Ron Paul

Can a Real Libertarian Support the War in Iraq?

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That's the question that libertarian law professor Randy Barnett asks in his op/ed today in the Wall Street Journal. A taste:

While all libertarians accept the principle of self-defense, and most accept the role of the U.S. government in defending U.S. territory, libertarian first principles of individual rights and the rule of law tell us little about what constitutes appropriate and effective self-defense after an attack. Devising a military defense strategy is a matter of judgment or prudence about which reasonable libertarians may differ greatly.

Many libertarians, and perhaps most libertarian intellectuals, opposed the war in Iraq even before its inception. They believed Saddam's regime neither directly threatened the U.S. nor harbored or supported the terrorist network responsible for Sept. 11. They also feared the risk of harmful, unintended consequences. Some may also have believed that since the U.S. was not attacked by the government of Iraq, any such war was aggressive rather than defensive in nature.

Other libertarians, however, supported the war in Iraq because they viewed it as part of a larger war of self-defense against Islamic jihadists who were organizationally independent of any government. They viewed radical Islamic fundamentalism as resulting in part from the corrupt dictatorial regimes that inhabit the Middle East, which have effectively repressed indigenous democratic reformers. Although opposed to nation building generally, these libertarians believed that a strategy of fomenting democratic regimes in the Middle East, as was done in Germany and Japan after World War II, might well be the best way to take the fight to the enemy rather than solely trying to ward off the next attack…

These libertarians are still rooting for success in Iraq because it would make Americans more safe, while defeat would greatly undermine the fight against those who declared war on the U.S. They are concerned that Americans may get the misleading impression that all libertarians oppose the Iraq war–as Ron Paul does–and even that libertarianism itself dictates opposition to this war. It would be a shame if this misinterpretation inhibited a wider acceptance of the libertarian principles that would promote the general welfare of the American people.

Whole Barnett op/ed here. reason's 2003 roundtable on "Forcing Freedom" here.

Hat tip to Reason Foundation co-founder Manny Klausner.

NEXT: Is Barry Manilow a Closet Libertarian? (He Gave $2,300 to Ron Paul's Campaign)

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  1. No. Next!

  2. Addendum: Maybe, once upon a time, there was a case that could have been made if one accepted faulty information at face value. But given what we now know, and given that it’s a failed program, I don’t see how a libertarian can support a failed and expensive program.

    For the record, I never supported it.

  3. I think we all know self described libertarians who were on either side of this issue.

    Compare our variety of views to those of Democrats, who either supported the war because they liked it or supported the war because they were afraid of appearing “weak.”

  4. Of course. But does this war serve any liberating function, long term? Maybe, but it’s looking increasingly likely that an equally oppressive government to the one we toppled will spring up after we leave.

    Should’ve listened to me and partitioned (or at least strongly federalized) Iraq in the first place. I told George, but he wouldn’t stop playing Sudoku.

    I don’t see how opposition or support to this war makes libertarians question their support of Ron Paul. If his election gave us an out-and-out defeat in Iraq–something I think is quite unlikely–wouldn’t the domestic effects of a libertarian president far outweigh any consequences from that loss?

  5. Contra thoreau, I think Barnett’s basic point is correct, though I quibble with some of his reasoning.

  6. the problem is, if Iraq had really been a threat, preemption could be construed as self-defense. As it was discovered he was not a threat, there was no self-defense and therefore it was really just an act of agression. Not knowing whether someone is a threat or not, it depends on how much you value principle over consequences and if its not obvious by now, Americans place very little value on principle.

    As the war stands today, neither principle nor consequences can guide us because we simply don’t know the right course. Most of us think the right course is leaving, so we find ourselves in a place where you could theoretically be a libertarian and have beliefs for staying or leaving, but to err on the side of correct libertarianism to start, you would have had to choose not to invade.

  7. Absolutely.

    The war in Iraq is as justified as fighting the National Socialists after the US was attacked by Japan. If you’re going to have a war, you go after your enemy’s allies.

    This is the same doctrine as ridding your backyard of all snakes, not just the one that bit you.

  8. They viewed radical Islamic fundamentalism as resulting in part from the corrupt dictatorial regimes that inhabit the Middle East, which have effectively repressed indigenous democratic reformers.

    While I have no problem with Saddam being gone, if the above was the reason, why would we have started with Iraq (well, after Afghanistan)? It seems like it that is the rational, Saudi Arabia should have been the target.

  9. JGR,

    The Baathists and the Taliban were allies? I dont think so.

  10. LIbertarian principles are a crummy guide to international relations, aside from trade issues. Sometimes it makes sense to use pressure on other governments to encourage them to act in pre-liberty ways, but the tools for such pressure are limited and crude.

  11. Can a Real Libertarian Support the War in Iraq?

    NO!

  12. pro-liberty, I mean.

  13. Wholly aside from the merits of Randy Barnett’s op-ed, what makes anyone think it’s a good idea for libertarians to start fighting over who’s “really” libertarian”? Is anyone else reminded of the “Splitter!” scene in Life of Brian?

  14. “They viewed radical Islamic fundamentalism as resulting in part from the corrupt dictatorial regimes that inhabit the Middle East…”

    Didn’t the corrupt dictator Saddam Hussein do a pretty fair job of repressing radical Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq? I don’t recall any suicide terrorist attacks there before we invaded.

  15. A libertarian can support the war, but at this point I don’t think a capital-L Libertarian can.

  16. “J Golden Rockwell | July 17, 2007, 2:51pm | #
    Absolutely.

    The war in Iraq is as justified as fighting the National Socialists after the US was attacked by Japan. If you’re going to have a war, you go after your enemy’s allies.”

    who was Iraq allied with?

  17. Why stop at Iraq?
    Balkans? Horn of Africa? Lebanon? Grenada?
    Anywhere at all? Or 19th-century isolationism?

  18. For the record, I never supported it.

    You have gotten very clear about that this year. Which is good, of course.

  19. They are concerned that Americans may get the misleading impression that all libertarians oppose the Iraq war–as Ron Paul does–and even that libertarianism itself dictates opposition to this war. It would be a shame if this misinterpretation inhibited a wider acceptance of the libertarian principles that would promote the general welfare of the American people.

    We should be afraid people might reject libertarianism because they think it stands in opposition to a disastrous war now opposed by pretty much everyone who hasn’t sworn eternal fealty to President Dumbass?

  20. Let’s forget the absurd notion of “self-defense” and consider the real point of our Middle East policy – control/protection of the oil fields.

    Can a libertarians support the use of the military for this purpose? Shouldn’t the oil companies be paying for this themselves instead of taking money from taxpayers to do it?

  21. Oh yeah and: less military spending = less taxes = more freedom.

  22. No. War is the health of the state, particularly foreign wars.

  23. This is the same doctrine as ridding your backyard of all snakes, not just the one that bit you.

    Uh, that would actually be really stupid. Most snakes don’t bite humans at all.

    Though, stomping on every garter snake in sight because a few years ago, you got bitten by a rattlesnake you wouldn’t quit poking, does sound like an accurate analogy to the Bush administration’s Middle East foreign policy.

  24. those poor poor garter snakes.

    Or you could kill the King Snake that was keeping your yard venomous snake free all those years, thus inviting rattlesnakes to come settle in your yard.

    Maybe stomping on all snakes is not very useful.

  25. Anonymous

    thanks for the reminder!

  26. Come on guys, 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11, and 9/11. Rudi Giuliani 9/11 9/11 9/11, with 9/11. [insert silly, inaccurate World war II analogy here] 9/11!

  27. We need a National Libertarian Commitiee, so we can all know where to apply for Permission to be Considered a Libertarian. I nominate Warren and Thoreau to this committee, they seem to be the most qualified to judge.

  28. not any more. With no weapons of mass destruction found, a mounting death toll, billions of dollars spent, and nothing close to a peaceful democracy in power, it’s just not possible to be libertarian and support the war in iraq as an essential government program.

    for the record, i did support it once.

  29. They are concerned that Americans may get the misleading impression that all libertarians oppose the Iraq war–as Ron Paul does–and even that libertarianism itself dictates opposition to this war.

    It would be nice if we could debate this issue like mature adults. Unfortunately, the Eric Donderos of the world would rather scream, launch f-bombs, and impose libertarian litmus tests, than to be seen having rational discourse on the topic.

  30. I think a large part of the reason libertarianism isn’t a steady guide for international relations is the fact that libertarianism assumes that there will be only one entity, the govt, which initiates force. The reality may approach this model in the domestic sphere, but in the international one it doesn’t hold at all. Each nation is expected to initiate force to acheive its goals.

    But, while the philosophy of libertarianism doesn’t specify when force should be used overseas, I would think that the tendency of a libertarian would be to try to minimize the exercise of such force. In any case, I don’t support withdrawal from Iraq because of my libertarian beliefs, I support it because it’s clearly in our national self-interest whatever one’s political philosophy is.

  31. You know, if we would just get the government out of the military business a private group of volunteers would have…ah, never mind

  32. It was like being bitten by a snake and then taking a whack at a wasp nest in retaliation.

  33. I wonder how could a truly libertarian mini-state defend itself against a big, belligerant super state. I guess we’ll never know.

  34. Todd Fletcher,

    I think we need to nominate Eric FUCKING Dondero to that committee to preserve balance. 😉

  35. Or you could kill the King Snake that was keeping your yard venomous snake free all those years, thus inviting rattlesnakes to come settle in your yard.

    LiT, that’s actually a much better analogy for Saddam, though I’m not sure how much of a rattlesnake Iran is either.

    But I think most of the poor bastards at Gitmo are the garter snake variety (or possibly just really big earthworms).

  36. Vote Dondero: it’s time for nuanced approach to foreign policy.

  37. I know at least one prominent Libertarian, normally pretty sane, who completely buys into the idea that we are liberating the people of Iraq.

  38. Edward,

    You may want to look up “American Revolution” and “War of 1812” in your local library’s card catalog for more information on these obscure conflicts between imperialist superpower and decentralized, minarchist nation.

  39. Can a Real Libertarian Support the War in Iraq?

    Not without significant augments to the musculo-skeletal structure. Heck, one tank would probably be enough to crush most libertarians, although Radley could probably hold one of those Strikers if it was empty.

  40. The war in Iraq is as justified as fighting the National Socialists after the US was attacked by Japan. If you’re going to have a war, you go after your enemy’s allies.

    You are aware, aren’t you, that we didn’t go to war against the National Socialists because the US was attacked by Germany’s ally Japan. We only went to war against Germany when Germany declared war on us, on December 11, 1941. Similarly, we went to war in 1942 against Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary when *they* declared war against us. We *didn’t* go to war with Finland (another of Germany’s allies) because they never declared war against us or attacked us.

  41. Neal Boortz springs to mind.

  42. I think the libertarian position is to avoid permanent alliances (note: this does not discount have temporary ones when our security is threatened!), stay out of how other countries run their internal affairs, truly free trade, and end end to public foreign aid.

    Also, a scaling down of the cold-war era national security state, and a rolling back of the warfare state.

    With regard to humanitarian concerns (i.e. Darfur) we should only get involvedled if there is a very wide international consensus and we are acting in concert with various other nations.

    This is just my opinion, I don’t pretend to speak for everybody.

  43. Dan T.,

    We get almost as much oil from Venezuela alone than from the entire Middle East. And Venezuela is totally dependent on the U.S. market for the foreseeable future, all the Hugo Fear? notwithstanding. So “War for Oil” is crap. War for a Big Base in the Middle East/War to Try to Stabilize the Middle East is another issue.

  44. “””Let’s forget the absurd notion of “self-defense” and consider the real point of our Middle East policy – control/protection of the oil fields.”””

    And how’s that one working out for us?

  45. Seamus, good points. Mr Rockefeller should keep in mind that that declaration of war by Germany wasn’t just a rhetorical act; it signaled their intent to attack our shipping on the Atlantic, so we really had no option but to declare war on them.

  46. No nation in history has been able to stabilize the Middle East unless the brutally conquer the whole territory and rule it with a despotic iron fist.

    Call me crazy, but I can’t see the United States doing that anytime soon.

  47. The war in Iraq is as justified as fighting the National Socialists after the US was attacked by Japan. If you’re going to have a war, you go after your enemy’s allies.

    Just for the record, Germany declared war on the U.S. prior to our declaration of war on them.

  48. “””But I think most of the poor bastards at Gitmo are the garter snake variety (or possibly just really big earthworms).””””

    To say the least, some are because some other tribal leader said they were.

  49. Can we all agree to something? No more World War II analogies to the “War on Terror”.

  50. Pro Lib,

    I think the problem is that if the Middle East’s oil becomes more expensive or harder to get, the Middle East’s oil customers in Europe and India will start competing with us for oil from Venezuela and Mexico, driving up our prices too.

  51. Cesar,

    Which is why I support restoring the Ottoman Empire. Or, better yet, the Byzantine Empire.

  52. Crimethink,

    What’s a card catalog?

    So was the Viet Cong libertarian?

  53. Neal Boortz springs to mind.

    Neal Boortz is a libertarian because he doesn’t like high taxes. His support of a massive, unending war only proves it.

    You can be a libertarian and support a war. You cannot be a libertarian and support the Global War on Terrorism–an undeclared war against an unspecified enemy without anything like an end in sight. Since Iraq is largely sold as the front-line on the GWoT, you can’t support it and be considered a libertarian.

  54. Not without significant augments to the musculo-skeletal structure. Heck, one tank would probably be enough to crush most libertarians, although Radley could probably hold one of those Strikers if it was empty.

    lunchstealer wins the thread!

  55. Call me crazy, but I can’t see the United States doing that anytime soon.

    Ah, but we could outsource the brutality and iron-fisted ruling.

  56. Ah, but we could outsource the brutality and iron-fisted ruling.

    Which would make us complicit in it, which makes people resent American power and then the United States. Which leads to terrorism abroad and at home.

    No thanks.

  57. Edward | July 17, 2007, 3:52pm | #
    Crimethink,

    What’s a card catalog?

    Ding, Ding! And Edward shows his age(and by proxy experience).

  58. mmmmm iron fisting…

  59. Heaven forbid that the two people in Mississippi who still think the Iraq war was a good idea get the impression that libertarians opposed it.

  60. I think the progress of the “War on Terror” to date has demonstrated better than anything else why Trostkyite Libertarians like Barnett are way off base.

    The real reason not to support aggressive war to export liberty is because the actions you are likely to have to take in the course of that war undermine liberty both in the target of your aggression and at home.

    We saw the true face of the violent export of liberty at Abu Ghraib. That’s what happens when you realize too late that forcing people into a subordinate status is not likely to make them love you or your ideology.

    We continue to see the true face of the violent export of liberty every day when LGF types and Freepers rant on and on about defeatists and traitors, when Glenn Beck tells a Congressman-elect that his default assumption is that he’s a traitor, when our government decides it has to tap everyone’s phones without a warrant, etc.

    This is what frivolous war looks like, people. This is what empires DO. I have to admit I didn’t see it coming. I guess some lessons have to be relearned every couple of generations.

  61. Other libertarians, however, supported the War on Poverty because they viewed it as part of a larger effort to promote functioning markets in low-income areas. They viewed generational poverty as resulting in part from the corrupt governments, which have effectively repressed entrepreneurs in urban neighborhoods. Although opposed to welfare generally, these libertarians believed that a strategy of fomenting people with money in poor neighborhoods might well be the best way to promote the development of functioning markets there rather than solely trying to deal with the consequences of poverty

    These libertarians are still rooting for success in the War on Poverty because it would make Americans more prosperous, while defeat would greatly undermine the effort to raise living standards in poor areas They are concerned that Americans may get the misleading impression that all libertarians oppose the War on Poverty–as Ron Paul does–and even that libertarianism itself dictates opposition to this war. It would be a shame if this misinterpretation inhibited a wider acceptance of the libertarian principles that would promote the general welfare of the American people.

    Libertarianism, more than any other ideology I’m aware of, is concerned with means, not ends. It doesn’t matter if your Big Government program is aimed at achieving things libertarians likew; it’s still a Big Government program.

  62. Compare our variety of views to those of Democrats, who either supported the war because they liked it or supported the war because they were afraid of appearing “weak.”

    58% of the Democrats in Congress voted against the AUMF, in the runup to the 2002 elections, and ordinary Democrats opposed it by even more a landslide.

  63. There are two real conflicts between the war in Iraq and libertarianism.

    The first is that Iraq, as a nation, posed no threat to our country. Even with WMD they don’t have the capability to attack us directly. That is the reason that the Bush admin tied it in to the GWoT (or the “Hunt for Bin Laden” as it was called at the time). As for attacking our “interests”, that is another matter, but then why are our “interests” in the middle east to begin with?

    The second is that of “nation building”. Libertarians (little l) generally believe that the best government is a small government and that which leaves us to our devices. In the case of Iraq, prior to invasion we were “directing” their nation by instituting no-fly zones, economic embargoes and “oil for food” programs. Just how is that laissez-faire?

    If the Bush admin had truly wanted to invade a country with ties to Bin Laden, radical extremism and terrorism, we’d be ass deep in Saudi Arabia right now not fomenting unrest in a country that was previously stable and one of the few “secular” governments of the region.

  64. joe, you kicked ass there. Seriously. I remember a couple weeks ago when you totally pwned Eric Dondero on libertarianism.

    You may not be one of us, but you understand us on a very deep level. For that I salute you, joe, and I’m glad you’re here..

  65. joe-

    The Democrats that voted against it were almost entirely secure in their Senate seats. Name me one Senate democrat that took a brave political stand, being from a red state and soon to face re-election.

    The Democrats also proceeded to pass over Howard Dean (an anti-war candidate) for John Kerry, who voted for the war.

  66. Dan T.,

    We get almost as much oil from Venezuela alone than from the entire Middle East. And Venezuela is totally dependent on the U.S. market for the foreseeable future, all the Hugo Fear? notwithstanding. So “War for Oil” is crap. War for a Big Base in the Middle East/War to Try to Stabilize the Middle East is another issue.

    So why would we want to stablize the Middle East and/or put military bases there if not for oil? Oil is the whole reason anybody cares about the place.

  67. Libertarianism, more than any other ideology I’m aware of, is concerned with means, not ends. It doesn’t matter if your Big Government program is aimed at achieving things libertarians likew; it’s still a Big Government program.

    When all other ends become subordinate to Liberty, it only seems like it’s a focus on means.

  68. We saw the true face of the violent export of liberty at Abu Ghraib. That’s what happens when you realize too late that forcing people into a subordinate status is not likely to make them love you or your ideology.

    We continue to see the true face of the violent export of liberty every day when LGF types and Freepers rant on and on about defeatists and traitors, when Glenn Beck tells a Congressman-elect that his default assumption is that he’s a traitor, when our government decides it has to tap everyone’s phones without a warrant, etc.

    This is what frivolous war looks like, people. This is what empires DO. I have to admit I didn’t see it coming. I guess some lessons have to be relearned every couple of generations.

    Quoted for truth.

  69. I’me afraid your father has been very badly pwned. I don’t know if he’s going to make it.

    If you look at this CAT scan, you can see that he’s been pwned here, here, and here. We’ll know more in a few hours.

  70. As for attacking our “interests”, that is another matter, but then why are our “interests” in the middle east to begin with?

    Because we need the oil.

    It’s really pretty amazing how obvious it all is, and yet Americans, not willing to come to terms with exactly what it takes to keep our spot on top of the world, feel the need to debate “self-defense” and “spreading liberty” and what not.

  71. joe, if I ever meet you in person I’m going to buy you a beer. And even though I don’t drink, I’ll also buy a beer for myself just so I can raise it in salute to you.

    I’ll be in Rhode Island for a week in August, FWIW. I won’t have a car, sadly, but if you feel like venturing into RI I’ll gladly buy you a beer.

  72. We don’t need the oil itself. We need the oil to be traded in US Dollars. That’s right, the whole war actually comes back to the dangers of fiat money.

  73. I must say that I’m kind of nostalgic for the card catalogs. While I’m very much a pro-technology guy, I don’t think that completely eliminating ink-and-paper records in favor of computer records is a wise thing, given the possibility of power outages, network problems, etc.

  74. By god, we won the War on Education. Now that was a good war. By banding together, standing as a nation, we’ve been able to stamp out any vestige of education, in just two generations. I think we can all be proud of what Americans can do when we put our mind to it.

    Not a snake has been left behind, not even the garden variety.

  75. joe,

    sweet, you’re getting 2 beers, rockin

    crimethink,

    I just like snakes, the poor misunderstood creatures, 🙁

  76. So why would we want to stablize the Middle East and/or put military bases there if not for oil? Oil is the whole reason anybody cares about the place.

    But George said it was to liberate the EYE-RACK-EEE people from a ruthless dictator! That’s why we’re there, Dan! It’s a humanitarian mission….. a hum..an..i..tarian….mis..sion……
    *sobs*

  77. crimethink,

    I got a papercut from a card catalog. I vowed revenge that day. It is almost complete now. Fucking Dewey.

  78. “So why would we want to stablize the Middle East and/or put military bases there if not for oil? Oil is the whole reason anybody cares about the place.”

    Stabilization of the oil market is only one of the reasons for our interventionism in the Middle East. We are also there trying to create democracies so Israel will have frienlier neighbors and also for a Wilsonian concept of spreading democracy and being the policeman of the world. I don’t agree with our involvement over there for any of those reasons.

  79. LiT,

    Are you and thoreau trying to get joe drunk so you can have your way with him? His dainty Irish physique can’t handle alcohol, you know.

  80. War is the health of the state… and libertarians want people to be healthy… so the answer is YES!

    But really, the answer will emerge from the Paul vs. Barnett steel-cage match next month. We’ll just have to be patient.

  81. Cesar,

    Which is why I support restoring the Ottoman Empire. Or, better yet, the Byzantine Empire.

    Yeah, but that would make the lyrics to “Byzantium (not Istanbul (not Constantinople))” kind of complicated.

  82. I support restoring the Caveman Empire. Back in the day, you could just sit around munching on brontosaurus drumsticks, and have sex with any chick you happened to see, without having to worry about the whole marriage and dating shit.

  83. Dan T.,

    It’s not that oil is irrelevant; it just isn’t the sole reason for our invasion. If all we cared about was oil, why not just take over control of the oil wells? Heck, why not just conquer Mexico and Venezuela? And Canada? Then we’d control all the resources we could possibly need until Mr. Fusion comes along.

    Our interest in the Middle East is oil based, but it’s not all some selfish, evil plot. We got dragged into the active involvement some time ago to protect Europe’s interests, something they and people like you like to forget. And, of course, there’s the spooky religious motivations that may very well be the numero uno reason for our intervention.

    Of course, whatever our past motivations may have been, our frustration after 9/11 is obviously our principal motivation today. We wanted to try to use force to stabilize the Middle East. I’d say we got that about 20% right, with some successes, but the remaining 80% is why we should stop intervening in the Middle East at all. It’s not about cutting and running, it’s about focusing our energies and our resources on more productive areas. We could’ve designed and built a low-cost ground-to-orbit solution and colonized several other worlds in the solar system for the cost of this war–it’s been that expensive.

  84. We could’ve designed and built a low-cost ground-to-orbit solution and colonized several other worlds in the solar system for the cost of this war–it’s been that expensive.

    Holy hyperbole, Batman! All the money in the world wouldn’t accomplish those things, since we don’t have the technology.

  85. I don’t understand why it’s an issue that “libertarianism doesn’t provide a guide to foreign policy.”

    It’s as if our lack of dogmatic thinking on complex issues is a weakness? What? The realm of international relations is fascinating, and libertarianism is neither in conflict with nor in perfect accordance with many of the mainstream ideologies there. For example, a libertarian can reasonably be a foreign policy liberal or a foreign policy realist. We probably all know libertarians who are either of these, and that’s not a problem.

    The discipline of international relations is best thought of in a vacuum; Democrats can be realists, Republicans can be liberals, we can all be institutionalists, so on and so forth.

    Put another way, just because libertarians didn’t have a pre-conceived dogmatic approach to assaulting Iwo Jima doesn’t mean that we’re less adept at marshalling armies than Democrats.

  86. His dainty Irish physique

    now thats an oxymoron

  87. crimethink,
    Sure we do. We just can’t terraform them…yet.

  88. Libertarianism, more than any other ideology I’m aware of, is concerned with means, not ends. It doesn’t matter if your Big Government program is aimed at achieving things libertarians likew; it’s still a Big Government program.

    Accurate, insofar as it goes. However, libertarians (especially former leftists like myself) distrust government mainly because a government bureaucracy rarely accomplishes its ends and become another burden on the taxpayer. In fact, government bureaucracies often perpetuate the problem by undermining the real solution.

    The government bureaucracies also are prone to “mission creep” [eg: Going from determining nutrional requirements to promoting bans on “unhealthy choices”] and become self-promoting political constituencies in themselves.

    It is this tendency to become their own constituency – where they influence the decisions as to whether their services are effective or not – that makes libertarians wary of Big Government. Just as militarists accuse those who oppose unneccessary weapons programs of “trying to weaken the country”, supporters of social programs are quick to label their critics as “being against the poor.” Once started, Government programs are almost impossible to kill.

  89. I should add, though, that only quasi Marxists like James subscribe to the absurd-on-its-face Dependency Theory.

    Go ahead an have a gander.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dependency_theory

  90. I should add, though, that only quasi Marxists like James subscribe to the absurd-on-its-face Dependency Theory.

    Very true. That theory has been disproven especially in the last thirty years, yet people still hold onto it.

  91. His dainty Irish physique can’t handle alcohol, you know.

    Page 2 of my Stereotypes of the World says very specifically:

    Irish: Red haired, short, frail, lots of freckles, believe in fairies, talk like leprechauns and drink ale and whisky like fish.

  92. Cesar,

    Had Anonymous Baster written Compare our variety of views to those of “Senate democrats that took a brave political stand, being from a red state and soon to face re-election,” who either… I would have agreed. That minority faction of the party did support the war.

    But to answer your question, Chairman Bob Graham, a Senator from a red state who was planning to run for president, voted against the AUMF.

    Can we all agree to something? No more World War II analogies to the “War on Terror”.

    No, we can’t. Iraq is too much like Stalingrad, Afghanistan is too much like North Africa, and the soldiers there are too much like the apolitical Afrika Corps, neglected by the ideologue fanatics in the capital who only care about the second front in the two-front war they started, for the World War II analogies to ever disappear.

  93. Joe-

    Bob Grahm is an exception, in both that hes from a red state and voted against the war, and in that he actually read the intellegence report.

    No, we can’t. Iraq is too much like Stalingrad, Afghanistan is too much like North Africa, and the soldiers there are too much like the apolitical Afrika Corps, neglected by the ideologue fanatics in the capital who only care about the second front in the two-front war they started, for the World War II analogies to ever disappear.

    Best WWII analogy I’ve ever heard in relation to the War on Terror.

  94. Are you and thoreau trying to get joe drunk so you can have your way with him? His dainty Irish physique can’t handle alcohol, you know.

    Screw you, crimethinks! I’ll take on all three of you, and kick your arses! 😉

  95. Cesar,

    Not one step back, you defeatists! No, you can’t shorten the lines. When we are on the offensive, we’re winning.

    The only way we can lose this war is if the enemy within undermines our will.

  96. Not one step back, you defeatists! No, you can’t shorten the lines. When we are on the offensive, we’re winning.

    The only way we can lose this war is if the enemy within undermines our will.

    Now THAT sounds like a drunken Irishman 🙂

  97. It’s not entirely insane to posit a WWII analogy, provided that you think the Middle East poses a long-term threat comparable to Nazi Germany. I think that viewpoint is entirely mistaken, myself, but, taking that assumption as a given, well, we’re still occupying Germany.

    For anyone who remains in favor of the war, just come out and say that it took decades of occupation to ensure that Germany and Japan made the full conversion to nonexpansionistic liberal societies and that it’ll take even longer to convert Iraq into a liberal society. Are we willing to stay there like we have in Europe and in South Korea? I just don’t see our interests being the same in the Middle East, despite the hype.

    We’re maintaining a relatively peaceful and stable Europe and East Asia with our willingness to provide military protection and guarantees to those regions. However, would we face utter chaos if we pulled out and let Japan, South Korea, and the European nations fend for themselves? And let them deal with the Middle East, which is really their problem more than ours?

  98. We could always stabilize the mideast the way we stabilized the midwest. Massive genocide of the population.

  99. Speaking of which… wasn’t massive genocide how we pacified Japan and Germany as well?

  100. lunchstealer,

    I like you thinking. I’ve been advocating massive nuking since the very beginning, but no one ever listens to me. Just think how simple and quiet things would be if all potential terrorists were vapor clouds drifting harmlessly over overpopulate India and China. All the peace we would enjoy, only the sound of the voices in our head to disturb us.

  101. We could always stabilize the mideast the way we stabilized the midwest. Massive genocide of the population.

    What “massive genocide”?

    Got a cite? No you can’t use Ward Churchill.

  102. SIV is right. There was no genocide in the American West. Sand Creek and Wounded Knee were simply military operations against militant insurgents and the trail of tears was a relocation program that insured the safety of the natives.

  103. “It would be a shame if this misinterpretation inhibited a wider acceptance of the libertarian principles that would promote the general welfare of the American people.”

    I think it’s possible to derive support for the war from Libertarian Principles.

    Name the Libertarian Principles at stake and I might be able to tell whether you support the war, but I won’t know for certain whether you’re a Real Libertarian. Theoretically, it’s possible, and sometimes happens, that non-Libertarians believe in and espouse Libertarian Principles.

    So the answer is yes, a Real Libertarian can support the War in Iraq.

    My opposition, by the way, was predicated on pragmatic concerns as much as it was on Libertarian Principles. …which would suggest, I think, that it’s also possible to oppose the Iraq War on Libertarian Principles and not be a Real Libertarian.

  104. SIV is right. There was no genocide in the American West. Sand Creek and Wounded Knee were simply military operations against militant insurgents and the trail of tears was a relocation program that insured the safety of the natives.

    None of your examples constitute “genocide” even under a loose definition of the term.

  105. joe @4:07pm,

    That was just about brilliant. Bravo.

  106. SIV, can you at least admit it was a democide?

  107. SIV, how about you explain your own tight definition of genocide? I’m not up on the latest in historical revisionism.

  108. “Genocide” against indigenous peoples in the United States by any definitioin is recent historical revisionism.

    Genocide has been asserted without citation.
    The obligation is on those making the assertion to provide a citation of fact to support it.

  109. SIV,

    The US govt hired marksmen to shoot massive numbers of bison in an effort to starve the Sioux. Not to mention the fact that we handed out smallpox-laden blankets to various tribes.

  110. SIV–

    Do tell us your definition of genocide, plaese.

  111. Cesar,

    Had to look that one up! Can’t say I’m ashamed to be unfamiliar with the use of the term. The root is clear but does not indicate the definition or usage.

    I did find a good example of the “loose” definition of genocide- … the denial of ethnic Hawaiian culture by the American run public school system in Hawaii…..

    By the “strict” definition of democide various depredations by aboriginal Americans against those of non-aboriginal identity would constitute democide. Guess they weren’t quite as good at it though.

  112. SIV-

    I got my definition after a quick google search. It comes from the U.N. Convention on Genocide. And before you deride it because its from the U.N., this is the U.N. of 1948, not Kofi Annon’s U.U. The declaration was in fact primarily drafted by the United States. It reads:

    In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    * (a) Killing members of the group;
    * (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    * (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    * (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    * (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

  113. Not to mention the fact that we handed out smallpox-laden blankets to various tribes.

    Cite! Cite! Cite!
    When, where, who is we?

  114. SIV-

    What is your personal definition of genocide? What would constitute a genocide in your world? And what do you think happened to the Natives in this country? “Transfer”?

  115. Cesar,

    A rather “loose” definition.
    Try The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.

  116. The above is not “my personal definition” I found it as a “quick google search”.

    I did not make the assertion of a genocide of indigenous Americans so the burden of proof lies
    with those who do.

  117. I’m consumed with National Guilt over the Hawaiian school thing though.

  118. I’m consumed with National Guilt over the Hawaiian school thing though.

    Keep burning that strawman. No one is asking you to feel guilty. You didn’t do anything to the Native Americans. This isn’t about “guilt” its about historical facts.

    The Aztecs ripped the hearts out of human sacrifices daily. But when I say this, Mexicans don’t scream YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE ME FEEL MESTIZO GUILT ™.

  119. Where are your “facts” Cesar?

    That is what I keep asking for.
    The United States did not commit genocide against
    the indigenous people of this continent.

  120. Thats funny

    I came to read the posts just to see if Dondero showed up and got his ass handed to him. The funny part is, I searched for dondero, and all I find are 10 people making fun of him in absentia

  121. SIV-

    I keep asking you to give another name for what happened.

  122. Perhaps what SIV is tryig to say is that there was no systematic “attempt” to actually exterminate the Native Americans.

    Over a three century period, there were a series of encounters between Native American groups and European groups. Each of these encounters resulted in a further increase in pressure on the Native Americans, and a gradual reduction in the geographical area under their control. Did this overall process have quasi-genocidal effects? Yes. But it’s hard to call an ad hoc process that took place over such a long time period with no real long term plan or direction a systematic extermination.

  123. What did happen Cesar?

    And how is that genocide?

  124. SIV-

    Go read your American history textbook to find out what happened. I’m not going to give you a laundry list, quite frankly its not worth my time when you could easily go find out about it on your own.

    And I think fluffy defined it best–it was a kind of quasi, ad-hoc genocide.

    I never asserted it was a genocide–only that what happened was clearly a demographic catastrophe brought on by their encounter with Europeans settlers which I did not have an appropriate name for.

  125. Fluffy,

    I’m asking those asserting there was genocide to prove it- or even attempt to support the argument. This seems to be one of those “Everybody knows…..” things that no one here seems to know.Where did you “learn” about this supposed genocide? I’m really curious.

  126. “I came to read the posts just to see if Dondero showed up and got his ass handed to him. The funny part is, I searched for dondero, and all I find are 10 people making fun of him in absentia”

    Real Libertarians are too busy trying to purge faux libertarians from Congress to participate in these feckless amateur debates about the essence of the True Faith. If you had a functioning decoder ring, you’d already know who’s who.

  127. Go read your American history textbook

    What the one by Howard Zinn or Ward Churchill?

    Seriously, that is what I am getting at, there is nothing indicating a genocide of Indians in our history.It is one of those things “everybody knows” oft asserted, often for identity political reasons that has no factual grounding.

    I’m on EDT this week so it is getting late.
    Feel free to support your assertion here or in another thread. I’m outta here.

  128. What the one by Howard Zinn or Ward Churchill?

    Burn strawman, burn! Hey, SIV–not everyone that disagrees with you is a leftist. The person who is defending Zinn or Churchill is the Cesar in your head, not the one on this thread.

    Whichever one they used in your high school. Maybe The American Pageant.

    Can’t say for sure if it was a genocide (and most mainstream historians don’t go that far, either) but what happened to the Native Americans was often an act of agression by the federal government, whether it be a broken treaty, forcible removal, the killing of buffaloes, or the grabbing of land.

    But white-washing what happened to the Natives–which you seem to be doing–is simply being a right-wing version of Zinn.

  129. I never asserted it was a genocide–only that what happened was clearly a demographic catastrophe brought on by their encounter with Europeans settlers which I did not have an appropriate name for.

    Victory! Don’t feel bad, I got a similar answer from a Professor in an Anthropology class on the contact period in relation to the military reconnaisance(sp) of SE North America by the Explorer Hernando DeSoto.

    Anyone else care to bring up those smallpox blankets again?

  130. SIV–

    Considering there was no knowledge of germ theory at the time the alleged small-pox blankets incident took place, most mainstream historians have concluded its a black legend.

    And what victory did you exactly have, since I never said it was a full-blown genocide?

  131. SIV,

    I suppose you need a citation to prove that Europeans took land forcibly from the Native Americans, too.

    Frankly, I don’t have enough invested in this issue to do any serious research, but you’re a fool if you don’t think white people treated the natives in an extremely shameful manner, whether it rises to the level of genocide or not.

  132. (and most mainstream historians don’t go that far, either)

    VICTORY!!!!

    I’m whitewashing nothing- just denying it was in any way genocide. I would suggest that everyone question what “everyone knows….” on a lot of other matters as well.

  133. Victory!

    Wow, SIV, your life must be pretty pitiful.

  134. SIV,

    The massacre of the Pequots as described in Bradford’s work Of Plymouth Plantation looks like genocide to me. In the mid-18th century the Susquehannock people were wiped off the map by as I recall a militia group associated with the fighting in the French and Indian war.

  135. Cesar,

    White North Americans did commit genocidal acts and actrocities against the original indigenous populations of the Americas. Then again, acts of genocide were perpetrated against the Mormons and the Acadians.

  136. Considering there was no knowledge of germ theory at the time the alleged small-pox blankets incident took place, most mainstream historians have concluded its a black legend.

    And a pervasive one.

    Crimethink,

    you don’t think white people treated the natives in an extremely shameful manner, whether it rises to the level of genocide or not.

    it doesn’t rise to that level. unlike say the treatment of aboriginal peoples by the Australians.Our treatment of indigenous people puts Canada to shame by comparison.
    American Exceptionalism…..

  137. Then again, acts of genocide were perpetrated against the Mormons and the Acadians.

    Everyone forgets about the Acadians, even though it had a big effect on how the American colonists viewed the British after it happened.

  138. the treatment of aboriginal peoples by the Australians

    Quasi-genocide.

    Our treatment of indigenous people puts Canada to shame by comparison.

    Quasi-genocide.

    I’m surprised you didn’t bring up Argentina, they probably come closest to actually having a full-blown genocide.

    There, happy now we got all the bases covered?

  139. Cesar,

    Well, note that I am referring to specific genocidal acts. The entire history of post-Columbian contact can’t be described that way.

  140. Wow, SIV, your life must be pretty pitiful.

    Hey ,I waste a whole lot less time here than you.

    The purported “genocide” of Native Americans is one of those irritatingly wrong things that “everybody knows….”

    I consider it a “victory” that there might now be a few less of “everybody” now.

  141. Well, note that I am referring to specific genocidal acts. The entire history of post-Columbian contact can’t be described that way.

    I couldn’t have put it better myself.

  142. Cesar,

    Anyway, American policy for many years was in part informed by the notion that segregating the indigenous population will more quickly lead to their complete demise. That was a very common notion in fact in the 19th century. While not genocide it isn’t praiseworthy either.

  143. Well, note that I am referring to specific genocidal acts

    Suprised no one brought up California.
    Closest thing to “genocide” of the natives in our history. Largely lacked the government component.
    I in no way deny bad treatment of native peoples in our country. It was not a one sided contest of good vs evil or victim and oppressor though.

  144. I think New Zealand was a full-blown actual genocide, though. One of the few genocides in history that actually succeeded.

  145. SIV,

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re referencing genocides left and right without citations. Do you have proof, or shall I do a victory dance of my own?

  146. These comments explain why we’ll never move beyond the margins of political thought. Of course, we have rockin avatars!

  147. SIV,

    I wasn’t referring to the amount of time you spend here, I was referring to the fact that you’re “shouting” VICTORY because no one really cares enough to look up sources on a topic.

  148. Considering there was no knowledge of germ theory at the time the alleged small-pox blankets incident took place, most mainstream historians have concluded its a black legend.

    (At the moment, for purposes of this discussion, not that interested in the historical particulars here so take this question at face value, nothing more, nothing less…) Do you really need the whole germ theory of disease to do the smallpox blankets thing? Couldn’t you have noticed, without fully understanding why, that contact with blankets used by former smallpox patients/casualties seemed to be a risk factor for others’ smallpox infections? Just curious cause I’d never heard that assertion before.

    (Again, just asking what I’m asking, not arguing about alleged genocides etc.)

  149. Anonymo,

    I doubt very seriously that anyone back then had any idea about the connection between smallpox blankets and subsequent illness / deaths.

    I’m looking (unsuccessfully) on Wikipedia for the anecdote of the European doctor who attempted (and failed) to get doctors to wash their hands when shifting from performing autopsies to delivering babies. I believe it was in the 18th century. Couldn’t find it. But I did find this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germ_theory

  150. Found it!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis

    Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (July 1, 1818 – August 13, 1865), also Ignac Semmelweis (born Semmelweis Ign?c F?l?p), [1] was an Austrian-Hungarian physician called the “savior of mothers” [2] [3] who discovered, by 1847,[2] that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by use of hand washing standards in obstetrical clinics.[2] Puerperal fever (or childbed fever) was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal, with mortality at 10%-35%. [4] Semmelweis [spelling[5]] postulated the theory of washing with “chlorinated lime solutions”[3] in 1847[2] as head of Vienna General Hospital’s First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctor wards had 3 times the mortality of midwife wards.[3] In 1851, Semmelweis moved to work in Hungary, which accepted the theory by 1857 (see below).

    Despite his publications by 1861[4] of statistical/clinical trials where hand-washing reduced mortality below 1%,[4] Semmelweis’ practice only earned widespread acceptance years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory.

    So, yeah, in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and maybe even into the early 19th centuries, any link between blankets and disease would probably not have been very widely believed… to put it mildly.

  151. Cool, thanks for the research.

  152. The war in Iraq was sold partially on Libertarian grounds, if we’ll all recall. Saddam’s wasn’t exactly an enlightened despotism.
    Anyways, that war’s not the one real libertarians ought to be worried about. The real one is the war in Laos. Repeal the neutrality act! Free General Vang Pao! The right to go filibustering is under the penumbra and emanations of our second amendment.

  153. Where’s RC Dean? Shouldn’t he be warmongering in this thread?

  154. Agree with SIV regarding California. The treatment of their navives by Whites/Hispanics probably comes the closest to the definition of genocide. I do not know how much of their decimation was due to their susceptibility to disease, rather than “active efforts” by the white population to exterminate them.

    The smallpox blanket guy you’re looking for is probably Amherst.

    I wouldn’t call RC Dean a warmonger, though we have disagreed in the past about how dangerous Iraq is then and now. Save that language for Donderooooooo (damn it, now you’ve got me doing it…) and his ilk from LGF, et al.

    Doesn’t Ron’s question require a distinguishing between domestic liberty and foreign policy? I see no requirement that a libertarian be an isolationist. Foreign action may improve our security, so much so that it would be worth the decreased liberty implicit with the increased taxes needed to fund it. I don’t agree that Iraq was one of those situations, but I can see that a libertarian could make the argument. By contrast, I thought that Afghanistan was one of those situations that required military action, as anti-libertarian as troops tend to be.

    Agree with Fluffy though that the Iraq war is a very good example of wars that empires engage in, and being in an empire is very anti-libertarianist.

  155. “By closest to genocide”, I meant of all of the US’s dealings in the US with Indians. (Though we’ve certainly supported far more brutal regimes: Chomsky’s favorite of East Timor, the Khmer Rouge, my sleeper candidate of the war by the Guatamalan military against their natives, etc, bloody etc…)

  156. I get the sense that SIV is not denying abuse of Native Americans, but just being really, really pedantic. Maybe just for the sake of making this thread really, really long. I guess the only way he would consider their treatment to be genocide is if it had actually succeeded in totally wiping them out.

    By the way, Cesar, it looks like you may not have picked up on my “outsourcing” remark being a cynical joke. I would hope it goes without saying, but I don’t really think we should outsource iron fisted rule for the Middle East.

  157. http://www.college.ucla.edu/webproject/micro12/webpages/indianssmallpox.html
    “An additional source of information on the matter is the Journal of William Trent, commander of the local militia of the townspeople of Pittsburgh during Pontiac’s seige of the fort. This Journal has been described as “… the most detailed contemporary account of the anxious days and nights in the beleaguered stronghold.” [Pen Pictures of Early Western Pennsylvania, John W. Harpster, ed. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1938).]

    Trent’s entry for May 24, 1763, includes the following statement:

    … we gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect.”

    So, yeah, in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and maybe even into the early 19th centuries, any link between blankets and disease would probably not have been very widely believed… to put it mildly.

    As Gray Ghost points out, the evidence indicates differently. Amherst’s letters provide direct evidence that people of the period would have considered exposure to infected articles a way to infect others.

  158. Yep, looks like you’re right.

    Still, something doesn’t really scan here. Why would doctors in Europe _100 years later_ not be willing to so much as wash their hands after performing autopsies? I guess the corpses weren’t “sick” maybe? It just doesn’t seem to add up…

    But those journal entries are strong evidence that the link was known. So there we go.

    It’s an Anonymous Bastert certified genocide.

  159. I get the sense that SIV is not denying abuse of Native Americans, but just being really, really pedantic.

    Being pedantic would mean showing greater knowledge by correcting, pointing out errors, etc…

    SIV is demonstrating a lack of knowledge…

  160. “libertarian first principles of individual rights and the rule of law tell us little about what constitutes appropriate and effective self-defense after an attack.”

    And if you just drink a little Kool Aid, Iraq might start to look like self defense. Up becomes down, black becomes white and wars of choice become wars of necessity.

  161. I think New Zealand was a full-blown actual genocide, though. One of the few genocides in history that actually succeeded.

    I think you may have New Zealand confused with Tasmania.

    That’s OK. Many people do. It’s best, however, not do it within earshot of a New Zealander or Tasmanian.

    Actually the Maoris survived their wars with the English colonists pretty much intact. But then they were a more advanced culture than the Tasmanians and in their environment acquitted themselves quite well militarily.

  162. thoreau PhD:

    No. Next!

    The man’s a physicist and a libertarian. Listen to what he says.

    I may be excused an appeal to authority in this matter cuz it was here, in this sublime place in cyberspace, that I opposed this tragic deception of a war from before the start. I said that the government and the war’s neocon supporters were lying to trick us into supporting the attack on Iraq. I said that among the war’s chief motivators were folks whom the evidence has shown put the Israeli government and the Likkudnik agenda first. I said these things while proudly proclaiming both my libertarian philosophy and my Republican registration, and still do.

    Now, after thousands of American lives and over a million other’s have been ruined, many of the same crowd that lied us into the Iraq war hsve a propaganda campaign going full throttle with the purpose to condition the American public to accept both staying in Iraq and attacking Iran.

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