Reason Podcast

Forget Marine Le Pen: The Very Idea of Europe Is Finished [Reason Podcast]

James Kirchick, author of The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age, warns that American freedom is threatened by the loss of liberalism abroad.

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"We've known that when there isn't American leadership in Europe things go to hell pretty quickly and we get sucked into horrible wars whether or not we originally wanted to or not," says journalist James Kirchick, author of The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age. In the wake of Brexit, renewed nativism across the continent, and Putin's Russia grumbling to the east, Kirchick's thesis may well be tested in the coming years.

In a wide-ranging and at times combative conversation with Nick Gillespie, the 33-year-old Kirchick talks about why the Enlightenment values of liberalism, free enterprise, and pluralism have come under attack in the very part of the world that created them and why it's in the United States' best interest to help maintain a politically stable and economically productive European Union. He also discusses how he came to write his bombshell 2008 New Republic story bringing to light former Rep. Ron Paul's controversial and racially charged newsletters, the changing meaning of Jewish identity in post-war America, and how the failure of the Iraq War affected his views on foreign policy.

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This is a rush transcript—check all quotes against the audio for accuracy.

Nick Gillespie: Jamie, thanks for talking.

James Kirchick: Thanks for having me.

Nick Gillespie: You write that we're on the cusp of witnessing the end of Europe as we have known it for the past seven decades, a place of peace, prosperity, stability, cooperation, democracy, and social harmony. Give a sense of what's happening in Europe and why.

James Kirchick: Yeah. 1989 was this momentous year, and you can say there are maybe three narratives that came out of that. One was perpetual peace in terms of security. WE had the triumph of democracy. There was regulated capitalism and potential and ongoing economic growth. We'd assume that these three ideals had really taken ahold in Europe. I think on all three, you see that they're being seriously challenged. On the first front from security, we see Russia is coming back as a aggressive force. On the question of democracy, we have the rise of illiberal populism, or illiberal democracy, as the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, calls it. Then, on the economic question, we've had hardly any growth in the Euro-zone countries since the financial crisis of 2008. I think these three ideals that we all believed had triumphed are now being seriously challenged across the continent.

Nick Gillespie: Yeah, and it's worth thinking about between '89 and '91, where the Berlin Wall was pulled down, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. It's pretty staggering to think that Europe, which had been at … The countries in Europe had been at each other's throats for centuries. From 1945 on, there was a Cold War, and then a real thaw. You've written that the European Union is threatened by almost ten years of zero economic growth, a resurgent Russia, rising Islamic extremism, and the greatest mass movement of humanity since the late 40s. Are these issues intertwined? If so, how?

James Kirchick: I think so in the sense that Europe needs to think of itself more as a geo-strategic power. This is why I'm going to talk about European integration. I'm less concerned about these sort of internal questions about how much power we give to Brussels about regulating certain business markets or what not, and the powers of the European parliament versus the commission. I see Europe is in a precariously geographic position where it's positioned right above North Africa, the Middle East, and then Russia. There are multiple threats. From the Russians, it's a conventional military threat, and then you have instability along the Southern periphery. It's very easy for people to travel to Europe, as we've seen, they've come by their millions over the past couple of years. I think the lack of a common foreign policy to deal with these matters, whether it's the Russians in the East or migrant flows in the South. The inability to project power in that sense, I think has been the root cause of the inabilities to deal with these problems.

Nick Gillespie: Let's talk about foreign policy first, and then we'll talk about economic prosperity and either the roots of stagnation, or possible areas of growth. Is part of that, in the book, you talk about how it probably doesn't make sense for Europe to go along with Brussels as much as other aspects of the EU in terms of setting internal policies. How problematic is it that the EU is effectively more of an economic and kind of cultural organization than a defense entity. Europe's defense is still primarily kind of a work through NATO. Obviously for particular reasons, we didn't want the Germans to be re-arming in 1945. What's going on there? Is there a way for Europe to take over it's own defense without the US, or without NATO, that you think would be more effective?

James Kirchick: Well, this is a really good question because really since the end of the second world war. As you said, it was security was largely to the instruments of NATO, and that was because America was always committed to having a military presence in Europe. There have been debates over the past 25 years, say since the end of the Cold War, should the European Union have it's own army? Should the Europeans think more about their own defense. You had always had … The Americans obviously weren't very pleased with this because they wanted to maintain their role in Europe. Then you also had many, not necessarily pro-American leaders in various European countries. They were resistant to this as well, because they wanted America to also play as basically a sort of buffer between the various European countries. It was only-

Nick Gillespie: I guess there are particularly in places like Central and Eastern Europe, there's still, for obvious reasons, as much as they dislike the Soviets that might have been occupying them, they also were very scared of the Germans and even of the French, which has a formidable army. In that sense, it makes … It's not simply, as you were saying, that the Americans wanted to have presence there because of the Cold War, which we obviously did. It's also some of the newer members of NATO, or of the free world also wanted Americans in the mix.

James Kirchick: Yeah, and I think also because they admired America. They had fond memories of Ronald Reagan, and Radio for Europe, and the Voice of America when they were behind the Iron Curtain. There was sort of romanticized version of the role that America could play. These debates have gone on, and they were never really serious; because most people understood the US would have this predominant military position in Europe. I have to say, now that Donald Trump has been elected president, and all these remarks that he's made about NATO being obsolete. He just seems to depart entirely from the bipartisan consensus about the US role in upholding the liberal world order; in particular in Europe. Not to mention the kind of bizarre affection he has for Vladimir Putin.

In Russia, you're now seeing these debates really become serious about should Europe pursue it's own security policy independent of the United States. There's even been, on the fringes in German, there's been speculation about Germany potentially getting a nuclear weapon; because they had always been able to depend on the US nuclear deterrent. Now with Trump, there are people worried that that might no longer be the case. Again, that's sort of on the-

Nick Gillespie: No, yeah it's on the periphery, but it might be moving towards the center. Also, I guess when you talk about Germany, which is clearly the economic powerhouse of post-war Europe, and has been at least since the 60s. They have a migrant policy which I'm sure Merkel, assuming she survives much longer, will probably moderate or change. It would make sense, wouldn't it, for Europe to come to some kind of … Or the EU, rather, to come to some kind of determination about what kind of migrant flow it's going to allow, and under what terms.

James Kirchick: Absolutely, and this is, again, the example of why a more common foreign policy is required because when you had all these migrants streaming into Europe, you basically Merkel make a unilateral decision that she was going to let them into Germany. Once you're in the Schengen Zone, which is the border free zone within Europe, you can go anywhere. She was basically making a decision on behalf of Europe by herself. She was put into a difficult spot, so I'm not trying to castigate her. This again, shows that you can't … One country can't be making these decisions, and that a migrant policy is something that will affect all the countries within the European Union. They do need to come together on a common policy towards migrants, absolutely.

Nick Gillespie: I think it's partly a function of the distance from America. When you talking about how close North Africa is to Europe, and the Middle East, I know I always think of it as, 'Oh, well it's a … ' The Mediterranean Sea is gigantic and everything, but it is really just a hop, skip, and a jump. What about the economic issues? I have to say, as a libertarian, and I realize Jamie, you're not, and we'll talk a little bit about your journalist past and your ideology more. I like the idea of how you're talking about Europe as being a zone unto itself. What about the economic interests of Europe, because this is something where … and just a few years ago, we were constantly talking about Greece and how Greece was a basket case, and maybe the pigs, Portugal, Italy, and Greece, and I guess Ireland as well sometimes gets thrown in there; or Spain, rather. What is going on there and is this the nightmare scenario of just having too much government interference and regulation of the economy? Then, when you put it up to the whole of Europe, everything slows down.

James Kirchick: I've always seen the EU as being a libertarian's dream. It's a border-less zone of countries with free trade, free movement of people, free capital. There's-

Nick Gillespie: I agree. Yeah, I agree. Within the zone, it's pretty fantastic. Again, it's just unbelievable to think that 60, 70 years ago, this was a continent that was … The rubble was still burning from World War II and World War I.

James Kirchick: I think a lot of the economic criticism that gets thrown at the Euro zone, and the Euro, I think a lot of it should really be directed at the national governments. In my mind, and I have a chapter on Greece. In my mind, Greece's problems are largely the fault of the Greeks. It's a sclerotic clientelist, almost kind of third-world political and economic system. That's what I see as being the main problems that Greece has. It's not German bankers. Obviously German bankers may have played a role in giving out these loans that they shouldn't have been giving, but ultimately at the end of the day, it's the Greek economy that gets reform and needs to adopt market liberal labor reforms.

The same for France. The reason why France has high unemployment, or Spain has something like 40 to 50 percent youth unemployment. I don't think that that's problem necessarily with the Euro Zone, I think it's the domestic economic policies that these successive governments have pursued that tend to be more statist. That's where I stand.

Nick Gillespie: I agree with you on a certain level, and there's a lot of … particularly among American libertarians who tend to be kind of knee jerk reactioners towards anything coming from Europe.

James Kirchick: Yeah.

Nick Gillespie: Except maybe the word 'entrepreneur.' Within the EU, it's just incredible. In many, many ways, and on actually on a larger scale, they've mimicked what we have in the United States where you're not getting stopped on the border between Ohio and Indiana. By the same token, one of … Let's talk about Brexit a little bit, because in the book as you mentioned, you devote chapters to Greece, and France, Hungary, Ukraine and other countries. I think the discussion of Brexit's really interesting. One of the criticisms that somebody like Daniel Hannan, the member of the European Parliament from England said part of … The EU never negotiated a free trade agreement with anyone outside of the EU; and that that was part of the problem. Do you think that that's a legitimate criticism, or when it comes to Brexit, are there good reasons for the English to be upset at the EU?

James Kirchick: EU is definitely trying to negotiate free trade agreements. We obviously have the TPP, which was unfortunately rejected and certainly now by Donald Trump. It has no possibility of going forward. I believe they may have just negotiated or they're very close to negotiating a free trade agreement with Canada. That said, I think as far Dan Hannan's point goes, I think it's going to be more difficult for the UK to negotiate free trade agreements with other countries than if it were in the EU itself. The EU is able to punch at a higher weight than the UK would alone. Also, by extricating itself from the EU, it's now going to have to negotiate trade agreements with 27 other members of that body.

From the economic standpoint, I just don't really understand the argument. I always thought that the argument for Brexit was more of a ideological, almost. It was this belief in sovereignty, which I understand is an important concept. When you really boil it down, the percentage of legislation that Great Britain had to adapt that came from Brussels, that was EU legislation. It was only something like 13 or 14 percent of all the laws in Britain; and that number was vastly exaggerated, I think during the campaign.

Nick Gillespie: Let's talk about that concept of sovereignty, because you hear a lot of that coming in the US as well; about if a country doesn't have a border, it can't be a country. We need to have our sovereignty. In England, and you write pretty pointedly and memorably about Nigel Farage, who is one of the leaders of the Brexit vote; who was kind of in the position … It seemed sort of a Donald Trump after the Brexit vote when his way, he basically gave up and tried to go back to his farm or something. He seems totally unprepared for the reality of what comes next.

James Kirchick: You got a contract, and it goes to CPAC.

Nick Gillespie: Do you think that he … Was it primarily is this talk of sovereignty and of national borders, and of course, England as an island nation, going back to Henry the Eighth and before … Actually, I guess going back to the Norman Conquest, has always been hell-bent on not being violated by the Danes, and the Vikings, and everybody else. Is it primarily a nativist reaction to the idea that the continent, or somebody else, was calling the shots? Is it racist? Is it simply that they're tired, the English are tired of bringing people from their old Commonwealth, as well as potential Muslim fanatics from Europe?

James Kirchick: It's interesting you say that. The Commonwealth immigration is something that has nothing to do whatsoever with the EU. I think a lot of people were … That's something, if they wanted to limit Commonwealth immigration, that's something that they can do on their own. I think a lot of people were conflating the different types of immigration with the EU. If there are British people who don't like the fact that there are so many Pakistanis and Indians in their neighborhoods, then that's not something that they need to complain to Brussels about. That's something that they need to deal with on the national level. I think the immigrants who are being scapegoated in the UK tended to be the ones who came from the new EU member states that had joined 2007, like Poland, Bulgaria, Romania. They were coming to the UK.

Like immigrants to the US, they were working at higher levels than native Britons. They were working for less. They were less of a drain on public services. Actually, I think then native Britons, they were using less public services. I'm hesitant to label the entire movement as being as a xenophobic racist reaction. I think that there was, however, a large degree of that. I think a lot of, if you look at the rhetoric that was being directed Polish immigrants, and at Bulgarians, it was a very hostile climate. I would distinguish the kind of Farage-type Brexit supporters from the Daniel Hannans, who I think are the more intellectual sovereigntists, you could say. I'm afraid to say that I think most of the people who voted for Brexit fell into the Farage category. I don't think there were that many who were doing it on this Daniel Hannan, 'Free market, free trade. We want to be the Singapore of the North' kind of attitude.

Nick Gillespie: What happens, I mean this stuff is breaking out all over Europe to various degrees. You mentioned, it's in much more toxic forms in places like Hungary. It's clear in a way, and I guess here to bring in my t35 years of schooling in English and literary, and cultural studies. There's a modernism question here, like the EU on a certain level is kind of this grand edifice of stitching together of a high modernism where we're going to take a lot of different things and we're going to put them all together. Then, we'll have people work out all of the things at a high level.

In a way, the failure of the EU seems to me to be part in parcel of post-modernism of the idea that it's really hard to maintain anything large anymore. -talks about the end of power and how it's hard for big corporations, like big governments, and even big churches, to keep it together. Everybody seems empowered to go their own way. Is that part of what's going on here? Certainly when you look at countries like France and England, their economic might is not what it was even 50 or 60 years ago. Germany is doing well, but it's a relatively small player in the world's stage. Is it just that the center will not hold, and that activity is moving to the periphery, and that it's a fool's dream to think that you can have these grand organizations anymore.

James Kirchick: Well, it seems that way. Yesterday, the Scottish Nationalist Party just announced that they want another referendum, and the Catalonian Independence Movement is moving forward. You have these sorts of all-over Europe. You mentioned earlier, you said the 'failure of the EU.' I'm not really sure, it's too soon to say that. I would say failure compared to what? If we look at all the other ways in which Europe has been governed over the past thousands of years, like you said, it's been bloodshed, and wars, and imperial conquests. I see the EU, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it's maybe the worst form of governing Europe, but it's better than all the rest.

There's constant refrain of more Europe, more Europe, that you have a lot of European elites say. I might just advocate a break, or a pause. I think, like I said before, I think what's less important than the deeper integration is the wider integration, and as the projection of values, and the protection of what Europe and the EU already has from outside threats that really want to hurt it and destroy it from within. That's the question-

Nick Gillespie: Now, is that … Yeah, go ahead. Sorry.

James Kirchick: I was going to say, it's what says about power and becoming more local, and what not. That may be true, but I don't see how Europe can compete in the world if it reverts back to this nation state basis. I think with a rising china, and a rising India, and a rising Brazil, and Latin America; I think if Europe wants to maintain an influence and the power that it has in the world, it's currently the second largest economy collectively after the US. If it wants to maintain that, it is going to have to have some form of integration.

Nick Gillespie: I was thinking about this in the context of America and immigration, because Steve King, the idiot representative from Iowa recently said that, "Look, we can't reclaim American civilization with somebody else's babies." Meaning that we need to start growing more American babies. The context of my own family, my grandparents were all immigrants from Ireland and Italy. I realized partly in writing something about that, that one of the ways that my families or my parents became, … who were all born in the 20s … they became American by fighting in World War II and Korea.

Is there a way for Europe to create a common identity short of something like that, where they're fighting an enemy from with that, whether it's Russia, or whether it is Islamic Jihad. Are there antecedents for where loose aggregations of people that are geographically and somewhat demographically intertwined, where they really become a unified force. When you talk about Europe, it is … that's kind of a change from … I mean in the Middle Ages, Europe was everything that Turkey was not, or that Turk was the opposite, and that's how they defined themselves, the way that the US defined itself as not Russian during the Cold War. Can that happen without some cataclysmic enemy that really binds the Dutch and the Slovenians, and the Slovaks together.

James Kirchick: They still are, in some sense, defining themselves against the Turks. If you look at what Turkey was doing just the past couple days in the Netherlands, where there's a big election tomorrow, sending these ministers to go rile up ethnic Turks who are living in that country, to vote in this referendum to help back home. I fear, actually, that there may be this reaction against Islam, and that is sort of increasingly becoming the way by which Europeans are trying to define themselves. Whereas I would prefer, and I'm assuming you would prefer, something along the lines of liberal values, and that that's …

Nick Gillespie: Right.

James Kirchick: A Spaniard and a Pol, is that they have the same appreciation for liberal values in the same way that a Californian citizen and someone from Massachusetts can swear allegiance to the Constitution. You have the German philosopher…

Nick Gillespie: Habermas, yes.

James Kirchick: He talks about constitutional patriotism after World War II that the Germans have created … had committed all these horrors, and that they could … How could a German be prideful and proud of his country, … as well as the Constitution is this piece of paper that we have that proclaims liberal values. What I worry is that the liberal cause is being hijacked by the likes of Geert Wilders, or the Marine Le Pens, that these are the people who are cynically asserting that they are the ones who believe in liberal values.

There's a great piece that our mutual friends, Flemming Rose, just published, about how Geert Wilders, … for your listeners that don't know, Flemming Rose is a heroic Danish newspaper editor who published the Muhammad cartoons, and has had to live under 24 police protection ever since. He obviously appreciates free speech. He wrote a piece saying Geert Wilders is not a friend of free speech. He pretends to be. This is a man who wants to ban the Quran. He wants to shut down mosques. He wants to prevent the growth of Muslim schools. He clearly believes in freedom for me, but not for you. That's his sort of attitude. You see these sorts of leaders all over the continent who are stealing liberalism from the true liberals.

Nick Gillespie: Yeah, and it's amazing, too, that in an increasingly or an almost … unexceptionally secular Europe that Islam becomes the threat in the name of Western values, or something, as opposed to toleration or liberal values. Before we go further with your book, and there's a couple more points that I want to talk about, let's talk about your career more broadly as a journalist. I know the book is published by Yale University Press. You went to Yale as an undergrad. How old are you and how did you come to find yourself in Europe? One of the … I think even people who disagree with you will love the book for it's reporting. You really traversed the continent, and there's a lot of great passages in there from your reporting. Why were you drawn to Europe as a subject, and how do you define yourself ideologically?

James Kirchick: I'm 33. I started my journalism career at 'The New Republic.' My first big piece was one that I'm sure many 'Reason' readers will be familiar with.

Nick Gillespie: Yes.

James Kirchick: It was the expose of the Ron Paul newsletters. I got a job opportunity to work at Radio For Europe, which is based in Prague. I was ashamed to say, did not even know still existed; which was obviously the Cold War news information outlet that the US founded in 1950 to broadcast accurate news and information behind the Iron Curtain. Unfortunately, still needs to exist because so much of that part of the world is still living in darkness when it comes to free media and what not. I got to travel all over the former Soviet space. I did that for about two years, and then I moved to Germany and lived there for about a year and a half on a fellowship; and really became interested in Germany, and German politics, and German history.

Politically, I would say center-right, definitely [hoppish 00:25:22] on foreign policy. I believe that America has a indispensable role as the upholder of the liberal world order; which is now in threat, now that Donald Trump has been elected. What else? I guess right of center of foreign policy. I'm kind of libertarian. I'm not a doctrinaire libertarian, but I believe in free markets and free people.

Nick Gillespie: What do you think about the relative demise of 'The New Republic?' It's kind of amazing, isn't it?

James Kirchick: It is.

Nick Gillespie: I know I started at 'Reason' in '93, late '93. When I showed up at 'Reason,' 'The New Republic' and 'Harper's' were the two magazines I kind of … They were the most long-lived … Maybe not. The 'Nation' is long-lived as well. It's bizarre that 'The New Republic' really seems to have foundered. How does that hit you as a former worker there?

James Kirchick: Yeah, it's sad. I grew up loving it. I left right before this Chris Hughes character bought the magazine, and has basically destroyed it through his own uberous. I wonder how much is the fact that 'The New Republic,' it still exists, we should say. I don't know if anyone reads it that's still there.

Nick Gillespie: Yes.

James Kirchick: But how much of it's fall is attributable to the maybe decline of it's constituency? I always thought 'The New Republic' was heterodox, but it had a particular view of American power in the world. It was almost like it was a Reagan democrat magazine, maybe. It was socially liberal, foreign policy honk-ish, but always willing to challenge orthodoxies. I wonder just with the decline of the conservative democrat as a voter, as a constituency in America. Maybe that's part of the reason why the magazine declined. I'm not sure-

Nick Gillespie: I know you're also writing for 'The Daily Beast,' and 'Tablet,' and other places. Overall, do you find the market for thoughtful journalism or think journalism is still pretty robust, even if the outlets have changed?

James Kirchick: Yeah. I write for 'Tablet' a lot, which I think is … and not just because I write for it. I'm columnist there, but only because I've been … I think it's really one of the top intellectual cultural outlets on the web. I think they just publish such great stuff. It's officially a Jewish-themed website, but there's all sorts of content on there. Paul Berman, who's a former TNR alum as well. He also writes there. I think it's great. There's a lot of crap on the internet, too, though. I think there's a lot of good stuff, but there's a lot of …

Nick Gillespie: Yeah.

James Kirchick: There is a lot of crap.

Nick Gillespie: How do you think the Jewish identity in America has changed? I realize that's a huge question. I guess what I mean is 'The New Republic,' even though many of it's founders were … They were as WASP as WASP gets. It certainly had a long run as having a Jewish pedigree as well. It's interesting that as ethnicity has changed, and identity politics have changed, being Jewish is not what it used to be. What is the … I feel like I'm veering into dangerous waters here.

James Kirchick: No, no.

Nick Gillespie: What is the essential Jewish … Is there an essential Jewish take, and that's the wrong word for it. Is the Jew the outsider in American society now, or are they insider, or are they the Cosmopolite? One of the things that is interesting in American intellectual thought when you think of whatever we might say about the 'National Review' when it was being edited by Bill Buckley, it was at least Cosmopolitant in some sense. Now it seems to be very, almost anti-intellectual and very nativist. Where does … The Jew is the wandering Jew. It belongs-

James Kirchick: The wandering Jew.

Nick Gillespie: -To no nation, but belongs to the world. Is that the function of a Jewish identity in American culture now?

James Kirchick: Well, Henry [Fairley 00:29:42], who was a very famous British journalist who used to write for 'The New Republic.' I think he once called it, "A Jewish commentary magazine." That was sort of his joke about how Jewish it was. I actually think that the rise of Trump and the simultaneous, really hard left-wing, anti-Israel that almost borders on anti-Semitism, that they've come up recently in the past couple years. Trump, there are a lot of … It's not Trump himself who's an anti-Semite.

There's this debate, is Trump an anti-Semite? I respond, I think Trump is too selfish and unthinking of a person to be an anti-Semite. I think he's too lazy. I think to be an anti-Semite, you have to really think long and hard about these things. You have to read lots of book, and you have to have theories about how the world works. You have to call in to CSPAN and lecture people about the [Ross Files 00:30:37]. I don't think Trump has the patience for that. Clearly around the Trump phenomenon, there was a lot of nasty anti-Semitism, and the whole alt-right, and what not.

There have been some people who have said that maybe we're leaving this golden era of Jewish life in America, that it was great for the past 50, 60 years. Jews were the most successful minority. They're the most admired religious group, I think in the country. It seems that something has sort of changed in the tenor of the conversation in the past couple years, both with the left and the democratic party even becoming increasingly hostile to Israel. You can see that in the rise of someone like Keith Ellison. Also, this whole Trump nativist movement.

I said I wrote early on in the Trump phenomenon that Donald Trump is the candidate with the mob, and the mob always comes after the Jews. It didn't really matter that Donald Trump has a Jewish daughter, or that he says he loves Israel, and all these things. It was the ugly nativist passions … just watching his rallies, I have to say. Watching his rallies on TV, there were almost all white. He's screaming about foreigners, and immigrants. He didn't have to say the word 'Jew,' but it was … a shiver went down my spine, as a Jew, just watching these events. It was like Philip Roth's novel, 'The Plot Against America.' I'm not forecasting. This is not the Third Reich. It was not the 1930s. It's nothing like that, but something has changed I think in the tenor of our conversation that I think is making Jews slightly uncomfortable.

Nick Gillespie: Now that we've pushed away from the shore, and we are in deep waters. What about the Ron Paul phenomenon? I say this as somebody who, I like a lot of what Ron Paul talks about. I like the idea of a smaller government, and a stripped down government, and all of that. There's no question. In the reporting that you did on his newsletters from the late 80s and early 90s, there's a lot of both coded and pretty open anti-Semitism. There's certainly a definite strain in American libertarianism that is explicitly or virtual explicitly anti-Semitic; which is particularly ironic since Jewishness and capitalism have historically been linked. People will even talk about it. I think Ludwig von Mises has talked about this, that being anti-Semitic was a form of being anti-capitalist and vice versa. What is the … Is there a overlap between the Trump phenomenon and a Ron Paul phenomenon, as you saw it.

James Kirchick: I absolutely think so. I have to say, my first encounter or knowledge of Alex Jones was when I was doing the Ron Paul story. This is almost ten years ago. He was just this obscure guy with an internet radio show in Austin. I called him up and he ranted and raved for an hour, and that was it. Fast forward ten years, where now this guy who … When I did the Ron Paul story, I was never concerned that Ron Paul was actually going to be president; and that I was the only thing standing in the way between this … candidate who I didn't like and the presidency. It was always a special interest story.

Now we have a guy in the White House who is a conspiracy theorist. It makes Ron Paul look like an amateur when it comes to conspiracy theories. Alex Jones has the ear of the president's, and is now opening a bureau in Washington. It was like my nightmares of these Ron Paul newsletters are now have come true in a way. I think there is a lot of overlap. I think the main difference is that, as you said, Ron Paul is a pretty doctrinaire libertarian when it comes to the size of the state; whereas Donald Trump clearly is a big government populist. There are many similarities.

Ron Paul's attack on internationalism and international institutions, and this sort of 'new world order,' black helicopters, constituency of these folk, too; almost kind of a John Bircher type. That I see a lot of similarities between that and Trump. The racial resentment, the white racial resentment that Ron Paul was definitely appealing to in those newsletters. It was probably Murray Rothbard, or Lew Rockwell, who was writing them. Whoever it was that was writing them, clearly there was a lot of racial resentment, and I definitely … I don't know you deny the enormous racial resentment that was a part of Trump's message as well. I think there's definitely … It's the paleo-conservatism, that is the link. The extent to which Paul had paleo-conservative believes and advisors, and was appealing to those sorts of … people. Pat Buchanan, I think, is maybe the bridge between the two of them.

Nick Gillespie: Yeah. No, it's fascinating that Pat Buchanan, in a lot of ways, is the [potter familious 00:35:45] here of … The books that he wrote throughout the 90s and in the early 2000s seem to really … I don't know that anybody directly associated with Trump has read them, but they're filled with Buchanan-isms. Let's bring it back to your book. Your concluding chapter opens with a scene from the funeral of the great Czech statesman, Vaclav Havel, who was the president of post Cold War Czechoslovakia. What's Havel's importance to you and how is his memory either being respected or disrespected in contemporary Europe?

James Kirchick: Well, with your colleague, Matt Welch, I share a real admiration for Vaclav Havel, who either saw … I unfortunately never had the chance to meet him. It was one of my great regrets living in the Czech Republic. He was pretty old and sick by then. This was someone who just seemed very down to earth, and that he was not like other political figures. He was just a good and decent person. You look at his remarks or his beliefs on really any sort of political issue, and it was always driven by a sense of humanism, of liberalism in the classical sense of the word, of concern for other people. He was not an egomaniac. He had a real vision of what Europe could be, and should be, and his country's place within it. I think being the leader of a small country that had been overrun, first by the Nazis, then by the Soviets, I think he had a real understanding and appreciation for freedom, in it's most basic form.

He might have been a little bit too much of a big government liberal for libertarian tastes; but these days, I think there's so few leaders in Europe who seem to have any understanding of really the basic values of what Europe is supposed to be about. That it's hard not to feel a little wistful for someone like Vaclav Havel in particular, when you look at the people who have followed him in that country.

Vaclav Klaus, who I know is very popular in some libertarian circles … In fact, he had a fellowship at the Cato Institute who pursued this sort of rapid privatization of the country … is basically a Putin-ist, and is a strong supporter of Vladimir Putin, has defended him in Ukraine. It really puts into question, how can you be a libertarian, or someone who claims to believe in freedom while constantly defending Putin? Then, the current Czech president is this guy, Milos Zeman, who nominally comes from the other side of the political spectrum, more from the left; but who also has this affinity for strong men and Putin in particular.

That image that I leave with the funeral of Havel, it came at this moment in European history where we seem to be moving toward in the wrong direction. Where the dreams that Havel expressed of Europe, whole, free, and at peace, is becoming more elusive.

Nick Gillespie: Talk a bit about how … One of the things that I find stunning about Havel, and I agree. As a person, as an artist, as somebody who put himself in jail, essentially, and he knew what he was doing when he defended the rights of people for free expression. He seemed, to me, that for me, the important legacy of him is that he also oversaw the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, which is a kind of post World War I invention, effectively, into two separate countries that remained linked by history and sociology … but in a way that very few people are willing to talk about. He was clearly a Czech patriot, but also a citizen of the world. It doesn't seem to me that it should be that hard to occupy both of those positions, but he seems quite rare in being able to do that.

James Kirchick: Yeah. He was. I should say, I don't … He did not want to see the dissolution. I think he opposed it, actually. It was Klaus who I mentioned earlier who was the prime minister at the time, who was really advocating it. Yes, he was someone who could simultaneously balance being a Czech and being a patriot of your country, but also seeing that this is not necessarily antagonist or contradictory with also being a European, and seeing that your country has a place in a broader political community. I think unfortunately now, with the demagogues, in the subtitle of my book, they refuse to embrace this duality and this belief that you can be both.

I think Donald Trump is the same. It's his zero sum view of the world. It's the notion that every relationship that America has, we have to be getting cheated out of it. It can't be mutually beneficial to both countries, or to both parties that we have trading relationships. We have to be getting screwed, or if we're not getting screwed, then we got to be the ones doing the screwing. I just think this is almost a fundamentally illiberal, anti-libertarian view of the world; which is that at the heart of John Locke is that consensual agreements and volunteerism is the best way of arranging human affairs. I think that works on an individual level between individuals or between businesses, and also on the state level.

I think that's ultimately what the liberal world order is about. It's about democratic countries cooperating and working together in ways that are mutually beneficial. I think that view of the world is one that, for instance, Putin, doesn't agree with and that he probably shares with Trump. I think that's why we're having such a problem in dealing with the Russians, because they don't accept this notion that we can both mutually benefit from our relationship, that it has to be one side gaming the other. I don't see the world that way.

Nick Gillespie: Yeah, and obviously to bring it back to 'The Plot Against America,' the Roth book, which is about Charles Lindbergh. The slogan of 'America First,' Lindbergh was obviously one of the figureheads of the 'America First' movement, and Trump has brought that back as a slogan. To wrap up, here's my question for you. Everything that you're saying about Europe, I tend to agree with, and I agree with in a profound way. The EU in particular has created this incredible free trade zone and free movement zone of goods and people. It's amazing, and it really … I am always disappointed when we take for granted such massive advances in history. Who would have … In 1945, who would have thought that something like that was possible?

Then my question, and this is where my doctrinaire libertarianism tends to raise it's head a little bit more. Why should America worry that much about the fate of Europe? I say this as the son of somebody who fought in World War II, the grandson of people who left Europe because it treated them like shit, and my ancestors, for centuries. I agree with you. I'm not a Putin fan, and I don't understand …

I can understand why people might say, "You know, what Putin does, you know, that's his business and Europe's business." I don't understand the idea of people affirmatively saying that Putin is a great leader, or is a moral equivalent of the leaders of England or France, or Germany. What would you say are the stakes for America in the continuance of Europe as it put itself together over the past quarter century or so.

James Kirchick: Yeah. Well, this is my opportunity to convince libertarians of the-

Nick Gillespie: Yes.

James Kirchick: -Assertive American role in the world.

Nick Gillespie: Give it your best shot. Yes. Yeah, give it your best shot.

James Kirchick: Well, I'm going to say, looking at history, we've known that when there isn't American leadership in Europe, that things go to hell pretty quickly and we get sucked into horrible wars whether or not we originally wanted to or not. The 'America First' movement that you mentioned, eventually they dissolved because it became untenable in the United States to advocate that position. That's just the pure self interest point that we know that the way Europe works, and we've seen it, that maintaining a Europe whole, free, into peace, is fundamentally in the interests of the United States. Not only because of our values, it's not only because we're nice people who are willing to sacrifice for others.

It's in our interest. Europe is our biggest trading partner. Germany alone, … Chancellor Merkel's visiting Donald Trump this week. Germany alone employs 600,000 Americans. That can be said about lots of other … Sorry, German companies employ 600,000 Americans in the United States. There's a massive trading relationship, but I would think more fundamentally, it's shared values. As much as we may disagree with Europeans on all sorts of things from the size of government to whether we use air conditioning, I think at the end of the day, there's no other part of the world where we have more in common, where our values are more similar, than Europe.

It is Europe that allows us to uphold this liberal world order that has existed since the end of World War II … and that has allowed for the greatest peace and prosperity that human kind has ever seen. All these advances that we've had in medicine and technology, and all this. I think it's undergirded by an international system that allows for free trade, and that allows for the free movement of goods, and people, and ideas. That we have to understand, this is not the natural state of things. It requires effort and work, and military resources, and diplomatic resources, and leadership to maintain it and to keep it flowing. That's why I think Donald Trump represents such a threat to all these amazing accomplishments that human kind has made, because he threatens to basically withdraw America from it's role in upholding that world order.

I hope that was able to convince you somewhat.

Nick Gillespie: Yeah. Let me ask you, in terms of … It's a beautiful dream, and I don't even discount it out of hand. How do you do that without, for instance, when we talk about the migrant crisis in Europe? A huge part of that is coming out of the Middle East because of the American war effort in Iraq, certainly did not go as planned. Whatever we can say about the quickness with which we gained a military victory, we totally fucked up the occupation. That bled over into Syria, which … and we somehow came out of 15 years of war with Iraq where we took out Iran's largest regional opponent. Is there a way that the US … or do you think in your world view, is there a way that the US can actually help maintain a liberal order without it being predicated upon military adventurism, because it's clear-

James Kirchick: Absolutely, and I say this as someone who did support the Iraq war; but I don't think that supporting the Iraq war is synonymous with being supporter of the liberal world order. These are not the same things. I think basic … What does it mean to support the liberal world order? It means supporting institutions like NATO. It means supporting institutions like the EU. It means having a military presence, but that doesn't mean you go off and invade countries; but it does mean, I think defending your allies.

When a country like Russia behaves the way it does against Ukraine, which again, is not a NATO ally. However, when they commit the first armed annexation of territory on the European continent since World War II, which they did by annexing Crimea, they need to be punished for it. I think that, the instruments we use as countries to uphold the rules of the game, those are crucial elements of the liberal world order. I don't think military adventurism, as you might call it, that is not a precondition for being a believer in upholding the liberal world order.

Nick Gillespie: Well, we will leave it there. Jamie Kirchick, thanks for talking to Reason.

James Kirchick: Thank you.

NEXT: Bernie Sanders defends Ann Coulter's right to speak

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  1. This is why people shouldn’t hold Europe up as the example of mature, civilized society.

    The last civil war for the US ended in 1865.

    Meanwhile, Europeans were killing each other in, not just one, but two, World Wars, featuring human rights atrocities and massive civilian casualties amongst their own people. And this happened within living memory: people are alive in Europe who hate each other over these wars, this very day.

    But, hey: they have great taxes and health care. So, totes awesome. If you want an omelet, you gotta break some eggs, amirite?

    1. All good points. Throughout the 90s and 00s, so many were holding Europe up as the model for how to handle things here. But Europe was only 5-6 decades after complete breakdown of democratic institutions. I suppose that was easy to forget.

      Most of us today have only known a relatively stable Europe while alive.

      1. I was in Germany in the 80’s. Walked down the street and peered in the window of the closed store, which turned out to be a military collector’s shop.

        Next thing I know, this old German woman comes up, starts going philosophical on me, and explaining how much she misses the good ol’ Hitler days.

        People wag their fingers at the US, and our red state voters. It’s just silly.

        Yeah, I get it: the God, Guns, and Babies crowd can seem a tad traditional and out of step with the modern world.

        However, I never had one come up to me and explain how awesome Hitler was. Leave it to a real European to give me that experience.

      2. That’s actually not a good point. The US had its last civil war to *absolutely crush dissenters* and succeeded. That, in and of itself, is not an indication that the US is ‘better’. Only that dissidents are sufficiently afraid.

        1. “That’s actually not a good point”

          Actually, it is a good point, and you’re a fucking idiot.

          Jesus Christ, your objection doesn’t even address what he said.

          How fucking stupid are you?

          Every time your stupid fucking ass posts I can’t help but wonder why YOU had to fucking stay.

          Why couldn’t YOU leave? How did we get stuck with you?

          And who told you your opinions weren’t moronic and better kept to yourself?

          Just shut the fuck up and go the fuck away.

          1. is this what mary does when no one replied to DanO anymore?

            between knuckleheads and trolls, this place is turning into a real dump.

          2. Calling that dude names isn’t an argument, friend.

    2. What’s strange to me is that those who want to turn us into Europe are usually the same people who want little to no mention of European history in schools. Is that willful ignorance of the continent part of its allure?

    3. Very good point, Brian.

      The idea of Europe as some contiguous ‘whole’ which has shared interests and a shared identity….?

      Is not just “new”, but its mostly imposed on them from the outside. Its a naive and ahistoric perspective.

  2. It’s astounding to me to see French politicians lash out against the euro. I suppose Germany benefits from the euro to the extent that their economy depends so heavily on manufacturing and exports, and they would have real problems with maintaining that with the mark as strong as it would be sans the euro, but secondary to that, are there any major players who have benefited more from the euro than the French? Germany bearing the burden it did on currency without any control over other countries’ budgets was the price of French support for reunification. If it weren’t for Germany taking that burden on, France’s economy would be in shambles.

    It isn’t just Le Pen who’s a euroskeptic either. Melenchon, the Left candidate, wants out, too.

    IF IF IF the EU broke up, it might be a force for stabilization. The EU was supposed to be a force for free markets and the free flow of labor, but it ended up being a bureaucratic mess and anti-democratic on top of that. That isn’t a recipe for stability–that’s a recipe for a buildup of simmering resentment. How can an unaccountable bureaucracy be the solution to simmering resentment?

    1. “and anti-democratic on top of that.”

      I don’t think you understand the EU. Nigel Farage, the head of UKIP is a member of the European Parliament. He’s tried on multiple occasions to run for the British Parliament and has failed each time thanks to their onerous anti-democratic two-party system. If British supporters of UKIP want a voice in Parliament, it must be the European Parliament. The British Parliament is happy to shut them out.

      “How can an unaccountable bureaucracy be the solution to simmering resentment?”

      The bureaucracy is accountable to the state, and the elected officials are accountable to the voters. They can be replaced.

      1. The French, British, or anyone else deferring to the European Parliament would be like the United States deferring to the UN.

        Americans get to elect all members of Congress. We’re one nation among many in the UN, hence the UN is relatively undemocratic relative to national governments.

        The French don’t need to take the UK, Italy, or Germany’s opinion into consideration when legislation is proposed in the French legislature. The EU, hence, is not responsible to the voters of France like the French legislature is.

        This is only hard for mtruman to understand, apparently.

        Incidentally, like the UN, and not entirely unrelated to a lack of accountability by voters, the EU has become a magnificent bureaucracy that often imposes itself on governments with little in the way of representation.

        See the EU trying to force Ireland to raise their corporate tax rates for examples.

        If you think the people of Ireland have as much democratic say in the EU Parliament as they do in the Irish legislature, then you’re being willfully obtuse . . . again.

        1. In theory, the bureaucracy is accountable to the state. In practice, the behavior of the ATF, Border Patrol, the IRS, the TSA … show that these organizations are accountable to their unions, or inertia, or their own corporate culture. I didn’t see any of them changing in a large way under the Obama administration, and haven’t seen them change course under Trump, besides small gestures towards one way or another.

        2. “If you think the people of Ireland have as much democratic say in the EU Parliament as they do in the Irish legislature, then you’re being willfully obtuse . . . again.”

          You missed my point. Because British Parliamentary elections make it hard for members of minority parties to gain seats, people like Farage have had more success in the European Parliament. In short, their elections are more democratic. Not sure about Ireland, but if you hold minority views and want a seat in some parliament, I think the European would be the better bet. Is this something you oppose? I know from other discussions that many here voice opposition to electoral reforms designed to strengthen 3rd parties, I suspect on the grounds that the reforms just might bring more votes to Democrats over Republicans, 3rd parties be damned.

  3. More interesting to me is the apparent reformation of the Ottoman Empire. To put it mildly, the breakup of the Ottoman Empire since 1923 has not gone well. A new semi-democratic understanding between Egypt and Turkey spreading to encompass other more undemocratic and chaotic states may be a force for stability in the world.

    Certainly, no one should cry for democracy if a chaotic Saudi Arabia came under Turkey’s influence at some point in the future. I’m not sure that old model is long for this world–vicious dictatorship based on oil revenue. The House of Saud now has, what, some 15,000 family members? How long should we expect that situation to remain stable, going forward, in that volition part of the world?

    1. If it weren’t for their oil (which wasn’t developed much until after the Ottomans were long gone), the Middle East’s tribal conflicts would trouble us as little as the continuous wars and imponderable atrocities in sub-Saharan Africa do.

      1. Whenever people talk politics with me (I try to avoid the subject), whenever they point out how something “must be done”, I point out the absolute horrors visited upon normal people in Africa that we are also powerless to do much about. Most seem genuinely unaware of just what goes on in places like the DR Congo and others.

        These atrocities do bother me quite a bit, but if I were to internalize all the pointless suffering that goes in the world, I’d never get out of bed in the morning. The Syrian people don’t deserve what’s happened to them, but neither does anyone else. The United States’ track record at making things better is…

        1. Exactly

  4. The EU is the spawn of romanticism, not the Enlightenment. It governs without the consent of the governed, tramples on freedom of expression left and right, and burdens the people it rules with reckless grandiose schemes in pursuit of an impossible ideal (e.g. the refugee policy).

    I have no illusions about the Euroskeptics — most of them could legitimately be called fascists as they support nationalism coupled with socialism. Classical liberalism is essentially dead on the Continent, murdered by the bureaucratic left that got fat from decades of not having to pay for their defense. If you’re bemoaning the extirpation of the Enlightenment from Europe, you’re bemoaning it decades too late.

    1. A lot of scientific research still goes on in Europe, CERN for an example you may have heard of. It’s all thanks to their heritage of the Enlightenment.

      1. Pick them cherries, trueman; no one is fooled.

    2. They traded in the Enlightenment for hedonism and the myth of the “Easy Life” a long time ago.

    3. Yep, calling the EU libertarian is mistaking ‘permissions you find preferable’ for ‘liberty.’

  5. There’s two types of libertarian publication. Those that tell the truth about ‘Israel’ and those that don’t talk about it at all, just make vague refernces to ‘anti-semitism’ without ever defining what they mean.

    1. Reason published articles that were anti-semitic / anti-Israel not all that long ago. Last year if memory serves.

      1. If you mean Sheldon, he’s sort of a publication unto himself.

        1. A self hating publication, no less.

      2. “Reason published articles that were anti-Semitic”

        I’ll repeat, without fear of a cite, that you are full of shit.

  6. Oh yeah, that Jamie Kirchick.

    reason sucks

    1. Yeah, fuck this neocon scumbag piece of shit. Fuck him with a rusty poker. I knew his name sounded familiar. No matter what he does in the future, he will always be just a little piece of shit that tried to climb to fame smearing the most libertarian and one of the most pro-peace Congressman in history.

      1. Also, Kirchick voted for Hillary because Trump wasn’t neocon enough for him. What an asshole.

        1. Stop using that word. It’s not a synonym for interventionist.

      2. fuck this neocon

        i think i’ve explained to you before that this doesn’t mean what you think it means.

        1. I use it to mean conservatives that support an interventionist foreign policy, which is the generally accepted meaning. I have no idea what meaning for that word you have concocted for yourself.

          1. I use it to mean conservatives that support an interventionist foreign policy

            Necons weren’t actually conservatives at all, and were at best a vague alliance of convenience w/ them. They originated on the left and remained fairly lefty on many issues.

            I have no idea what meaning for that word you have concocted for yourself.

            no concocting required =

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism

            Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among conservative-leaning Democrats who became disenchanted with the party’s foreign policy. The term “neoconservative” refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist Left to the camp of American conservatism.[2] Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and American national interest in international affairs,

            What James K. above describes himself as is traditional Left-leaning “Wilsonianism” (see below)

            It has little/nothing in common with Neoconservatism. The former prioritizes “supporting the liberal world order”, the latter is far more concerned with “Using US power for US interests” Neocons hated multilateralism, and despised using the military for humanitarian reasons.

            Basically, stop using words if you don’t know what they mean.

            1. Well I guess you can’t read (emphasis added):

              The term “neoconservative” refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist Left to the camp of American conservatism.

              This is like when some conservatives argue that it was the Democrats that started and maintained segregation. Yeah, about 60 years ago and not reflective of today’s ideological positions.

              It doesn’t matter where the original neocons came from. The current generation grew up on the right.

              Neocons hated multilateralism, and despised using the military for humanitarian reasons.

              ORLY? Here is the pope of the neocons, William Kristol, arguing for the Iraq War for humanitarian reasons.

              1. being in the same “camp” doesn’t turn big-government liberals like Irving Kristol into conservatives. They maintained intellectual independence from conservatives for decades on most policies and still did even when they held sway in foreign policy. You seem to think people like Wolfowitz or Perle were some new version’? Look up the Project for a New American Century

                Pretending that “Everyone Not Non-Interventionist is a “Neocon” and all neocons are “Conservatives” just makes you sound ignorant and is partly why libertarians are ignored when it comes to foreign policy issues. .

                What Kristol may have once said in order to justify his pet project doesn’t somehow overwrite their 30-year history of writing extensively about the role of us military power. Check out what they said re: humanitarian interventions in somalia, haiti, elsewhere. They might have said there were some Humanitarian side-benefits for intervention in Iraq, but that the Main Course was the elimination of anti-US/anti-israel enemies when the disparity of power enabled it.

                Its not my pet project to make you less of an idiot. If you insist on remaining a boob, more power to you. I’m just pointing out that the term “neocon” certainly doesn’t remotely apply to a writer like Kirchick who explicitly lays out a very liberal, Wilsonian POV in the above interview.

                1. This is why I don’t usu. take sides in these labeling controversies. Some people slice things more thinly, others aggregate into a few lumps, and analysts differ as to how strongly they weight criteria of difference or similarity. I do recognize a difference between Kirchick & neocons generally on the above score, but I can’t predict how they themselves would come down on an us/them determination, especially since “neoconservative”(& more so the shortening to “neocon”) is mostly a label of opprobrium. Etymology doesn’t always help, as in this case where “neocon” implies “newly conservative”, and what counts as “conservative” anyway? People bristle when the label is based on different standards according to place & time of what’s being conserved; is it the status quo in a given party, in a given country, in the world?or not the status quo, but the way it was 10 yrs. earlier, a generation earlier, a century? I don’t argue with those who label radical libertarians as part of the “alt.right”, nor those who say they’re disjoint sets. LaRouche (Label him, huh?) wrote that the seating arrangements in the National Assembly during the French Revolution did not freeze political discourse for all time.

    2. Yeah, I was wondering how an entire interview passed with no mention of that.

      I’m a cosmo who’s not a huge Paul fan, and even I think overlooking that was poor form for a purportedly libertarian publication’s interview, Nick.

  7. This is all very interesting, but who in the actual fuck transcribed it? “uberous” “potter familious”

    HUBRIS. PATERFAMILIAS. I’m sure there are others, and I’m awfully sorry to nitpick. But, if I wanted to read the Grauniad, I’d be donating money to them every month. Be good journalists!

    Now, was it an intern, or a robot? Tell me the truth.

    1. My favorite is “Matt Welsh”.

  8. “We’ve known that when there isn’t American leadership in Europe things go to hell pretty quickly and we get sucked into horrible wars whether or not we originally wanted to or not,” says journalist James Kirchick….

    For Frith’s sake.*

    Kirchick seems to be heavily suggesting that Europeans cannot lead themselves unless it is leading themselves into hellish circumstances. Kirchick specifically names wars.

    If I understand Kirchick correctly, the government of the United States gets “sucked into horrible wars” (the source of which have been failed European Leadership and a lack of “American Leadership”).

    If the government of the United States has the qualities necessary for leadership of other nations including many European nations as Kirchick suggests, shouldn’t it also have commensurate qualities? Cannot it decide whether or not to get “sucked into horrible wars”?

    Here is part of what I found telling with regards to the quote of Kirchick: horrible wars whether or not we originally wanted to.

    It would seem that Horrible wars which are intended by the United States Government are acceptable to Kirchick. Perhaps he considers himself one of the “Top Men” to whom government employees should listen to for advice.

    Perhaps this is the type of leadership Kirchick prefers.

    *Frith does not exist independent of imagination, and is a creative work of Richard Adams.

    1. The Black Rabbit is coming for you.

  9. “Europe” covers a lot of ground. There’s a lot of difference in political philosophy between the Brits, the French, the Spanish and the Hungarians. Thinking some temporary political alliance like the EU is somehow natural and desirable deserves a bit of skepticism. If the Brits were running it, maybe.

    1. Suggest (as I have before) “Postwar”, Tony Judt.
      He spends many pages attempting to define ‘European’ and admits the result is far from definitive. Also, many Brits sniff that they are NOT ‘European’.

    2. Europe, like many constructs/concepts/things, is a spook.

      1. But is that spook Walker’s, Byington’s, or Stirner’s? Byington pointed out the multiple ways “Geist” can be xlated.

  10. Ah yes, Europe…

  11. . . . American freedom is threatened by the loss of liberalism abroad.

    Well *someone’s* not familiar with the EU. There hasn’t been much Liberalism since the ‘One Europe’ campaign started.

  12. We weren’t “sucked into” European wars. We were dragged in by Wilson and Roosevelt as fast and as hard as they could manage against the resistance of the American people.

    1. Well, Hitler did declare war on the US. I suppose we could’ve returned it to sender.

  13. Awesome having a transcript, but you know, most blogging software has a “more” button that inserts a break that keeps the whole long article from being posted on the front page.

    1. ^Seconded. I’m not going to listen to nicks’ hemming and hawing, but i’ll read the thing.

    2. +2.
      With the transcript, I can scan and bypass memories of TNR for example. Not so with a vid or a audio feed.

    3. I want on the same page

  14. when there isn’t American leadership in Europe, that things go to hell pretty quickly

    What does that even mean? Who were the Americans who were proper “leaders” in Europe, and how do the last few presidents shape up to those theoretical “good ones”? if all it means is promising to be their military sugar-daddy, i don’t really think that’s “leadership” at all.

    now that Donald Trump has been elected president, and all these remarks that he’s made about NATO being obsolete. He just seems to depart entirely from the bipartisan consensus about the US role in upholding the liberal world order;

    People have been predicting the collapse of the EU since the mid 2000s when they faced a constitutional crisis. The last death-watch was in 2011 during the sovereign debt-crisis. Brexit happened before The Donald was crowned.

    This notion that the EU project has been relying on American ‘leadership’…… or any American position at all (other than the good graces of American financial institutions)…. and is only weakening since the arrival of El Toupe… strikes me as thinly-reasoned.

    In my mind, Greece’s problems are largely the fault of the Greeks

    He says this as though this is a controversial posture, which probably says more about his typical audience than his own POV.

    1. “In my mind, Greece’s problems are largely the fault of the Greeks
      ——
      He says this as though this is a controversial posture, which probably says more about his typical audience than his own POV.”

      Particularly as contrasted to the comment re: “the German bankers”. Pretty sure those loans were not done absent the implied EU guarantee of repayment; those loans were only ‘given out’ under that umbrella.

      1. Pretty sure those loans were not done absent the implied EU guarantee of repayment

        Exactly. German banks simply played the game by the rules that the dumbfuck politicians and bureaucrats agreed on. The ECB (and later, the “EFSF”) basically backstopped banks and forced them all to lend to one another at dirt-cheap rates.

        The entire EU was one big game of debt-hot-potato. People who blamed any one-nation’s banks didn’t realize that this was all the consequence (foreseen long ago, i might add) of the very system they set up to create greater economic integration.

        1. “…The ECB (and later, the “EFSF”) basically backstopped banks and forced them all to lend to one another at dirt-cheap rates…”

          Reminiscent of Shreek here claiming the 2008 RE melt-down as a ‘market failure’.
          Question: How far can you distort a market before you cause a failure? Well, in 2008, we found out. The result was (and is) more distortion to cure the ‘market failure’.
          —————————
          “People who blamed any one-nation’s banks didn’t realize that this was all the consequence (foreseen long ago, i might add) of the very system they set up to create greater economic integration.”

          Privatize the profits, socialize the risk. The bankers will love you (until…) and the taxpayers will never gripe enough to matter. See, oh, CA and the infrastructure repairs vs. moonbeam’s choo-shoo.

  15. OK, the guy seems a bit lacking in details.
    First we have a whinge on how the EU should be ‘more integrated’. Well, that’s been the pitch of one idealist after the other since sometime early in the 20th century, but the Frogs really are suspicious of the Krauts and so forth. You’re trying to get people who live in houses built in the 16th century to forget what happened in 1944. Unless there’s a ‘we love all people’ pixie dust, you can forget it.
    And I’ll bet I’m not alone in disagreeing that “The Americans obviously weren’t very pleased with this because they wanted to maintain their role in Europe” Bullshit; I’m tired of paying my tax dollars so some Frog waiter can spend a month luxuriating in the ‘authentic poverty’ of Cuba. Buy your own damn army.

    1. (more)
      Then we have more forelock tugging over Geert Wilders characterized as not a friend of free speech. I agree. Try discussing Hitler in a public place in Germany; that’ll give you an education on how the EU treats free speech. Or, try saying much at all in England.
      There’s more but he ends up complaining that “when there isn’t American leadership in Europe, that things go to hell pretty quickly and we get sucked into horrible wars whether or not we originally wanted to or not.”
      Pretty certain that’s a surprise to a lot of Euros, along with me and most all the Amis I know, and he’s amazingly sparse with any suggestion regarding what that means. What’s more, even given a pass for argument’s sake, it’s NOT MY PROBLEM. If Pierre and Fritz can’t keep from shooting each other, well, perhaps I can offer a deal on some fine weapons.

      1. “Amis”? Friends? Americans? Amish?

        1. Sorry, Euro WWII slang for Americans.

  16. , I would say I’m center-right… on foreign policy. I believe that America has a indispensable role as the upholder of the liberal world order; which is now in threat, now that Donald Trump has been elected

    what he seems to describe is Wilsonianism, which is very much of the “Globalist Left” or Neoliberal, and doesn’t really have any connection to the ‘right’ at all.

    Wilsonianism or Wilsonian are words used to describe a certain type of ideological perspective on foreign policy. The term comes from the ideology of United States President Woodrow Wilson and his famous Fourteen Points that he believed would help create world peace if implemented.

    Common principles that are often associated with “Wilsonianism” include:

    Advocacy of the spread of democracy[1]
    Advocacy of the spread of capitalism[2]
    Opposition to isolationism and non-interventionism[3]
    Pro-imperialism,[4] in favor of intervention[5][6]

    aka “policeman of the world”, which “makes the world safe for democracy”.

    Wilsonianism tends to prefer multilateral institutions like the UN to do the dirty-work of policing failed states, or imposing sanctions on ne’er do-wells, or engaging in ‘humanitarian interventions’, etc. … but like the US to take the leadership role, calling on coalitions to help out, whenever there’s some war that needs doing.

    Lefties have never been particularly ‘non-interventionist’

    1. Donald Trump represents such a threat to all these amazing accomplishments that human kind has made, because he threatens to basically withdraw America from it’s role in upholding that world order.

      I am really trying to not say nasty things about this guy, because he seems like he gets…. at least some things mostly-correct. He’s not as entirely-retarded as many people in his line of work.

      But what rubs me the wrong way is the inherent contradictions in his conception of this vaguely asserted “liberal world order”….

      ….as though its this wonderful thing which mutually benefits everyone who participates in it (it is)…

      ….yet, according to him, is perpetually at risk of total-failure should a US president even so much as ‘slightly alter’ our level of unilateral security guarantees for every other nation on earth.

      seriously = pick one you idiot. It doesn’t make any @#(*(@ sense.

      If the liberal world order is truly all that wonderful, then it exists because its in the self-interests of the participating nations. And it should thrive with or without any assertion of US “leadership”.

      Asking EU nations to actually pay their tiny-share of NATO budget isn’t going to break the western hemisphere, nor would dissolving NATO entirely presage certain doom for the ‘world order’. Nor would the end of the EU itself.

      1. Worse than the freeloading aspect is that it’s essentially the Three Bears approach to the US meddling in foreign national affairs. He doesn’t want too much, not too little, only the level that’s ‘just right.’

  17. Please never use John Legend to wine and dine your modern millennia attempt at thick steak old deep night late Chicago dance club attempt to get laid… Harry Connick, Jr., Forever but first Sinatra and FUCKING NEVER JOHN LEGEND….

    fuck

    1. What sort of music inspires the Agile Cyborg?

      1. Music that erupts the cock space station, Chipper MWG. John Legend is the milquetoast penis chopper notes that even the ghost of Buddy Holly strives to cut and slice because even the ghost of Buddy Holly loves to get laid and. he. does… i have seen this thing happen in late acid toner nites.

        This flavor of Reason Chipper called the Mourning type of Will grigg temps.

    2. “and FUCKING NEVER JOHN LEGEND”

      I know right

  18. Women spread their legs to different tunes that
    men normally jaunt about by in their sports and
    gentlemanly shit…

    like, dudes get off on Nin and Modern Indo Rock
    and Youtube latest Rap crap like Russ and his DJvlad
    bored interviewees and all of us muscleheads
    smash out reps and worship golden mountains
    flitting about with angelic trt’s and odd flavored
    pills and powders in gyms with pumper jiggly
    drugs

    but, all that doesn’t matter…
    get svelte, thin, and adept
    clear-thinking, tall, strident and gentle
    with a noticeable sideways glance

    this is the next thing
    fuck big and unholy

  19. women want men that believe they
    are prousts and jungs and bruce lee

    – it doens’t matter if that is an impossible
    composite

    – just dress like a golden spaceship with ties
    manufactured on Arcturus

    – and kick a neck like a Brazilian jiu-jitsu god

    -also, know Ayn Rand because if you are young
    maybe Agile Cyborg can infect you with godzilla
    tank away from all the shit killing the planet

  20. – also, men, stop being fat.

    outside of genetic disorder stop fucking being dipshit eaters

    -clean up your eating and drinking and smoking

    go plant based with the rare super steak, cut out dairy because heifer milk is fucking crap for strong muscles

    – if you have to fucking do cannabis- eat it, like I do… don’t smoke or vape it… the lungs are the fucking
    doors to the heart.

    -Also, men, stop being FUCKING fat…. outside of genetic disorders NONE of you have a SINGLE reason
    to be unfuckable due to lard thighs and thick neck and float cheeks….

    -Also, men, STOP FUCKING BEING FAT BECAUSE you think it is fucking cool… it isn’t and you all die young with heart attacks including all you upcoming 30 year-olds…

  21. I drink fucking all the time and do drugs occash
    but fucking cut out all the shit and guess what?
    6′ 2″ solid muscle at 185, hard long cock, Kenpo samurai
    dancing to 80’s tiny blondes and japanese mafia dolphins

  22. Get FUCKING healthy
    Get FUCKING TIGHT
    Get wearing skinny jeans, old school bitches
    IF you sell meat, don’t eat it.
    IF you sell aliens from outer space, quit grilling them on your bbq
    and selling them to New Yorkers who will eat rats and toads
    because I heart NY people are dummy fucks who eat
    would eat heaven if it was dynamite.

  23. Get FUCKING healthy
    Get FUCKING TIGHT
    Get wearing skinny jeans, old school bitches
    IF you sell meat, don’t eat it.
    IF you sell aliens from outer space, quit grilling them on your bbq
    and selling them to New Yorkers who will eat rats and toads
    because I heart NY people are dummy fucks who eat
    would eat heaven if it was dynamite.

  24. Reason Men, be forever sexy and mental wizards
    Beasts of suited muscle always ready to kneel to the
    tall girls seeking a powerful fuck
    Beasts of suited mental super prowess ready to offer the gentle
    hand to the gently landing superwoman from outerspace that seeks
    a fucking neon blast of beast svelte power mixed with firework fuses
    on the goddamn unloosed demon data stages….

  25. Reason Men, be forever sexy and mental wizards
    Beasts of suited muscle always ready to kneel to the
    tall girls seeking a powerful fuck
    Beasts of suited mental super prowess ready to offer the gentle
    hand to the gently landing superwoman from outerspace that seeks
    a fucking neon blast of beast svelte power mixed with firework fuses
    on the goddamn unloosed demon data stages….

  26. I promise you that healthy pussy is worth the price of
    healthy penance
    ONLY if pussy is healthy and the thighs
    betwixt resemble YOUR effort…

    IF SHE shows zero effort why should you?

  27. She wanders by in behind the Google restaurant
    and guess what?
    never touch that…
    always buy a ticket a million miles away from
    Google, Twitter, and Facebook
    because those ecosexsystems are
    NOW infected and resemble nothing
    nature has created…
    so…
    She wanders by and you don’t work for any
    tech firm and you are a fucking awesome dude
    walk up and say goddamn hello, ” I lOVE YOUR SHOES”
    how hard is this you fucking fools

  28. Women notice men (are you a man?) who get their manhood.
    Women don’t have time with shitty men.
    Women puke on lousy men.
    Women poop on lost men.
    If you want to get in on powerful women pooping and puking on weak men….
    stop being a lousy fucking man…
    like me..
    I own women I meet
    Because I allow them to own me….
    they think about pooping on me and
    I glance at them and their poop goes
    back up
    they think about puking on me and
    then they realized I already puked
    all over the hotel lobby and they
    bite the bullet and so on..

    this is a strange world, my lovers

  29. I will fight my lovers and comment poets
    with gentle muscular take-downs fired on the
    prowess of a bear invading rivers atomic

  30. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h53TkUbXYzs

    she makes hot soup sandwiches all the fucking Raggedy Ann Cream Puff realities, super Mister Boys

  31. One thousand philosophers
    went to a picnic with a truckload
    of sports-minded fucks
    and after one thousand years
    of pondering flesh in the light
    atomic rainbows the philosophers
    said, “Sorry, sports-minded fucks. We
    have to include hype-asian super
    gardeners where Plutonium ouches
    urept from outer space!!”
    And ultimately this entire paragraph
    of words earned a fucking super
    forgetfulness…. like a dust knuckle
    on the low table mat…

  32. shiba inu toes froze on the
    landing of consternation and
    checks so fucking on top of shit
    the small strong fort of dog legs
    and piercing questioning head lasers
    we’ve all seen as loving sweeted
    brain animals who are and should
    NEVER EVER be least connections
    of our connections to this strange
    strand of things we call life and shit
    but my lovely Shiba the lovely Yoshi
    is so fucking bald and badass and
    angle-dogerific….
    he sits now so fucking pissed at my
    face for doing drugs and my guilt is covered
    up in a thick blanket of Nintendo logos
    while he still sits glaring and shit..
    YOSHI, I FUCKING feed you welll…..
    i do too many booze and things late
    at night… he pretends to sleep…

    i love my super ninja dojo Shiba called Yoshi and I love
    my thread wizards

  33. my fucking Shiba Inu , Yoshi, is my goddamn Nick Gillespie… an infinite creature prowling about safeguard his pals.

  34. a single finger on my body is possessed with a strange demon.
    a single finger on my body is cold as ice
    a single finger on my body might be the alien space asylum attacking the body
    I call my hospital

  35. If a hole fell into my head
    and my friends in this place all
    grew gigantic penises
    and fucked the hole that had
    fallen into my head because
    they were horny and I was vulnerable
    and hungry for cum and of Reason thread
    cocks and i hope ENB pussy cum all
    fucked the hole that fell into my head
    I would single out myself as a tiny elf
    and garden my brain with all that
    cum fertilizing a tiny elf garden
    in my goddamn brain growing
    cum dimensions and wormhole
    roller coaster all types, tits, cocks,
    and fantasies as righteous and pure
    as nightmare waterfalls and deep tired rock gorges
    flipping off humans.

  36. “I’ve always seen the EU as being a libertarian’s dream.”

    Kinda hard to take him serious after that.

  37. RE: Forget Marine Le Pen: The Very Idea of Europe Is Finished

    My ancestors, along with other people’s ancestors, left the violent and oppressive continent called Europe because of its suffocating of the peoples’ rights through authoritarian and even totalitarian governments.
    If Europe would get a clue, then it would abandon socialism and the idea of the collective.
    But it won’t because most of the people have been brainwashed into believing giving their hard earned money and their rights to a bunch of megalomaniacs and sociopaths who micromanage the peoples’ in exchange for a bunch of free shit. But someday, these socialist nations will run out of money (yeah, I’m talking to you Greece!), and then what will these socialist turds do once they have killed the golden goose?

  38. Kirchick is full of contradictions.

    He talks about a liberal world order and then talks about the US as world pollceman, lamenting that when the US withdraws from the world, it all goes to hell.

    Hillary Clinton couldn’t have said it better.

    They want to have their US and eat it, too. Oh, yes, having a big dog in your yard is fine when it barks to your tune, but not when it gets off the chain. US troops in the EU are fine but not in the Middle East. What a bunch of hypocrites.

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