Libertarian History/Philosophy

Iraq at Five Years

Reason staffers look back in shock, awe, and sorrow at the way things have gone in the Middle East.


Editor's Note: With the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq upon us, reason staffers look at where they were when the shooting began in 2003—and where they are now. In 2006, reason published an "Iraq Progress Report," in which "advocates for liberty weigh in after three years" and the June 2006 cover story featured three views on "'Mission Accomplished,' Three Years Later." For an archive of reason's Iraq coverage, go here.

Radley Balko, Senior Editor:

In the lead-up to the war, I was suspicious of the Bush administration's assessment of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq, dubious that the federal government is capable of building a liberal society in Iraq from scratch, and in general opposed to the idea of attacking a country that had no discernible ties to the September 11 attacks. Like most people, my positions were based on the assumption that there were actually weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That we now know there weren't only makes the decision to go to war more regrettable. My position hasn't changed at all.

As for what we should do now, I really can't see any option other than a plan to withdraw troops as soon as possible. Yes, it will be disastrous. But it seems to me this is a pill we're either going to have to swallow now or later, the difference being that swallowing it later will only mean more U.S. casualties in the meantime. We can't pay the Sunnis not to attack us forever (or maybe we can, but we shouldn't). The New York Times mentioned a striking figure in an editorial the other day. For all the talk about pork barrel spending, the total amount of federal spending in all congressional earmarks combined would fund the war in Iraq for about two months. This has been a colossal waste of blood, treasure, and global goodwill.

It's worth noting that it was the crazy, wild-eyed libertarian foreign policy experts who predicted what would happen in Iraq almost to the letter. Yet for reasons that escape me, the neoconservatives who got everything so massively wrong are still taken seriously, and get huge platforms from which to denigrate opponents of the war as "unserious."

Nick Gillespie, Editor, and reason online:

After almost 4,000 U.S. deaths, and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and trillions of dollars poured into the desert sands, Americans have gone from "shock and awe" to something approaching "Aw, shucks." According to data from the American Enterprise Institute, the think tank often credited with providing intellectual grounding for the Iraq War, 59 percent of Americans say the war was a mistake and 60 percent want a timetable for pulling troops out. Given a similar percentage favored invading Iraq in the spring of 2003, that just might be too little, too late.

I was never in favor of invading Iraq, which I thought was a bait and switch from the 9/11 attacks engineered by a Bush administration whose "War on Terror" had run out of steam given its inability to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. When U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein (a man who makes me want to believe in hell, just so he can get what he deserves for all eternity), the Americans hubristically pulled a page from the playbook of Shelley's overreaching Ozymandias, and replaced one "colossal wreck" of a regime with another. It's incredibly dispiriting how arrogant and stupid the U.S. forces were when it came to losing the peace, but really, more of us should have seen it coming.

The question I worry about is what American foreign policy will look like five years hence. I'm not a pacifist, and I don't think that military intervention is always a bad thing (ideally, it should be used like Astroglide: sparingly and after a lot of foreplay). But I don't think we've learned very much as a country from the Iraq mess, other than not to rely too much on retreads from the Ford administration to call the shots. I certainly don't think John McCain, Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, much less their advisors, have learned much from recent mistakes. Some of them are more ready to bow down to popular opinion but really, that's no way to conduct foreign policy. As a country, we're still a long way away from even starting a conversation that will yield a post-Cold War consensus on how the U.S. should act as a military power. That's not just a bad thing, it really dishonors those who have sacrificed life and limb over the past five years.

Kerry Howley, Senior Editor:

I don't remember where I was when the war started, or when the war turned one, or two, or three, or four. I was in college for the flashy beginning, in Burma for much of the following two years, where the war presented itself as a daily collage of gruesome black and white pictures in the junta's state press. The quality of the print was so bad that many of the pictures just looked smudged. You had to look for the black spaces, and imagine blood.

When I came back, the war was as it is now-hard to imagine and easy to ignore. Every liberty lost here is an abstraction. I have only the vaguest idea of what Nisour Square looks like; my image of Fallujah consists of charred bodies hanging from a single bridge. I can't fathom what it means for a collective to have lost 100,000 people prematurely, or for a state to waste $2 trillion it does not have. Few people I know have ventured out of the Green Zone, and no one I know has been hurt. What do I think about the Iraq War as it enters its sixth year? I think it seems tragic and brutal and criminal, and very far away.

Katherine Mangu-Ward, Associate Editor:

In March 2003, I was just a few months out of college and I had already helped start a war.

My first journalism gig was as the pet libertarian at The Weekly Standard, the neocon home base generally credited with nudging the Bush administration into Iraq.

It's quite exciting to inaugurate a war, and we at the Standard were far from alone in feeling the thrill. Like much of the pro-war commentariat, I thought, "Whatever happens, it can't get worse." After all, what's worse than a genocidal dictator filling mass graves and stockpiling nukes in the volatile Middle East? (Belief in WMDs was robustly bipartisan at the time.) There even seemed to be a decent chance things would get a whole lot better-an oasis of freedom in a desert of tyranny and all that. My colleagues at the Standard and I supported the war with the best intentions, something that opponents of the war often lose sight of. We dreamed of a free, friendly Iraq. Better for us, better for Iraqis.

As a libertarian, I could have and should have known better than to think government actors would get things right, since my political philosophy is grounded in the idea that government is uniquely bad at getting anything done cheaply or efficiently. War is too often a classic example of government action creating waste and confusion on a spectacular scale, good intentions or not.

As it turns out, things could get worse—and they did.

Michael C. Moynihan, Associate Editor:

Anniversaries of catastrophic wars are typically moments of ritual self-flagellation. So what, then, was I wrong about, what have I changed my mind about, five years later? Where does one begin. In those years proceeding the 9/11 attacks, one was forced, often by the social obligation of dinner discussions, to wade into the swamp of Middle Eastern politics; to be pro-war or anti-war, regardless of your level of political engagement or knowledge.

Groping at the unfamiliar—which ones are the Sunnis? what is a Kurd, exactly?—the post-9/11 cult of the amateur (myself included) rebelled against the supposedly lazy and corrupt "MSM," and instead offered endless lunkheaded comparisons between 2003 Iraq and 1945 Japan. The insurgency that flowered, many bloggers blithely suggested, had its historical antecedents in the Werewolf Organization, a band of former Nazis that harassed Allied occupiers and quickly melted away. The Iraqis, brutalized by war and dictatorship, were ready to have a go at democracy. Of course, none of this would happen.

The best mirror of my bewilderment and disappointment is George Packer's brilliant book The Assassins Gate, a clear-eyed account of the stupidity and venality of those sent by the Bush administration to mismanage the occupation. As one CPA advisor told me in 2006, Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) was known inside the green zone as "Kick Back and Relax." And as Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran's noted with wonderment, James K. Haveman Jr., the official put in charge of Iraq's health care system, landed in Baghdad and launched an anti-smoking campaign. I suppose this is something I always knew, just something that I hoped wouldn't be true in this one case, but boy was I wrong in thinking that the U.S. government could ever achieve a level of honesty and competence needed to even try to promote democracy in an undemocratic region.

Jacob Sullum, Senior Editor:

I was against the war before I was even more against it. I never had any doubts that Saddam Hussein was a murderous thug, but I believed he was a deterrable murderous thug. So even when I assumed he had at least some "weapons of mass destruction," I did not think the threat was big and imminent enough to justify the invasion. Now that we know he had none, I'm embarrassed that I gave as much weight as I did to Colin Powell's presentation at the United Nations. I'm only slightly less embarrassed about my warning that Iraq surely would use its dreaded (but nonexistent) chemical weapons once the U.S. invaded. Here is the truth starting to dawn on me, right after the fall of Baghdad: "Could it be that Iraq never had a significant WMD capability?" I added that it might not matter, since "even before jubilant Iraqis started pouring into the streets, waving improvised flags and tearing down Saddam's statues, 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' had metamorphosed from a pre-emptive act of self-defense into a humanitarian mission to rescue people from a brutal dictator."

People who supported the war assure me the Bush administration made the argument about fighting terrorism by turning Iraq into a liberal democracy and thereby transforming the Middle East even before the WMDs went missing. My impression during the lead-up to the invasion was that it was all about neutralizing the WMD threat, since Saddam could decide any day to use those weapons against us, either directly or by passing them on to terrorists. If I had believed the aim was to make the world safe through democracy, which I now hear was the idea all along, I would have been even more skeptical, and I think most Americans would have been as well. I doubt that many who supported the war imagined the U.S. would still have such a large presence in Iraq five years later, let alone that it would have to stay indefinitely simply to prevent the chaos unleashed by the invasion from getting even worse.

Jesse Walker, Managing Editor:

In 2003 I thought there was no compelling reason to invade Iraq, even if the country held weapons of mass destruction; that the U.S. would easily topple Saddam Hussein's regime but would run into serious troubles when the occupation began; and that the war would do much more harm than good.

Five years later, I am less likely to concede the possibility that Saddam was concealing weapons of mass destruction.

David Weigel, Associate Editor:

Do you remember the pro-war protestors? I was one of them. Five years ago a pack of conservatives at my college planned a "crash" of the final anti-war rally before the start of the war. When the forces of non-intervention set up on the library steps and started speaking, we walked right in front of them, blasting the Saddam Hussein love ballad from South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut on a ROTC student's boom box.

I have excuses for all of this. I was 21. My expertise in American interventionism came from watching Gulf War, Bosnia, and Kosovo reports on CNN. I had friends in the Army. I wanted to "free the Iraqi people." The takeaway is that, like millions of people, I was naive and uninformed about the doings in Mesopotamia and I did my little part to enable a catastrophe.

Matt Welch, Editor in Chief, reason magazine:

I was neither for nor against the war when it was launched, though most of the stuff I was worried about ended up coming true (especially "we will create a damned-if-we-do scenario unless we start looking for creative ways to devolve power and responsibility to the rest of the world").

But the mere fact of that ambivalence points to what's changed most about my thinking since then. Until five years ago, the prior three major U.S. interventions—the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo—each went quite a bit better than the skeptics predicted. In the same way that almost all past U.S. presidents end up looking good in retrospect (to somebody, anyway), while history marches toward a better future, my hunch was that the pattern would hold true to our post-Vietnam wars as well. No more.

Because of the magnetic logic of perpetual interventionism (on both sides of the political aisle); the strategic problem of anti-Americanism, the temptation of inapt historical analogies and the way that power wants to be corrupt, I have gone from a guy who begged for U.S. leadership in a feckless world to stop the slaughter in Sarajevo, to someone whose primary voting motivation is to provide a check on America's expansion of responsibility for the world's affairs.

Michael Young, Contributing Editor, reason; Opinion Page Editor, Lebanon Daily Star:

The assumption that our thoughts should have changed on Iraq is presumptuous. Certainly, the Bush administration's abysmal postwar strategy until the surge last year invites a critical reassessment of what could have been done for the better. But what does not, and should not, is the bottom line of the war: the fact that the United States managed to remove one of the world's worst mass murderers from power, so that today 55 percent of Iraqis believe that their lives are good, according to a recent poll—including 62 percent of Shiites and 73 percent of Kurds.

The thing with conflicts is that they can be like that old joke about the man who swims halfway across the ocean, only to swim back to where he left from because he's tired. Is the U.S. halfway across the ocean of the Iraq war? Would swimming back to the departure point be a pointless waste of expended energy, so that persisting in Iraq would bring more dividends? It's difficult to say. The gross blunder of the administration was to leave such questions without answers. But it is difficult to justify retreat from Iraq a year into tangible signs of progress thanks to the surge.

Those who back an American withdrawal on the grounds that Iraq is already in a state of chaos don't know what they're talking about. The Moloch of uninhibited chaos and carnage would be infinitely worse, as I remember from my own experiences growing up during Lebanon's civil war. For numerous reasons—the fate of the Iraqis after a pullout, Iran's continuing rise as regional superpower, the future of the Kurds, the threat to regional stability—the U.S. has no choice but to stick it out in Iraq. And as the doubts creep in, Americans might want to think back to what Iraq was under Saddam Hussein, who in two decades was directly or indirectly responsible for the death of nearly 1 million people.

So, sorry, but invading Iraq was the right thing to do, even if it could have been done a million times better by a more competent group of people. When I think of Iraq, somehow I have no profound problem slamming George W. Bush's faults while welcoming what he did to the Baath regime—the barbaric, genocidal, thankfully bygone Baath regime.

NEXT: It's Mea Culpa Time!

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  1. the 9/11 attacks engineered by a Bush administration

    See! See! I knew it all along!

  2. The Islamist State of Iraq, which has embedded sharia’ as the implacable first law in its new Constitution, will be the permanent “legacy” of the Bush administration.

  3. Since we’ve singlehandedly created the Shiite Crescent, is there any way we can get them to attack al Qaeda?

    Calm down, Senator McCain, I’ll draw the diagram for you again after nap time.

  4. The contritions by Mangu-Ward, Weigel, and Moynihan are good Libertarianism 101.

    But Michael Young’s “The assumption that our thoughts should have changed on Iraq is presumptuous” is just plain stupid. Why do you guys bother keeping him around?

  5. Here’s a little hint from Libertarianism 101: When a government program is a spectacular bloody failure, you don’t just say “Oh, we just should have put somebody else in charge! That would have fixed it!”

  6. Are there any donations going to the Reason Foundation that are conditional on allowing Michael Young a forum?

    And if so, has the foundation ever looked into the ultimate source of that money?

  7. The problem with Young is that he apparently sees Iraq solely through Saddam-colored spectacles. His answer to any criticism is “Saddam was bad! Saddam was bad!” I agree with him on that, probably 95% of us do. But is there really no price that was too high for removing an aging dictator (he was 66 when we invaded)? And why was he so much worse than the Ba’athist leader of Syria (still in power), or the corrupt and racist regime in Saudi Arabia? And maybe the invasion really was beneficial for a slim majority of Iraqis – that’s nice. But as an American I really am more concerned with how any of this mess has benefited the US, and I don’t see much evidence it has.

  8. I’ll give a donation to the Reason foundation if they fire Michael Young.

    Actually, scratch that: They can keep publishing his stuff, but they do it in WingDings font.

  9. I’m sorry, but how many kurds did the regime in Syria gas? I can’t seem to remember.

  10. Now that we have completed the successful conquest of Iraq, we should turn our attention to the end game which is invading Saudi Arabia.

  11. If we kill another half million iraqis and bomb the homes of another couple million and force them to leave the country then maybe we can up the percentage of remaining Iraqis who “say life is good”. That is assuming we keeping airlifting billions of dollars in cold hard cash to be distributed among the remaining people still will to fight on one side or the other.

    Afterwards Micahel Young can show us some more poll numbers that prove it is a good idea to waste trillions of US taxpayer dollars to kill brown humans on the other side of the world.

    Mangu and Wiegel at least admit how dumb they were….those of us old enough to have memories of Cheney and Bush talking about oil prices being “too low” and Iraq being a pontential “quagmire” and Wolfowitz and Perle talking about the tragedy of “not having a good enemy any more, realized that the idealistic BS about spreading democracy was pur crap. They wanted higher military spening, they want US citizens to increase their “sacrifices” to the empire and they want human blood.

    I’m old enough to have been tricked into supportign the first gulf war, but after learning about the propaganda(of iraqi’s killing kuwaiti babies and the enemy building that Rumsfeld and Bush went through to create Sadam it is more difficult ot be fooled a 2nd time.

    Politicians start wars to increase their power! That is the only reason tehy start wars!

    Read: Read mother fucker!

    Smedly Butler “War is a Racket” try reading it sometime Young. It was written by a former Marine General who was a total badass, not some limp-wristed-chicken-hawk-cosmo-neo- con.

    BUSH was a god damnded actual cheerleader in high school for gods sake, he has serious masculinity issues. Anyone who knows a real men who was born before 1950, would you believe that a male high school cheerleader would have the audacity to walk around like was some sort of macho guy because he lied a country into war that ended up killing about 500,000 to 1,000,000 people?

  12. Heh heh. Ten staffers respond, but the peanut gallery piles on the one dissenter. Can’t the reasonable folks here find a place at the table for a differing opinion? Evidently not, as they’re calling for a purge. Wonderfully revealing, kids.

  13. some guy-

    If they wouldn’t hire a Flat Earther, or even a socialist, why should they hire a war supporter?

  14. Michael Young is a patriotic gay man… not that there’s anything wrong with that~~!!!

  15. Sam, if you think you’re making some kind of trenchant point you clearly don’t know much about Syria. Go google “Hama” and “massacre” – the Syrian regime murdered on the order of 25,000 people there, possibly more. The city is essentially destroyed. The Syrian ba’athists are not qualitatively or quantitatively much different from their Iraqi counterparts.

  16. Michael Young,

    But it is difficult to justify retreat from Iraq a year into tangible signs of progress thanks to the surge.

    Isn’t this a somewhat overgenerous assessment of the surge? It seems to me that the surge is part of a set of factors that has lead to some improvement in the security situation there, though I have recently read that violence has started to increase in Iraq again. Given how inter-ethnic, etc. struggles have played out in the past it seems to me that one should predict the possibility that we are the nadir of a sine wave of violence in that country.

    So, sorry, but invading Iraq was the right thing to do, even if it could have been done a million times better by a more competent group of people.

    Isn’t that untested assumption though? It seems to me that it is a bit like arguing that if they had only been a little faster and hadn’t reinforced their right so much that the Schlieffen plan would have worked. Maybe. Or maybe not. Invading Iraq always presented challenges that may have been insurmountable no matter how competent the group of people in charge.

  17. some guy…why not hire racists as well? After all it would be good to have a dissenting opinion.

    It seems they hired three solid pro-war folks….two of them have changed. That shows reason hires plenty of pro-war type folks, I haven’t seen any of them that came out saying that the “intentions were never good” even though there are plenty of good reasons to doubt the idea that the “intentions were good”.

    Balko makes the best point. There were dozens of good libertarian analysts who had great predictions for what would happen and serious doubts during the entire build up for this war.

    Justin Raimondo- and he is gay too! you guys should love him…instead you imply he is a anti-semite for not wanting to “spread freedom” at the point of a machine gun.

    Lew Rockwell
    Ron Paul

    Daniel McCarthy – this guy you never heard of was writing in 2002 with more pertinance to 2008 than 90% of Reason staff does today.

    there are literlaly dozens of other people you can find who were tellign you exactly what was goign to happen years before it happened! yet people like Michael Young act as if they have more insight than a Bear Stearns stock analyst had last week.

  18. I–and I think at least half the people in America–are dyed in the wool skeptics about anything related to Bush since he ran in 2000.

    We’ve never had any faith in anything he’s ever said or done.

    It’s not a particularly healthy attitude toward authority, but he’s never demonstrated the kind of authority that we respect (an authority earned under highly dubious conditions nonetheless).

    So when 9/11/01 yielded the fears that supported the invasion of Iraq, you can be sure that people like me didn’t believe him. Even if he was factually correct about some things, none of us felt like he had the judgment to pull this off. For the sake of our country I hoped it would go well, but now I know that our thinking was well founded.

  19. only naive people believed this was not a quagmire designed to increase military spending.


    American foreign policy has not been about “spreading deomcracy or freedom for the last 50 years. Read Kissinger and Zebrinski and you will see that it is about maintaining “Balance of Power”. These are the people who have been running our foreign policy not Dan Rather, Jim Falwell and Sean Hannity. Those are merely the puppets that are in charge of selling the public on the policy of bombing brown people, destroying economies and installing fundamentalist regimes if it means Shell oil, Bechtel and Halliburton get a better deal.

    “MAINTAINING BALANCE OF POWER” is the mantra. It means knocking down potential economic powers, the malthusian fear of these people leads them to believe that a western educated intelligent leader in Iran was more dangerous to America than a fundamentalist dictator like the shah…same things in Saudi Arabia… the foreign policy of “serious” people is about destroyign up and coming competitiors through any means neccesary(assasinating leaders, false flag terror attacks on little children in schools, installing corrupt socialist leaders….any of that….the PR people are in charge of selling it as “fighting communism” or “spreading freedom” and whether Micaheal Young and Gillespie know it or not….that is the good job their publication has been doing and that is why Michael Young will be around for a long time here.

  20. Mmmmmmmm. This shit sandwich keeps getting better with every bite!

  21. eprime….skepticism towards government is extremely healthy, it is the only hope mankind has! it should be held up as a virtue much as a enlightened selfishness should be.

  22. If portfolio managers were paid like Michael Young evaluates the surge then I’d be rich.

    2008 – most US deaths of ANY year of the war…yet a couple of lower monthly death totals and Young and Sean Hannity are proclaiming gret success.

    fewer nazi soldier died in 1946 than in previous years but that wasn’t because Hitler made a ton of great decisions in 1942.

    Is it just me or is the completely racist animalization of the iraqis people that is required to ignore a few hundred thousand killed per year a little bit disgusting?

    ya nice job killing all those “insurgent 11 year old girls and puppies Michael Young…I guess it isn’t reasonable to bring that up?

  23. So, sorry, but invading Iraq was the right thing to do, even if it could have been done a million times better by a more competent group of people.

    The neocons say the problem was, they just weren’t neconservative enough.

    They’re cute.

    The Trouble With Democracy in the Middle East

  24. I know plenty that think it would have been much better to have nuked them…they say it in all seriousness. Unfortunately they are people like my wife and parents…they’ll be voting for McCain with most of the Reason staff.

  25. What was the right thing to do, then? Lift the sanctions and end the fly-overs of the Clinton Administration? Or keep them going? I understand the sanctions themselves resulted in a million Iraqi deaths. OBL mentioned the sanctions as one of his justifications for the 9/11 attacks. The Oil for Food program, designed to allow Iraq to import necessary medicines and food to relieve the impact of the sanctions on the poor was later discovered to be rife with corruption. Saddam used the Oil for Food money to build palaces and bribe UN officials and Western politicians instead.

    I wish Reason or some other anti-war commentators would write an article describing exactly what we should have done instead of invading. Tell me what the happy ending for the Iraq story was, and what foreign policy should have been implemented to achieve it. I am not pro-war, but I recognize it is easy to criticize without delineating exactly what should have been done pre-invasion.

  26. at least Balko is for real.

    Balko: does your popularity among nutball libeterians like me and communist libertarians like Joe(I think Joe likes Balko)and even many of the solid “government is just dumb but bad” around here….does that popularity decrease your “seriousness quotient” around the office?

    and Moynihan are you related to the politician?

  27. There’s really only one question I want Michael Young to answer:

    1. Is there a cost level the Iraq war can reach that would make the war a mistake? Is there a number of dead US soldiers, a dollar amount in war expenditures, a level of diplomatic damage, a set of strategic gains by unfriendly states or losses by the US, or a domestic civil liberties cost that – were we to reach it – would cause you to say, “OK, the war wasn’t a mistake before, but now that the costs have risen to ‘X’, it is a mistake now”? If not, why not, and do you analyze all issues with such a completely cavalier attitude towards actual costs and such a firm belief in the sunk cost fallacy?

  28. It seems they hired three solid pro-war folks….two of them have changed.

    Actually, Katherine, Dave, and Michael M. had already changed their minds about Iraq before we hired them.

    The Reason staffers who supported the Iraq war at the time it began were Ron Bailey and Chuck Freund.

  29. I scrolled through all the predictable answers, and am glad you guys saved Michael Young for last. I am glad that my subscription to Reason is what keeps him around. We all sit around over here reading our Internet and drinking our lattes, and he is in the middle of the chaos stirred up by dictators in the region. Iraq may be an intractable problem, but our presence is stabilizing.

  30. The reason I post this question is because Young writes this:

    The thing with conflicts is that they can be like that old joke about the man who swims halfway across the ocean, only to swim back to where he left from because he’s tired. Is the U.S. halfway across the ocean of the Iraq war? Would swimming back to the departure point be a pointless waste of expended energy, so that persisting in Iraq would bring more dividends?

    That’s not the correct way to look at sunk costs, because it only makes sense if you are past the point of no return, and you have no way to measure that when you’re actually in the midst of the event.

    This is the type of rationalization a bad gambler engages in when he says, “Well, I’ve already lost most of my money at blackjack, I don’t really have any choice but to keep gambling to see if I can get my money back” or someone who has lost in the stock market engages in when he says, “Well, the stock has already gone down so much, I may as well not sell and hope it goes back up”. That is the way people end up losing everything – because they refuse to cut off losing bets. They are unwilling to do this not because it’s rational, but because it’s human to not like to admit you were wrong, and to invest in hope that some miracle will redeem your losses. So you get nice little swimming metaphors to try to justify throwing bad money after good.

  31. I think you meant “throwing good money after bad.”

    Otherwise, I agree with you totally.

  32. they’ll be voting for McCain with most of the Reason staff.

    You haven’t been paying close attention, have you?

  33. One cost to the war that I have read about elsewhere is that of the cost of dependency: namely that we’ve created a state in the middle east that cannot realistically take care of itself. From that perspective our continued presence there thus becomes something a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  34. Why do you guys keep Michael Young around? And if I send a big enough donation, will you run his articles in WingDings font?

  35. It seems to me that modern war is fought with three resources –

    1- Time (the Islamists have great patience and we have 4 year elections)
    2- Bodies (the US has 150k or so – “they” have millions)
    3- Money (we borrow – “they” fight with our funds derived from crude sales or graft)

    I can’t imagine a scenario where the US prevails…

    I agree with the Reason staff – its time to cut our losses and acknowledge total failure. There is no winning endgame.

  36. The neocons say the problem was, they just weren’t neconservative enough.

    I knew it.

    Neoconservatism hasn’t failed. It just hasn’t been tried. True Neoconservatism doesn’t exist yet.

  37. yes end the trade embargoe….oil prices would have fallen farther(and they were already low) as the US military is the BIGGEST CONSUMER IN THE WORLD AND Iraq has yet to return to Sadam level production.

    The economy in Iraq would have improved with the end of sanctions and the growing trade opportunities and continued education(which was MUCH MUCH better for women than most middle east countries….no memorizing the holy books 24 hours a day or any of that Saudi crap).

    According to this press report Sadam offered to go into exile for 1 billion dollars:$1bn+to+go+into+exile/

    so if they really wanted to get rid of him then that would not have been hard.
    the new leader could have been offered the carrot of no trade sanctions 100 billion in infrastructure development in exchange for allowing us to do a diplomatic effort to start 10 10 billion dollar universities dedicated to teaching basic economics, pro-american secular values and hard sciences ….the offer could have been made public by b-52 ing leaflets inside of cases of budweiser and levis blue jeans.

    This whole plan would have cost 201 billion dolalrs and would have left millions of innocent lives intact.

    This plan is 100% at odds with the “balance of power” doctrine preached by kissinger, brezinski and the rest of the useful idiots who have death in their eyes as they worship their statist gods of national greatness and the sacrifice of brown babies and healthy 20 year old southern boys.

    The House of Saud and Eygpt and Israel did not want a strong growing country there as they see it as a threat…they prefer to see barabaric despots ruling over half starved peasants, desperate and uneducated. That way they won’t have a threat on their resources. It is ignorant Malthusianism, many socialist are malthusians, they view humans as dogs that only consume part of a limited amount of resources…to them all other humans are enemies….they smugly call themselves “realists” read about foreign policy…you’ll see that it is true.

    Hell my 201 billion dollar plan is just one of a million that could be created that si better than what we did, but it only makes sense if you really believe it is good to bring the 3rd world into the modern world…if you are like Kissinger, Brezinski or any of the ridiculous foreign policy experts who have been leading our country the last 50 years then it will disrupt the balance of power and threaten too many of our “national interests” and our “allies national interests”.

  38. Michael Young is too far gone to even bother with anymore, but Mangu-Ward and Moynihan sicken me. Mangu-Ward just yelps about her wonderful intentions, and Moynihan… Is he back from his AIPAC-sponsored vacation yet?

  39. spyglass,

    Reform the sanctions, as Powell was trying to do with this “Smart Sanctions” program, before 9/11 made all the neocons clap their hands together and shout “Now’s our chance!”

    Continue to provide a security guarantee to the Kurds. Contine the no-fly zone.

    Saber-rattle to get the UN teams – the ones who destroyed 90% of Iraq’s WMD arsenal in the 90s – back into Iraq.

    Continue to support indigineous resistance as the opportunity presented itself.

    Wage an strenuous diplomatic and PR campaign against Saddam, focused on humiliating him at home.

    As different anti-Saddam groups rose up, back them up with military force as necessary.

    Remember, Saddam Hussein himself told his FBI interrogator after he was captured that he pretended to have a WMD aresenal because he thought it was the only thing keeping him in power. UN inspections confirming the absence of weapons, along with brazen refusal to submit by the Kurds, would harm his prestige and make an indigineous resistance or coup – the only kind that ever has a chance of overthrowing a dictator and replacing him with a government that has local legitimacy – more likely.

    Worst case scenario: Saddam’s in a box, violent death rates in Iraq are dramatically lower than they are today, the Kurds continue to develop their own democracy.

    Best case scenario: a national uprising takes out the regime and establishes a democratic government that is actually viewed as legitimate by the Iraqis.

  40. Ah, yes. That is the correct form of the expression.

  41. what is truly disturbing to me about the Reason staffers’ comments is how many of them contain some form of “I was just in college when…”

    It’s a good thing that writers’ photos don’t accompany their articles, lest readers discover that this mag is really pseudolibertarian Romper Room.

    note to senior editors: life experience matters. from now on, I take everything your writers produce with a HUGE grain of salt.

  42. Kingfisher, life experience apparently did nothing for W except make him a bigger idiot every year.

    He was a smarter guy when he was drinking, whoring and snorting coke in his 20’s. And he was doing a lot less damage to his fellow men, certainly.

  43. Matt Kudos for your great work on McCain. I apologize for implyign you may vote for McCain. I did say “most”. Gillespie stood toe to toe with Bill O Reilly for Ron Paul, thats more than my self rightoeus self did. We know Balko isn’t voting for McCain.

    So that is three I’m sure of.

    However, Mangu Ward (who seems great at times) was saying in the online video that it was “only neo-cons who criticize McCain for beign not conservative enough” and everyone seemed to nod their heads in agreement then she admitted she was pro-war and writing for the weekly standard a few years ago. This leads me to believe she may be the type to vote for McCain. Weigel ditto…Michael Young would only vote for McCain because Normon Podhertz isn’t running. Chapman sees nothing wrong with reuiring us all to put $1000 breathalyzers in our cars if it can be shown it reduces drunk driving.

    Everyone else seems to love national health care or think only conspiracy nuts believe anything but the official AL Gore story regarding Global Warming.

    So it seemed like it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that “most” of ya’ll wouldn’t be “throwing away your vote on a Ron Paul write-in or libertarian party candidate.

    I’m truly am sorry if you were insulted Matt, I’m not happy about it either.

  44. I’m truly am sorry if you were insulted Matt

    Never apologize for insulting me. (And I wasn’t.) I just sort of doubt that “most” of the staff will vote for John McCain.

  45. Fluffy,

    I take your point: life experience does not benefit everyone. Some might argue, though, that the fact that W doesn’t whore, drink (and drive) and snort coke anymore is a sign he’s matured. and that doing great harm to fellow humans is a grand tradition of US presidents.

    he’s certainly seen more of the world, and experienced a wider range of the capabilities of humans than Reason’s bright-eyed and apple-cheeked staffers.

  46. Why don’t any foreign policy type articles focus in Reason focus on the real principles driving foreign policy according the big time “realist” experts? Maintaining “Balance of Power” seems to be so central to everything the heavy hitters in US foreign policy talk about.

    This ridiculous notion of “spreading freedom” or “supporting our troops” is laughable according to our own foreign policy greats.

    “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.”
    Woodward and Bernstein The Final Days in chapter 14


    “I can think of no faster way to unite the American people behind George W. Bush than a terrorist attack on an American target overseas. And I believe George W. Bush will quickly unite the American people through his foreign policy.” Statement from 2000.


    “Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the third world, because the US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries.”


    They essentially tell us that any country that is growing in economic independence needs to be divided/conquered set up with a puppet leader and allowed to mire under collectivist despots who can be bribed to take out huge loans on the backs of their people to pay for projects from Bechtel and Halliburton.

    In exchange the CIA and US military guarantee that no matter how corrupt or evil the guy is to his own people, we will supply them with weapons/secret police training to quell any uprising.

  47. Was there so few of us paying attention at the time?

    Right after the 9/11 attacks, I sent out an email noting that US foreign policy chickens were coming home to roost. Somewhere abut the same time, I read the PNAC document hoping for a ‘Pearl Harbor’ incident to justify expanding the US military presence in the middle east.

    Not too long after that I read Kwiakowsky’s account of a civilian takeover of intelligence at the pentagon.

    I read also about the US supplying Saddam Hussein with poison gas for use against Iran.

    I read how the efforts of intelligence agents to draw attention to foreign nationals learning how to fly commercial jets were thwarted by the intelligence bureaucracy.

    Big picture: The justifications for invading Iraq were fabrications to affect public opinion. Saddam Hussein was not capable of becoming a threat of any significance to the U.S.
    As predicted, the actual invasion went off quite easily. The occupation, however…

    Libertarian principle guided me quickly to my early opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

    Perhaps I was fortunate that I did not harbor any significant antipathy toward Hussein. I still derive as certain sense of comprehension when I see that picture of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam Hussein’s hand.

    U.S. foreign is not constrained by any moral sensibility.

  48. U.S. foreign [policy] is not constrained by any moral sensibility.

    These days it’s not constrained by any sensibility, moral or otherwise.

  49. Have any of your read ‘Shock Doctrine’ by Naomi Klein?

  50. I’m still amused how many people seem to think the war is a “catastrophe” based largely on American opinion polls. Well, the people of Iraq don’t have the advantage of our wonderful, unbiased media coverage and analysis, and somehow 62% of the poor deluded fools think the invasion was the right decision. But hey, what do they know, they just live there.

    The fact is, that while Iraq’s transition has been much more difficult than many hoped, they are still considerably better off today than under Hussein. The average death toll under Hussein was 7000 per month; the worst month of the occupation never approached that and it’s now about a tenth of that. Iraqis have the freedom to buy generators now, and while state generation has not improved much the private sector now supplies up to half of Iraq’s electricity.

    The violence is not new to Iraq; Saddam led the country into five wars during his reign and butchered anyone who spoke out against him. What is new is some semblance of free elections, free press, freedom of expression.

    Didn’t libertarians used to care about those things?

  51. TallDave,

    So far, as far as I can tell, you are the only person who has made any statements about polls in this particular discussion.

  52. TallDave,

    What is new is some semblance of free elections, free press, freedom of expression.

    I guess I’d have to see evidence of that actually being the case. To wit, in the case of the press from what I have read hundreds of reporters have been killed in Iraq and hundreds more have fled due to death threats or attempts.

    One of the problems with any analysis of the current situation in Iraq of course is that (and you point this out) regime that existed prior to this one was hardly lead by “the better angels of our nature.” I’m not quite sure whether utilitarian or any other sort of ethics has a completely satisfactory way out of the particular quandry which the precursor to said analysis leaves one in. Except to say that Iraq seems to have gone from one frying pan to another frying pan.

  53. That someone like Michael Young, who has gotten every aspect of this ghastly failure in Iraq wrong to lecture others on what the future of Iraq will be if we withdraw, is sheer chutzpah.
    From my standpoint in the US, the problem with Mr. Young is that he writes from the tiny and terrified perspective of a Westerner living in the Middle East, for whom 150,000 American troops sitting next door is a mighty comforting thought. And while I am sympathetic to his plight, it doesn’t mean squat to my life here in America. Not the way the thousands of casualties and trillions in squandered funds mean to me. It has been 5 long years since Young and his ilk conned a grieving nation into the disaster in Iraq. Its time for him to shut up.

  54. When I read the critics of Michael Young I see the arrogance of people for whom the Arabs are so stupid that they are incapable of participating in human progress. The odds are indeed steep. But we have no choice but to try to overcome them. Better to fight minor wars now than nuclear wars down the road.

    As it is today the Islamic world is the source of most of the violence and cruelty in the world. We need to face that fact and deal with it honestly.

  55. What’s most amusing is that Mr Young thinks libertarians should listen to him. Warnicks like him have been wrong about everything – absolutely everything – in relation to the 1- year Iraq war (it has been going on in some form or the other since the Clinton Administration).

    If there is not one single thing of substance on which the neo-cons have been right, why should we believe them when they say that Iraq will descend into even worse chaos if the US leaves?

    Saddam Hussein, who in two decades was directly or indirectly responsible for the death of nearly 1 million people.

    Yeah so? Should we count the cost in lives of the economic sanctions imposed against Iraq with US-backing? Should we count the excess deaths due to the 2003 invasion? This sort of numbers game is not what a liberal democracy like the US should be playing.

    If you wanted to take Saddam out the neo-cons could have at least argued for using the ‘marque and reprisal’ power under the Constitution to put a $1 billion on his head. Would’ve been much cheaper, both in dollars and lives.

  56. Seems to me that one could use Michael Young’s reasoning to argue for the continuation of any failed government program.





  58. There are five million refugees in Iraq and surrounding countries. Five million.

    Screw TallDave’s made-up polls. There weren’t five million people forced from their homes under Saddam Hussein. Unemployment wasn’t 60% under Saddam Hussein. And there most certainly were NOT 7000 Iraqis dying per months in the years prior to the invastion, as the First Gulf War and the containment policy had rendered him incapable of launching a war, or even a serious internal crackdown, by the time Bill Clinton came to office.

    One might as well note that “the Germans killed an average of 1 million Jews per year between 1940 and 1952” in order to justify a second invasion of Germany in the 50s.

  59. Bulbie believes so much in the capacity of Arabs to embrace liberal democracy that…he doesn’t think there’s any way for it to happen except to stick guns in the faces and checkpoints around their homes.

    Gee, I’m impressed.

  60. It is amazing that some here think it is good to kill a million people if you can manufacture a poll at some part of the killing proccess that “proves” 60% of the public is happy about it. Frank Luntz will always have a job I guess.

    Sadam would have gone in exile for 1 billion dollars,(so just saying “sadam was bad and things are better without him”) does nto cut it for an excuse for this war.

    The US solidified sadam’s power in the 1980’s…he was just as evil in the 1980’s when Rumsfeld was back slapping and smoking cigars with the guy as he was in 2002, he just stopped killing Iranians so he was no longer “useful”.

    However many people Sadam killed, the population was rising as he was in power and since then it is has dropped by millions. So it is extremely doubtful that he was killing more than we are. Nevermind the fact we thought it was “worth it” to kill a half million while he was in power. Which again could have been easily avoided if all we really wanted ws to remove him from power.

    The “Balance of Power” doctrine was agaisnt simply getting him out of power. You think Israel and Saudi Arabia wanted a free-market property rights devotee in power there?

    hell no, that would be a huge threat to the power structure in Israel and Saudi Arabia. Simple as that. It would be a devastating blow to the military industrial complex because fear and teror are huge components of the marketing campaign…if guys that went to college, believe in free-markets and the sacredness of individual liberty run a oil rich country like Iraq then the rest of the welfare warfare statist and those who sell their bonds and weapons are going to lose their grip on power.

  61. Perhaps the worst part of this adventure, over the long-term, is the damage it has done to the good name of democracy throughout the Muslim world.

    Right now, in cafes all over the Middle East, the democrats are losing the argument.

    “Democracy? Why? So we can be like Iraq? Haven’t you learned by now that a country needs a Strong Man? Saddam was the worst Strong Man in the Arab world, and look what happened!”

    Some of us actually believe in democracy, and it’s beyond frustrating to see what those who’ve employed the term so cynically have done to its good name.

  62. Joe, we actually are on the exact same side of this argument. How does that make you feel?…except I imagine you are in favor of making Iraqis who are caught drinking and driving have Lockheed Martin’s new $1000 breathalyzer-wheel-locks installed on their goat pulled carts.

  63. Democracy should have it’s name dragged through the mud. The only thing that matters is protection of individual property rights, which infers civil liberties through ownership of ones self. Democracy offers no more protection from tyranny than a aristocracy or a theocracy or a monarchy.

    The only protection is a well educated populace. If people think they can be dumb and read people magazine while modern, democratically elected, ecologically blessed technocrats will “take care of them” …then they are on the road to getting slaughtered.

  64. Gabe,

    The CPA was staffed with all the good little AEI free marketeers you could possibly want.

    So, no, not so much.

  65. Too many jerks on this board, especially the Michael Young impersonator.

  66. Joe,
    It doesn’t matter if the AEI calls themselves “free-marketers”, they worshop the centrally planned war economy of WW1 and WW2 as if they were gods.

    They are in favor of a government controlled interest rate scheme that was created by those seeking to squash competition and true free markets.

    They are useful idiots who assist the IMF/US empire scam we have seen over and over in 3rd world countries. I’m sure a socialist like you can respect a guy like Joe Stiglitz…you don’t believe what he has to say about the organization he was head of?

    They use free-market sounding PR to “privatize” assets…then they create financial disasters through their BS monetary policy and consolidate all the assets into the big companies runnign the scam.

    The AEI guys who think they are doing good are bad enough, but the fact that they get self-righteous socialist who actually think they are doing good to work at the World Bank, IMF and other contract producing machines for Bechtel and Halliburton is beyond insane…don’t you even read about what those organizations have done in the past?

  67. I don’t know, Gabe. They went in there with all sorts of plans for flat taxes, slashing the welfare system, privatising government assets – the whole Disaster Capitalism wish list.

  68. I think the Michael Young impersonator was making a valid point about the intelligence of anyone who ignores all other facts and depends solely on one or two highly politicized polls to determine the morality of a war.

    It is also interesting how often the pro-war-against-brown-people crowd throws around the anti-semitic slurs, when most under 35 year olds closest experience with anti-jewish stuff was when the guy from Encino man went to a stuffy skull and bones incubator New England Prep School.

  69. I used to eat at the diner in that movie, Gabe.

  70. Joe,
    No free market dream list includes fiat centrally planned monetary policy and massive government projects financed through the IMF and paid for through taxes on the masses.

    Any other “free market” reforms they have are purely theatrical and the world socialist happily blame them for the failure which is being planned all along.

  71. I see. It isn’t that Distaster Caplitalism failed, it’s just never been tried.

    True Free Market Capitalism has never been seen in the world.

    That sounds familiar.

  72. What town is the diner in?

  73. Here is an interesting read Joe: kinda like one article that summarizes “Confessions of a Economic Hitman”

    of course my opinion is slightly different than the collectivist leanings of Stiglitz and Perkins. In a “free market” you don’t demand countries take out multi billion dollar loans from the World Bank to pay the Western military industrial complex nor do you demand they buy US treasuries. You focus on protecting private property rights, especially those of the lower class(read De Soto)…free markets don’t demand that starving people pay for the debts of generations of corrupt aristocrats….If you’ve read about JP Morgan you know that view is not popular amongst the powerful banking interest in this country.

    Even a anarchist like me can see that when a country does have a welfare/social safety net in place(it is usually a small part of the budget) and it is serving as a stabilizer of society, to remove it abruptly without also doing something to help these people through securing property rights/eliminating taxes/lowering the costs of basic survival which is often easy to do through free-market reforms…you are inviting riots.

  74. Even if I had to imagine myself as head of a US empire trying to spread freedom through the point of a gun and I was convinced it could be done, I’d still have to say this war was a horrible mistake.

    It would have been much easier logistically to invade Cuba..kill the castros and put in our most favored Miami Cuban exile as president. The cheap sugar and labor in Cuba would be a boon to our economy and the military advantages as a stepping stone to Venezualan invasion would secure our oil needs far quicker than the current course. We could have easily pre-traiend a army of fifty thousand cuban exiles to come in and act as the national police force after our military secures the country. Opening up this trading partner would immediately be a boost to the US economy as it would probably be our 4th or 5th biggest trading partner after only a year or two.

    Next we’d get Venezuala…afterwards between the North American Continent, Venezuala and a new oil and gas pipeline system to bolivia we’d be fossil fuel indenpendent. Maybe still importing some from Norway or the North Sea, but nothing from the Mid-east.

    We’d have given new freedom of speech priveleges to millions of Venezualans and Cubans and the US military would be stronger than ever without devastating moral sucking quagmires. We’d be a richer country and better positioned to start taking over whoever was next at that point.

  75. Look at what these people are doing!

    “I am going to go ahead and foreword this to all Ohio Meetup Groups I have Contact with and suggest that they foreword to others. This is a great resource, and needs to be distributed to the greater R3VOLUTION so people know where to keep track of the Real ID fight, by the state. It’s nice, central, and updated nationwide. There is a lot that can be done, you are so correct. I will give you this story below, in the way of sharing my experience with having done something like this in Ohio, once before… just so you all know… it can be done, and it is a blast to do.

    We have the power to do so much more than just “petition”. We have some really smart active people in our groups. This (below) is just an Ohio example,…a true story….of what can be done. But, it would apply to any state.. really, so I am inclined to share the story, both because I would think you would all find it fascinating… and very full of “ideas” as to what we might want to try in the various states. I will use Ohio, as an example.

    I am going to call the Ohio Statehouse today, and see if I can get a hold of the “Sponsor” for this resolution in Ohio. No doubt that legislative “sponsor” knows who wrote the Ohio Resolution, and maybe, we have a small group that, unknown to us, is already working with the Ohio Legislature on this issue?
    If the legislator wrote it him or herself, then…. they will be glad to have our support.

    If….. there is already a hard working group of Ohio people working on this, I am thinking….maybe we can get on the phone with them, and bring that small group of people who introduced the Ohio resolution… “into” the Ohio Revolution.
    (The legislator will have their phone numbers, if there is a group, so it is worth the phone call)

    And in turn, maybe we can show up at the state house on a day we schedule ourselves, to get the Ohio Resolution un-tabled.

    Frankly, I like the Idea of introducing our own legislation that flat our refuses the Real ID in Ohio… better. But that will be up to all of us as Ohio Citizens to decide.

    We have the numbers in Ohio Revolution….to do exactly this below, if we chose to.

    In fact, I would bet every other state that you listed below under the “Resolution Category” could to the same:

    All we have to do is organize a core group of people in the state…. around 20 works best……, with a free conference call system (available on line at We need one lawyer, and a Columbus day time contact at the Ohio Statehouse to do the communicating with the people in the capitol building for us, weekly.

    (I have done this kind of thing before, and it is really fun to do, but you need to find someone who is living close to your state capitol, to be part of your 20 person group of organizers. Any more than that, and the Conference calls get hard to handle. Any less, and you don’t have the people you need to distribute the workload in the group that is necessary to pass the bill, or the Resoluton. with 20 people, no one works too hard, it feels more like a hobby).

    Here is the example I can donate, as to how this works well, in my experience:

    When a group of citizens introduced the bill to re-legalize the sale of raw milk from Ohio farms, we nearly shook the statehouse down, with 22 core people on a conference call and discussion list, combined with the help of one good attorney (in Florida… of all places), and one good Columbus person who had the time to visit the Statehouse during the day to talk to the “sponsor of the bill”, and to run around and get co sponsors. (The attorney volunteered his time, to get on the conference calls with us, in the event we had a question, but, really, the legislative questions were minimal. He mostly helped us with the four or so court cases that we had going with the different herdshare farmers who’s farms were being destroyed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture)

    So that’s it, 22 people, a lawyer from out of state, and a State Capitol Contact “gofer” type person. One discussion group, and one free conference call system…..That’s the core tools.

    While we were setting up dates for the hearing (Warren worked on that), we set up the Heavy hitters around the nation to come in and testify to the Agriculture comittee…. with their power point seminars on raw milk.

    Sally Fallon of Weston Price National Nurtition Foundation…. totally wowed the legislature to a point their jaws dropped open..(45 minutes)

    Mark McCaffee from California’s largest Raw Milk Dairy, most interesting living proof of the biological facts we presented.(30 minutes)

    Testimony from all of our Ohio “herd share” farmers, including a testimony on what has happened statistically to Ohio Dairy industry since the legislation made raw milk sales illegal. (23,000 dairy farmers 10 years ago, now reduced to 1100 Amish and about 2000 max commercial dairies left… hoards of land bought out by global corporations to the point Ohio was now mostly owned by foreigners.) (20 minutes) (The Legislators did not like this testimony, I think it upset them)

    Medical Doctors (3) who had cured people of digestive and other problems, using raw milk. (ten minutes each)
    Now, one note… it was easy to find all of these people through the Weston Price Foundation web site, and I suspect we could find people like this to testify at the Ohio house, at the web site you just sent out that is national in nature. If you want to work on the National ID thing, at any of our state legislatures, I would search out the heavy hitters who have the power points to do your testimony whenever any state feels like doing something concrete. Bets are on the people at this site, know where to find them.

    Moving on:

    We presented each member of the Agriculture Committee with a Four inch Ring binder that had all of the power point info and photos from each expert who testified, so they could scribble down questions as we went along, or…. If they chose, they could take home the binders, and contemplate the biological/ scientific facts and political arguments that we asked them to look at. The internet sites to the science were included, so they could surf for the truth of the situation if they so chose to.
    I forget what the cost was to make the binders, but I can call my friends and ask for us. Sally Fallon from Weston Price flew herself in. Mark McCaffee, ……we took a collection up for to pay for his flight.

    After the “expert power points” came the bombshell!

    We had 300 people (drawn from all of the farmers who serviced the families who were members of their own farm herd-shares) who came to the statehouse to testify on why they actually bought a cow, to get raw milk, and what it had done for their families health.

    This, “storming the statehouse” on that First Wednesday testimony day….is what really blew the legislators our of the water. And I learned some really important lessons about putting my working hands on the levers of government state power, as a result of this experience, in addition to meeting the most incredible people, and having a blast doing this with them.
    What did I learn?

    I learned that dealing with the “state legislative system” is not at all like dealing with the federal system. It seems most of the “state politicians” are actually getting their political feet wet, and most were younger than I am, or about the same age. Most are not corrupted yet, and they are easy to talk to. Here, below, are many of the surprising comments we got from the legislators in the Ag comittee members, after we pushed the testimony into a second Wednesday, for lack of time on the First. (we had so many people, they had to reschedule us, to let us finish up our Testimoney the following Wednesday. As a result, we were able to “bump” the opposing testimony, to later in the day, that second Wednesday, and the core 22 of us got to “be there” hear what they had to say …..very instructive and revealing)
    This opposing testimony…was done by a group of “Global and National Corporate” food chain types… (the National Grocers Assn, the National Dairyman’s assn, the USDA federal people etc), and some government offices and non profit organizations from the Ohio “executive branch” that had political ties with the corporate power brokers: Ohio Department of Agriculture…. The Ohio Department of Health….and the Ohio Farm Bureau, (against the wishes of farm bureau members, and the members let them know it) All in all there were about 15 opposing testifiers.. not much.
    Here are the comments from some absolutely floored legislators that we got after all testimony was completed. What they had to say, really surprised us all

    ” Wow, you know, we are sorry about trying to fit you all in that small room at first. We asked the ODA how many would be coming, and they said 15 or 20 “kooks”. We wondered what they meant by that. Usually the ODA is the easiest department to work with. None of us can figure out why they are being so hard to work with on this issue.”
    Here was another comment made to me and others after testimony on the second Wednesday, that still blow me away: This by the secretary of the Chair of the Ag committee herself… we had quite the conversation:

    “You know, last Wednesday, when you all finished testifying the first day, we were so shocked…..Do you know the last time we had that many people in the state house…. was six years ago.. during the “priest sex scandal”? We sat around here in a circle for a while to talk about this together. I mean… obviously there is something strange going on here. And you all are so very knowledgeable on your subject. We have never had a group of citizens come in and do anything like what you presented us with… that was a beautiful job… an incredible testimony… and you know… we realized…something, ….as we were talking. She continued: “None of us were around when raw milk became illegal to sell… well, 3 of us were, but those three could not remember passing ANY bill to make the sale of raw milk illegal in Ohio….We sort of wondered, given what you taught us… just exactly how did it happen?

    Who introced the Legislation ten years ago?

    Who sponsored it?

    What did people say in their testimonies about it?

    Is there new science now to consider?

    What’s going on?
    So… she said… “We sent our aids out….all week, to look for the legislative history, to see how it became illegal to sell milk from the farm, in Ohio… who sponsored it…? who testified.. ?and what they said?

    She went on: “We have searched all week to find out how it became illegal to sell raw milk in Ohio, and we cant find any evidence of a vote on the issue at all. We cant find any legislative history on any bill, or any vote to make it illegal to sell raw milk illegal. We can’t find the signed legislation, or what bill was introduced originally.
    We don’t really know how it got into the revised code in Ohio! Now.. we are still looking…. because you know, maybe the micofish record got misfiled? But we really dont know!”

    Now, my fellow revolutionaries…. this, sounds vaguely like the questions people are asking about how the 16th Ammendment got into the Constitution… doesn’t it?
    For those of you who are hot on the Federal Reserve/IRS issues, you might be able to see where I am going with this?

    I mean… it is really hard to get a Constitutional Amendment passed, much less one that suddenly gives the federal system a central taxing power directly on the people, that the federal system did not have originally.
    Do they suppose we will buy the argument that there were millions of us protesting in the street for this amendment…. just begging the feds to tax us?
    Why did it take 50 years to get the 16th amendment passed?
    And why are there so many different versions of it in the historical legislative records of the 2/3rds of the states that supposedly passed it?
    Why are three of the state records on the passage of this ammendment not able to produce a signed copy with a real “governors seal” as required, by law, for the purpose of preventing fraudulent enactments?

    Who, exactly sponsored the 16th amendment?

    So… how exactly did the law against raw milk happen, without a record of a vote, and a signature by an Ohio Governor?
    How did the sixteenth Amendment get passed, over 50 years, without our parents being able to tell us why it happened or where it came from, or…. how it got ON the Constitution?
    My conclusions, from all of this?
    I suspect that as we go on in this process, around the nation, in our different states, and on different issues, we will find a great deal of back door fraudulently enacted legislation, that has in fact no record that our legislators ever voted on a bill at all…. you think?

    I hope these experiences I share have not been a waste of time for you to read. They have been thought provoking for me, since I lived through them. I don’t write often, but when I do, I usually try to make it useful. Thank you for reading.

    Linda Ohio, CD16″

  76. Gabe,

    Gardner, Mass. I think the campus scenes were shot at the local prep school.

    Nice little, historic mill town. Solid downtown, mills rehabbed for housing, classy old houses in stable n’hoods you can get for a song.

    If you can find a job, that is.

  77. This is a pretty tired and worn out look back on five years in Iraq. If the editor of a libertarian periodical is concerned about there not being a national consensus about the military power of the US government, then libertarianism doesn’t have much going for it. The commentors ostensibly work for a magazine devoted to ‘free minds and free markets’ but none of them have any reflections on the 150,000+ private security contractors working in Iraq. Go figure.

  78. “The commentors ostensibly work for a magazine devoted to ‘free minds and free markets’ but none of them have any reflections on the 150,000+ private security contractors working in Iraq. Go figure.”

    There is such a thing as people having a conscience. That’s great our private security contractors are working. Super. Too bad there have been 60,000 Iraqi civilians killed, and 4 million Iraqis displaced from their homes. A true liberterian values the life and liberty of all people. Somehow, this idiotic war doesn’t seem like such a boon to all the Iraqi’s.

  79. 5 years. In that time I’ve been dead set against it (very beginning) grudgingly supportive, figuring that since we were there already we’ll have to finish it(middle) and, for the last two years, strongly opposed and in favor of immediate withdrawal, and letting the Iraqis sort it out for themselves. It was stupid for Congress to give the president war-making authority. It was stupid to go into this war. It was stupid to think that we could turn Iraq, more an artificial product international meddling than an actual country, into a liberal democracy. Mostly the liberal part. However, I would say it is well-suited to mob rule. This is damn depressing.

  80. David,
    You are forgiven, my son. Though, just for the record, why the South Park movie music?

  81. Oh, yeah, the “I Can Change” Song. How many times has Saddam Hussein been killed in South Park? But never by hanging?

  82. My comment wasn’t about the US Government or about the worthiness of the war. It’s about the reflections of Reason’s editors. As a reader, I really don’t need to go any further than my local newspaper to hear complaints against the US Government’s failure to uncover WMDs or to make it safe enough to host the Olympics in Baghdad. What part of Nick Gillespie’s comment about there not being a national consensus on using military power isn’t outrageous? Having a conscience is also besides the point, I’m sure the 40,000 Indians and the 50,000 Brazilians who have been murdered every year in their own countries weighs just as much as the death of Iraqis on the Libertarian with a conscience. There’s more private enterprise in Iraq now than there was under Saddam, and whether that’s for better or worse, I guess I shouldn’t plan on reading about it in Reason.

  83. Good, now I can just disregard everything Michael Young writes or says…saves a lot of time. Katherine Mangu-Ward, oh you poor poor dear…I’m sure you and your colleagues at WS were very respectful towards those who disagreed w/ you right? Well, rest assured, I have as much respect for you, as the WS had for people like me. Wiegel, you really deserve to be punched in the face everyday, for as long as the war continues…twice on Sundays. Just to rub it in: Sean Penn was right, Susan Sarandon was right, Tim Robbins was right, Phil Donahue was right, Rosie O’Donell was right, John Cusack was right, Ed Begely Jr was right, George Clooney was right. Pisses you off doesn’t it? Good.

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