Friday Fun Link—Or Pure Politics?

|

Was I so amused by this week's Tom Tomorrow comic strip on the difference between "serious" and "frivolous" approaches to foreign policy because its inherent artful hilarity, or because I found its underlying message pleasing and largely true?

I'm sure I'll be the last to know. Radley Balko skillfully takes on the question of libertarian "seriousness" about foreign policy conundrums. It's two years old, yet alas still fresh.

Advertisement

NEXT: The Siegelest Form of Flattery

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It didn’t actually contain any jokes, so I’d guess the latter.

  2. I gotta agree with Brian here, it’s funny ’cause it’s true.

  3. Hmmm, obviously the humor is in the mind of the beholder,. I didn’t even cmile.

  4. Hmmm, obviously the humor is in the mind of the beholder,. I didn’t even smile.

  5. I let out a small snort laugh (a ‘snaff’? a ‘lort’?).

  6. …and isn’t it the same sort of line that gets thrown out by the status quo no matter the issue.

    “You think we ought to open our borders more?…oh, grow up, get serious, you sillywalker” “Legalize all drugs!!!! What the frack, are you crazy?” “Let people buy guns to protect themselves? What planet are you from?”

  7. balko misses several points. let’s make a better analogy than his wasp one. the house next door is full of crazy gang bangers who have a shitpot of money from their crack slinging. they like shooting at one another and at other gangs. every once in a while, a bullet comes whizzing through my window. maybe an accident, maybe not; the gang leader assures me that it’s probably one of the guys when he’s out of the leader’s sight, but he’ll try to keep an eye out. i can more-or-less tolerate that, but realize that one of my kids could get hit.

    the cops are too busy munching krispy kreme to help me out.

    the ominous part is the anonymous scrawled notes i find on my door telling me that they hate me because i’m not a gang member. leader says, don’t worry, that’s no doubt just one of the boys having some harmless fun.

    now the next day, the leader mentions to me that they’re about to get a bunch of rpgs and 50mm cannon. don’t worry, if you don’t bother us, we won’t bother you, he tells me. what about the bullets that fly over here every once in a while? aww, that’s no problem, he assures me, just don’t fuck with us. what about the threatening notes? well, he says, i didn’t write them, and i’d be pretty pissed off if you accused me of doing that. but, he continues, you really ought to do what the notes say and join the gang.

    so… do i wait until an rpg hits my house, certainly killing at least one of my kids? do i trust that if i don’t fuck with them, nothing will happen? or do i just take them out myself as a preventive measure?

    imo, the problem is not pre-9/11 thinking, it’s pre-august-1945 thinking.

  8. I suppose that if the Democrats acted serious about proposing an alternative to the current “War on Terror” that would go a long way to solving Mr. Tomorrow’s riddle. In a way, his cartoon is dead on: a unified bunch of “tough on terror” thugs in the GOP; a disjointed bunch of head-in-the-sand types and “me-too” “tough on terror” types in the Donkey party. Perhaps the Democrats should spend more time convincing the so-called security moms about how the liberties they are giving up aren’t really making anyone safer and less time kissing the asses of unions, the NAACP, and La Raza.

  9. Was I so amused by this week’s Tom Tomorrow comic strip on the difference between “serious” and “frivolous” approaches to foreign policy because its inherent artful hilarity, or because I found its underlying message pleasing and largely true?

    I dunno, let’s have a look.

    The strip begins by mockingly portraying the “serious” as saying we need to confront terrorism “by starting wars in unrelated countries.”

    Iraq under Saddam was “unrelated” to terrorism? That’s factually false, since Saddam had given safe haven a list of some of the world’s worst terrorists, such as Abu Nidal, Zarqawi, and Ramzi Yusef (Yusef being one of the terrorists who tried to knock down the WTC in 1993). Saddma also funded terrorism, such as his offers to pay the families of suicide bombers. Saddam also opnely praised terrorism, such as when he called 9/11 the “operation of the century.” Saddam also had some communications with Al Qaeda, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, although the extent of the connections is still an open question.

    I find it a bit idiotic for people to say Baathists would not deal with Islamic terrorists when just in the past few weeks we have seen the Baath regime of Syria very connected to Hizballah.

    Furthermore, the article you linked to by Balko says, in comdening U.S. intervention in the Muslim world as a cause of terrorism: Bin Laden has made clear several times over that it is the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia, the first Gulf War, the sanctions and no-fly zones imposed on Iraq….

    The U.S. had troops in Saudi Arabia because of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. The first gulf war was fought to prevent Saddam Hussein from successfully invading a sovereign country and annexing it out of existance. The no-fly zones were put in place, in part, to prevent genocide against the Kurdish people of northern Iraq.

    So, if you think it’s so fucking brilliant to say Iraq is “unrelated” despite all these examples of how Saddam had been a festering problem in the region, and you cite an article which says that our responses to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait were related to Al Qaeda’s attack on 9/11, frankly you’re not making any sense.

    If you’d like to make a Hit & Run post where you say Saddam Hussein should’ve been allowed to keep Kuwait, he should’ve been allowed to ethnically cleanse the Kurdish people at will (despite the USA having signed the Genocide Convention), and that Saddam Hussein should’ve been allowed to continue on to invade Saudi Arabia, please do so so and so clearly so we can see how well that would hold up to scrutiny.

    Tom Tomorrow contiues, mocking the administation: “Our troops will be greated with showers of rose petals…..”

    It’s actually a matter of fact by journalists (such as Chritsopher Hitchens) who were in Iraq at the time that many Iraqis did greet American troops with celebration. It’s a lie to say this did not occur.

    Tom Tomorrow: “….And Islamofascist leaders thoughout the region shall fear out mighty wrath!”

    On what basis do you think Islamofascist leaders are not fearing our wrath? Did the dictator of Libya, for example, not fear our wrath? What makes you confident that other Islamofascist leaders are not worried?

    Tom Tomorrow, presenting one of the critics of Bush foreign policy as someone who spoke truth but was unfairly mocked for it: “I’d even go so far as to suggest that it exposes us yo increased risk! If I weren’t such a frivolous ninny, that is!”

    It’s a matter of debate whether we’re now exposed to more risk. On the one hand, we haven’t had a terrorist attack in America since 9/11. OTOH, that may be luck and it’s just around the corner. A post earlier this week on Hit & Run opined that Al Qaeda is no big deal becaus emore people die in car crashes than in 9/11s, and that Al Qaeda “scracely exists.” One day on Hit & Run the enemy “scarcely exists,” the next day America is more at risk than ever. Do get your stories straight or make a post saying why you disagree with each other.

    Tom tomorrow, back to mocking the advocates of Bush foreign policy: “Do these cut-and-runners have no historical perspective.”

    So what do you believe? Islamic Fascists seem to think it’s pretty important that we don’t succeed in Iraq. I’m of the mind that accomplishing what they don’t want us to accomplish is a good idea, and I agree with Bush that the long-term solution is planting the seeds of better countries in the Middle East. Perhaps you disagree.

    What exactly do you think will happen to Iraq, the Middle East, America, and the world if we pulled out of Iraq right now? Or can you only link to a cartoon with shallow talking points and mantras?

    Tom Tomorrow, going back to the “truth-teller” who was unfairly mocked: “It’s almost as if the Bush administration never had an exit strategy.”

    His strategy is to complete the mission. Tom Tomorrow’s strategy is apparently to abort the mission and who really cares what consequences that would have. What’s your recommendation, or is it easier to just link to a cartoon and not get too into the details?

    Tom Tomorrow: “Using news of a foiled terror plot to score political points against democrats.” Back to the supposed “truth-teller” that is unfairly mocked for “trying to figure out what REALLY happened”: “If it’s true that many of the suspects didn’t even have passports — I don’t understand how an attack could have been ‘imminent’!”

    So I take you you agree with Andrew Sullivan’s conspiracy theory? How about you make a Hit & Run post where you clearly state that and let it stand up to scrutiny?

    Some didn’t have passports? Um…aren’t they terrorists? Is it so outlandish that a terrorist might use a forged passport? And what is “imminent” precisely”? How close to the actual terror attack should we wait before authorities bust them? Isn’t it better to bust up a terror plot a little early than too late? Or are you attempting to set up a situation where you can abuse Bush no matter what? Pretty transparent.

    And where do people like you (since you praise this cartoon), Andrew Sullivan, and Tom Tomorrow get off saying others are playing politics with terrorism when you’re apparently trying to make people believe British authorities were acting to help Bush divert from, I guess, Ned Lamont? And why can’t people point out the distinction for voters between those who wanna pretend Al Qaeda and its affiliates “scacely exist” (at least for the election year, for those candidates who don’t poll well on fighting terrorism) and those who think there’s a very real threat? We’re talking about the #1 issue in our country and you wanna pretend Republicans are not allowed to talk about the attitudes in the Democratic Party? What a silly rubbish.

    This has gone on too long, and I had wanted to get more into the article you linked to.

    So…just a couple points.

    Unfortunately, the “they hate us for our freedom” reasoning fails the Occam’s Razor test. It’s difficult to believe that a loathing of strip clubs, rock music, cable TV, and all-you-can-eat buffets would motivate 19 young Arab men would move to the U.S. from thousands of miles away, live and work here for several years, learn to fly airplanes, and then immolate themselves in a mass suicide attack.

    I don’t think it’s the only reason, but I find it pretty astonishing that someone would think what some negatively refer to as Western “cultural imperialism” is no factor in why Islamic Fascists hate the West. The world has shrunk through globalization and technology, and thus our culture is not “thousands of miles away.” What do you think Islamic Fascists mean when they refer to a “Great Satan”? They’re referring to a seducer. Part of the seduction they are lashing out against is cultural. Why do you think it is that a Taliban regime would send cultural enforcers out to rip out the painted fingernails of women and whip people for listening to music? Why do you think Islamic Fascists went on a rampaging killing spree over a beauty pageant in Nigeria?

    Eland warned — and bin Laden later confirmed — that more recent U.S. interventions, in Kosovo, Somalia, and even Gulf War I, could soon provoke a catastrophic attack on the U.S. homeland.

    What kind of masochism are you buying into here?

    In Kosovo we intervened in support of Muslims who were being ethnically cleansed. Am I to apologize for America not allowing the Saddams and Milosevics to do as they please?

    And have you not noticed that Islamic Fascists are attacking people across the world, whether U.s. foreign policy is an issue or not?

    I’m sure I’ll be the last to know. Radley Balko skillfully takes on the question of libertarian “seriousness” about foreign policy conundrums. It’s two years old, yet alas still fresh.

    Well, you keep patting him and tom Tomorrow on the back. But throwing a link to them on Hit & Run and simply saying they are “skillful” and “largely true” doesn’t really tell me much, and leaves me still wondering how serious you are. Oh well, I guess Nick Gillespie will come by tomorrow and do a “hit and run” about how “idiotic” Bush is and you can feel smug about yourselves on the basis of nothing.

  10. I agree with the ‘message’, but I thought the strip was heavy-handed, tedious, and not at all funny.

  11. Damn, I came here to harass R.C. Dean, and he is not to be found. What rot. Nothing like a talking points spewer to get the blood up.

  12. Edna,

    In your analogy, can I assume “you” are the United States or another nation trying to protect itself against terrorism, or the “West”in general? Can I assume the “house next door … full of crazy gang bangers who have a shitpot of money” represents Al Qaeda or other terrorist communities? If so, in the set up of your analogy, the terrorists have the *vast* preponderance of money, weaponry, people, resources and power. In your analogy, we are alive only by the grace of Al Qaeda’s restraint, which might end at any moment.

    Radley admits his analogy is imperfect, but it helpfully illuminates a good point, which is the noble purpose of analogies. Your analogy seems so fundamentally flawed that it doesn’t illuminate anything, at least not to me. Can you explain, without analogies, what points you believe Radley is missing?

  13. “Being serious” in general is just one kind of frivolity.

    (_The Archeology of the Frivolous : Reading Condillac_)

  14. Saddam had given safe haven a list of some of the world’s worst terrorists, such as Abu Nidal . . .

    Abu Nidal is ancient history.

    Zarqawi

    I think the latest information is that Saddam had his people looking to arrest Zarqawi.

    I am reminded of the Fox documentary that accused Iran of ‘harboring’ people that it actually had in custody.

    . . . and Ramzi Yusef (Yusef being one of the terrorists who tried to knock down the WTC in 1993).

    OK, you’ve got a score on Yusef. But AFAIK Saddam didn’t let him operate from Iraq. He just gave him a haven after the fact. That’s pretty minimal as support for terrorism goes.

    Yusef wasn’t found in Iraq when the U.S. invaded. They only found one terrorist, and he was covered by an amnesty and once lived openly in Israel. But the war crowd made a big fuss about him being a smoking gun.

    Saddam also funded terrorism, such as his offers to pay the families of suicide bombers.

    So does Saudi Arabia, and I think some others as well. But Palestinian suicide bombers don’t have ‘global reach’, so technically aren’t targets of the ‘War on Terror’.

    I find it a bit idiotic for people to say Baathists would not deal with Islamic terrorists . . .

    Who has said that? Seriously, I’d like to see a quote.

    It seemed to me that lots of people jumped to the conclusion that Saddam and bin Laden must be ‘allies’ because they both are Muslim and anti-U.S. In response to that, many of us pointed out that bin Laden’s ‘caliphate’ agenda required bringing down Saddam’s regime, among others, and that bin Laden might even hate Saddam as much as or more than the U.S. That didn’t mean there couldn’t possibly be a ‘Hitler-Stalin pact’ between them. It did suggest such an alliance couldn’t be taken for granted without evidence.

    . . . we have seen the Baath regime of Syria very connected to Hizballah.

    It’s my understanding that Hizballah is focused on Israel and Lebanon, and has no agenda for overthrowing the Syrian Baathists.

    Did the dictator of Libya, for example, not fear our wrath?

    Not clear. What is known is that he was moving toward rapprochement with the West long before 9/11.

    The Syrians and Iranians don’t seem intimidated. The neo-cons are demanding that Iran be made the next example.

    “It’s almost as if the Bush administration never had an exit strategy.”

    His strategy is to complete the mission.

    That’s not a strategy. It’s a slogan.

    How close to the actual terror attack should we wait before authorities bust them?

    Close enough to get the evidence to put them away for a long time.

    Whether that is true of this case remains to be seen. I understand some of the arrested people have been released.

  15. Was Hitler instigated? Is Ahmadinejad instigated? Chavez? Kim Jong-il? Milosevic? Oswald? The guys that kicked your ass in school?

    Can we excuse everything with a simple phrase, “US involvement”? A constant chant can become a belief.

    Just today:
    UPI: Iran Opens Heavy-Water Nuclear Project

    “Iranian Deputy Parliament Speaker Mohammed Reza Bohonar said international pressure could prompt Iran to pursue a weapons program.

    “Be afraid that the Iranian nation comes into the streets and stages demonstrations to ask the government to produce nuclear weapons to combat threats,”

    Who would’ve thought?
    One thing is for sure, demonstrations will be “staged”.

  16. For chrissakes people, can we keep the posts down to 10,000 words please?!

  17. Certainly there are *some* libertarians who are serious about foreign policy. Glenn Reynolds, for example, or Michael Young.

    But most of the libertarian movement simply doesn’t have a foreign policy, beyond a childish belief that the rest of the world will magically cease to be a problem for us if we just turtle up and never leave the country.

  18. The Friday Gratuitous New Wave Link

    It’s…

    !The Waitresses!

    http://www.hardcafe.co.uk/waitresses/

    http://tinyurl.com/p24mm

    The Waitresses’ music is so creative and they sported an appealing verve. Anyone remember em on Square Pegs?

  19. Yeah, I have a few things to add to that:

    SERIOUS: Continuing to use Red Herrings and allegations as if they were facts.

    NOT SERIOUS: Dealing with what actually happened, and doing something about it.

    SERIOUS: Blaming George Bush and America for all of the world’s problems.

    NOT SERIOUS: Recognizing that we are in a war that we didn’t start.

    I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

  20. This post sums up why I am really starting to get disallusioned with Reason. Brian thought it was funny because that is how Reason portrays the issue; as one big cartoon conflict between nitwited war monges and enlightened dems. There are a lot of issues that Reason still thinks seriously about, but outside of Michael Young, it no longer thinks seriously about terrorism. Reason on terrorism is nothing buy snarky sloganeering. It is too bad that Virginia Postrel left the magazine. I don’t think she would have put up with the kind of drivel passing as thought.

  21. John:

    … but outside of Michael Young, it no longer thinks seriously about terrorism.

    Read: “…it no doesn’t agree with me on terrorism”

    Exploration of how our government’s foreign intervention and entanglements makes us the target of terrorism is quite serious.

    BTW, the evidence is that governments are the most prolific terrorist entities extant. And that’s really serious.

  22. Oops, I mean: Read: “…it doesn’t agree with me on terrorism”

  23. ?:

    But most of the libertarian movement simply doesn’t have a foreign policy…

    That’s the idea; to follow the wisdom of the founders of our republic and avoid foreign entanglements. Look at where following a non-libertarian approach to foreign affairs has gotten us. It’s tragic.

    …a childish belief that the rest of the world will magically cease to be a problem for us if we just turtle up and never leave the country.

    What?? A capitalistic, free economy spreads us, our goods, and our ideas all over the world. And note that:

    “When goods stop crossing borders, soldiers soon do.”
    Ludwig von Mises

  24. Can you explain, without analogies, what points you believe Radley is missing?

    that radical islam has a shitpot of money, that unconventional weapons can (in time) be bought, that borders and distance do not mean what they once did, that there are crazy people with access to that shitpot, and that a single event (e.g., a nuke in manhatten) could wipe out the US economy.

  25. No Rick that is the easy way out. It is not that they disagree with me, it is that they have nothing interesting to say on the subject. I don’t agree with someone like Larry Tribe on NSA wiretapping, but I can appreciate his arguments. Reason never has any arguments beyond snark. I guess they finally jumped the shark for me the other day when they actually put up a piece argueing that there could be a terrorist bombing a week in the U.S. and since any individual’s chance of being killed in one was pretty low, terrorism even if it got that bad, wouldn’t really be that big of a deal. It was straight out of the Onion. In fact, I agree with the substance of some of the things Reason has to say. They just say it in such a juvinille manner that you just can’t help but disagree with them.

  26. I for one won’t miss John when he finally stops hanging out here so here’s to Reason’s “snark”!

    Let’s face facts children: we are the target of terrorists not because “they hate our freedoms” but because of

    1)Our hegemonic cultural engine, spreading the joys of our way of life through music, movies, fashion, tech, and just about everything else. This is “bully for us” since eventually it will wash them all away. These are their death throws we are witnessing. In a generation or two they will all be spent (and they know it).

    2)Our entanglements. Either with local masters they hate, or with regional boogeymen they can scapegoat. We’ve supported despots that they despise (Saud, Egypt, etc) and we are not exactly non-partisan where Israel is involved. Too bad for us: here’s really where we’ve screwed the pooch.

    I note that most other free countries (Canada? Japan? Netherlands? France? etc etc etc ) are either not ever targeted at all or face only a few home grown angries with narrow agendas. This is not to say we disengage totally, but it does imply that we should often consider a softer footstep in our dealings.

    It also might mean that we listen to countries that are a bit more sober than we are about how the world really works and try to find consensus. Going it alone is a recipe for worse to come.

  27. Serious?

    Balko’s indictment went so far over the heads of TCS peanut gallery that it drew zero comments.

    He might have cut a few thousand words to good effect

  28. Father Garth, Throw legalized drugs and all other liberated freedoms into the fray of music, movies, fashion, tech and they will really love us?

    Should we support Chavez? They seem to love him, or do they?

    Maybe the reason the countries (Japan is an outback to the ME) mentioned are not “targeted” is because they serve as good liberal places to safely operate?

    John has freedom of thought and if there is any place to express himself it should be here, “free” of intolerance?

  29. On a point of clarification, it wasn’t Ramzi Yusef/Yousef who was given a haven in Iraq. It was one of the other WTC bombers, whose name I don’t recall. Yusef fled to Pakistan and was soon arrested there.

    http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/crime/terrorists/ramzi-yousef/

  30. “it no longer thinks seriously about terrorism.”

    John,
    You didn’t break bread with Tom Tomorrow just before he drew that strip, did you?

  31. Can we, just once, stop pretending that in a world in which an extremely large percentage of the world’s most important natural resource, and where it is, geologically, most easily extracted, that it is possible to not be entangled with the people who live there? Or that if the U.S. military was not guarantor of oil trade with the Persian Gulf, that some other international actor would seek to dominate the militarily weak region, and they may not have good intentions regarding the interests of the citizens of the United States? George Washington, God love’em, never had to worry about getting a mineral extracted from halfway across the world, lest a citizenry used to constantly rising living standards suffer extreme economic dislocation.

  32. Will,

    I guess that explains why the US has so many troops in Canada, where the majority of US oil imports come from.

  33. John:

    … when they actually put up a piece argueing that there could be a terrorist bombing a week in the U.S. and since any individual’s chance of being killed in one was pretty low, terrorism even if it got that bad, wouldn’t really be that big of a deal.

    Well, I musta missed that one. Couldya cite the link please?

    In fact, I agree with the substance of some of the things Reason has to say. They just say it in such a juvinille manner that you just can’t help but disagree with them.

    I can’t recall the Reason editors ever making their points and observations in a juvenile manner. But it seems from what you said that perhaps you’re letting your take on the style get in the way of the substance.

  34. Another Instalanche?

    Will Allen,

    I can see how George Washington, et al. might have tempered his opposition to foreign involvements, if vital American interests were at stake. After all, in the early years of the nation, Thomas Jefferson ordered an attack on the Barbary States for preying on US shipping.

    But how did invading Iraq serve to protect our access to Middle East oil, or any other vital national interest? We’ve bought ourselves a lot of entanglement for very little in the way of benefit.

  35. Of course Bush never had an exit strategery. But, all of us bear some responsibility for not pressing him on the point; despite all the yik-yak in the runup to the invasion, I don’t recall many people questioning how we were going to avoid being stuck in Iraq for decades after the initial military success. Most of the opposition to the war was based on ideological considerations, not pragmatic ones.

  36. Mr. Rhoads, unless you are advocating the invasion of Canada, you may reflect upon the implications of the fact that oil in fungible. It terms of economic dislocation, it matters not a whit where oil actually originates from, prior to arriving in the U.S., unless, again, you advocate invading Canada, pumping out the oil, and telling the Canadians to pound sand. That this has to explained on a regular basis to libertarians, who presumably have some passing familiarity with the workings of markets, is a bit of a wonder.

    The accessability of the oil in the Persian Gulf is the key component in the global oil market. The global oil market has a gigantic impact on global economic conditions, including economic conditions in the U.S.. This is only going to change very slowly, over several decades. Thus, the U.S. is inevitably entangled in the politics of the Persian Gulf, for if the U.S. were to simply withdraw, some other international actor would seek to dominate this militarily weak, yet geologically vital region of the globe, and there is no assurance that such an entity would do so in a way that would not harm the citizens of the U.S..

    None of this, of course, obviates the question that crimethink poses above, that of whether the specific entanglement of the Iraq invasion was wise. I wish, however, that people like crimethink would be more forthright in their position. Given that the U.S. will inevitably be entangled in the extraction of Persian Gulf oil, in what form is the entanglement to take place?

    There are three choices. One, the people of the region can be slaughtered, which is how this sort of a situation, that of a militarily weak people sitting atop a vital natural resource, has been handled throughout most of human history. Two, the people can be enslaved, which is what usually has happened to those not slaughtered. Three, the people atop of the region can self-govern, and engage in productive trade with other populations.

    The status quo since the oil reserves in the Persian Gulf were discovered has been to enslave the native populations via despotic proxies, who are paid tribute by oil consumers, in return for access to the reserves. Of course, the despots then encourage the resentment of their native populations towards the outside oil consumers, particularly the most prominent ones, since this provides a distraction from the despots’ oppressive ways. The outside enemy is always useful to the despot, after all. The problems with this paradigm, however, has been on display for some time now.

    Of course, just because a paradigm has problems does not mean that a better paradigm is available. It would be preferable, however, for those, and perhaps you are one of them, crimethink, who think that continuing to pay tribute to despots in return for access to oil reserves, is the least worst option available, to simply say so forthrightly, instead of simply bemoaning how useless the Iraq invasion was.

  37. Just once I’d like to be shown a Tom Tomorrow strip, whether by Reason or – more likely – one of my left-leaning friends that doesn’t fit the following formula:

    Start from a position that only someone who believes that aromatherapy cures cancer believes and move in 5 painfully pointless and unfunny panels to “make a point” that is only going to find widespread agreement among people who believe that if they get enough of their stoned friends together they can levitate the Pentagon.

  38. Mr. Allen,

    I believe my point was specifically that an invasion of Canada is unnecessary in order for the US to be able to import their oil. Of course middle eastern oil has a vast impact on the global price of oil, but the implication of your original statement was than an American military presence in the middle east is necessary because they have a vital resource to our economy. My contention is that Canada also has that same vital resource, yet somehow US military presence in Canada is not necessary to obtain it.

    Now clearly the middle east is not Canada, they have vastly different governements. The fact remains though, that both of these oil suppliers have as much interest in selling oil to other countries as those countries have in buying them. Trade is a two way street, and even though middle eastern governments frequently use withdrawing their oil as a threat, they have just as much incentive to sell us oil as we do to buy it. As such, I am unconvinced by your argument that in order to secure middle eastern oil, we must invade thier countries. You have correctly mentioned invading Canada as a ridiculous idea; I agree with you on that point. The point I’m trying to make is that perhaps invading Iraq to secure oil is equally ridiculous.

  39. O.K. Mr. Rhodes, instead of reviewing the meaning of “fungibility”, perhaps you should instead review at an atlas, specifically a place called the Strait of Hormuz, and then also reflect on the wisdom of assuming that the militarily weak governments of the Persian Gulf will maintain control of the Strait of Hormuz absent the U.S. military guaranteeing security.

    Some entity will inevitably dominate that small area, and there is no reason to suppose that it will behave in a way that you consider economically rational, because although humans as a whole are economically rational over the long term, history is rife with examples when what we normally consider irrational behavior won the day. In regards to the Persian Gulf, it only takes one actor in a temporary stretch of irrationality to inflict a gigantic amount of misery on the rest of the world’s population, including that of the U.S..

    It didn’t make a lot of sense for the Germans, French , and Britons to slaughter each other in droves from 1914 to 1918, but that’s what happened. It didn’t make a lot of sense for Japan to wage genocidal war throughout Asia, until the U.S. repsonded with an embargo, and then it didn’t make a lot of sense for the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor, but that’s what happened. Heck, I’m sure there are plenty here who say that it didn’t make sense for the U.S. to embargo oil destined for Japan in response to Japanese slaughtering other Asians in droves. But that’s what happened.

    It may make sense to you that if the U.S. withdraws from the Persian Gulf, all the other international actors with the potential to affect the area should just allow the current regimes to keep control of the real estate, and allow the oil to be extracted without interruption. Unfortunately, everybody doesn’t see the world as you do, just as the thug who robbed a liqour store last week in my town, and shot the clerk to death for the fun of it, didn’t see the world as you do. What is equally unfortunate is that an international thug without your view of rationality in the Persian Gulf would not result in a single death of a store clerk, as awful as that is, but rather millions of deaths.

    The U.S. will not be withdrawing from the Persian Gulf, and the only question is how the U.S. engages with the population of the Persian Gulf.

  40. I guess that explains why the US has so many troops in Canada, where the majority of US oil imports come from.

    But they are awfully close by, no?

  41. Mr. Allen,

    I find it interesting that all of the examples of governments acting irrationally that you mention involve affirmative uses of military. Certainly none of the actions of World War I made a great deal of sense, but the people on all sides of the war believed that they were fighting against the irrational or immoral actions of the other side. This is true of virtually every conflict throughout history. No one in wars ever views themselves as the bad guy. This explains why the US seems to use its military so frequently despite the fact that it always sees itself as the defender. The very irrational acts that you mention are derived from the fundamental notion that the perception of wrongdoing of others justifies your own wrongdoing. While this is certainly a common historical element, I would rather see my own country as part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

    You have made the contention that absent US military presence in the region, there will be global economic instability. I acknowledge it as a possiblity, although I hardly think it’s a foregone conclusion, and you certainly have not presented a convincing argument to that effect. Any power that uses military force to take over the region is still going to want to sell the oil in it, and the region is not the only source of the resource in question. It’s not as if anyone can take over the middle east (a far more difficult task than you’re making it out to be by the way) and blackmail the world for oil. They do not have a monopoly on this resource; they just have a disproporionate amount of it.

    Predictions of large catastrophies have always been used to justify military action throughout history, yet for the most part, history has failed to produce said catastrophes. I have heard the argument my whole life that we need to have a huge military to prevent those who are irrational or immoral from attacking us, yet historically it is the countries with strong militaries that always end up using them.

  42. What cracks me up about the pro Iraq war nitwits is the fact the very people persecuting, or, rather, bumbling this war were at one time loud, open supporters of Hussien & the Ba’ath Party. Under these murderous nitwits, Hussien was given billions in cash & military hardware, (Does the BNL Bank scandal ring any bells?). And I remember clear as hell two things: my being told I didnt think the US should bankroll thugs like Hussien meant I wasnt a “serious thinker” , and Reaganite pinup Jeanne Kirkpatrick casting the sole veto of Sec Council action after Hussien gassed the Kurds. You remember that, dont you? Thats when she described Hussien as “authoritarian”, and those evil Nicaraguans, who we had fun killing with our mercenaries at the time, “totalitarians”.
    And yet we have “serious thinkers” listing Hussiens crimes, real, imagined (and ignoring inconvenient others) and these geniuses have zero-zip-nada to say about US blank checks to this & other scumbags, at the behest of the SAME scumbags who pushed this nitwit war. Yup. Serious thinkers.
    Cartoons cant capture thier willful ignorance.

  43. I got over my laziness and looked up the person earlier incorrectly identified as Ramzi Yusef. His name is Abdul Rahman Yasin

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-09-17-iraq-wtc_x.htm

    ‘Yasin is on the FBI’s list of 22 most-wanted terrorist fugitives; there is a $25 million reward for his capture. The bureau questioned and released him in New York shortly after the bombing in 1993. After Yasin had fled to Iraq, the FBI said it found evidence that he helped make the bomb, which killed six people and injured 1,000. Yasin is still at large.’

  44. Most of the opposition to the war was based on ideological considerations, not pragmatic ones.

    I don’t know what ‘ideological’ is supposed to mean here. The suggestion that there wasn’t much ‘pragmatic’ argument against the war is nonsense.

  45. Mr. Rhoads, to speak of “good guys”, or “bad guys”, or “wrongdoing” in the international arena is pure silliness. Yes, morality exists, but the fundamental reality of international affairs is that there is no agreement as to what constitutes morality. There is only power, it abhors a vacuum, and actors make up tales about morality after the fact to justify their acquisition of said power. You seem to believe that since all of the world’s oil is not in the Persian Gulf, who controls the Persian Gulf is meaningless, and anyways, they would want to sell it. This ignores the fact that there need not be an absolute monopolist in order to control a market, and places faith on rational economic behavior in a single circumstance that is wholly unwarranted. Robbing banks is very irrational economic behavior, but that doesn’t seem to have ended the practice.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.