Backtalk, August 29, 2005

Why Are We In Iraq?

Justin’s takedown of the horrid Michael Young (WSJ op-ed, Aug. 19) was spot on. That piece is the poster child for the incoherence of the libertarian imperialists.

While it is difficult to decipher exactly what Young is saying for most of his article, one point comes through. Blame the victims! If the “noble experiment” of gunpoint democracy fails in Iraq, then it’s the “war critics” and ungrateful Arab intellectuals who are to blame. The God of Democracy and his prophet Emperor Bush haven’t failed, it is “we” who have failed them!

This pseudo-libertarian is repeating one underlying principle first made famous in Orwell’s 1984: there is no greater sin than to stop loving Big Brother.

~ Mike Holmes, Katy, Texas

Kurdish thuggery”? Funny, you have never lamented the recent mass murders of Kurds by Sunni Arab suicide bombers, foreign and Iraqi, in Irbil, Kirkuk, Mosul. And a captured Sunni Arab insurgent has recently admitted on TV that he and his comrades have been waging a “jihad by rape” against Kurdish women. Centuries of oppression of the Kurds by Arabs are obviously also of no importance to you. But hell, do you jump to the defense of “Palestinian rights.” Horrendous atrocities against civilians, including children, by Palestinian terrorists are “legitimate resistance” to you, but any use of force by the much-suffered Kurdish people in an effort to protect their fragile semi-autonomy is “thuggery”? What makes a Kurd less human than a Palestinian? What makes 35 million Kurds “less equal” than 5 million Palestinians? Palestinians are a part of Arabs who already have 22 countries, but you totally support giving them the 23rd one, and yet, even a pathetic autonomy for the Kurds in a small part of their carved-up country is asking too much? The United States does deserve criticism when the Kurds are concerned, for the many horrible acts of treason it has committed against those friendly people. It is astonishing that the Kurds have forgiven us for all that treason, and remain our friends. But for you, or Washington Post reporters, or any American to vilify the Kurds for defending themselves is beyond immoral, it is lower than the low.

~ Ruslan Tokhchukov

Justin Raimondo replies:

It is not clear to me what your complaint is about. Are you saying that the Washington Post is lying when it reports that Kurdish forces are kidnapping and murdering their political opponents or just plain ordinary people – Arabs and Turkmen – and that this network of underground prisons doesn’t really exist? Or are you saying that these things do exist, but are justified by the Kurds’ long history of oppression at the hands of various powers?

Libertarian Party Passes Antiwar Resolution in California

As the author of the California ExComm resolution of August 20th regarding United States foreign policy and the invasion of Iraq, I am writing to correct an egregious error in the report you have published on the blog.

The resolution is most decidedly not “antiwar.”

Throughout the entirety of the several months this issue was in development, I consistently debated against the antiwar designation, and was generally met with an obtuse rationalization that we could always explain what we mean by the term. My position is that the public already has a connotation for the term, we do not have the option of using it differently, and in fact we will not be consulted to clarify anything.

As can be seen simply by reading it, the resolution is merely anti-intervention, for that is all our Statement of Principles and platform provide. The resolution affirms the relevant Libertarian Party principle and platform sections, as cited; none of those are antiwar. It decries the Iraq invasion itself, as well as the falsehoods, illegalities, and constitutional violations that got us there, but it is not antiwar.

In fact, the Libertarian Party is not antiwar in the sense that the public understands the term. Our platform is not pacifist. We believe in a strong defense and an overwhelming response to aggression, and we support and defend the United States Constitution, including the warmaking power of Congress.

This objection is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that I wrote this resolution only to provide a platform-based alternative to what I considered ill-advised and misrepresentative “antiwar” resolutions.

Thank you in advance for correcting this error.

~ Allen Hacker

Allen Hacker prefers the term anti-interventionism instead of antiwar. Allen is correct in that the general public view antiwar advocates as quirky and unkempt peaceniks. However, the libertarian position on opposing aggression makes us far more antiwar than even the Left. One reason Thomas Jefferson abolished all federal taxes on U.S. citizens was to disband the huge standing army that the Federalists had assembled. Alexander Hamilton wanted to create an American empire and invade the colonies of France and Spain. Jefferson’s austere budget did not allow for a federal military. The supporters of Jefferson preferred an armed citizenry and state militias to defend the United States. They did not trust government.

Many libertarians wear the antiwar or anti-interventionist badge proudly, but only in opposition to the Iraq War. But for the more hardcore libertarian, being antiwar means far more. We must understand that when we promote free-trade and nonaggression principles we automatically pit ourselves against most military conflicts in international affairs. I believe that most of the LP leaders who supported Hacker’s resolution are not merely against U.S. interventionism in Iraq, but against most wars in general.

Further, this is not a debate about pacifism. I can’t recall anyone at the LPC Peace Caucus promoting peace-at-any-price. Libertarians believe in self-defense and the right of free people to gather and throw off a tyrannical government. However, historically, most wars are fought for territorial gains, usually involving a host of authoritarian governments in a desperate fight for supremacy.

Antiwar is not synonymous with pacifism. Even the antiwar people on the Left who promote total peace are often pseudo-pacifists. When I question them about the violence of taxation, they usually support IRS policies that lock up people who refuse to pay taxes for entitlement programs.

~ Lawrence Samuels, LP Northern California vice chair

The Democrats and Cindy Sheehan

Of course you are right on, BUT where do we go from here? … There is an out at the UN, but with Bolton there, little chance. The neocons will never give up; too much hubris.

I grew up in the Depression as a believer in the Democratic Party and FDR, and fought in W.W.II, but I am so disgusted with the Democrats I could vomit. Is there no one who can lead us out of this quagmire?

~ Harold O’Leary

I was a registered Republican for over 30 years, but reregistered as a Democrat after the atrocity called “shock and awe.” I did combat in Vietnam and followed the news in 2002/3. It was obvious to me and many others that Saddam was castrated and contained. Remember Hans Blix and Scott Ritter? I am sorely disappointed in my new “party”! They must take an antiwar position and clean out the cowards now in Congress who delegated their constitutional warmaking authority to an arrogant and ignorant commander-in-chief. Thanks for your analysis.

~ RT Carpenter, Lynn Haven, Florida

A Real Peace Movement?

I really don’t know what in the hell Bock is thinking when he writes, “We need at least some faces of the antiwar movement to be people whose deep love of America and respect for her institutions and the promise she still holds of expanding freedom the right way practically oozes from their pores, so there can be no doubt they are patriots. We need people in suits and ties as well as dungarees and bandanas. We need an antiwar movement that looks like America to begin to have a real impact on American policy.”

First, people generally don’t protest in suits and ties. Second, did he interview these protesters, whose patriotism he implicitly impugns by denigrating their attire? Does he know what they do, what their workday attire is? What if they are blue-collar workers who hardly ever wear suits and ties?

Bock seems to imply that opinion is hierarchical and that it correlates with attire. His logic here is that only a business suit can represent the real America? If he had applied this same logic to the civil-rights-era protesters he’d be insisting that only white demonstrators, or, those that “look like America," could have had a real impact.

~ Peter Thom, NYC

Alan Bock replies:

Gee whiz. All I thought I was saying is that we need a more diverse antiwar movement. I don’t think I’m hung up on clothing – I avoid suits and ties wherever possible – but we need people who can go on TV or in public debates with establishment types and look and sound as if they’re operating as equals or betters, intellectually, philosophically, and (I know some will shudder, but this matters) socially. Not that they should be the only face of the antiwar movement. I’m pleased Cindy Sheehan did what she did, and I have great respect for those who joined her. But if the antiwar movement looks too shrill or too harshly leftist – and I hope people understand I’m not denigrating those who went to Crawford in saying this, I suspect there were plenty who don’t fit the description – then I’m afraid it won’t succeed. I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong in this. I think bringing the troops home is more important than scoring debating points or deciding who gets credit, but that’s what I think at this point.

Iraq: The Democrats Are Just as Bad

In all seriousness, Justin Raimondo’s idea that Cindy Sheehan should run for president is the best damn political idea I have heard in the last year. You guys should suggest it to her. I would vote for her. The opposition will never see it coming. A nobody beating the establishment. It’s perfect. Perfect. She is the one.

~ Chris Georgiev

Hello Justin,

As always, I enjoy reading your column. However, in your latest work, you made a statement that I feel the need to challenge:

“The party of Thomas Jefferson, the anti-elitist, anti-royalist libertarian party known as the Democrats has a long and distinguished tradition of opposition to foreign wars.”

It does?

I put together a list of U.S. wars and interventions since the Mexican-American war. I’m not counting internal rebellions, or terrorist actions against this country.

Note that while we were sending advisers into Vietnam starting with Eisenhower, I’m counting the Gulf of Tonkin as a separate incident as this is when our role changed.

Mexican-American War 1846-1848 James K. Polk DEMOCRAT

United States Civil War 1861-1865 Abraham Lincoln REPUBLICAN

U.S. Intervention in Hawaiian Revolution 1893 Grover Cleveland DEMOCRAT

The Spanish-American War 1898 William McKinley REPUBLICAN

U.S. Intervention in Samoan Civil War 1898-1899 William McKinley REPUBLICAN

U.S.-Philippine War 1899-1902 William McKinley REPUBLICAN

Boxer Rebellion 1900 William McKinley REPUBLICAN

The Moro Wars 1901 Theodore Roosevelt REPUBLICAN

U.S. Intervention in Panamanian Revolution 1903 Theodore Roosevelt REPUBLICAN

The Banana Wars 1909-1933 William H. Taft REPUBLICAN

U.S. Occupation of Vera Cruz 1914 Woodrow Wilson DEMOCRAT

Pershing’s Raid Into Mexico 1916-1917 Woodrow Wilson DEMOCRAT

World War I 1917-1918 (American involvement only) Woodrow Wilson DEMOCRAT

Allied Intervention in Russian Civil War 1919-1921 Woodrow Wilson DEMOCRAT

World War II 1941-1945 (American involvement only) Franklin D. Roosevelt DEMOCRAT

The Cold War 1945-1991 Harry S. Truman DEMOCRAT

The Korean War 1950-1953 Harry S. Truman DEMOCRAT

The Second Indochina War “Vietnam War” 1956-1975 Dwight D. Eisenhower REPUBLICAN

Gulf of Tonkin incident 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson DEMOCRAT

U.S. Intervention in Lebanon 1958 Dwight D. Eisenhower REPUBLICAN

Dominican Intervention 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson DEMOCRAT

U.S.-Libya Conflict 1981, 1986 Ronald W. Reagan REPUBLICAN

U.S. Intervention in Lebanon 1982-1984 Ronald W. Reagan REPUBLICAN

U.S. Invasion of Grenada 1983 Ronald W. Reagan REPUBLICAN

U.S. Invasion of Panama 1989 George H.W. Bush REPUBLICAN

Second Persian Gulf War “Operation Desert Storm” 1991 George H.W. Bush REPUBLICAN

“No-Fly Zone” War 1991-2003 George H.W. Bush REPUBLICAN

U.S. Intervention in Somalia 1992-1994 George H.W. Bush REPUBLICAN

NATO Intervention in Bosnia (Operation Deliberate Force) Summary 1994-1995 William J. Clinton DEMOCRAT

U.S. Occupation of Haiti 1994 William J. Clinton DEMOCRAT

U.S. Embassy bombings and strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan (The bin Laden War) August, 1998 William J. Clinton DEMOCRAT

“Desert Fox” Campaign (part of U.S./Iraq Conflict) December, 1998 William J. Clinton DEMOCRAT

Kosovo War 1999 William J. Clinton DEMOCRAT

Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) October 7, 2001-Present George W. Bush REPUBLICAN

Third Persian Gulf War “Operation Iraqi Freedom” March 19, 2003-Present George W. Bush REPUBLICAN

Wars by party:

Republican 19
Democrat 16

Wars by President:

Republican 9
Democrat 7

While the Democrats do indeed seem to have started fewer wars that the Republicans, both by president and by party, the numbers are awfully close. Perhaps you can explain what you meant by the above statement?

By the way, I am not attempting to play partisan politics. Like you, I simply don’t see much difference between the parties, at least when it comes to the big issues.

~ Gary, AKA Turbostang

Fundie Morality

Chavez is a problem for Venezuela? Because he has the support of the poor majority not just at the ballot box but in the streets. Because he demands a greater share of the oil wealth for his people rather than handing it over to imperial oil giants from the U.S. Because he allows Cuba to send thousands of doctors to the slums where people have no access to health care. You are obviously ignorant of the facts concerning 150 years of U.S. imperialism and its devastating effects throughout Central and South America. Or you know the facts and with a full belly, relative security, and freedom in your own country have no capacity to understand the suffering of the masses. The U.S. steals the massive resources of the region and like in the Middle East rewards a thin layer of society while the majority suffers.

~ Tom Manuel

Brandon Snider replies:

I wouldn’t trust a Cuban doctor to know thing one about medicine, but I’m sure they’re experts on how to get to the slums. All I said is “Chavez is a danger to Venezuela.” I did not say any of the things you read into that remark. No comments about oil resources or imperialism. All I meant, as I’ve explained to all of the people who wrote me to complain, is that Chavez is a Venezuelan politician. He has authority over Venezuela, which libertarians like me think is a bad thing. That’s what you should think too, and if you don’t, then shame on you. Every politician is a danger to his own country, no exceptions. You know what? I’ve had it with left- and right-wingers who put their trust in politicians on the theory that, as long as we have control of the mechanisms of power, it’ll all work out in the end. Isn’t the bloody 20th century enough to convince you that you’re dead wrong? Politician vs. politician is a paradigm that doesn’t work anymore; at least for those of use who have learned from history. The new paradigm is the people vs. the politicians.

Will Iraq’s Constitution Be Irrelevant?

Dear Ivan,

I’m not at all happy about letting this president off the hook this easily. Whether the president is able to save face means absolutely nothing to me.

Somewhere, accountability within the administration and especially at the top was lost in this. What price does it pay for its failed policy, a policy predicated on misleading information and deception?

Once again, leadership has failed the American people, and the Congress is at fault here, too.

Honestly, I find the whole event completely unbelievable.

~ Gavin in Nashville

Ivan Eland replies:

Dear Gavin,

I understand your desire to hold the president accountable for his reckless war. But letting him save face in the short term and allowing U.S. forces to withdraw honorably might save both U.S. and Iraqi lives. My piece did not advocate letting the president “off the hook.” As I say, I think history will ultimately judge the invasion of another country with little justification to be similar to what Saddam Hussein did in Kuwait. That is not a favorable comparison!

Mother of All Mothers

The expected reaction to Cindy Sheehan’s simple plea for the truth from the president has begun in Crawford, Texas. Motorcyclists waving American flags rode in like stormtroopers with media fanfare, unlike the quiet, dignified arrival of Mrs. Sheehan and her supporters. They hope to overwhelm and drown the sound of simple truth requested by Mrs. Sheehan.

I doubt that Mrs. Harrison, George W.’s neighbor, will complain that there will be traffic problems.

Dubya, of course, was busy riding a bike himself, touring for two hours with hero Lance Armstrong rather than doing the decent thing and spending 10 minutes with Cindy Sheehan, whose son died a needless death, one of over 1,800 and counting, on Dubya’s watch.

What’s going to happen next? Why, demonization of the cause for peace, and those who wage it, of course. Waving the flag that has transformed from one symbolizing the land of the free to the dishonorable one symbolizing fabrication, falsehood, and fantasy to deprive Americans of their Constitutional rights and to promote Dubya’s war, calling the antiwar movement members traitors. The problem is that America will see the flag and not the road taken that led to war, or the deep moral ditch we find our country in.

Bush has been confused from the first, not knowing what to do. He still doesn’t. We have to tell him, in the only way possible: protest, following Cindy’s lead. She has done the equivalent of the antiwar protest of our involvement and continued bloodshed in Vietnam: shoved a flower stem down the barrel of Bush’s gun.

So now the ego-bruised administration is fighting our own – a mother, at that. It’s so shameful and cowardly! Mrs. Sheehan will prevail because she knows the truth will never be forthcoming from President Bush, and also knows that the people of America and the world are behind her! I think Bush has met the Mother of All Mothers by ignoring her!

The blood that flows is that of Casey and his military brothers and sisters, and stalwart Dubya can’t go back on his stand to “stay the course” – but America can, knowing that his course is doomed to failure, a certainty of many more American and Iraqi casualties and probably an escalation into a regional war. From there, it’s chilling to contemplate.

Bush’s actions have placed all the world in grave danger, the danger of nuclear confrontation. It is clear to me that his agenda will soon meet real resistance from the American people and the international community. President Bush’s approval rating has hit an all-time low, with just 32 percent of Americans approving of his war with Iraq. It will continue to decline until he is forced, like President Johnson during the Vietnam debacle, to accede to the will of the people.

The war is over, George. You are history, and your legacy will be your unilateral stupidity for your oil kingdom pals. Do the right thing for the world. Act like a real man. Apologize to all Americans and resign. You can still ride your bicycle with Lance. There are the obvious (good riddance, liar!) and bonus results if you resign now. You won’t have Cindy and the 64 percent of Americans who oppose your policies in Iraq to contend with anymore. And you will be physically fit, peddling your ass down a different road with Lance Armstrong on your tail. There, you’ll feel great. We’ll breathe easier, too. I’m sure that Cindy won’t hear you curse her under your breath. You will still hear her, however, because she speaks for freedom and truth – and the American way!

~ Jim Pankey, USN (Ret.)

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