Backtalk, August 24, 2004

Rise of Empire

Loved your column on Garet Garrett’s book. Your columns are a frequent topic at our Libertarian/ Constitution Party lunch table discussions.

As engineers and analysts, we have often speculated about how you (Raimondo) acquire the information and insight that you include in your columns. How do you go about your work? What is your educational background? Do you have contacts in government that give you information on background?

Can you spare the time to enlighten us?

~ Jon MacLean

Justin Raimondo replies:

Many thanks for the compliment to my work. I do virtually all of my research on the Internet, and can’t claim any special insight: just a commitment to (and understanding of) what libertarianism means. No, I don’t have any contacts in government: my sources are public information. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. As for my educational background, I went to more private high schools than Holden Caufield, and quit college after one semester.

Kerry Is Clueless on Bases

In Justin Raimondo’s column of August 20, he criticizes Mr. Kerry for saying that removing U.S. troops from the Korean border is a bad idea. While in principle it’s a bad idea for us to leave troops stationed abroad, the case of Korea is slightly special, for the simple reason that North Korea would likely interpret any removal of U.S. troops from the border as a prelude to immediate attack. A fact that Mr. Raimondo himself noted in his article of March 10, 2003.

I’m not writing this as a fan of Mr. Kerry, or to be overly critical of Mr. Raimondo, but merely in the interests of consistency.

~ Michael H.

Justin Raimondo replies:

You are quite correct. This is an important point, and I should have noted it in my column. However, Kerry didn’t say that he opposes a partial withdrawal because the North Koreans might see it as a provocation: he said that this represents a failure to properly confront Pyongyang, with the clear implication that Bush is somehow appeasing the North Koreans. So my criticism of Kerry not only still stands, it is absolutely confirmed.

Mr. Raimondo’s August 20 piece was a good jab at the hypocrisy of the Kerry campaign concerning the issue of foreign entanglements. There is one big picture issue that no party seems willing to address: the fact that America’s vast overseas military presence is a massive de facto defense subsidy to its economic and even political rivals. Just watch these military welfare bums soil their drawers if America ever really does remove all its troops (and any intrinsic promise of defense) off their land. Just imagine: French, Germans, Japanese, et al actually having to pay for their own defense with treasure and manpower? Where are the Ugly Americans when you need them?

~ J. Wroblewski, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Well, I do not think that the U.S. is “giving” away subsidies or “foreign aid.” The US military is guarding the flow of money back through the invisible bank channels, as explained in various good texts, such as “Not Oil, But Dollars vs. Euros.”

As for the “foreign aid” this is a vehicle for spying. This is the beginning of it, in all nations, particularly those “newly liberated” (poor and receptive).


While a lot of good point are made in this article, I don’t believe Kerry’s position is quite as laughable as you make it out to be.

American troops in Uzbekistan are a lot more likely to be involved in future conflicts than American troops in Germany. By moving troops East, Bush moves them closer to areas which are much more likely to be in conflict. Granted, bringing them home altogether would be better than leaving them in Europe and Korea, but it’s hard to get everything one hopes for these days.

Clearly Kerry’s interventionist rhetoric is unfortunate. But it’s not as if Bush has been particularly good on that front either (Iran, here we come?). At a practical level though, the status quo, which Kerry claims to support, is less bellicose than the redeployment Bush seeks.

But I still enjoyed the column. Keep up the good work!

~ Dara Hazeghi

The Sins of Clinton vs. Bush

Bob Barr, defender of the Constitution? Don’t make me laugh. Bob Barr is an unrepentant defender of the War on Drugs (which has shredded our Constitution).

~ John Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

Some people didn’t like it when I noted that Sen. Robert Byrd defends the Constitution. Both Byrd and Barr are defenders compared to others. The worst aspects of the war on drugs started in 1984 with asset forfeiture, 11 years before Barr was elected to Congress. It is amazing that some people always want to bitch because a writer gives a nod to someone who isn’t perfect, but who, relatively speaking, is better on an issue than most.

GOP Congressman: War Was Mistake

Dear Editors: Am I supposed to cheer Rep. Bereuter for his belated admonition of the rush to war? Why did he dare not speak out when Rumsfeld and Rice should have been rebutted, when Hans Blix was maligned, when Powell kowtowed and the Bush administration dragged a somnolent America to war for all the wrong reasons?

Speaking out now, before he retires from Congress, speaks volumes about the compromises our elected officials must make in order to pursue their political careers.

~ Scheherazade

The Star Chamber Is Back

Dear Dr. Roberts: I have read your articles for a good many years and for the most part find right on the money your warnings regarding our government’s incremental descent into totalitarianism.

However, one major factor that most have overlooked is that none of these affronts to liberty, contempt for our Constitutional rights, warmongering and unrestricted looting of our treasury, could have been accomplished without the total consent, and I believe at the behest, of both Houses of Congress.

In my opinion it is the Congress that has masterminded the neocons’ plans for “world domination” (and that is exactly what it is), where the Executive becomes the tool of a very corrupt cabal of the entrenched congressional leadership. It is after all the Congress that retains the lion’s share of political, economic and military power, and not the president.

This almost turns Americans’ conventional perception of how our government operates on its head, but in fact the Founding Fathers would not have it any other way, as an executive unrestrained by Congress would simply replicate another monarch. What the founders did not take into consideration is that the Congress could just as easily become as corrupt as any other despotic body. They simply could not comprehend the despotism 20th century Americans or any Americans in Congress for that matter could be capable of. …

The real ringleaders are the entrenched Congressional leadership that have mastered the art of behind the scenes manipulation of the public, the rank and file Congressional membership, and the executive branch. They have made sure that the president can serve only two terms while they enjoy unrestricted tenure in their respective houses. They control the president’s budget and the Pentagon’s. They (the Congress) have become the ultimate king-makers with the collaboration of both parties’ leadership. In short, the president serves at their pleasure and also takes the heat when Congressional overreach, as in the Iraq debacle, is disguised as the Commander in Chief’s misguided handling of the continuing “War Against Terror.” The Congress, if it had a mind to, could in fact bring the Pentagon and even the presidential cabal of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Feith and the Likud party to heel regarding their fantasyland ambitions of democratizing the entire Middle East. But the Congress will not because the half-baked scheme to dominate the world and concurrently transform the United States into the world’s largest banana republic I fear, most likely originated in some House and/or Senate cloak room.

~ James Barber

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

For what it is worth from one who has served on the House and Senate staffs and as a senior executive branch official, James Barber is wrong about the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. Congress has been growing more impotent since the New Deal. Moreover, it is not capable of unity or of hatching any big scheme. The war scheme is the product of a handful of neocon ideologues and Israeli apologists.

A question for Paul Craig Roberts – where were you in November, 2000? Did you vote for the man you now attack – already knowing that he was a sadistic killer and a totalitarian? (Check the number of executions he approved as governor plus his public giggling over one of them, and his public endorsement of police state tactics against gays and racial minorities at that time.)

You remind me of the old saying: “Watch what you pray (prey?) for. You might get it!”

And, to bring this up to the minute – are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the ACLU?! If not, sign up today – and publicly confess the error of your ways for not having joined earlier. Remember that the ACLU is the only organization that consistently defends the limited government tradition found in the Constitution and The Bill of Rights! …

~ Stanley L.

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

What’s the matter with this person? I have been writing about the runaway police powers of government since the 1980s. He might want to read my book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

Fantastic article. One quote that I agree with completely:

“Cassel says the fate of our free society rests with the judiciary. In her chapter, ‘The War in the Courts,’ she assesses whether courts are up to the challenge. Some are and some are not. Ironically, it is the conservative Republican judges who go along with the police state measures. So much for the old saw that we need a Republican president to save us from liberal judges.”

This quote appears to contradict traditional libertarian thinking and seems to suggest that “activist judges” are the ones who ultimately will decide not only the constitutionality of the Iraq invasion but also our the scope of our civil liberties. And, again, I agree. You are going to need judges with the moral courage of Frank Johnson or from the tradition of 58 Lonely Men.

I don’t see it happening myself. In fact, I know of a recently appointed Federal Judge who comes straight from the neocon camp. He was a Bush-appointed US attorney beforehand and parlayed that appointment to a judgeship.

In any event, I believe ultimately these question end up in court because the legislative branch simply is not up to the task. It abdicates.

I also want to throw something out there simply to engender thought. Merely an idea, don’t shoot the messenger. The idea borrows from a concept from the Austrian school and is simply applied to the State instead of the market. The notion is this: what you see is not important, what you do not see is crucial.

Okay, keeping that in mind, again, don’t shoot the messenger. But what if a national ID card preempted the PATRIOT Act? In other words, the PATRIOT Act cannot apply to anyone with a national ID card. Period. If the government intrudes upon someone with a national ID card, the government is civilly liable. So no erosion of the 4th Amendment, etc.

~ Sid Smith

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

FDR made Congress redundant with the New Deal which gave legislative power to the federal bureaucracy. Congress’s “statutes” are merely authorizations for federal agencies to write the laws. It does not require activist judges, a term normally applied to those who find or “discover” new rights not put in the Constitution by the framers, to protect the Constitution and civil liberties. It merely requires judges who will stand up to the executive branch and, thus, give up the possibility of being moved up the judicial hierarchy. Principle, not activism, is required. Principled people seem to be missing everywhere in our society.

1914 and the World We Lost

I frequently visit because I like the variety of articles that are linked to from your page and, of course, what I interpret to be your “bias” or philosophical world view.

Yesterday, Tuesday August 17th, I was terribly dismayed to see you feature a pseudo-scholarly piece of historical trash – i.e. Richard Ebeling’s “1914 and the World We Lost” in your Viewpoints section. I don’t know where Mr. Ebeling went to college or if he has even taken a world or American history course (you certainly wouldn’t think so after reading his commentary), but his selective amnesia and idiotic nostalgia for the pre-1914 world is laughable at best! Especially on this day, Aug. 18th, the anniversary of the day women were finally given the right to vote in this country we should recall that in the pre-1914 world women were not allowed to vote. They were regarded as first the property of their fathers and once married (also I must point out the only societally suitable status for an adult woman in Mr. Ebeling’s historical utopia) they were legally – let me emphasize the fact that it was BY LAW – considered the property of their husbands to abandon, abuse, or otherwise mistreat if that was the disposition of the man the woman was unfortunate enough to be married to. Also, the status of non-whites in this country was one of legally sanctioned inferiority thanks to the 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson. Hardly an environment where “any man of capacity or character” could better himself.

The Victorian age was one of moral hypocrisy and economic inequality where workers were forced to work in conditions that were often dehumanizing and dangerous to their personal safety. Their children were often forced to go to work at an early age in conditions that greatly lowered their life expectancy. Mr. Ebeling is conveniently ignorant of the history of the working classes and the labor union movement in this country or else he would know that the pre-1914 era is hardly worthy of our fond thoughts, rather it was one of increasing labor agitation which often met with owner-sponsored and state-sanctioned violence against people exercising their rights to better themselves and their condition.

Mr. Ebeling’s chief problem seems to be that he is unwilling to admit that the rich have always had their own form of “collectivism” and they continue to have so to this day in the form of lobbyists and large donations to politicians’ campaigns that win them access to the corridors of power. Ebeling also fails to acknowledge that “interventionism” has also always existed and probably was more prevalent in the pre-1914 world in the form of societal mores or values than it is now. I can’t imagine anything more “interventionist” than a vigilante mob attacking and ransacking the “colored” section of town or driving striking workers off of company property. I could go on at length and supply many more historically accurate and factual examples but I hope this will suffice for now.

Anyway, I hope in the future you will apply some higher standards of accuracy, or perhaps I should say honesty, to the commentaries you carry on your page.

~ Dr. Saurian Katz, PhD., MD.

Readers Write

Dear Mr. Koritz: As you know, there is a popular stereotype that all responsible people are conservative and support the war in Iraq and that only liberals oppose the war. Has someone compiled a list of public opponents of the war whom the middle-western middle-class might respect, such as well known conservatives, CEOs, generals, corporate billionaires, etc.? Maybe such a list would help sway swing voters. I would use this info in letters to newspaper editors (after appropriate searches and reading, of course).

I am aware of Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran, and Charlie Reese, but the volume of Internet publishing overwhelms me. Thanks for your help.

~ Steve Sprecher

Sam Koritz replies:’s contributors list is a good place to start but I don’t know of any master list. Readers: any suggestions?

People are still actually debating the choice between Bush, Kerry, or Nader when there is absolutely no choice whatsoever.

I have never voted for a Democrat for president before but I am about to. GW Bush is simply too dangerous to entrust with another term in office. His reelection to another term will most likely mean further extensions of the PATRIOT Act and the possible invasion of Iran or Syria or both.

If Libertarians or Republicans immediately decide en masse to support and work for Kerry we might have an opportunity of influencing the philosophy of the future Kerry administration. If we continue to simply debate these choices and only show our support for Kerry at the ballot box we will have no influence whatsoever.

A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. Don’t even consider it. So is a vote for the Libertarian candidate. So is not voting at all. The time for fence-straddling is growing very short indeed.

However, if we all vote for the Republican candidates in the various Congressional races, hopefully the power split will result in gridlock. What could be better?

~ John Fraser

Sam Koritz replies:

Now there’s a Kerry election slogan: “Vote for Gridlock!”

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