Tag Archives | Terror

Hat In

Ron Paul Ron Paul is now officially in the race for the Republican nomination. (Conical hat tip to Lew Rockwell.) With Hagel still playing coy, this makes Paul the clear antiwar choice in the Republican pack – and of course Paul, unlike Hagel, was against the damn thing from the start.

I have plenty of problems with Ron Paul – most notably on immigration, abortion, and gay rights. But he is astronomically superior to any other Republican candidate out there; I wish him well, and hope he shakes up the GOP plenty.

Boston or Baghdad? Philadelphia or Fallujah?

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

I just saw Senator Lindsey Graham, as part of the televised post-mortem on Bush’s blather, downplaying the lack of progress in Iraq by saying (wording not exact), “Well, we had our revolution in 1776, and we didn’t have a constitution until 1789.”

Sorry, no. The United States’ first constitution was adopted provisionally in 1777, and formally ratified in 1781. What is conventionally called “the” U.S. Constitution was the second one.

(I’m also not sure why Graham picked 1789 as the date of the (second) constitution. The minimum number of states needed for ratification of the second constitution was either nine (according to the second constitution) or all thirteen (according to the first); the former number was reached the year before 1789, and the latter the year after.)

And if Graham is suggesting that the level of civil chaos in Iraq today is comparable to that of the United States in the 1780s, I think the historians among us might venture a dissent.

Paine and Burke I don’t mean to suggest, of course, that 1780s U.S. was more peaceful and orderly than Iraq because it had a functioning constitution. On the contrary, the American colonies were pretty orderly during the complete suspension of governmental institutions, as Thomas Paine relates:

For upwards of two years from the commencement of the American War, and to a longer period in several of the American States, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defence to employ its attention in establishing new governments; yet during this interval order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe. There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resource, to accommodate itself to whatever situation it is in. The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act: a general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.

And Edmund Burke, Paine’s archenemy, confirms Paine’s point:

Pursuing the same plan of punishing by the denial of the exercise of government to still greater lengths, we wholly abrogated the ancient government of Massachusetts. We were confident that the first feeling, if not the very prospect, of anarchy would instantly enforce a complete submission. The experiment was tried. A new, strange, unexpected face of things appeared. Anarchy is found tolerable. A vast province has now subsisted, and subsisted in a considerable degree of health and vigor for near a twelvemonth, without Governor, without public Council, without judges, without executive magistrates. How long it will continue in this state, or what may arise out of this unheard-of situation, how can the wisest of us conjecture?

So the early United States didn’t really need a constitution. But anyway, need one or not, they had one (and in many ways a better one than the second one). Senator Graham’s strained analogy between Iraq and 1780s America won’t work. (Maybe he should have tried a different tack: “After our revolution we still had slavery ….”)

A Question for Anti-Immigration Libertarians

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

I accept the traditional libertarian arguments for open borders. But I’m not going to rehash those arguments here.

Let me try a different tack.

Berlin Wall Libertarian defenders of gun rights like to point out that gun control has often been a precursor to, because an enabler of, democide. When they are asked “do you really think our government poses that sort of danger?” they rightly remind the questioner that relatively benign regimes are sometimes succeeded by rather less nice regimes, who conveniently inherit a disarmed public, or at least a gun-registered public (so they know just where to go to round up the arms), from their predecessors. (Obvious example: the Weimar Republic.)

So here’s a reminder and a question for anti-immigration libertarians, and particularly for those who support the proposed U.S.-Mexican Border Fence.

A wall that can be used to keep people out can also be used to keep people in.

Do we really want to trust the U.S. government – meaning not only the present regime but all future U.S. regimes – with a tool of that nature?

The Road to Surgedom

Standing in front of a full bookcase, of all things, our Prince President tonight (a curse upon the timestamp – it’s still 11:43 p.m. here in al-Abama) made many annoying remarks. Here are some of them:

When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together – and that as we trained Iraqi security forces, we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.

Who is this “we” who had such sanguine hopes for the Iraqi elections? There were plenty of people around at the time explaining why such optimism was ill-founded.

Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq’s elections posed for their cause. And they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis.

In otherwise, Sunnis became insurgents because Iraqi democracy posed a threat to the Sunni insurgency. The point of this circular logic is to prevent us from recognising that it was not qua Sunni insurgents but simply qua Sunnis that they were placed in “mortal danger” by Bush’s pseudo-democratic majoritarian scheme.

The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people – and it is unacceptable to me.


Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

Ah! an empty, consequenceless accepting of responsibility! Where have we heard this before? Oh yes, Janet Reno.

Kate Bush and Mary Cheney The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. … we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear that country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale.

Since all these developments were the result of the U.S.’s entering Iraq, the thought that they would also result from the U.S.’leaving creates a pleasing symmetry.

The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq’s sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital.

There’s reason to think that figure is exaggerated; but I’ll readily admit that there’s probably a lot more violence near the capital than elsewhere. The reason for that, however, is that the existence of a central government to seize is one of the chief causes of the civil strife in Iraq, so it’s no surprise that the melee is most pronounced nearest the prize. Here Bush’s policy of propping up majoritarian centralism in Iraq is the problem, not the solution.

In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods

Oh goody. Can they juggle nitroglycerine while they’re doing that?

This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. … The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. … Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue – and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties.

Oh, I guess the answer to my previous question is yes.

To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend 10 billion dollars of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs.

Its own money! Cool! How did the Iraqi government earn 10 billion dollars of its own money?

And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws

Oh yes, those wretched de-Baathification laws! What looney-tune suggested them to begin with?

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity – and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. … We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.

Ohhh yeah, there’s the de-escalation we were hoping for.

It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent

And Bush is on which of those sides?

Our new approach comes after consultations with Congress

Post hoc, sed non propter hoc.

Such a scenario [= withdrawal] would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer

I could let you live, but then I’d have to kill you.

We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas – where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.

I wish he’d use a less ominous word than “mobilize.”.

These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary – and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time. … And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed.


We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours.

What? Benjamin Tucker?

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