The Iraq War: Capturing the Friedmans

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The Wall Street Journal pays a visit to the famed free-market economists Milton and Rose Friedman. An excerpt:

Mr. Friedman here shifted focus. "What's really killed the Republican Party isn't spending, it's Iraq. As it happens, I was opposed to going into Iraq from the beginning. I think it was a mistake, for the simple reason that I do not believe the United States of America ought to be involved in aggression." Mrs. Friedman–listening to her husband with an ear cocked–was now muttering darkly.

Milton: "Huh? What?" Rose: "This was not aggression!" Milton (exasperatedly): "It was aggression. Of course it was!" Rose: "You count it as aggression if it's against the people, not against the monster who's ruling them. We don't agree. This is the first thing to come along in our lives, of the deep things, that we don't agree on. We have disagreed on little things, obviously–such as, I don't want to go out to dinner, he wants to go out–but big issues, this is the first one!" Milton: "But, having said that, once we went in to Iraq, it seems to me very important that we make a success of it." Rose: "And we will!"

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  1. I’ve no idea what either of the Friedmans look like, but I can’t keep the image of George Costanza’s parents out of my head for some reason.

  2. Excellent movie, but were my last name Friedman, I probably wouldn’t want a thread with that title associated with me.

  3. Guess Rose just lost her liberterian ‘cred’ eh?

  4. What a delightful interview!

    Rose’s reasons for supporting the war in Iraq aren’t terribly libertarian, but then, I don’t think that either one of them has ever pretended to be simon-pure libertarians.

    Nonetheless, a terrific pair of human beings, both of whom are very difficult to disagree with – even when they’re in opposition to one another.

  5. I saw Milton Friedman speak at a Cato conference back in 1999. After saying “Wow, that’s Milton Friedman” to myself a few times, I looked at him for a moment and realized that he is one short guy. In physical stature only, of course. He’s a giant in his field, without a doubt.

    Anyway, I brought that up because I don’t want anyone (crimethink!) challenging Friedman to a Feat of Strength. Can’t risk damaging the man.

  6. The Friedmans (pater & mater) have never had that much libertarian cred in the first place (they were just less statist than average). Rothbard was beating on them back in the 1970s, IIRC. Friedman fils (David) is substantially more libertarian.

  7. SR, I think that’s overstating it a bit. It all depends on where the libertarian magic line is drawn. David Friedman is a variety of anarchist, as I recall, so he might be viewed as on the far up. . .or wherever one places libertarians on the political graph 🙂 Milton may not be as radically libertarian, but he’s certain more “one of us” than not.

  8. Once again, Milton appears to be the smartest person in the room.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could start putting out t-shirts with a macho looking Milton Friedman wearing a beret that blared “Milt” underneath the picture? If they started outselling the Che shirts then we’d know the movement was going somewhere.

  9. I’ve no idea what either of the Friedmans look like, but I can’t keep the image of George Costanza’s parents out of my head for some reason

    I myself can’t shake the image of the Billy Crystal/Carol Kane scene from The Princess Bride.

  10. I myself can’t shake the image of the Billy Crystal/Carol Kane scene from The Princess Bride.

    “Liar..liar!!!”
    “Quiet witch!!”
    “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife, but after this I’m not even sure I want to be that”

  11. Mrs. Friedman, I was learning, often had the last word.

    That must be why he’s still married after more than 60 years.

  12. They really are a cute couple, everytime I see a photo of them, it’s like they are inseperable.

    I’ve seen Milton talk on C-Span before (he’s actually pretty relaxed, but still feisty), but I wonder how it would go if Rose was in the room…

    If I could get it 20 years ago, I would love to see a Deathmathc between Uncle Miltie and JK Galbraith.
    Gailbraith was over freakin’ 6’4″, but the interviews i’ve seen him in, he looked like your average boring Canadian.
    I’d say Miltie would win hands down, he would just roll and take out Galbraith’s legs, and then proceed to strangle that giant with his little, gnomish hands 🙂

  13. What’s all this “we” shit? Rose isn’t fighting.

    – Josh

  14. Guess Rose just lost her liberterian ‘cred’ eh?

    Naah. Supporting this military action or that one doesn’t deserve excommunication. I weakly supported the Iraq war in the beginning. There are lots of hawkish Libertarians.

  15. “There are lots of hawkish Libertarians.”

    Yeah, they’re called “Republicans” or even “neocons”. 🙂

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

  16. The disturbing part of the disagreement is not either diverging opinion, but the conclusion: “But, having said that, once we went in to Iraq, it seems to me very important that we make a success of it.” Well, what if one CANNOT make a “success of it”? The expectation of a rousing success thus prevents an honorable withdrawal. Wasn’t it Milton Friedman who often quipped about the best being the enemy of the merely good?

  17. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could start putting out t-shirts with a macho looking Milton Friedman wearing a beret that blared “Milt” underneath the picture?”

    Eh, sarcastic Che has been done to death.

    I think you should do something along the lines of the Michel Foucault posters. Something that makes him look awkward and tweedy, but let’s you see the glimmer in his eyes.

    Geek chic is really the only path to coolness I can see for libertarianism.

  18. “Well, what if one CANNOT make a “success of it”?”

    Or if making a success of it is a major longshot?

    “The expectation of a rousing success thus prevents an honorable withdrawal.”

    We either walk out on our own timetable, or there will be helicopters taking off from the new embassy. Staying forever is not an option. “Standing up” the security services is just leading to death squads and civil war.

    Speaking of options, I hope we kept those on the bases in Yemen, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

    Buncha bleeding injits.

  19. Wouldn’t it be great if we could start putting out t-shirts with a macho looking Milton Friedman wearing a beret that blared “Milt” underneath the picture? If they started outselling the Che shirts then we’d know the movement was going somewhere.

    Ask and ye shall recieve.

  20. Rich Ard,
    Neato! (that a geeky enough response for you, Joe? 🙂 )

    Now, do those come with “Fred” pics as well? Fred as in Fred Hayek.

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