwise, you probably wouldn’t put so much stock in Reverse Domino Theory.

    Was it worth it for the Iraqis? That’s not a question for me to answer. That’s for the Iraqis and their posterity to decide. As I’ve written elsewhere, if the people of Japan are now grateful for Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the fire bombing of Tokyo, who am I to criticize them?

    …By the way, I’m glad Saddam is no longer in power, but I suspect the Middle East will continue to fester with or without him in charge of Iraq.

    “And wait until the next “attack”, I guess, which might have meant the incineration of an American city.”

    I haven’t seen any indication that Iraq had the capacity to threaten America with the incineration of city. If you’re talking about potential here, then, once again, please ‘fess up and declare that you’re willing to occupy every nation with the potential to develop such a threat.

    “At least we would have maintained the purity of our libertarian souls.”

    I’ve voted Republican in every election I’ve been eligible to vote in–that’s going back to Bush the Elder–save the last election. That’s right, I voted for Bush the Younger the first time around. There are libertarian purists out there, at least that’s what everyone tells me, but I’m not one of them.

    …That having been said, using the Department of Defense for the sole purpose of improving the lives of people beyond our borders seems to fly in the face of what I understand Libertarianism to be. Using the Department of Defense to defend the rights and liberties of the people of the United States, on the other hand, seems to me like a perfectly appropriate use of government.

  29. Pejman Yousefzadeh:

    “the world is fundamentally anarchic, nation-states are the prime actors in this anarchic world…”

    Ok, let’s try to construct a meaning to this so it might not seem as ridiculous as it appears. What if by “anarchic”, Yousefzadeh meant “destructive chaos”? Well, that would still not save the statement from absurdity (from self-contradiction, but not from absurdity) because it is exactly the nation-states that foist death and destruction on the world.

    “The orthodox libertarian foreign policy platform is one of minimalism and non-involvement bordering at times on isolationism.”

    “…bordering at times on isolationism.” What?? Consist ant and concurrent with the advocacy of a non-interventionist foreign policy is the libertarian advocacy of world wide lassiez faire capitalism. Also, note that international capitalistic enterprise fosters both peace and prosperity. When government represses it, we see that this repression leads to government foreign interventions in their most harmful manifestations. Recall that von MIses observed “when goods don’t cross borders, troops soon do.” And also, recall that preceding the Iraq war that we were lied into, a trade embargo was placed on Iraq.

    “Libertarian minimalists suffer from being thus far unable to respond to realist counterarguments against the minimalist foreign policy platform.”

    Saying it, doesn’t make it so. One has to offer examples

    “The search for power causes nation-states to sometimes engage in offensive war”

    The Iraq war was certainly an offensive war and its key motivators had long advocated it as something that would be beneficial to the Israeli state.

    a significant portion of the realist school posits that through balancing and defensive alliances, nation-states can achieve security and power without waging offensive war.

    The libertarian school posits more salient points; the prospects for security cannot only be maximized with out waging offensive war. Our security in general is indeed compromised by the foreign interventions of our government, especially when these interventions are not intended to repsond to a *real* threat.

    In this regard, let’s talk some REAL realism here: It was exactly an interventionist and decidedly non-libertarian foreign policy by our government that motivated the 9/11 attacks against us. In fact, the overwhelming evidence is that then 9/11 happened as a direct result of our government’s hyper-interventionist foreign policy, vis a vis the Mid-East. Note that the 9/11 commission findings reveal:

    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

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

    1.Us trrops deployed to close to Mecca

    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

  30. Actually, we were attacked by the nation of Afghanistan, et. al.

    Well, at least I know now for sure exactly where we disagree. I consider that the most preposterous statement in the entire discussion (though some of your other points are fair ones).

    People who study military history talk a lot about the fallacy of “fighting the last war”. You are engaging in a variant of that fallacy. You believe that, since war has traditionally been between nation-states, that’s the way we should continue to look at it.

    People who fight wars that way generally lose. The Maginot line made a lot of sense for a WWI mentality but got France defeated in weeks in WWII. Fighting in ranks with bright colored uniforms made sense in an era of conscripted armies fighting each other in pitched battles, but got the British defeated by non-professionals who took advantage of those characteristics to wage a guerilla-like war.

    Likewise, fighting the war on Islamic fundamentalism the same way and with the same practices as we fought 20th century wars is a recipe for defeat. Whether you think our past actions were advisable or not, we are in the position of finding a way to win that war. And believing in the discarded notion that we only go to war with nation states that overtly attack us is not the way to do it. Our enemies are looking for us to make such a mistake so they can take advantage of it, the same way we took advantage of the inflexibility of the British 130 years ago.

  31. Mr. Bonaforte-

    I guess it depends on whether you think we were attacked for our culture or for our foreign policy.

    They surely don’t like our culture, and they surely don’t like our foreign policy. The question is, which one was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

    It has been frequently noted that much of the porn consumed in the Middle East cums from…er, comes from Scandanavia. If this factoid is true, then do you predict that Islamists will start bombing Swedish porn studios? I can just imagine the conversation in the terrorist cell:

    Osama: “Alright, guys, here’s the deal. There are some hot, horny, cum-hungry girls in Denmark. Your job is to go administer justice to them!”

    Thug: “You mean you want us to spank those naughty girls? Do you want us to impale them with our righteous spears?”

    You know, regardless of whether I’m right or wrong about our foreign policy, I think I just devised a great premise for a porn film. I’ll bet it will be a blockbuster across the Middle East! And if Joe Bonaforte is right, and this causes the Islamists try to kill me, well, porn is profitable. I can always hire some bodyguards.

    I sense a new career direction. Time to call up some of the film students that I taught optics to and propose a joint venture.

    OK, I think I originally had a serious point regarding terrorism here, but somewhere along the line I got sidelined by dirty thoughts. Oh, well.

  32. Mr. Bonaforte-

    OK, to get back to serious discussions, I’d like to know what you think we should do next. We could argue all day long about whether invading Iraq was justified, but let’s just go to your point about how this is a different kind of war:

    Likewise, fighting the war on Islamic fundamentalism the same way and with the same practices as we fought 20th century wars is a recipe for defeat. Whether you think our past actions were advisable or not, we are in the position of finding a way to win that war. And believing in the discarded notion that we only go to war with nation states that overtly attack us is not the way to do it.

    So, assuming that Iraq was an appropriate target in this new kind of war, what should the next target be? And what objectives will we accomplish there that we couldn’t/didn’t accomplish in Iraq?

  33. I guess it depends on whether you think we were attacked for our culture or for our foreign policy.

    Exactly. And I think the evidence is firmly on the side of culture being the main reason.

    Here’s the key fact: We have consistently had good foreign relations with the Saudis. Heck, we bailed them out when they were threatened by Sadaam fourteen years ago. And during the Cold War, we were the Saudi’s protection against Russian aggression. (There’s a famous saying by one of the princes when asked why they preferred to sell oil to us instead of Japan: “How many aircraft carriers in the Japanese Navy?”) It’s hard to imagine how we could have treated any Middle Eastern country better with our foreign policy.

    Yet the majority of the hijackers were Saudi! And you think they were upset because we defended their country from Sadaam? No! They despise our culture and consider it a threat to true Islam.

    Or consider the fact that we have basically bribed Egypt for decades now with massive amounts of foreign aid. If any Arabs are upset that we give aid to the Israelis, shouldn’t we get some credit for giving almost as much to the Egyptians? But some of the most radical Islamist thought comes out of Egypt. It was, in fact, where the Islamic Brotherhood originated, and the Islamic Brotherhood is the root organization of most of today’s Islamist terrorists, including Al Qaeda.

    Now, that’s not to say you can’t find references to their displeasure with our foreign policy. But those references all start after they realized that leftist and libertarian Americans were sympathetic to those gripes. They are much less willing to discuss their cultural issues, because they know that would be a non-starter politically.

    No, my friend, until you can explain why all those Saudis flew planes into building despite the fact that we’ve protected their country for their entire lives, then you’ve got to accept that culture is the determining factor.

  34. Joe-

    Well, assuming that your analysis is correct, and assuming that Iraq was an appropriate target in light of all that, whom would you invade next? And what objectives could we achieve with the next invasion that we couldn’t/didn’t achieve in Iraq?

  35. Sorry for the double post. For some reason I didn’t see my original post when I looked for it.

  36. Pejman Yousefzadeh:

    “What the libertarian minimalists appear to lack, therefore, is an alternative explanatory theory of how the international system works…”

    What nonsense! This says that the libertarian foreign policy school only advocates and does not analyze. This is just wrong. Either Yousefzadeh is trying to mislead or he hasn’t read much of the libertarian foreign policy literature, or this it’s just sloppiness on Yousefzadeh’s part.

    If the international system really does place a premium on the maximization of nation-state power, it would behoove nation-states to run an activist foreign policy in order to maximize their own power.

    “International system”?? And this seems like a simple attempt to concoct a logical truism but if we really want to maximize peace and prosperity, the evidence is that is we most surely do not want governments to maximize their own power.

    Happily, it would appear that serious libertarians have started this dialogue.

    What a joke! For Yousefzadeh, the “serious libertarians” are the ones that Yousefzadeh thinks would not find this anti-libertarian posturing to be out of hand.

    And lastly, Yousefzadeh ties to ridiculously imply a sanction for this anti-libertarian foreign advocacy in the writings of the founders of our republic and the Constitution. Of course, the founders were overwhelmingly non-interventionist, as their writings indicate.

    There is some good stuff over at TCS. But on foreign policy, they’re usually pathetic. On Israel/Palestine, it’s especially bad.

  37. “You believe that, since war has traditionally been between nation-states, that’s the way we should continue to look at it.

    I don’t see it. I believe that the War in Afghanistan was a legitimate operation within the context of our reaction to an attack, hence the, “What we did in Afghanistan, we did in self-defense.” I do not believe that Iraq was a war of self-defense. You can keep filing it as such, but I’ll keep pulling it for being misfiled.

    …My objection to the War in Iraq and my approval of the War in Afghanistan has nothing to do with nation-states. If some other terrorist organization had orchestrated and perpetrated 9/11, I would have supported a war against that organization and any nation-state in our way.

  38. Having just read Mr. Bonaforte’s post, 2 quick points before I head out the door:

    1) As I recall, Al Qaeda is not exactly happy with the House of Saud. Could it be that they are angry with us for supporting the House of Saud?

    2) If they only complain about our foreign policy to win the hearts and minds of the left, and if their true gripe is with Hollywood, what do they think they’ll gain by getting Hollywood to criticize our foreign policy? Why not tell cultural conservatives (who currently enjoy more power in the US) that what they really want is an end to the porn industry and music videos with scantily clad women?

  39. So, assuming that Iraq was an appropriate target in this new kind of war, what should the next target be?

    Ah, but that’s the beauty of the way the problem has already been attacked! We may not have to target anybody for pre-emptive action, because the entire Middle Eastern atmosphere has been changed.

    So far, the spinoff from Iraq has included getting Libya out of the nuclear weapons business, and getting Syria out of Lebanon. There is a distinct possibility that the Iranians (some of the most pro-American people in the region) are moving in a positive direction. The Paks are much less likely to cause or abet terrorism than they were four years ago (though I concede that was the Afghan campaign instead of Iraq, it still helps them to see that we are still serious about seeing this thing through).

    Egypt looks to be cracking the door open to democracy. And, of course, while not perfect, Iraq is looking a lot better than the war critics ever believed possible.

    It’s not just about targets! It’s about changing the calculus of power in the area, and making it possible for much more open societies to evolve. That’s not to say that some kind of action might not be needed at some point, but it doesn’t look likely in the near future.

    By contrast, there is no such option to deal with North Korea. Military pre-emption there would be foolish. So instead, Bush is pursuing some hard-nosed diplomacy, which has at least a possibility of working if he can China lined up (and they have more to lose from an unstable NK that we do). But we don’t have to worry about terrorism there, and since they are a typical nation-state, they don’t present the new and different challenges that the Islamists do. So they are not a “target” either, at least not in the sense that I think you mean.

    Look, I know it’s hard to look at something that has felt philosophically wrong to you since it began. But the situation is much more complex than head-in-the-sand isolationists make it out to be, and the results so far of a proactive fight against Islamic fundamentalism are fair to good. No attacks since 9/11, thousands of terrorists killed on the battlefields of Iraq, plus all the effects I mentioned above. I really think you guys need to reconsider your position here, trying to see how you could possibly have come up with a strategy that would have lead to better results.

  40. “I do not believe that Iraq was a war of self-defense.”

    I’m sure all those times he fired at our planes trying to kill American pilots were just accidents.

    Look, let’s come clean here. Do you think the first Iraq War was justified? Because if you don’t, then your understanding of the need to contain aggression is missing (read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for details). If you do, then we had an enemy who agreed to cease-fire terms to save his skin, and then routinely violated them, which is causus belli in any rational person’s world. (Not to mention the money he was costing us in perpetual “containment”.)

  41. Joe Bonforte:

    We have taken steps to counter-attack that ideology. That incidentally meant taking out a ruthless Hitler-wannabe to create the right environment to counter the ideology.

    Joe, imagine if the neocons tried to make the case for the attack on Iraq that way, sans their WMD lies!

    Also, Sadom was literal murder on the ideology you’re talking about and also, now Iraq is going to be governed by folks who are much more sympathetic to that ideology. Was it worth all those American and Iraqi lives?

    Lastly, it’s not that ideology that endangers us anyway, it’s our governments foreign policy that does by making us targets.

  42. Joe, imagine if the neocons tried to make the case for the attack on Iraq that way, sans their WMD lies!

    Rick, I can easily imagine that, and in my imagination I see many more dead Americans. First of all, that point was made many times, though it’s true that was not emphasized like the WMD was. But consider this – suppose Bush came right out and said, “Look, the main reasons we’re doing this to change the whole Middle East, and we expect a lot of governments to change or fall as a result”. What would the reaction of the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Yemenis, etc. have been? They would have been active opponents instead of grumpy bystanders. That would have made the effort much more difficult, probably costing many, many more lives on both sides.

    Do you think that would have been worth it? Remember, Bush did say he was out to change the region, so he didn’t lie about those motivations. He just didn’t put them front and center.

    And I really, really wish you guys would get past this “lied about the WMD” schtick. Bush, Clinton, Chirac, Blair, the UN, etc. etc. all thought the WMD were there. After all Sadaam had used chemical weapons before.

    Please, please stop sounding like a petulant child by claiming Bush lied. A lie is when a person says something he knows is not true. It’s clear Bush thought the WMD were there, so he DID NOT lie. He was mistaken (maybe – it could conceivably have been hauled away, say, to Syria). Actually, according to insiders, he was one of the most furious when he found out that his intelligence people were either mistaken or had not played straight with him.

    Now put yourself in Bush’s shoes. You are responsible for the lives of 300 million Americans. Everybody believes Sadaam has WMD, and there is a distinct possibility he can get them into terrorists hands. Do you sit around fretting “well, we don’t know for absolute certainty that he has them, so I guess we better just risk getting our cities gassed blown up to find out for sure”? After all, Sadaam is a man who is already attempting to shoot down American pilots in violation of a cease fire resulting from his last aggression. And this is the type of guy you would give the benefit of the doubt to? If so, I really don’t get it.

  43. Joe,

    Surely you don’t really accept that the content of the Iraq report that Powell presented at the UN and described as; “valuable intelligence” but turned out to be an altered, plagiarized and dated grad student thesis was actually believed by those in the administration who put it forth?

    Lies of such magnitude would have landed them in prison had they been corporate CEO’s at board meetings instead of government officials.

    Also, a more effective and more ethical way to “change the whole Middle East” would be to have our government stop giving our money to support the Israeli occupation and quit giving it to thug regimes like Egypt’s and Jordan’s. This type of intervention is what motivated the 9/11 attacks in the first place.

  44. “I’m sure all those times he fired at our planes trying to kill American pilots were just accidents.”

    Iraq was effectively contained.

    “Because if you don’t, then your understanding of the need to contain aggression is missing (read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for details).”

    I read Shirer from front to back, and Iraq was still effectively contained.

    …Did you know that Shirer was the inspiration for Martin Sheen’s character in Gandhi? I didn’t.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_L._Shirer

    A few questions:

    Don’t you think that the Bush Administration squandered precious political capital with the American people on the War in Iraq, captial that might be needed to go after a legitimate terrorist threat like Iran?

    When the Bush Administration justified the War in Iraq–consider Powell’s appearance and the State of the Union address–they did so largely on the basis of WMD and Al Qaeda collaboration–self-defense, that is.

    …I expected a large number of Americans who supported the War on that basis to withdraw their support once they realized that the War in Iraq, in fact, wasn’t a war of self-defense, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. Any thoughts on why that is?

    Before I even became a Libertarian, I knew that one of the most basic tenets of Libertarianism held that the only legitimate function of government is protecting people’s rights and liberties. In what way did the War in Iraq protect the rights and liberties of Americans?

  45. I expected a large number of Americans who supported the War on that basis to withdraw their support once they realized that the War in Iraq, in fact, wasn’t a war of self-defense, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. Any thoughts on why that is?

    Yep. Because they never realized any such fallacy. Unlike you and many other isolationist libertarians, it seems.

  46. “Because they never realized any such fallacy.”

    …Exactly! That’s what I thought too. It never registered! The whole self-defense fallacy just hasn’t clicked yet. And the fact that it hasn’t clicked shouldn’t come as any big surprise. Look at this story:

    “Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, says a poll out almost two years after the terrorists’ strike against this country.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-09-06-poll-iraq_x.htm

    Whew! The lag, the misinformation, it all stinks! …Surely you didn’t think the American people would have supported sending our troops into harm’s way for the sole purpose of liberating Iraq, did you?

    Earlier, I mentioned that many otherwise unsupportable troop deployments can be justified if done in the service of an alliance. Apparently, that wasn’t enough for you; I’m an “isolationist” still! In your view, pray tell, is it possible for someone to be against the Iraq War but not an isolationist?

    …just out of curiosity. I don’t think of myself as an isolationist–did you notice all the stuff I wrote about allies?

    On another topic, I looked forward to reading your response to my question about reconciling the War in Iraq with that basic tenet of Libertarianism I cited. You disappointed me by not even making the attempt. I’m guessing you haven’t put much thought into it yet; don’t worry, it looks like a tough circle to square. Take your time.

  47. Bush, Clinton, Chirac, Blair, the UN, etc. etc. all thought the WMD were there.

    Well, if Bill Clinton, the Europeans, and the UN all think so then that just makes it even more credible! Whatever the merits of the invasion of Iraq, you won’t win any fans on this forum by mentioning that Clinton and Chirac concurred with you on something.

    Also, you observed (quite correctly) that the most virulent anti-American ideology is coming from 2 countries that we support. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the anti-Americanism is coming from two countries with oppressive governments that we support. I realize that the Islamist opposition in Egypt and Saudi Arabia isn’t actually interested in being free from tyranny. They don’t hate us because they see us as enemies of liberal values. They just want their own brand of tyranny.

    But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most radically anti-American elements become the dominant voice of the opposition in 2 countries where America supports oppressive regimes. And that the most stridently anti-American government in the region, Iran, rules a population that’s actually very pro-Western. For every Arab who passionately hates America there are numerous others who are merely cynical about the country that funds the local thugs. But those cynical ones are the recruiting ground for the radicals, and a few will take the final step and become outright radicals.

    Now, I ask you again, is it conceivable that the main grievance animating and empowering Middle Eastern radicalism might be resentment of our foreign policy?

  48. Finally, I’d still like Mr. Bonaforte to answer this question:

    Earlier he said
    Now, that’s not to say you can’t find references to their displeasure with our foreign policy. But those references all start after they realized that leftist and libertarian Americans were sympathetic to those gripes.

    If Osama is really just complaining about foreign policy to win kudos from the left, and his true complaint is about our culture, well, that makes no sense. Complaining about our foreign policy won’t motivate anybody to act on his true grievance (in your analysis, anyway), namely our culture. And winning kudos from the left won’t get him very far in the US, given the right’s current hegemony?

    Why not push the right for restrictions on the export of entertainment that pisses off religious fanatics? There are factions in US politics that would actually go for that, and they are important elements in the coalition currently running our government.

    If our culture really is the main grievance, and foreign policy really is a smoke screen, well, that makes no sense.

    Care to enlighten me, Mr. Bonaforte?

  49. Okay, it’s fine to have a minimalist foreign policy, but please, please tell me that most libertarians aren’t nut-case Chomskyites like Barton!

  50. The Real Bill,

    It might be more interesting if you would critique the specifics what I’ve written instead of mischaracterizing it.

  51. thoreau: “Why not push the right for restrictions on the export of entertainment that pisses off religious fanatics?”

    Look, I’ve been engaged in this discussion with three of you guys, and so far, you’ve been the most reasonable of the three. But this question betrays an utter lack of understanding of the Middle East, and I really expect someone to understand a situation before taking such a strident position on it.

    Are you not aware that most Middle East regimes already have such laws? And that, like drug laws here, those laws are routinely violated by those who want that content?

    Osama isn’t the only one concerned about the infiltration of American culture. The House of Saud and the mullahs in Iran hate it just as much. The difference is that they are not prepared to overtly use violence to try and fight us. (Being a nation-state, they function under limits the terrorists don’t have.)

    Instead, the House of Saud funds mandrassas all over the world, even in the US, to promote Wahhabism, which explicitly decries non-Muslim, specifically American, culture. These serve as the initial recruiting ground for extremist Muslims.

    Osama’s problem with the House of Saud is that the Saudis want to have it both ways. They want to sell us oil and live in luxury, but still fight us culturally. Osama would rather see us collapse economically, no matter what that does to Middle Eastern oil sales. (That’s why he struck the World Trade Center. He thought a shock like that would decapitate the US economic system, and send us into a serious depression. He did not understand the decentralized nature of a truly open economy, or he would have understood that such a strategy could not work.) That would weaken us in every way, including our cultural influence over other parts of the world. In effect, he wants us to look like losers and his side to look like winners, because that would give his cause the respect to win cultural battles in the Middle East.

    Thus the entire Middle Eastern strategy for Bush, contrary to the shrill anti-war critics, is not to throw around a bunch of armies conquering everyone in sight. That’s unnecessary and counter-productive. It’s only necessary to establish a bastion (Iraq) in which Americans and Muslims can get along, and the Muslims get a chance to adopt Western values such as open elections and a free market. We get viewed as non-threatening winners, gutting the fundamentalists efforts to stir up hatred against us and hope that we might be defeated by pious Muslims.

    It will make the US look like a winner because we did something Osama (and the perfidous French) said was impossible. That will also open a channel for our continued cultural influence to counter the influence of Islamic fundamentalism.

    Your suggestion sounds like Osama should turn into some kind of lobbyist. That’s what you get when you start taking strong opinions on things you’ve not looked at very hard.

  52. Rick: “The Real Bill … It might be more interesting if you would critique the specifics what I’ve written instead of mischaracterizing it.”

    Well, as someone who has critiqued the specifics of what you’ve written several times, I’d say The Real Bill has pretty much nailed you in his description. I see no mischaracterization. If you won’t even back off of the shrill “Bush lied!” stuff, then the label “Chomskyite” is quite warranted.

  53. Joe-

    Yes, I am aware that most or all Middle Eastern countries have laws restricting or banning the import of our “decadent” culture. And I’m aware that people find ways around those laws and Osama is pissed about it.

    I’m not exactly saying that Osama should be a lobbyist. I’m not that dumb. But you said the following:
    Now, that’s not to say you can’t find references to their displeasure with our foreign policy. But those references all start after they realized that leftist and libertarian Americans were sympathetic to those gripes.

    You are implying that Osama sees some value in saying things that some Americans might sympathize with. I’m not convinced that he’s trying to win any domestic support, but you seem to think that way. My question is, if (for the sake of argument) he’s trying to win some support among the American people, why doesn’t he air his alleged true grievance? Considering that his alleged true grievance (attacking the spread of our “decadent” pop culture at the source) actually enjoys some support among certain factions in our country, and that those factions enjoy more power than those who might agree with critiques of our foreign policy, why not air those grievances?

    You seem to think that Osama sees benefit in airing grievances that some Americans might agree with, so why isn’t he airing the grievance that (1) he allegedly cares the most about and (2) some people in this country seem to care about?

    I have to conclude that he’s bitching about our foreign policy in his videos because he and his followers are pissed off about it, or at least they believe that bitching about our foreign policy will win them more recruits.

    Whatever the merits or demerits of the Iraq war, I find it difficult to believe that anger over our culture animates more violence than anger over our foreign policy. I haven’t seen any reports of Middle Eastern terrorists bombing porn studios in Scandanavia (where most of the porn smuggled into the Arab world allegedly originates from).

  54. Oh, and Rick Barton is most definitely not a Chomskyite. I might not always agree with his take on foreign policy, but Chomskyites tend to hate capitalism. Whatever else one might say about Rick Barton, he most definitely does not hate capitalism.

  55. Rick,

    Read Chomsky and you’ll see what I mean. I have a few reasons, but your attitude concerning Israel alone puts you in his camp. I know you are not alone in you opinions concerning Israel, but tell me, should all non-Native Americans leave North America? Should western Poland be returned to the Germans? Essentially, should all people leave that land that they currently live on because it previously belonged to some other people?

    Israel was attacked by Jordan and Jordan lost. In the process Jordan lost the West Bank. Egypt attacked Israel and Egypt lost. In the process Egypt lost Gaza. Syria attacked Israel and Syria lost. Syria lost the Golan. Israel is not an occupying power. Tbese lands belong to it. The Arabs lost the land fair and square. No, the Arabs living in these lands don’t like it. Well, too fucking bad. I guarantee that the majority of them supported the attacks against Israel (if they were alive at the time). There is a long, disgusting history of the Arabs of Palestine having pograms against the Jews of Palestine. Finally, the Jews were able to free themselves from their Arab overlords and people like you want to destroy their last bit of security. Why don’t you admit that you just hate Jews? Or, are you just one more of the many Westerners that are horribly ignorant of the history or the Levant. The Jews have every right to live in Palestine. The Arabs have no right to kill them for being Jews.

    Anti-Semitism is alive and well in the West. Rick, you are a perfect example of it. Even if you don’t personally hate Jews, you play right into the hands of those that do. Why don’t you do something useful and complain about China’s actual occupation of Tibet or the US’s occupation of Hawaii or your occupation of whatever part of the world you occupy that used to belong to some other people.

    Remember, Israel gained the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan only AFTER it was attacked by Arabs (for the umpteenth time). Arabs (and Europeans) have been oppressing and killing Jews for centuries. You’d think that after all of their suffering, people could let them have that (formerly) shitty little strip of desert to live on. Hell, Muslims and Christians owe a hell of lot more in reparations to the Jews. If I was a Jew, I’d feel justified in killing all Europeans and Arabs for what they’ve done. But I’m Goy American of European descent, so I’m glad that they don’t take their rightful revenge.

  56. thoreau,

    Barton is a Chomskyite in foreign policy. I agree that he’s not a communist like Chomsky.

  57. Joe Bonforte:

    If you won’t even back off of the shrill “Bush lied!” stuff, then the label “Chomskyite” is quite warranted.

    There are a lot of folks besides “Chomskyites” who contend that the administration and the neocons with in it and on the outside lied to justify the attack on Iraq.

    At April 16, 09:25 PM, I gave an example of why your contention that the administration didn’t lie seems ridiculous but you didn’t even respond.

  58. The Real Bill,

    Your ignorance of the 1967 war and of Israeli history in general is breathtaking and you even use it as a pretext to try to substantiate your claim that the occupied lands somehow “belong” to Israel! I’m not going to take the time to correct all of the historical misstatements in your post. I will however recommend that you read Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict by by Norman Finkelstein

    I will just point out that since 1967, up until GW Bush, the US position has beem that any fair solution to the conflict must include fully ending the Israeli government’s occupation of the West Bank. Note that that position has never mandated giving back the Golan to Syria. If you read the volume that I just cited, you will understand why justice must be sevrved the former but not the latter. The book will also correct you on other aspects of Israeli history.

    The Real Bill:

    Why don’t you admit that you just hate Jews?…Anti-Semitism is alive and well in the West. Rick, you are a perfect example of it.

    You have no justification to write that kind of BS about me. Can’t you understand that criticism of the Israeli government and of our government’s funding of it is not criticism of Jews in general? It’s not even criticism of the Israeli people in general.

    Even if you don’t personally hate Jews, you play right into the hands of those that do.

    No. It’s the people that make the Israeli government’s ongoing theft of the Palestinian people possible who are the ones that play right into the hands of anti-Jewish bigotts.

    Why don’t you do something useful and complain about China’s actual occupation of Tibet…

    I have. Of course, we aren’t paying that tragedy as we are for the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestinian land.

    …or the US’s occupation of Hawaii

    I just wanted to quote you here to emphasize that you wrote also this nonsense along with that of calling me a racist.

    If I was a Jew, I’d feel justified in killing all Europeans and Arabs for what they’ve done.

    The Real Bill, I think that you might be some kind of wacko.

  59. I agree that he’s not a communist like Chomsky.

    Chomsky is quite good on some (but not all) history and quite confused about his own vision of the way things ought to be, as well being wrong about others’ visions. Truth is where you find it. Chomsky is certainly not a commie in the totalitarian leftist sense. Some of the neocons that motivated the Iraq war have a closer ideological linage to the commies than Chomsky does. BTW, Chomsky was raised in a very Zionist family and social milieu.

  60. Oops, I forgot. Link for:

    Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict by Norman Finkelstein…

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1859843395/reasonfoundation-20/

  61. thoreau,

    I’ve noticed that Chomskyites tend to be more anti-capitalistic, and more obnoxious in general, than Chomsky himself is.

  62. Rick,

    I know I was rather strident, but do you really think that the centuries of murder and oppression of Jews by Arabs are irrelevant to the current situation in the Middle East?

    I may very well check out Finkelstein, but your appeal to authority fallacy doesn’t impress.

    The fact that my view of the 1967 conflict, which I barely outlined, differs from yours has nothing to do with ignorance of history. I think it has more to do with your hatred of Jews, but that is just my opinion, of course.

    Two simple facts:
    1) Arabs have been killing Jews for centuries. When not killing them, they were oppressing them.
    2) Million of Arabs still want to kill Jews and do so fairly regularly. (But of course, only the deaths of Palestinian Arabs matter. Jewish deaths are, of course, their own damn fault for trying to exist.)

    You conveniently ignore Israel’s need for security. How would you like to be outnumered and nearly surrounded by people that wish and work toward your absolute annihilation. Gee, I bet you’d treat these enemies with kid gloves. Yeah, right. If the US had to deal with such a situation, we’d just kill everything in sight. Hell, pretty much any nation would. It’s called survival.

    Are you aware of the fact that hundreds of thousands if not millions of Jews were kicked out of Muslim nations? Should they get their land back? Most of these “refugees” have been accepted into Israel. Hmmm, do you think that the Arab nations could have integrated the displaced Palestinian Arabs into their countries? Why not? Oh, wait, because they want them to stay in the damn camps so that they can keep up the pressure on Israel.

    I just love how you dismiss my (admittedly snarky) comment about Hawaii, but really, the US totally screwed the Hawaiians, and it wasn’t really that long ago. I guess you don’t give a damn because they aren’t sending suicide bombers to your house. Oh well, enjoy living on someone else’s land. I guess you don’t care because Americans were just so damn good at annihilating the native Americans that we can just placate them with casinos these days.

    I admit that you probably don’t really hate Jews, but you have at least fallen for the big lie about them. Somehow, the only people that must take responsibility for the theft of other’s land are the Jews. Funny how the Jews are always the problem. Scapegoats are oh so convenient, aren’t they?

  63. Basically, Rick, it’s not that I’m not aware or the bad things that Israel has done to the Palestinian Arabs. I certainly am, and I do feel for those that are innocent. I just think that the Arabs are primarily to blame for their predicament. Stop killing Jews and turn to non-violent protest. Peace will be had and in a few decades, the Arabs will outnumber the Jews in the region. Then, they can return to killing and oppressing Jews like they’ve done for centuries. Will that make you happy?

    I admit, that pretty much all my words are pointless. I should have just asked you one question: What do you think the Israelis should do? Do you really think that if they vacate the West Bank, the Arabs will stop killing them? If so, I’ve got a bridge for sale, real cheap.

  64. The Real Bill, I think that you might be some kind of wacko.

    You may be right. I certainly had a knee-jerk response to (what I see as) your Israel scape-goating. Assuming that you hate Jews was out of line. For that I do apologize. (Not that I expect you to care at this point.)

  65. Too bad our government has invested our tax dollars in this conflict making the question of who is more at fault something other than merely an academic question.

    The Real Bill, you’re kinda funny when you say well if the Arabs would only stop killing Jews then there’d be peace in “a few decades.” Fact is, both sides have legitimate grievances, both sides have their reasonable and unreasonable factions, yadda yadda yadda….

    I’m glad you’ve apologized for accusing Rick of hating Jews. I met Rick recently and can ascertain with certainty that he is a fan of Joey Ramone (born Jeffrey Hyman)! 🙂 More seriously though, we should deep-six this notion that critics of Israel are automatically anti-Semitic once and for all. Your depiction of Arabs as somehow hard-wired to persecute Jews seems to bump up against racism more than any criticism of Israel.

  66. The Real Bill,

    Thank you for apologizing. I think that you’ll find that all most all libertarians a strongly opposed to racism. I agree with Rand’s sentiment that; “Racism is the most primitive form of collectivism”

    My recommending Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict was done out of both a consideration of time and also because I’m appreciative Finkelstein’s meticulous scholarship. I consider the volume to be the best source on the history of the region. The book became famous because in its start he debunked another book that contented that there were hardly any Palestinians in Palestine.

    Prior to the state of Israel, relations between the Arabs and the far smaller numbers of Jews tended to be amicable.

    The West Bank is definitely not a security area for Israel. What a funny security area it is that a government inserts civilians into.

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