Libertarian Foreign Policy

The Lowy Institute have put up a post asking whether there is a libertarian view on foreign policy.

what do libertarians believe to be the proper role of government when it comes to international affairs? Libertarians like their government small and out of the way, but they presumably agree that there are some things government ought to be good at, like defending the country and protecting its interests.

So to get the discussion going, I thought some quotes from Ludwig von Mises would be in order. From Liberalism

For the liberal, there is no opposition between domestic policy and foreign policy, and the question so often raised and exhaustively discussed, whether considerations of foreign policy take precedence over those of domestic policy or vice versa, is, in his eyes, an idle one. For liberalism is, from the very outset, a world-embracing political concept, and the same ideas that it seeks to realize within a limited area it holds to be valid also for the larger sphere of world politics. If the liberal makes a distinction between domestic and foreign policy, he does so solely for purposes of convenience and classification, to subdivide the vast domain of political problems into major types, and not because he is of the opinion that different principles are valid for each.
The goal of the domestic policy of liberalism is the same as that of its foreign policy: peace. It aims at peaceful cooperation just as much between nations as within each nation. The starting point of liberal thought is the recognition of the value and importance of human cooperation, and the whole policy and program of liberalism is designed to serve the purpose of maintaining the existing state of mutual cooperation among the members of the human race and of extending it still further. The ultimate ideal envisioned by liberalism is the perfect cooperation of all mankind, taking place peacefully and without friction. Liberal thinking always has the whole of humanity in view and not just parts. It does not stop at limited groups; it does not end at the border of the village, of the province, of the nation, or of the continent. Its thinking is cosmopolitan and ecumenical: it takes in all men and the whole world. Liberalism is, in this sense, humanism; and the liberal, a citizen of the world, a cosmopolite.

On this point Andrew Norton has a discussion going on whether Australia is an arbitrary nation-state.

Mises on war from Human Action.

What distinguishes man from animals is the insight into the advantages that can be derived from cooperation under the division of labor. Man curbs his innate instinct of aggression in order to cooperate with other human beings. The more he wants to improve his material well-being, the more he must expand the system of the division of labor. Concomitantly he must more and more restrict the sphere in which he resorts to military action. The emergence of the international division of labor requires the total abolition of war. Such is the essence of the laissez-faire philosophy of Manchester. This philosophy is, of course, incompatible with statolatry. In its context the state, the social apparatus of violent oppression, is entrusted with the protection of the smooth operation of the market economy against the onslaughts of antisocial individuals and gangs. Its function is indispensable and beneficial, but it is an ancillary function only. There is no reason to idolize the police power and ascribe to it omnipotence and omniscience. There are things which it can certainly not accomplish. It cannot conjure away the scarcity of the factors of production, it cannot make people more prosperous, it cannot raise the productivity of labor. All it can achieve is to prevent gangsters from frustrating the efforts of those people who are intent upon promoting material well-being.

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196 Responses to Libertarian Foreign Policy

  1. THR says:

    What a crank this Mises is. The above is little more than facile sloganeering.

    For the liberal, there is no opposition between domestic policy and foreign policy

    This may be true in theory, however, in practice, the history of ‘liberal’ foreign policy is one of unstinting support for the bloodiest of invasions, occupations, and colonial adventures. This was true of John Stuart Mill (who contended that the ‘savages’ in India and elsewhere were unfit for liberty, based on ‘race itself’. ‘Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians’ – all for the latter’s self-improvement of course.
    This tradition has continued to the present day, as we can see by the many liberals who supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In every case, it’s a question of self-government for us, ‘humanitarian intervention’ through bombing and occupation for them.
    Moreover, liberals have been utterly and idiotically blind to the dangers of fascism, and apparently continue to believe that a mildly progressive system of income tax is a greater threat to liberty than the BNP and the war on terror.

    And Mises’ attempt to distinguish man from the animals is dead wrong. Animals ‘cooperate’ all the time. This fellow is clearly not a philosopher of the first rank, or the second or third, for that matter.

  2. jtfsoon says:

    So you disprove an ideal description of what liberalism should be about by Mises (which is clear by the context ‘For the liberal, there is no opposition between domestic policy and foreign policy’ is meant to be read as ‘For the liberal, there *should be* no opposition between domestic policy and foreign policy’) by bringing up the fact that JS Mill was a human being rather than a saint who was not wholly untouched by the prejudices of his age? And you have the gall to call him a crank?

    By the same logic we should be able to dismiss fabian socialism and social democracy because George Bernard Shaw basically supported the wholesale extermination and sterilisation of ‘inferior’ races.

  3. jtfsoon says:

    This tradition has continued to the present day, as we can see by the many liberals who supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    This has mostly been argued by left-liberals of the Hitchens variety and neoconservatives. I supported the invasion of Afghanistan because when a bully punches you in the news you break his arms. I stopped supporting the Iraq invasion once the WMD evidence was found to be not credible and only supported *Australia’s* participation in it for pragmatic reasons of alliance building. This is perfectly consistent with the idea that generally nations mind their own business except where security is concerned.

  4. THR says:

    I’d be more sympathetic to that view, Jason, if ‘the whole of humanity’ did not refer, in each and every instance, to that part of humanity which was white and cashed-up. It’d also have a sliver of credibility if liberals weren’t supporting foreign policy atrocities at every opportunity. It’s not just Mill – there’s a long tradition of liberals viewing the developing world as unfit for self-government, and it continues to this day.

  5. daddy dave says:

    This is going to be a fun thread.
    roll up, roll up.

  6. jtfsoon says:

    It’s in dispute how ‘liberal’ the neocons really are. Do you classify the intellectual godfather of the neocons Leo Strauss as a ‘liberal’?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Strauss

    Most libertarians don’t want us to stick in Iraq and Afghanistan for the sake of nationbuilding. Insofar there is support for remaining in Afghanistan it’s more along the lines that their continuing terrorist problem will continue to be ours.

  7. THR says:

    Hitchens’ is a good example, and I’m glad you raised him before, as there are several commentators who are very similar on the points. They tend to couch support for invasion in distinctly liberal terms – it’s ‘humanitarian intervention’, the situation is repeatedly likened to 1938 in WWII, the project of invasion has something emancipatory about it and is done in the best tradition of humanism and enlightenment, and so forth. In addition to Hitchens, you’ve got Nick Cohen, Hirsi Ali, Michael Ignatieff, and even Bill Clinton. I take your point that there’s a genuine political distinction between neocons (like Strauss) and liberals, however, the latter are worse in many ways, since its the latter who gentrify a racist, quasi-messianic project with appeals to humanitarianism and secular universalism. It’s the latter who dominate media airspace and take a fringe project beloved of a handful of right-wing zealots, and re-brand it as something necessary, urgent, and, above all, benevolent.

  8. Michael Fisk says:

    Moreover, liberals have been utterly and idiotically blind to the dangers of fascism, and apparently continue to believe that a mildly progressive system of income tax is a greater threat to liberty than the BNP and the war on terror.

    It is true that liberals have become blind to the dangers of fascism, but not in the way you say. The Guardian, for example, had a columnist that was a member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a fascist party that calls for the murder of ex-Muslims. He was forced out only when his apologias for terrorism became too embarrassing to the Guardian, not because the Guardian believed his fascist (but exotic!) principles weren’t acceptable to liberals.

  9. Michael Fisk says:

    This fellow is clearly not a philosopher of the first rank, or the second or third, for that matter.

    THR, to put this gently, if you had ever had the misfortune of sharing a podium with Mises, he would have eaten you alive.

  10. daddy dave says:

    Michael, I think THR used “liberals” to mean “libertarians” (or “classic liberals”); whereas you meant it in the American sense, ie social democrats & leftists.

  11. Michael Fisk says:

    Another good example is George Galloway. Now he is or was a socialist, strictly speaking, not a liberal, but he comes from a long tradition of leftists (such as Mussolini and Mosely) who turned into fascists later on. Galloway is a now PR front man for the Iranian regime and has fawned over other despots in the region, such as Assad and Saddam. He is a supporter of Hamas, an organisation that advocates the extermination of the Jews.

  12. jtfsoon says:

    dd

    THR throws in people like Ignatieff and Nick Cohen so he does appear to be using liberal to encompass more than libertarians.

  13. Michael Fisk says:

    DD – THR made no such distinction. He has also referred to Bill Clinton and Nick Cohen, who are not libertarians but left-liberals.

  14. THR says:

    I use ‘liberal’ here to mean left as well as right liberal. It’s a broad usage, admittedly, but one that I think coherent.

  15. daddy dave says:

    okay. So, I guess anyone who believes in “liberty”? Who isn’t rabidly anti-capitalist? Otherwise, it’s not a particularly useful category.

  16. THR says:

    Hitchens is a slightly unusual case here as he hasn’t (as far as I’m aware) renounced his former Marxism/Trotskyism, and seems to think it consistent with his current set of opinions. All of the others I’ve cited could be broadly described as liberals (though not necessarily libertarians, who I take to be a subset of ‘liberals’).

    Fisk, you may think Bill Clinton is a radical lefty, but he’s far more a liberal than a socialist or social democrat.

  17. dover_beach says:

    And Mises’ attempt to distinguish man from the animals is dead wrong. Animals ‘cooperate’ all the time. This fellow is clearly not a philosopher of the first rank, or the second or third, for that matter.

    What Mises said:

    What distinguishes man from animals is the insight into the advantages that can be derived from cooperation under the division of labor.

    Mises isn’t saying that animals don’t ‘cooperate’, he is saying that what distinguishes humans from animals is the “insight into the advantages that can be derived” through cooperation which is a different thing altogether. I’d avoid making such an elementary mistake when imperiously convicting a person of not even being a “third-rate philosopher”.

  18. daddy dave says:

    Surely the libertarian foreign policy is, in a nutshell, that free trade and free movement between friendly nations is more important than military alliances.

  19. THR says:

    I’d avoid making such an elementary mistake when imperiously convicting a person of not even being a “third-rate philosopher”.

    It isn’t a mistake. Animals cooperate in terms of a division of labour, therefore Mises is wrong to think this a distinction between man and animal.

  20. Michael Fisk says:

    In any case, I agree with Mises’ advocacy for a limited foreign policy. You cannot preserve liberty at home if you foster and support tyranny abroad. Governments should only use force in response to direct threats. An example is the recent declaration of war by Colonel Gaddafi against Switzerland. The Swiss unwisely declined to respond to this threat, and they should have used the occasion to wipe Libya, a country that has been a supporter of piracy, terrorism and barbarism for centuries, off the face of the map.

  21. Michael Fisk says:

    sorry, should be “earth”, not map

  22. THR says:

    The Swiss unwisely declined to respond to this threat, and they should have used the occasion to wipe Libya, a country that has been a supporter of piracy, terrorism and barbarism for centuries, off the face of the map.

    Yes, the mass-murder of Libyans would have done wonders for Swiss liberty, which has been under severe threat recently, what with those oppressive minarets.

  23. Infidel Tiger says:

    The Swiss should have responded, but I doubt they could take a kebab shop, let alone Libya

  24. Michael Fisk says:

    Animals cooperate in terms of a division of labour, therefore Mises is wrong to think this a distinction between man and animal.

    Mises didn’t claim that the division of labour was a distinction. He claimed that a special “insight into the advantages” of the division of labour was the distinction. He is clearly saying that humans have a certain self-consciousness that animals don’t, and that this has made civilisation possible. It’s an interesting argument. It’s certainly not “third rate”. Third rate would be claiming that the Khmer Rouge were not a genocidal regime.

  25. Peter Patton says:

    THR

    Just out of interest do you feel OK with passing judgement on people/societies from long ago in the past? For example, you seem quite comfortable with dismissing the entire body of work and thought of one of humanity’s true geniuses – JS Mill – because you quote mine what today would be loudly condemned on race-obsessed blogs as “racist,” “inappropriate,” and the new favorite “offensive!?”

  26. Michael Fisk says:

    Yes, the mass-murder of Libyans would have done wonders for Swiss liberty, which has been under severe threat recently, what with those oppressive minarets.

    A direct threat to liberty was Gaddafi’s incitement of holy war and mass murder against the Swiss. It would have been morally just to retaliate by erasing Libya from the annals of history. They could have given three days notice of this, to allow civilians enough time to pack up and leave; for other Islamic countries, not for Europe.

  27. dover_beach says:

    What Fisk said THR. It certainly is embarrassing having to be told this twice.

  28. Peter Patton says:

    jtfsoon

    I think that despite the PNAC-led Iraq invasion, it can still be useful to keep in mind the liberal roots of “neoconservatism.”

    Remember, like ‘Neoliberalism’ today, the label ‘neocon’ was coined by the Soviet-allied American Left who had left the Democratic Party. The neocons were that segment of the socialist/communist Left who woke up and began realizing that the Soviet example showed that it is statist socialism that was the true enemy of liberty. When they abandoned the Soviet-supporters and rejoined the Democratic-fold the commies sneered they were “neocons.”

    Of course this “neocon” slur also helped the far Left when it itself sought to re-join – and coopt – the Democrats in the 1960s. They managed to bolster their integrity with the rest of America by styling themselves “liberals.” What a joke.

  29. Peter Patton says:

    THR

    Actually Hitchens and Cohen couched their support for the Iraq War in precisely the terms you insist represent your own ideological convictions. Upthread, you said

    Moreover, liberals have been utterly and idiotically blind to the dangers of fascism.

    In the case of “liberals” like Hitchens and Cohen, it was precisely their ideological alertness of fascism that drove their support. What’s your excuse? 😉

  30. Peter Patton says:

    THR is following the old Marxist tradition of dismissing the enemies of Marxist revolution as “liberals.”

  31. daddy dave says:

    okay, let’s not try to characterise people’s arguments via their underlying ideologies, whether accurate or not. We all know THR has very left-wing views… let’s just take them as they come rather than pointing and calling him a “Marxist.”

  32. Peter Patton says:

    dd

    Fair enough. I wasn’t using ‘Marxist’ as a slur, but I was under the impression that was how THR describes himself. Elsewhere he admitted he was a Communist. Besides, one can be in step with a certain tradition without identifying primarily with that tradition.

    OK, enough of all that. From now on, THR shall be referred to as having “very left-wing views.” 🙂

  33. daddy dave says:

    From now on, THR shall be referred to as having “very left-wing views.”
    .
    LOL

  34. THR says:

    Just out of interest do you feel OK with passing judgement on people/societies from long ago in the past? For example, you seem quite comfortable with dismissing the entire body of work and thought of one of humanity’s true geniuses – JS Mill – because you quote mine what today would be loudly condemned on race-obsessed blogs as “racist,” “inappropriate,” and the new favorite “offensive!?”

    I didn’t dismiss all of Mill’s work, but I don’t recognise him as a ‘genius’. It’s charming that Soon and yourself seek to dismiss Mill’s white supremacism as a merely ‘human’ failing, as if it’s the same as slapping one’s maid on the backside after too many snifters of port. In reality, Mill was deeply involved in colonial pursuits, having worked for the East Indies Company, and clearly and repeatedly argued that liberty was not for the darkies. You can assess for yourself whether such a position is ‘racist’.

    In the case of “liberals” like Hitchens and Cohen, it was precisely their ideological alertness of fascism that drove their support

    I see. So you wholeheartedly accept the lie that 20 hijackers from the middle east are the equivalent of the Nazi war machine of WWII? That the warlords of Afghanistan are equivalent to an occupied Europe?

    Now, I don’t want to tar all liberals/libertarians with the same brush. That Sukrit fellow was quite vocal on the blogosphere in denouncing the Iraq fiasco. Ron Paul, when he’s not adrift in a fugue of crankery, has some lucid things to say on US foreign policy. To often, however, liberals have been the spineless collaborators of empire, refusing to extend their creed of liberalism to blacks, Asians, muslims, leftists, or whatever.

    So during the Cold War, liberals supported each and every US atrocity. When the US were raping gooks in Vietnam and napalming everything that moves, it was leftists, and not liberals who provided domestic opposition (with the exception of left-libertarian anarchists, who also protested). When police were cracking the heads of anti-war or civil rights protestors, it was leftists, and not free marketeers who were fighting for liberty. And as we’ve seen on this thread, there isn’t a military or colonial atrocity that won’t find liberal apologists.

    At the time Mises was writing, he ought to have been aware of the false universalism of his creed. He ought to have known better. We can take his naive idealism as either dishonesty or stupidity. It’s much the same as somebody pushing Stalinism in 1970. There are really no excuses for it.

  35. THR says:

    I should add, in fairness to Mises, that as far as I can tell, he himself was neither racist, nor a big fan of militarism and colonialism. Frankly, this only makes the views of his followers all the more baffling.

  36. Michael Fisk says:

    At the time Mises was writing, he ought to have been aware of the false universalism of his creed. He ought to have known better. We can take his naive idealism as either dishonesty or stupidity.

    Give us a break! You have already completely misunderstood a key quote of Mises’, leading you to accuse him of being a “fourth rate” intellectual. Now you’ve settled for “stupid”. After getting all that hopelessly wrong, you are in no position to call Mises stupid.

    By the way, Mises’ most prominent follower, and a cult figure in his own right, was Murray Rothbard. There was no greater or more principled opponent of militarism than Rothbard. Ron Paul, basically the only anti-war candidate in 2008, was a collaborator of Rothbard’s.

  37. Peter Patton says:

    THR

    It’s charming that Soon and yourself seek to dismiss Mill’s white supremacism as a merely ‘human’ failing.

    Well I didn’t express any view on Mill one way or the other (apart from his great genius). I would be reluctant to use the modern phrase “white supremacist” to describe Mill, and I will explain why.

    In 1850, nine years before Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Mill published a passionate article, The Negro Question. Mill was responding to Thomas Carlyle’s ravings about the biological inferiority of “negroes/niggers.”

    Now your claim that Mill “clearly and repeatedly argued that liberty was not for the darkies” is extremely ironic given the context of Mill’s attack on Carlyle.

    Carlyle – while undoubtedly a sincere racist – had taken up the cause of British men who owned sugar plantations in the West Indies. Despite slavery having been banned in the British colonies decades earlier, the West Indian colonists were still using slaves. Now, according to your characterization of Mill, we would fully expect Carlyle and Mill to have been ‘brothers in arms’ against the “darkies”, no? Sorry to disappoint you.

    In fact, it was free-trade economists and liberals generally – with Mill a leading activist – who opposed the Carlyle-supported West Indian slave-owners. The same liberals who campaigned [successfully] to repeal the Corn Laws, also succeeded in ending British preferential treatment of West Indian sugar.

    Carlyle took up the cause of the still slave-owning sugar plantationists publishing a series of pamphlets, alleging the supposed natural order of enslaving “negroes/niggers” due to their biological inferiority.

    This is how THR’s “racist” Mill responded:

    I will make bold to say, that a full moiety of all thinking persons, who have attended to the subject, either doubt or positively deny. JS Mill

    Carlyle took great pride in his Romanticism and rejection of Science. OTOH, the liberal Mill placed Science at the centre of his world. Mill thus disparaged Carlyle.

    It is by analytical examination that we have learned whatever we know of the laws of external nature; and if he [Carlyle] had not disdained to apply the same mode of investigation to the laws of the formation of character, he would have escaped the vulgar error of imputing every difference which he finds among human beings to an original difference of nature.

    THR allows we “can assess for yourself whether such a position is ‘racist’.

    I have made my assessment. You have no idea what you are talking about!

  38. Peter Patton says:

    I see. So you wholeheartedly accept the lie that 20 hijackers from the middle east are the equivalent of the Nazi war machine of WWII?

    What an odd thing to say. Firstly, again, I haven’t expressed anything about my views. I am just telling you what pro-Iraq war leftists – who had spent their lives opposing fascism – have said about their support for the Iraq War. Your analogy is really weird. Isn’t the whole point of post-WWII anti-fascism activism to prevent the growth of fascism?

    And then you score a spectacular own goal with your definition of “fascism” as “the Nazi war machine of WWII.” Because your very first post equates “fascism” with the pissy little BNP!

    Somehow I think the likes of Hitchens and Cohen have a better sense of proportion and superior grasp of analogical reasoning on this subject. 😉

  39. Michael Fisk says:

    Yes, terrible reasoning there ‘mfraid.

    BNP (killed nobody, but holds very dubious views) = fascist

    Al-Qaeda (killed thousands of people, holds utterly appalling views) = not fascist

    Nazi Germany (killed millions, appalling regime from top to bottom) = fascist after all!

  40. Samuel J says:

    The difference with foreign policy is that there isn’t a ready market. In general where a free market solution is available it is likely to be superior to government fiat. But there are areas of policy where government is necessary. And among these is the enforcement of property rights and the defence of the nation.

  41. TerjeP (say tay-a) says:

    The LDP is moderate libertarian. I still think it has a really good set of policy positions on the immigration issue:-

    http://www.ldp.org.au/federal/policies/immigration.html

    The LDP believes it is possible to combine a more open immigration system with sufficient limits and controls so as to reduce the potential costs of immigration. This can be achieved though:

    Free Immigration Agreements (FIA), modelled on free trade agreements between compatible countries to allow the easier movement of residents between those countries.

    Replacement of our current points-based quota system with a tariff system where immigrants pay for the right to become a permanent resident (PR) in Australia.

    Removal of some welfare rights for PRs, except where alternative arrangements have been agreed through an FIA.

    Tighter restrictions on becoming a citizen, so that Australia can sustain a high level of immigration and relatively free movement of people without worrying about the impact of recent immigrants on our democracy or social harmony.

    A liberal approach to temporary residency for workers and tourists.

    Maintenance of mandatory detention for unauthorized arrivals for security and health checks, after which they can apply for temporary release (with bail conditions) while their application is being processed.

  42. THR says:

    Give us a break! You have already completely misunderstood a key quote of Mises’, leading you to accuse him of being a “fourth rate” intellectual.

    Fisk, please. Dover engaged in his usual contortions. According to him, for Mises, being human is not a question of a cooperative division of labour, but, apparently, the insight of such. So being human is about ‘insight’. This sort of hair-splitting is so trivial and idiotic that it’s not worth arguing about.

    Now your claim that Mill “clearly and repeatedly argued that liberty was not for the darkies” is extremely ironic given the context of Mill’s attack on Carlyle.

    You’re 100% correct, Peter. Mill attacked Carlyle – for being a biological racist. Mill made perfectly clear in his own writings that the darkies were unfit for self-government, and needed a European hand to steady them. He should know, given that he worked for the East India Company, and was an exploiter himself. Dismiss it as political correctness if you like, but Mill’s remarks paint him as a white supremacist, albeit on ‘cultural’ rather than biological grounds.

    irstly, again, I haven’t expressed anything about my views. I am just telling you what pro-Iraq war leftists – who had spent their lives opposing fascism – have said about their support for the Iraq War.

    I said it above – cruise missile liberals love to present every crisis as being akin to WWII, every enemy as being Hitler. This has been the case for Saddam, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Milosevic, Nasser, etc. It’s transparently bullshit, and you needn’t buy into it.

    BNP (killed nobody, but holds very dubious views) = fascist

    Al-Qaeda (killed thousands of people, holds utterly appalling views) = not fascist

    Idiot. This is genuinely moronic, Fisk. If ‘fascism’ were a function of death counts, the US would be the most fascist state in the world. The BNP are fascist because of their beliefs and tactics. They’re relatively small now, but they could grow. As I pointed out, for liberals, tax is a greater crime than kristallnacht. This isn’t honourable, and you should work harder to conceal your shameful idiocy next time.

  43. THR says:

    Here’s an interesting paper, looking at Mises in comparison with the crony capitalists who take his name in vain:

    http://praxeology.net/radical-mises.htm

  44. daddy dave says:

    When the US were raping gooks in Vietnam and napalming everything that moves, it was leftists, and not liberals who provided domestic opposition (with the exception of left-libertarian anarchists, who also protested).
    .
    The problem, THR, is that the left “provide domestic opposition” to pretty much all military endeavours, regardless of merit.
    .
    cruise missile liberals love to present every crisis as being akin to WWII, every enemy as being Hitler. This has been the case for Saddam, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Milosevic, Nasser, etc. It’s transparently bullshit, and you needn’t buy into it.
    .
    I don’t understand why you would say this. The examples you gave were all (with the exception of Nasser) violent, genocidal megalomaniacs with antipathy towards the West. That you snort that they weren’t as bad as Hitler seems to be a rather disingenous line of argument.
    .
    In general, you hold the West, and particularly the US, to account for all military encounters, and don’t seem to grant any of them merit. This is to be contrasted, I guess, to Sweden or some other social-democrat country. But the world is full of hostile forces; your position seems naive.

  45. dover_beach says:

    Fisk, please. Dover engaged in his usual contortions. According to him, for Mises, being human is not a question of a cooperative division of labour, but, apparently, the insight of such. So being human is about ‘insight’. This sort of hair-splitting is so trivial and idiotic that it’s not worth arguing about.

    THR, your mistake is patently obvious; at least have the intellectual honesty to admit the you misrepresented Mises’s quotation. If you can’t recognise that the distinction is itself part of a more general argument Mises was making because you have never read more than a few quotations then you have no business referring to anyone’s work as second- or third-rate or presuming that what I was engaging in was my “usual contortions”. This constitutes a pattern for you when you start losing an argument.

  46. Adrien says:

    Jason – This has mostly been argued by left-liberals of the Hitchens variety and neoconservatives.
    .
    As I recall the Iraq invasion was opposed by most ‘left-liberals’. Hitchens’ endorsement put him at odds with his ideological fellow travellers whom he portrayed as the equivelant of pacifists in the late 30s.
    .
    Neoconservatives may have initiated the Iraq War but it was almost universally supported by the Right.
    .
    I supported the invasion of Afghanistan because when a bully punches you in the news you break his arms.
    .
    It was a mistake to invade Afghanistan. It was exactly what AQ wanted.
    .
    I stopped supporting the Iraq invasion once the WMD evidence was found to be not credible
    .
    The weapons of mass destruction had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq.
    .
    The thing about democracies is that they ironically breed imperialism. Historically one peoples’ liberty comes at someone else’s expense. Pericles famous funeral oratory is taught in history class. or used to be. One thing no-one ever mentioned was that it was all in aid of invading a city in Sicily that had done nothing to nobody.
    .
    This is perfectly consistent with the idea that generally nations mind their own business except where security is concerned.
    .
    Security or hegemony? Well sadly in this world it’s the same thing.

  47. Adrien says:

    The problem, THR, is that the left “provide domestic opposition” to pretty much all military endeavours, regardless of merit.
    .
    The other problem is that conservatives provide domestic support to pretty much all military endeavours regardly of merit. 🙂
    .
    Vietnam was a great war. All in aid of a good cause. How many guns did Colt sell?

  48. daddy dave says:

    It was a mistake to invade Afghanistan. It was exactly what AQ wanted.
    .
    Incorrect on both counts. The Afghanistan war achieved its goal. Remember that prior to the invasion there was a big, well-structured, well-financed al-Qaida setup there that operated with state sponsorship and endorsement. Sure, a couple of them are still scampering around in the hills but that formidable network of 2001 does not exist.
    .
    Plus, “exactly what AQ wanted”… that would have required an impossibly risky strategy on their part. Defeat usually comes at great cost and has unpredictable negative consequences. It’s a stupid, unrealistic strategy that nobody would attempt. The only people who try to lose so they can win are the Western left.
    .
    Historically one peoples’ liberty comes at someone else’s expense.
    .
    It’s not a zero sum game. You say it’s “historically” true but then don’t qualify by acknowledging counterexamples (which exist). So you’re trying to argue that liberty = imperialism?

  49. dover_beach says:

    As I recall the Iraq invasion was opposed by most ‘left-liberals’.

    Most? Your recollection is rather shabby. There was an entire movement of self-described left-liberals in the UK that had their analogues here, Europe, and the North America, that supported the invasion of Iraq. Hitchens was hardly out there on his own.

    Neoconservatives may have initiated the Iraq War but it was almost universally supported by the Right.

    Except, say, paleoconservatives, like Buchanan, etc.

    It was a mistake to invade Afghanistan. It was exactly what AQ wanted.

    Ah, yes, faced with the deadliness of doing, our response should be to do nothing.

    Security or hegemony? Well sadly in this world it’s the same thing.

    How wonderful; we, supposedly, lack the intellectual resources to even distinguish the quest for modest security from hegemonic ambition. According to Adrien, Lloyd George and Hitler are indistinguishable.

  50. Adrien says:

    Incorrect on both counts. The Afghanistan war achieved its goal.
    .
    The Afghanistan War is not over and its goal has nopt been achieved. Large chunks of the Pakistan military are allied with Jihadism. America has the tricky task of fighting a war against people who are based in an allied state wherein the people are increasingly hostile. It has a history of coups, insurrection, corruption and feudalism that is not behind it. And it is a nuclear power.
    .
    The purpose of the war was to get America entangled in conflict in Afghanistan. Please remember that AQ’s roots are in the Soviet war there. They won. Now there is one major difference between that war and this one – it is not a Cold War conflict – will that difference prove finally significant? Who knows.
    .
    Remember that prior to the invasion there was a big, well-structured, well-financed al-Qaida setup there that operated with state sponsorship and endorsement. Sure, a couple of them are still scampering around in the hills but that formidable network of 2001 does not exist.
    .
    And these people still scampering in the hills are the cause of increased troop deployment. You are assuming two thiongs. One is that the state sponsorship has disappeared. It hasn’t. The second is that these people need it, they don’t.
    .
    In any case exactly what information do you base this argument on?
    .
    You say it’s “historically” true but then don’t qualify by acknowledging counterexamples
    .
    Why would I?
    .
    (which exist)
    .
    Which are?
    .
    So you’re trying to argue that liberty = imperialism?
    .
    No. They don’t. But they have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. This fact is very unpleasant and we usually deal with it by lying to ourselves.
    .
    The reason liberty and imperialism go together is that people in a free society have a tendecy to become self-indulgent and start thinking of affluence as an inalienable right. Governments, compelled by franchise, universal or restricted, find themseleves acquiring more and more foreign resources by coercive force to feed this demand. The everyone goes pear-shaped and the barbarians invade.
    .
    Is tradition.

  51. Adrien says:

    It’s a stupid, unrealistic strategy that nobody would attempt.
    .
    it’s not stupid. The aim is to produce political unity behind a Jihadist banner. Every wannade world ruler in Arabia dreams of being Saladin. Bin Laden knew the Afghanis were fierce, that their territory is ideal for insurgency that they could tie up the Yanks for years and bleed them dry and demonstrate world wide that they can be beaten.
    .
    And when God’s on your side you can’t lose.

  52. Adrien says:

    There was an entire movement of self-described left-liberals in the UK that had their analogues here
    .
    So?
    .
    Except, say, paleoconservatives, like Buchanan, etc.
    .
    Yes.
    .
    Ah, yes, faced with the deadliness of doing, our response should be to do nothing.
    .
    Only two choices?
    .
    How wonderful; we, supposedly, lack the intellectual resources to even distinguish the quest for modest security from hegemonic ambition.
    .
    We can distinguish. Nature can’t.

  53. daddy dave says:

    The purpose of the war was to get America entangled in conflict in Afghanistan.
    .
    This is idle, groundless speculation. Similar speculation probably occurs whenever an invasion doesn’t go as planned. The enemy can claim after the fact, “Ha ha! That was our plan all along!”
    .
    Why would I?
    .
    Intellectual honesty? To answer your next question, India. Also, Singapore.

  54. Michael Fisk says:

    Idiot. This is genuinely moronic, Fisk. If ‘fascism’ were a function of death counts, the US would be the most fascist state in the world. The BNP are fascist because of their beliefs and tactics. They’re relatively small now, but they could grow. As I pointed out, for liberals, tax is a greater crime than kristallnacht. This isn’t honourable, and you should work harder to conceal your shameful idiocy next time.

    THR, in one of your earliest comments you did in fact imply that a movement should be considered fascist not simply according to its beliefs (a group of people who shoot women in the back of the head for adultery, kill ethnic/religious minorities, and advocate murderous antisemitism would indeed satisfy this criteria, even if they share your foreign policy goals) but according to the scale of its atrocities. In reply to a comment stating that Hitchens supported the War on Terror due to his anti-fascism, you wrote:

    I see. So you wholeheartedly accept the lie that 20 hijackers from the middle east are the equivalent of the Nazi war machine of WWII? That the warlords of Afghanistan are equivalent to an occupied Europe?

    Got that? You were clearly ridiculing the notion that Al-Qaeda were either fascist, or a threat to anyone. But the BNP are a MASSIVE threat according to you, and you ridiculed “liberals” for not taking it seriously, despite not having killed anyone! This is a massive contradiction, which I will have to take more time to explain later.

    You can froth as much as you like – your arguments are inconsistent from comment to comment, and this is why you are becoming increasingly angry at those who have called you out.

  55. Michael Fisk says:

    Fisk, please. Dover engaged in his usual contortions. According to him, for Mises, being human is not a question of a cooperative division of labour, but, apparently, the insight of such. So being human is about ‘insight’.

    Uh, YES actually! Being a human is EXACTLY about insight, self-awareness and so on. That’s the usual distinction that people make between humans and animals. You jumped the gun in calling Mises a third-rate philosopher without reading him properly.

  56. Michael Fisk says:

    By the way – As I pointed out, for liberals, tax is a greater crime than kristallnacht.

    Breaking shop windows is what Leftist demonstrators do when they get overexcited at large rallies – I don’t think the BNP usually go for that.

  57. dover_beach says:

    So?

    Adrien. you said that the invasion was opposed by “most” left-liberals when in fact it wasn’t.

    Only two choices?

    Of course not, I never said there was, but what is implied by your statements is that we cannot do anything because the results of our actions are always uncertain or evanescent (this being what is meant by the deadliness of doing).

    We can distinguish. Nature can’t.

    Who, here, is talking about Nature? What a silly comment.

  58. Adrien says:

    This is idle, groundless speculation.
    .
    That’s not a rebuttal. It makes perfect sense strategically. The veracity of this speculation rests on the sense it makes. I am no, like most people, privy to AQ’s secret chambers so I don’t have any evidence. But then it wouldn’t be specuation would it?
    .
    Intellectual honesty?
    .
    Requires me to do my opponent’s job as well? I don’t think so.
    .
    India.
    .
    Is a product of centuries of empire building that recently cohesed uneasily into a nation-state. Given the two Indias scenario one could still argue that some Indians’ freedom depends on the slavery of others. But that doesn’t matter because India has not yet reached the age of mass consumption whereby the population will start to demand prosperity as a right.
    .
    Also, Singapore.
    .
    Is a trading city state that exists on the cross roads of empire. It’s not large enough to become an Imperial force so becomes a symbiot of such force instead.

  59. Adrien says:

    DB – Adrien. you said that the invasion was opposed by “most” left-liberals when in fact it wasn’t.
    .
    Pointing out that Hitchens had allies leads us to conclude that his allies formed the majority of left liberal opinion? Rubbish. Interesting how the left-liberals were the target of so much neocon taunting viz their gutless acquienscence to Islamofascism at the time. Or is this just another one of your doublethink episodes?
    .
    Hitchens and the Neocons all joined in a round of slamming the East Coast Liberal type for its complacency and rose-coloured assumptions. There assertions were not entirely baseless.
    .
    Of course not, I never said there was
    .
    You stated that the alternative to invasion was doing nothing. You didn’t cite a list of laternatives and then dismiss them reasonably. How does that look?
    .
    but what is implied by your statements is that we cannot do anything because the results of our actions are always uncertain or evanescent
    .
    I never said don’t do anything. That would also be foolhardy. There were a range of other measures employed including following and nailing the money trail. A cautious and covert series of measures not to mention the old fire a rocket scenario would probably have yielded the benefits without the costs.
    .
    Who, here, is talking about Nature? What a silly comment.
    .
    Empires, wars the whole shebang, Dover, are an extension by technology of the natural tendency of different groups within a species to struggle to the death for the same resources.
    .
    It’s evolution baby!

  60. Peter Patton says:

    THR

    Now that you have been provided with some proper information, your assertions about Mill’s racism is just offensive. You clearly missed the whole point of the my post, which was to show you that 19th century liberalism – particularly Mill – was the exact opposite of ‘racism.’ In fact, Carlyle pointedly and repeatedly pointed to both the “Dismal Science” [free trade economics] and “Liberalism” as enemies of racism. In Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question

    Carlyle blasts Mill and the liberal economists for rejecting any notion that whites are superior to blacks.

    of declaring that negro and white are unrelated, loose from one another, on a footing of perfect equality, and subject to no law but that of supply and demand according to the dismal science.

    In fact it was the economic liberal’s liberation of the ‘darkies’ that so enraged the racists. Carlyle again:

    Alas! in many other provinces besides the West Indian, that unhappy wedlock of Philanthropic Liberalism and the Dismal Science has engendered such all-enveloping delusions, of the moon-calf sort, and wrought huge woe for us, and the poor civilized world, in these days.

    THR, I wonder where you get your understandings of liberalism from, and I also just shake my head at your presumption that it was socialists who bore the responsibility for removing racism from the world. What a freaking delusional crock.

    The evidence from the 19th century, from Mill’s actual life, and from Mill’s adversaries, unambiguously reveals your comments to be just so wrong, that surely you can only make them in malice?

  61. dover_beach says:

    Pointing out that Hitchens had allies leads us to conclude that his allies formed the majority of left liberal opinion? Rubbish.

    I never said they constituted a majority; but please, let’s not pretend that they were insignificant and thereby happily ignored.

    Interesting how the left-liberals were the target of so much neocon taunting viz their gutless acquienscence to Islamofascism at the time. Or is this just another one of your doublethink episodes?

    Is this a brain-fart? Left-liberals opposed to the war were targeted for criticism, not left-liberals in toto. And many of those doing the criticising were themselves left-liberals, Norman Geras, being an example. Double-think episodes? I let that wide go to the keeper.

    You stated that the alternative to invasion was doing nothing. You didn’t cite a list of laternatives and then dismiss them reasonably. How does that look?

    No, I said that confronted with the deadliness of doing, your answer appears to be that we do nothing. For god’s sake, you said that AQ welcomed a course of action that more or less annihilated them. BTW, neither did you cite reasonable alternatives, and anyway, none of them removes us from the ‘deadliness of doing’; that is precisely the point of the phrase and why I raised it.

    I never said don’t do anything. That would also be foolhardy. There were a range of other measures employed including following and nailing the money trail. A cautious and covert series of measures not to mention the old fire a rocket scenario would probably have yielded the benefits without the costs.

    Horse-shit. That policy was followed pre-9/11; we know were it ended.

    Empires, wars the whole shebang, Dover, are an extension by technology of the natural tendency of different groups within a species to struggle to the death for the same resources.

    I’m heartily getting sick of this sort of ‘argument’, the more so being that it was irrelevant to your original argument viz security and hegemony being indistinguishable, for the simple fact that no animal besides human beings seeks to achieve either security or hegemony.

  62. dover_beach says:

    Oh, and let me add: the point of my criticism to begin with was that in fact that security and hegemony were distinguishable, you admitted as much, but then added some guff about Nature, as is the wont amongst some people, as if Nature has anything to do with it.

  63. To add a little further to the historical background on Mill, he worked for the East India company and did not attend Oxford thanks to the presence of an Oxbridge version of this lovely bit of legislation. Studying at Oxford or Cambridge meant a stint as a vicar, and taking orders accordingly, which Mill was unwilling to do.

  64. I had higher hopes for this thread.

    More or less the same topic was discussed on the ALS blog a few weeks ago. At least it stuck to the point.

    http://blog.libertarian.org.au/2010/02/14/libertarians-and-foreign-intervention/

  65. Peter Patton says:

    We really have to ask why is knowledge of ‘liberalism’ so dire in this country?

  66. daddy dave says:

    I had higher hopes for this thread.
    .
    Yeah, we got derailed by the master derailer.

  67. Adrien says:

    Dover – I’m heartily getting sick of this sort of ‘argument’, the more so being that it was irrelevant to your original argument viz security and hegemony being indistinguishable, for the simple fact that no animal besides human beings seeks to achieve either security or hegemony.
    .
    I suggest you try wandering into the terrirory of, say, a hippopotamus. You’ll find them very much concerned to secure their territory. Actually please don’t. We like having you around.
    .
    The way I see it many species seek to enforce territorial claims. Humans are no different. The development of political systems that seek to enforce a secure area are an extension of this. As trading systems grow, as one or other political entity develops better militaries than others, empires emerge.
    .
    Throughout history there have been two states of being. One in which there is constant warfare between groups, the other in which a peace is established over a vast area courtesy of some kind on Imperium with war being restricted to skirmishes on the borders. Those who wail about the evils of empire and the desirability of peace never appreciate this fact nor do they put much effort into contemplating some way of getting past it.
    .
    The ancient Greeks saw liberty as something that could only exist within the polis. Outside the polis, between political entities it was the law of the jungle. And it still is. The problem with extending liberalism into the realm of geopolitics is that there is no sovereignty that allows you to do this. We’re still stuck with the necessity of alliances and big power. In this the big powers are the winners, the superior. This was axiomatic in the 19th century hence John Stuart Mill’s ‘racism’.
    .
    That is why I say security amount to hegemony. Without the hegemony there is no security.

  68. Adrien says:

    Daddy Dave – Who’s the master derailer? I see no derailing. We’re very much on topic. No-one’s brought up McCarthy, AGWfractional reserve or Martian pyramids. ‘Less of course you see derailment as deviation from groupthink. If so, you’re in the wrong place mate.
    .
    BTW: Want an example of exceptions to the rule: Switzerland.

  69. daddy dave says:

    Who’s the master derailer?
    .
    THR. We seem to have gotten bogged down in yet another argument about how evil the West is or isn’t, how wrong it was to invade Iraq/Afghanistan and so on. Maybe this is on topic in principle, but it seems more like defensive play against left-wing critique. I guess I was hoping to learn something, like, what would a libertarian foreign policy look like? (the topic of the thread). Libertarianism is almost always applied to domestic policy; I for one don’t know what the “official” libertarian position is (if you’ll excuse the clumsy expression) nor whether I would agree with it if I did know. I’m none the wiser. Therefore, thread fail.

  70. daddy dave says:

    Adrien,
    I agree that war and hegemony, to an extent, are manifestations of ‘human nature’; however one thing we’ve learned from human nature is that it’s quite pliable and multidimensional. Not endlessly, of course, but certainly more than ‘hippopotamus nature.’ A humanity plagued by constant war until the end of time is not inevitable; if it were, then warfare would not be decreasing over time.

  71. The thread on the ALS blog that David Leyonhjelm linked to above would go some ways towards answering your question, Dave. And yes, this thread did get derailed from doing that when THR got into Mill’s failure to live up to his own standards in one area.

    Of course, this is a very dangerous game to play, considering that Marx knocked up his maidservants, Nietzsche was a misogynist and fruitloop, Althusser murdered his wife, Shaw (as Jason pointed out) was an out and out eugenicist, Carlyle an unreconstructed racist who argued (against liberal economists and abolitionists like the Quaker Ricardo) that slavery should be reintroduced, Heidegger and Schmitt were card-carrying members of the Nazi Party etc etc.

    And I haven’t even touched De Man, Sartre or Foucault (who thought the Iranian Revolution in 1979 was a jolly good show and reprimanded secular Iranian women for complaining about it).

    Postmodernists, Marxists and conservatives–if we are going to play the virtue ethics game–come off very badly when contrasted with liberals (British definition). Only Jefferson, among the liberals, behaved badly, because he wrote the abolition of slavery into the Constitution, but only ever manumitted a single slave family: his slave concubine, and their children.

    I mean, liberalism even has prominent women, starting with the Quakers and extending to Wollstonecraft, Taylor and Thatcher. No other tradition comes anywhere near it on that score.

  72. dover_beach says:

    I suggest you try wandering into the terrirory of, say, a hippopotamus. You’ll find them very much concerned to secure their territory. Actually please don’t. We like having you around.

    The way I see it many species seek to enforce territorial claims. Humans are no different. The development of political systems that seek to enforce a secure area are an extension of this. As trading systems grow, as one or other political entity develops better militaries than others, empires emerge.

    The problem with this argument is that no animals, apart from humans, seek to preserve the integrity of their associations beyond that of what you could arguably call the household (so this includes every animal species including primates. So I really don’t see what is learnt by observing the behaviour of hippopotamuses, for instance, or any other animal as an analogue of what states engage in, apart from adding to an argument a spurious sophistication.

    Throughout history there have been two states of being. One in which there is constant warfare between groups, the other in which a peace is established over a vast area courtesy of some kind on Imperium with war being restricted to skirmishes on the borders.

    This is a gross exaggeration, not only of the insecurities that subsisted in states that lacked imperial ambitions but of the peace that subsisted in those that did. Seriously, these sort of sweeping generalisations dissolve when the particulars come into view.

    The ancient Greeks saw liberty as something that could only exist within the polis. Outside the polis, between political entities it was the law of the jungle. And it still is. The problem with extending liberalism into the realm of geopolitics is that there is no sovereignty that allows you to do this.

    What you need to realise is that polis-life and sovereignty were not coeval, in either Greece or Rome. What you need to be attentive to is the transition from tribal association to civil association; a transition that didn’t immediately yield the idea of ‘sovereignty’, an idea that only clearly emerges in the 15th/16th C.

    That is why I say security amount to hegemony. Without the hegemony there is no security.

    The problem with this premise is that it does not follow from your argument. Above you say liberty only exists within the polis and I assume by this you mean that it is protected by law. So far, so good, but the implication in the premise that security amounts to hegemony is that the security that we enjoy in civil society as a product of law is hegemonic, and this cannot be right since hegemony by definition is a relationship of power and one in which we are the mere instruments of the other’s will. So, if security and hegemony are unrelated civilly, there is no reason to believe security must involve hegemony internationally.

  73. Adrien says:

    We seem to have gotten bogged down in yet another argument about how evil the West is or isn’t, how wrong it was to invade Iraq/Afghanistan and so on.
    .
    Okay point. I think JS Mill’s duplicity both in empire and mercantilist cronyism is relevant however. But let’s forget the war.
    .
    Where I differ from the Left is in their inability to see both the advantages of empire and the fact that everyone does it. Diamond has a good anecdote somewhere about the Maori discovering via the papers the existence of an Oceanic people who’d been living an idyllic life somewhere. They immediately took off to conquer and enslave them.
    .
    Chomsky has some very perceptive things to say about US imperialism but what he fails to appreciate is that America was basically compelled by circumstance to become and Imperator.
    .
    I agree that war and hegemony, to an extent, are manifestations of ‘human nature’; however one thing we’ve learned from human nature is that it’s quite pliable and multidimensional.
    .
    Yeah but it ain’t easy and it takes a very long time.

  74. Adrien says:

    DB – Seriously, these sort of sweeping generalisations dissolve when the particulars come into view.
    .
    Well can you cite such a particular?
    .
    Above you say liberty only exists within the polis and I assume by this you mean that it is protected by law. So far, so good, but the implication in the premise that security amounts to hegemony is that the security that we enjoy in civil society as a product of law is hegemonic, and this cannot be right since hegemony by definition is a relationship of power and one in which we are the mere instruments of the other’s will. So, if security and hegemony are unrelated civilly, there is no reason to believe security must involve hegemony internationally.
    .
    This is not my view.

  75. Adrien says:

    Skeptic – Do you think Thatcher can be entirely regarded as liberal. Socially I believe she was a conservative. I may be wrong. But she appears to me to be doing that Howard/Reagan thing – socially authoritarian/economically liberal.
    .
    You don’t want to touch Sartre? Why not? Aren’t you attracted to toads? 🙂
    .
    Sartre. What a fucking coward.

  76. Adrien says:

    DB – Please note I’m not saying human association is exactly the same as a hippos. I’m just saying that states etc are an extension of an instinct we share with them.
    .
    Please continue this could be interesting yet.

  77. Peter Patton says:

    Adrien, without dealing with the rest of your points, I would say that Thatcher allowing council housing residents to purchase their properties and thus become property owners was a very socially liberal policy. The same goes with crushing the miners unions who were holding the country to ransom by not allowing the government to close down the woefully inefficient and increasingly redundant state owned coal mines.

  78. dover_beach says:

    Well can you cite such a particular?

    Over the last three hundreds years the following come to mind: Andorra, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. There are any number of states that range between “constant warfare between groups, the other in which a peace is established over a vast area courtesy of some kind on Imperium”; in fact, all states fall between these extremes.

    This is not my view.

    Then what you’re arguing isn’t at all clear.

    Please note I’m not saying human association is exactly the same as a hippos. I’m just saying that states etc are an extension of an instinct we share with them.

    Firstly, there are a variety of different human associations. Secondly, not only are the modes of association found in human societies not the same as those in the animal world but neither are they in important respects similar so to draw analogies between them is dangerously misleading for both understanding animal behaviour as well as human conduct. Thirdly, what’s most curious about human conduct is not it is an extension of ‘instinct’ but the it is beyond instinct.

  79. THR says:

    Libertarianism is almost always applied to domestic policy; I for one don’t know what the “official” libertarian position is (if you’ll excuse the clumsy expression) nor whether I would agree with it if I did know. I’m none the wiser.

    I don’t think I was derailing anything. My point was that, from Mill to the Cold War, liberals have had a habit of supporting foreign policy atrocities at every opportunity. Considering that love of liberty is supposed to be universal for these guys, and that Mises would probably have had nothing but contempt for current Australian (and by extension, US) foreign policy, it’s a topic that requires further explication.

  80. THR says:

    Of course, this is a very dangerous game to play, considering that Marx knocked up his maidservants, Nietzsche was a misogynist and fruitloop.

    This is complete nonsense. My argument wasn't about gossip from writers' personal lives. Mill argued for liberty, but didn't feel it ought to be extended to the colonials, who deserved 'despotism'.

    I mean, liberalism even has prominent women, starting with the Quakers and extending to Wollstonecraft, Taylor and Thatcher. No other tradition comes anywhere near it on that score.

    Yes, reactionary psychopath Thatcher was kicking goals for women simply by virtue of being a woman. In reality, the radical tradition – of Luxemburg and Goldman – is far more a success for women. ‘Liberal’ feminism rests on Laura Bush style claims that bombing Afghan villages is actually a feminist activity.

    Many of your other examples seem utterly confused. Heidegger’s Nazism, for instance, has been written about extensively, and is used as grounds for rejecting his broader philosophy (or large elements thereof).

  81. Peter Patton says:

    THR

    I think I dealt pretty well above with your misinformation about Mill.

  82. THR says:

    Misinformation? You refuted a thesis that nobody advanced, namely, that Mill was not a biological racist because he took Carlyle to task for the latter’s appalling bigotry.

    Mill makes his views on race perfectly clear in his essay entitled ‘On Liberty’. Speaking of the savages, he says ‘the race itself may be considered as in nonage’ (i.e. the natives are equivalent to children). In the same paper, Mill says that ‘despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians’.

    In ‘A few words on non-intervention’, Mill makes clear that the universal ideals of liberalism in no way extend to ‘barbarians’, who have ‘no rights as a nation’. Mill then applies this thinking to act as apologist for colonial atrocity, specifically citing the French in Algeria, and the British in India.

    http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/forep/forep008.pdf

    My reason for citing Mill in this regard is not, contra Skepticlawyer’s idiotic bait and switch, to harp on the personal peccadilloes of liberals. Mises clearly advocates a naive version of universal liberalism (as cited by Sinclair above), and, elsewhere, castigates imperialism in the strongest possible terms. The problem for Mises is that these intellectual niceties are not shared by his liberal comrades, who, like Mill, believe in liberty for us, and despotism for them.

    Mill is not the exception here, but the liberal rule. Hence we can have people on this thread – intelligent people, writing in good faith – justifying war in Iraq and Afghanistan for the sake of an alliance. I can’t imagine the same people arguing for a few hundred thousands Australians being liquidated for similarly noble goals. hence, it’s perfectly clear that liberal universalism turns out to be full of escape clauses and exceptions, from Mill’s craven support for colonialism, to the Cold War era, to the liberals who today pretend that bombing the towelheads is a humanitarian venture. In other words, liberal foreign policy is not merely an achilles heel in an otherwise cogent philosophy, but is sufficiently horrific to invalidate the whole lot.

  83. Peter Patton says:

    If Sinclair’s snippets of Mises are representative, then Mises has not got a clue about liberalism. In fact, Mises in the antithesis of liberalism.

    If one wanted to make Mises – The Movie one would pitch it to Hollywood as “think The Communist Manifesto meets The Koran.

    In Mises dystopian polity, the individual property owning producer – free to acquire and dispose of his property as he and his fellow citizens see fit – becomes the crusading evangelical zealot.

    Mises’ liberal is not a man who extends his wealth, home, and amity as he chooses, to whomever he chooses, and as near or far as he chooses. Rather, he is a AK-47 brandishing Paul of Damascus, cruising the skies in jet bombers or the oceans on floating Enola Gays. Mises sounds like a 7th century Arab, an ally of Muhammad leading an imperialist quest to liberate mankind from whatever the rest of mankind is doing. And why? So the poor enslaved may be free to buy stuff from him?

    Mr. Mises needs to learn that the liberal polity is one of individual property owners freely associating and trading, who agree to establish a police force and a state to deal with the most excessively antisocial (murderers, thiefs, and so on), and to operate courts to adjudicate contractual disputes and enforce their legal effect, and run a standing professional voluntary defence force, for precisely that; defence.

    Sure it is banal to observe that the reasons why even the most liberal of polities will use their defence forces in some situations where the ‘defence’ seems tenuous. Nevertheless any polity which thinks using its defence force for the imperialist evangelical crusades lusted after by Mr. Mises has at the very least turned into a neoconservative polity, who had all better read Thucydides – and fast. They will soon discover what happens when democracies based on liberty and land-owning citizens decides it wants to enforce a “free” trade regime on the rest of the world!

    Citizens of the liberal polity are not restrained by the state should they wish to exchange/trade with people outside the polity, but should they try to trade with people of a less liberal polity and find they are unsuccessful, well that’s capitalism baby, so suck it up.

    To the chap above who lamented the quality of discussion here compared to the ALS blog, I would repeat that they are not the ravings of “libertarians” but of Marxist Muslims!

    [Try reading more Mises – you’ll find remarkable agreement with your views on this matter. Sinc]

  84. daddy dave says:

    liberal foreign policy is not merely an achilles heel in an otherwise cogent philosophy, but is sufficiently horrific to invalidate the whole lot.
    .
    So, your argument is, liberalism = conquest, despotism and exploitation of other lands.

  85. THR says:

    As regards foreign policy, yes, in 99 cases out of 100.

  86. Peter Patton says:

    Oh blast. I just banged out a post on Mises’ foreign policy ideas, and it vanished.

  87. daddy dave says:

    I just banged out a post on Mises’ foreign policy ideas, and it vanished
    .
    The dog ate it, huh?

  88. dover_beach says:

    In other words, liberal foreign policy is not merely an achilles heel in an otherwise cogent philosophy, but is sufficiently horrific to invalidate the whole lot.

    What utter nonsense.

  89. JackP says:

    Surely the correct way to look at this is merely as an extension of how we examine the rationale for any government intervention.

    That is, that there is a gap in service provision that cannot be supplied by the market. If the market can provide freedom – through increased trade, increased property aquisition and consequently the desire for increased political freedom to protect that property and freedom – then there should be a state act to ensure that freedom can be bought around.

    In Iraq and Afghanistan, there was limited freedom – especially for women, limited property aquisition – what property there was to be had in Afghanistan and no political means to protect that which people were able to accrue themselves. It behoved the free nations of the world to intervene to correct this failure and provide a modicum of sane government.

    I have no qualms about supporting the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The freedom of those Iraqis and Afghans is just as important as the freedom that we have in Australia.

  90. Adrien says:

    Nietzsche was a misogynist and fruitloop.
    .
    Misogynists don;t fall in love with women like Lou Salome.

  91. Peter Patton says:

    daddy dave

    Yep. But it seems the dog vomited it up again! 🙂

  92. Adrien says:

    DB – Over the last three hundreds years the following come to mind: Andorra, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
    .
    Well let’s just start by noticing that Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Holland are on the list.
    .
    ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    .
    TBC

  93. Peter Patton says:

    Sinc. I most certainly will. But I did preface my spray with “If Sinclair’s snippets of Mises are representative.” 😉

  94. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Excellent – you’ll find most of his stuff on the web, either at the Mises Institute or at Liberty Fund.

  95. THR says:

    If Sinclair’s snippets of Mises are representative, then Mises has not got a clue about liberalism. In fact, Mises in the antithesis of liberalism.

    If Mises is to be believed, then it’s actually liberals who don’t have a clue about Mises. Mises’ views on foreign policy are far closer to Chomsky, for example, than any right-liberal I can think of.

    To the chap above who lamented the quality of discussion here compared to the ALS blog, I would repeat that they are not the ravings of “libertarians” but of Marxist Muslims!

    Peter, it’s interesting that some thought this thread was ‘derailed’, and that the ALS thread was better. Significantly, it opened it a discussion of which were the best bombers to purchase, and several commenters chimed in on that theme. It speaks volumes about what passes for ‘liberalism’ in this milieu.

    The freedom of those Iraqis and Afghans is just as important as the freedom that we have in Australia.

    Which is precisely why actions that are inherently barbaric, such as bombing and occupation, have nothing whatsoever to do with freedom and ought to be opposed in the name of liberty.

  96. “Significantly, it opened it a discussion of which were the best bombers to purchase”

    The West has had to make that decision a few times, because of the lunatics who end up running communist states.

    But they’re not as bad as Hitler. Sorry THR. You win, again.

  97. THR says:

    The West has had to make that decision a few times, because of the lunatics who end up running communist states.

    Yes, Fidel and the Sandinistas were a mighty threat to ‘the West’, as were Vietnam and Iraq. I think this doctrine is known pejoratively as ‘cruise missile liberalism’.

  98. C.L. says:

    THR, you seem to be moved by the deaths of every conceivable sub-grouping of oppressed person in this world – where US power has been projected to save them – but you’re arctically pragmatic about the 100,000,000 people slaughtered by communists.

  99. THR says:

    No CL. I think that where US power has been ‘projected’ (i.e. where bombs, tanks, gulags and occupation have been used as a coercive strategy) is near-identical to the worst aspects of Soviet foreign policy, like Budapest in 1956. Is the the yardstick for ethical foreign policy, or for liberty, for that matter? That as long as you refrain from killing a hundred million people in one go, it’s acceptable?

  100. C.L. says:

    But you consider the North Vietnamese to have been “liberators,” right?

  101. THR says:

    The North Vietnamese were supported by most in the South, even the non-communists. In terms of their anti-colonial struggle, they most definitely were liberators, to a degree that has not been true of any US regime in living memory. And the South certainly wasn’t asking for mass bombing, defoliation, use of chemical weapons and random massacres and gang rapes in the name of liberty.

  102. John H. says:

    And the South certainly wasn’t asking for mass bombing, defoliation, use of chemical weapons and random massacres and gang rapes in the name of liberty.

    Nor were they asking for generations of high volume birth defects. Recent report suggested a similiar consequence for Iraq and that is excluding the depleted uranium issue. Dioxin, the Americans insisted it was safe but we now know it is bloody dangerous.

  103. daddy dave says:

    THR I said it was derailed- and I stand by that. A tally of deaths caused by wars that the US was involved in – ia not addressing the question of what a “libertarian foreign policy” should look like.
    Rehashing the sins of the West is not addressing the question of what a “libertarian foreign policy” should look like.

  104. C.L. says:

    Right, THR. So the Iraqis weren’t liberated by Bush but the South Vietnamese were liberated by Ho.

    Sorry. But that rules out anybody taking your observations on this subject seriously.

  105. THR says:

    Nor were they asking for generations of high volume birth defects.

    Yes, Agent Orange is still turning up in breast milk and the rest of the food supply.

    Right, THR. So the Iraqis weren’t liberated by Bush but the South Vietnamese were liberated by Ho.

    All Vietnamese were liberated by Ho against the French. I’d have thought this point fairly uncontroversial by now. To this day, the Vietnamese themselves still celebrate this liberation. I can’t imagine Iraqis celebrating ‘shock and awe’ day. Perhaps the 25% who currently have electricity can put on a light show.

    Rehashing the sins of the West is not addressing the question of what a “libertarian foreign policy” should look like

    You said you wanted to know what libertarian foreign policy might look like. Well, imagine a boot stomping on a human face. Then imagine a third person, licking the boot. The third person is liberal/libertarian foreign policy.

  106. C.L. says:

    By the way, the largest-scale chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in history was Saddam’s attack on Halabja in 1988. Birth defects were legion – as were permanent blindness, disfigurement, respiratory, digestive and neurological disorders, leukemia, lymphoma, and colon, breast, lung, skin, and other cancers, increased miscarriages and infertility and severe congenital disorders and other birth defects.

    The overthrow of this monster – first made US policy by the Clinton administration – was legal, just and necessary.

  107. THR says:

    The overthrow of this monster – first made US policy by the Clinton administration – was legal, just and necessary.

    And the ‘shock and awe’ campaign? The years of occupation? The looting of the US and Iraqi taxpayer? The destruction of infrastructure, and the killing of hundreds of thousands? Legality aside, mass murder is not ‘liberation’, and the link I provided on this topic on the open thread has plenty of evidence illustrating how ‘just’ your beloved war was.

  108. Michael Fisk says:

    The North Vietnamese were supported by most in the South, even the non-communists.

    There is no evidence that this was true in the 1970s (when this question actually mattered), by which point the war had turned into a conventional one between the states. Even during the Tet Offensive, when the NVA might have had majority support, they were unable to generate a significant uprising among the population. After that, it was a bust. The most controversial issues involving land (which the Communists later confiscated) were resolved partly through gradual reforms in the early 70s.

    In terms of their anti-colonial struggle, they most definitely were liberators

    No they weren’t. They confiscated the assets of every single private business in Saigon, prompting a one million man, woman and child exodus, and tried to impose the same brutal economic expropriation on the peasantry, causing massive hoarding and a collapse in production. For many years after 1975, they had to send Northern carpet-baggers into the South to administer and police the place, precisely because they DIDN’T trust the populace.

    The only justification I can think of for the Northern conquest of the South was simply that the country needed to be united to face a growing strategic threat from China. Otherwise, economically, socially and culturally, the Northern conquest was a disaster (they had to reverse most of their policies over the following 20 years – but hypocrisy is the tribute we usually pay to virtue). There is no evidence that it was supported by the majority of Southerners in 1975.

  109. C.L. says:

    I can’t imagine Iraqis celebrating ’shock and awe’ day. Perhaps the 25% who currently have electricity can put on a light show.

    I think you’re projecting the enthusiasm compulsorily lavished upon celebrating communist “liberations.” (And history proved how forced that levity was).

    But in Iraq tens of millions have embraced elections and nascent democracy. This is a great thing to most normal people.

  110. John H. says:

    You’re missing the point CL. A people will soon forget the liberation but over generations they will be constantly reminded of the suffering induced by American strategies. Whether or not the invasion was justified is irrelevant, what is relevant is that it leaves a legacy that will do nothing to help engender a good attitude towards the USA. That needs to change, if countries are going in to help countries they need to be damn sure that the legacy of that intervention does not involve generations of suffering.

  111. THR says:

    There is no evidence that it was supported by the majority of Southerners in 1975.

    This is comedy, albeit, of a grim sort. You’re saying that after 3 million dead through war, and 7 million Southern Vietnamese displaced, the South was less keen on
    communism than before the war. I don’t think this actually supports your position.

    But in Iraq tens of millions have embraced elections and nascent democracy. This is a great thing to most normal people.

    The Iraqi people are definitely pro-democracy. Their ‘liberators’, however, are not, which is why Iraqis have little to no say on the privatisation of their resources, legislation, or anything else that might effect their daily lives. Iraqi ‘democracy’ is conducted under conditions of the US having paid off various warlords and sectarians, and with no genuinely independent candidates able to stand (the past leaders of post-Saddam Iraq have been notorious for their corruption and stoogery). To refer to these arrangements as freedom is a sick joke.

  112. C.L. says:

    Oh baloney. The US liberated Iraqis from the worst mass murderer of the late twentieth century and Americans are still moving heaven and earth to bring that people back to its feet after the many years of Saddam’s horrific tyranny. Their economy is going gangbusters and the future looks a lot fucking better than it did under rapist psychopath Uday Hussein. Denying this is simply malicious and childish.

  113. THR says:

    The US liberated Iraqis from the worst mass murderer of the late twentieth century and Americans are still moving heaven and earth to bring that people back to its feet after the many years of Saddam’s horrific tyranny

    Correction. The US, under Reagan, supported the worst mass murderer of the late twentieth century (if we exclude Reagan himself). When it became convenient to do so, the US overthrew Saddam on the pretext of self-defence, only later, out of embarrassment, claiming that the war was one of ‘liberation’.

    By every measure, life was actually better under Saddam, and that’s in spite of sanctions that killed many, and in spite of Saddam’s own horrendous abuses of power (most of which were old news by the early 1990s).

    Denying this is simply malicious and partisan hackery.

  114. C.L. says:

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree, THR. I do understand that basic anti-Bushitler fieldcraft in the Michael Moore Army demands that lefty zombies continue to deny reality in Iraq. Not even Obama and Biden are doing that anymore. They’re trying to promote the victory as their work, surreal though that is to relate. Moreover, as I said above, it’s simply not possible to take seriously your views on the actual liberation of Iraq when you consider Ho Chi Minh a “liberator” of South Vietnam.

  115. THR says:

    Here’s well-known commie sympathiser, Eisenhower, on uncle Ho (in reference to his campaign against the French):

    I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai.

    As for Iraq – Obama and Biden are not ‘leftists’ on this issue (or many others). The empirical evidence does not point to a campaign of liberation having occurred. Most Iraqis have no access to power, clean water, sanitation, or basic security. But you’re right, this topic is well-worn by now, and I’m sure anybody who reads this thread can make up their own mind.

  116. Michael Fisk says:

    THR, that was in the 1950s; the “objective conditions” of that time were significantly different to the post-Tet era. Even “A People’s History of the Vietnam War” admits that there was a significant drop in support for the VC after the Tet Offensive.

  117. Michael Fisk says:

    This is comedy, albeit, of a grim sort. You’re saying that after 3 million dead through war, and 7 million Southern Vietnamese displaced, the South was less keen on
    communism than before the war. I don’t think this actually supports your position.

    No it isn’t. I’m pretty sure I know the history of the Indochina War far better than you do, for reasons I won’t go into at the moment. There is no evidence that the majority of Southerners supported a Communist takeover in 1975, and the actual events that followed point in the opposite direction.

  118. Michael Fisk says:

    Sorry, I mean “No it isn’t comedy”

  119. THR says:

    There is no evidence that the majority of Southerners supported a Communist takeover in 1975, and the actual events that followed point in the opposite direction.

    Fisk, my point is that, even if you’re correct here, it took violence on a scale that was literally unprecedented to get the Southern Vietnamese to this point. Also, the war was started over a decade before that, when the South was run by an odious puppet regime that provoked widespread resistance in the South, and prompted Buddhist monks to self-immolate.

  120. C.L. says:

    The empirical evidence does not point to a campaign of liberation having occurred. Most Iraqis have no access to power, clean water, sanitation, or basic security.

    So – pursuant to those criteria – there was no liberation of Europe in 1945 either.

    Mmkay. Interesting.

  121. C.L. says:

    Lefty Newsweek finally concedes…

    Victory At Last: Rebirth of a Nation.

  122. Yobbo says:

    All those vietnamese wanted to be communists so goddamn much that they escaped in their millions when the communists took over. And strangely enough, most of them went to non-communist countries like the US and Australia instead of say, China or Russia.

  123. Michael Fisk says:

    Actually there were two Million Man Marches in Vietnam.

    The first was in 1954 when the country was officially partitioned, and free immigration between the rival states allowed for a short time. You know the story, a million went South and less than a tenth of that went North. So people were more likely to stay and take their chances with Diem than Ho.

    The second was in 1975. Rinse and repeat.

  124. THR says:

    All those vietnamese wanted to be communists so goddamn much that they escaped in their millions when the communists took over.

    Yobbo’s obviously not acquainted with logic, seeking to justify the US invasion in the 60s retroactively by way of Communist repression in 1975.

    If you’re seriously trying to paint Vietnam as a ‘just war’, you’d have to demonstrate that the Vietnamese were so enamoured of their puppet regime in the South that they were willing to sacrifice a few million lives to defend it. The evidence for this assertion is extremely thin on the ground, hence the diversionary tactics of focusing on 1975.

  125. THR says:

    So – pursuant to those criteria – there was no liberation of Europe in 1945 either.

    Mmkay. Interesting.

    Inadvertently, you’ve reached the heart of the matter here, CL.

    The US and Australia have had only one military campaign in the past 100 or so years that could even vaguely meet the criteria for being ‘just’, or a war of liberation. That was WWII. Even then, many actions within WWII were entirely unjustified (like nuking the Japanese).

    Since WWII, there’s been a campaign to designate every pseudo-threat as being akin to fascism, and every tinpot dictator as being akin to Hitler. This patterns has been repeated with Nasser, Saddam, Milosevic, and now, Islamic terrorists. Every person who suggests that perhaps bombing Iraqis is not the best means of countering the threat of terrorism is deemed an ‘appeaser’, an attempt to paint principled objections to violence seem like Chamberlain-style dithering.

    In short, it’s a cheap rhetorical ploy, and it proves nothing except the desperate attempts of (some of) the right to engage in mental and moral contortions when justifying the unjustifiable.

  126. Capitalist Piggy says:

    THR,

    Just for the record, and I’m sure you probably already know this, not all libertarians are so ready to got to war. I’d be surprised if you’ve not heard of folks like Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell and perhaps also American historian Thomas E Woods:

    “I used to be one of these “the Pentagon can do no wrong” conservatives until I realized a few things: (1) the contradiction at work in my holding up this one government institution as beyond reproach; (2) the fact that government lies surrounding foreign policy are especially egregious and embarrassing, if we’re going to be honest about it; (3) I would have had a field day if the Soviet Union had tried to pull off some of these lies, but when it’s “my” government I instead searched around for supporting evidence to back up the lies; (4) no supporter of the free market can look at military procurement and the military-industrial complex in any detail (and I am confident most conservatives haven’t) without recoiling in utter disgust. And that’s not to mention the unspeakable and completely avoidable devastation and loss of life wrought by this wing of the government in adventures that had more to do with fueling imperial ambition than with actually defending the country.

    No conservative, especially those who lecture the world about moral relativism, can support Bill Clinton’s sanctions on Iraq, for example. Sanctions always hurt only the subject population. Everyone knows that. A century ago the policy would have been condemned as an act of barbarism.”

    and

    “As for the military, well, this is where conservatives suddenly become deeply reverential toward government and government employees, and where they believe every word of the Ministry of Propaganda they’d just condemned as liars and scoundrels not ten seconds before.”

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods128.html

  127. Peter Patton says:

    THR

    This thread is the first time I have encountered a lot of these readings. In truth, I had never seen the name ‘Mises’ before this blog. And I had never read that Mill article you linked to (which by the way, I say thank you as there is a hell of a lot in it to challenge one).

    But so far, I think your critics here have not done a good job in rebutting your repeating the modern-day Marxist/Socialist party line that genocide is intrinsic to liberalism.

    Just confining ourselves to this thread, you have absolutely raised strong cogent objections and denunciations about liberalism’s seminal ideas and proponents, which demand a response. I’ll get to that when I have given the sources you link a respectable amount of attention.

    However, already I would advise that this reflexive “Mill’s pamphlets = Iraq/Vietnam/Chile/Whatever” ain’t gonna wash. Great powers have ALWAYS assumed charge in some ‘progressive/civilizing’ program right from the dawn of time. The ideas/interests/motivations/reasons for any particular move of a great power beyond its immediate territory always deserve attention to the specific context of that time and place.

    If your target is atrocities resultant from great power expansion, an explanatory framework that had integrity would drop the unique evil implicit in the agency of the ideology of liberalism.

    But more specific comments anon.

  128. Adrien says:

    Great powers have ALWAYS assumed charge in some ‘progressive/civilizing’ program right from the dawn of time.
    .
    True.
    .
    And also all you call higher culture is based on cruelty.
    .
    Maybe if you guys stopped displaying your well understood differences of perspectives and stopped crapping on about Vietnam you might get ’round to exchanging something constructive viz what a cvilized global order would look like and would you get there.

  129. THR says:

    The Thomas Woods quotes are quite interesting. Obviously, other people ‘get it’, even when they aren’t lefties.

    But so far, I think your critics here have not done a good job in rebutting your repeating the modern-day Marxist/Socialist party line that genocide is intrinsic to liberalism.

    I don’t know that genocide is intrinsic to liberalism, but liberals seem, all too often, to have been the weaker collaborating partner in one murderous escapade or another. I actually think that foreign policy and criticism of the military-industrial complex is something that lefties and right-libertarians could actually agree upon, in theory, at least. And it’s also a radically ‘liberal’ step to take an Iraqi life (for example) as being of just as much weight as an Australian life.

  130. It would be nice if people could stop fighting over Vietnam, yes indeed Adrien. We (meaning the USA and Oz and ARVN) lost; get over it.

    That apart, wars are not nice. The libertarians at Lew Rockwell can get mighty odd at times, but they are right in this. Wars are generally a bad thing, and even when they can be construed as a good thing, they are not to be entered into lightly.

  131. THR says:

    It would be nice if people could stop fighting over Vietnam, yes indeed Adrien

    Nobody’s ‘fighting’ over Vietnam. A couple of ignorant extremists are trying to portray it as a humanitarian exercise, and I’m trying to provide them with basic empirical evidence.

    There’s still the broader question of liberal complicity in every kind of mass murder, done for western ‘freedom’.

  132. JC says:

    so the best thing would have been to let the south be taken over by the north?

  133. THR says:

    Or to have not split the country in the first place.

  134. JC says:

    The south split as they didn’t want to live under the north’s oppression, so you’re suggestion they should have? Why?

  135. THR says:

    No, the South was invented by the French, and ruled via puppet government. The French were directly funded by the US at the time, and when the French left the US took over as benefactors. ‘Oppression’ from the North was not a factor in the invention of the South, and the South mounted a massive resistance campaign against the puppet governments.

  136. JC says:

    It doesn’t matter if it was invented by Moses. If they didn’t want to join the south are you suggesting they should have been forcibly taken over by the North?

  137. JC says:

    The country was partitioned by the 1954 Geneva conference between the communist north and the free trading south. It held free elections in 1967.

  138. THR says:

    They weren’t ‘forcibly taken over’ by the North. Have a look at the literature on this stuff. The government in the South was being rejected by its own people, and, in turn, was responded with torture and execution.
    There are serious questions that need to be asked of any libertarian that supports the Vietnam war. It’s about the same as a communist supporting Pinochet.

  139. JC says:

    The government in the south may have been rejected by its own people and there were several quite unpopular governments. However that is a smokescreen for those that want to suggest the will of the southerners was to join with the North and go commie. That’s simply not true. The great and overwhelming number of southerners never had any interest in joining with the north despite the unpopularity of some of the southern governments.

    They had free elections in 1967 and would have been sooner if the North wasn’t continually attacking them.

  140. JC says:

    If you offer up a devils soup of Pinochet or Allende who was basically turning the country into a commie state then the choice of any libertarian would be to go with Pinochet.

    The Chilean Supreme country requested that Pinochet take over as Allende was flouting the constitution.

    Of course Pinochet went too far and should have gone back to running the military after the country was able to run free elections.

  141. Yobbo says:

    Yobbo’s obviously not acquainted with logic, seeking to justify the US invasion in the 60s retroactively by way of Communist repression in 1975.

    No THR, there was no retroactive justification necessary. The whole world already knew what happened under Communism because they were not at all ignorant of what was happening in the USSR and China.

    They didn’t have to wait until 1975 to know that if communism took over the south then those people would be damned to a miserable existence of near-starvation, repression and deprivation. It had already happened everywhere else in the world where communism reigned.

    That was the justification. Communism is every bit as evil as fascism. The world was as justified in repelling communist pushes as they were in Defeating Germany and Japan in WWII.

    The only reason they didn’t act against Russia and China in the exact same way in the 60’s is because to do so would have resulted in Armageddon, and letting people suffer and die under communist regimes was unfortunately the lesser of two great evils.

  142. THR says:

    The elections in 1967 were not ‘free’ by any standard. In any case, even if we accept your version of events as true, how the hell does that justify the US planting literally 10 million bomb craters in the south? To say nothing of the massacres, napalm, Agent Orange, etc…

  143. JC says:

    The elections in 67 were certainly freer than what the North had ever offered.

  144. Michael Fisk says:

    A couple of ignorant extremists are trying to portray it as a humanitarian exercise

    Um, no. I’m arguing the opposite – that the takeover of the South was NOT a humanitarian exercise. I haven’t presented an opinion of the US’s actions up to now; it wasn’t relevant to the position that I refuted (which was that the majority of Southerners supported the Northern conquest, something which the Northerners themselves evidently didn’t believe).

    No, the South was invented by the French, and ruled via puppet government. The French were directly funded by the US at the time, and when the French left the US took over as benefactors.

    Ho Chi Minh elected to join the French Union, which broke apart in 1946 over a revenue collection dispute. The 1953 land reforms were instigated by Mao, not by Ho. The “Vietnamese Labour Party” actually had to apologise due to the extreme brutality inflicted by Maoist cadre. They ceded the Paracels and Spratleys in 1958 to the Chinese (even though the islands were under the physical control of the Southern government). The DRV was itself a puppet, de jure under the French (which ended in 46) and then de facto under Mao in the 1950s.

    ‘Oppression’ from the North was not a factor in the invention of the South, and the South mounted a massive resistance campaign against the puppet governments.

    Oppression from the North actually gave Diem a political constituency that he had previously lacked – after the 1954 partition, about a million people fled South (this had complex causes, but there had been a campaign of Maoist mass murder in the Northern provinces in the previous year) and less than a hundred thousand fled North. More people chose to take their chances with Diem than with Ho. And another million people later chose to take their chances abroad, rather than live under Le Duan.

  145. JC says:

    Leave the American involvement out of it for the moment and lets focus of the right of determination of the Southerners, who I might add never had any intention of joining back with the north and were constantly under attack despite the agreement to partition.

  146. Michael Fisk says:

    They weren’t ‘forcibly taken over’ by the North.

    The North had to start a conventional war in the spring of 1975. They used force.

  147. THR says:

    Yobbo, I thought you were just being cursory in your views. Now it’s clear that your merely an idiot. The regime led by Ho Chi Minh liberated the Vietnamese from French colonial rule. The degree of ‘communism’ involved in all of this is marginal. The US were not involved in a humanitarian mission. Go back and have a look, if you doubt me.

    As for communism more generally – there’s absolutely no doubt that, post-Stalin, US regimes were responsible for more deaths than the evil commies. Even to this day, it’s notable that the US is occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, and has bases in much of the world, whilst the Russians have nothing. The US has Guantanamo (and its spineless ‘libertarian’ supporters) whilst the Russians merely attack the odd dissident here or there. The difference qua foreign policy is negligible, or in the USSR’s favour.

  148. Michael Fisk says:

    So, in sum, there is no evidence that the majority of Southerners supported the Northern annexation of their country when it actually mattered – after the Paris Peace Accords. US intervention made things worse, not better. And the Left was pro-war, not anti-war. They supported the military conquest of the South.

  149. THR says:

    The North had to start a conventional war in the spring of 1975. They used force.

    They started purging perceived collaborators, as any regime would do. This persecution is well documented by now.

    Leave the American involvement out of it for the moment and lets focus of the right of determination of the Southerners, who I might add never had any intention of joining back with the north and were constantly under attack despite the agreement to partition.

    The Vietnamese always were and always will be one people. They are still, officially, a ‘socialist republic’, north and south. The widespread resistance from the south ought to tell us that the government there wasn’t exactly popular.

    If you offer up a devils soup of Pinochet or Allende who was basically turning the country into a commie state then the choice of any libertarian would be to go with Pinochet.

    Jc, it’s late now, but remind me in the next few days, and I’ll happily provide you with the evidence that proves, beyond any reasonable doubt, that economic conditions were actually vastly better under Allende, and that Pinochet’s tactics reduced wages, crashed the economy, and ultimately caused him to nationalise the banks.

  150. THR says:

    And the Left was pro-war, not anti-war. They supported the military conquest of the South.

    This is very true of some of the US left. It’s kind of a perfect analogue to libertarians supporting ‘shock and awe’ in Iraq.

  151. tal says:

    THR what’s your ideal country/political system? Serious question.

  152. Yobbo says:

    THR I don’t know if you have read the news lately but there is only 1 genuine communist state left in the world and that is North Korea.

    Russia, China, Vietnam and every other place in the world changed their minds 30 years ago.

    Do you really believe that US are worse than North Korea?

  153. Michael Fisk says:

    By the way, what would people have said if Abe Lincoln, after all the toil and hardship of liberating the South from slavery, had backflipped only 11 years later after deciding that the South had been right after all on the slavery question? That is precisely what the Hanoian elite did in the 1980s. They initiated a bloody fratricidal war, ceded a not insignificant resource-rich seabed to the Chinese in return for arms (which they are now paying for dearly), caused over a million people to jump in boats, evicted the entire merchant class of the South, destroyed the economy, brought agriculture to the brink of ruin…for nothing! Nothing! They ditched Communism in favour of the same crony-capitalist set-up of the guys who “lost”.

  154. JC says:

    The degree of ‘communism’ involved in all of this is marginal.

    Some of that is true. Ho has actually been described as a fascist at times.

  155. Michael Fisk says:

    The widespread resistance from the south ought to tell us that the government there wasn’t exactly popular.

    As I have already pointed out, the resistance went nowhere in the Tet Offensive as the population did not actually join the side of the insurgents. The North launched a conventional war in 1975 because the South WASN’T going to fall due to internal pressure. There is no evidence that the majority of the Southern population desired to be ruled by a bunch of Hanoian bureaucrats, which is what actually happened after “liberation”. It was a bust.

  156. tal says:

    Yobbo to be fair I think North Korea will be a nicer place after Lil Kim’s boy is running the joint 🙂

  157. Well, that was a fail. Vietnam redux.

  158. JC says:

    THR

    The left often bring up the fact that the Southern governments were unpopular which is true. I don’t deny that. However it’s a long fucking bow to then suggest that the unpopularity led to people’s desire there to be taken over by the commie north.

  159. JC says:

    “Well, that was a fail” LOl…. Good try SL.

  160. Michael Fisk says:

    Ho has actually been described as a fascist at times

    He wasn’t a fascist at all. We’re talking about a guy who was well intentioned at the start and decided that joining the Third International would be the best way to get the guns for his anti-French guerilla war. He probably believed the Marxist BS to some extent, but not nearly as much as the rest of the leadership. The truly awful anti-economic policies were rigourously pursued by Ho’s successors.

  161. THR says:

    THR what’s your ideal country/political system? Serious question.

    Australia, with worker control of industry and industry. In terms of revolutions, I’d say Barcelona under anarchist rule.

    Russia, China, Vietnam and every other place in the world changed their minds 30 years ago

    Do you really believe that US are worse than North Korea?

    In terms of foreign policy, there’s absolutely no doubt that the US is the most horrific regime of the past 30 years. It supports regimes as bad as North Korea, such as those in Egypt, or Uzbekistan, which somehow manage to escape media reporting.
    Excellent point. The Russians (for the most part) definitely hated Stalinism. It doesn’t mean that they wanted free market capitalism in its place. Every bit of research that I’ve done in this area suggests that people actually wanted socialism, but conducted very differently to the Stalinist or Maoist template.

    They ditched Communism in favour of the same crony-capitalist set-up of the guys who “lost”.

    All true, Fisk. And this supports mass-slaughter how…?

    There is no evidence that the majority of the Southern population desired to be ruled by a bunch of Hanoian bureaucrats, which is what actually happened after “liberation”.

    You’re framing things in terms of negatives, again. The issue here isn’t whether the North Vietnamese were nice, but whether mass murder by the US made anything better. It didn’t.

  162. JC says:

    I’d put him in the same camp as Chang Kai shek. Not fascism in nazi sense, more of a Franco.

  163. JC says:

    You’re framing things in terms of negatives, again. The issue here isn’t whether the North Vietnamese were nice, but whether mass murder by the US made anything better. It didn’t.

    So that gives a free pass to the North, hey?

  164. THR says:

    So that gives a free pass to the North, hey?

    I don’t see a push for the US to invade Tibet/Belarus?Saudi Arabia/Uzbekistan. Is that giving a free pass?

  165. tal says:

    C’mon Helen,’Nam is the new crusades 🙂

  166. Michael Fisk says:

    No, I agree entirely that the US intervention made things much, much worse. The original question that prompted my “intervention” on this thread was not the question of US intervention, which started with the ousting and murder of the one guy that the Hanoians actually respected and feared to some extent, but whether the majority of Southerners (again, when it actually counted) wanted to be annexed by a group of Stalinists (I use that word deliberately – the pro-Third International Viet Minh took a much harsher stance towards the Trotskyists than they did even the pro-Bao Dai monarchists).

  167. JC says:

    You’re not answering the question though, THR.

  168. THR says:

    Fisk, I’m not saying we should eulogise or support the regime.

    Jc, the North were hardly flawless, but considering that they were actually liberatorys (to a far greater extent than any US regime in recent memory) they ought to at least be understood in terms of their context.

  169. Michael Fisk says:

    JC, Ho didn’t have anything like the same freedom of action as either Franco or Chiang, so comparisons are unfair at that level. He had to get his guns from somewhere, and Stalin delegated that task to Mao. But this came at the cost of a lot of sovereignty. Mao dictated economic policy in the early years and threatened to withhold economic and military aid if the DRV didn’t do China’s bidding on international matters.

  170. JC says:

    Liberators? Dude, they weren’t exactly wanted. If they were you may want to explain why they had to fight their way in after the US left.

  171. Australia, with worker control of industry and industry.

    How would you bring this about? And what do you mean by ‘worker’? (You seem to assume a factory model). Or is this only to apply in identifiable ‘factories’? (Car plants and the like). What about, say, law firms?

  172. Rococo Liberal says:

    Skeptic

    The workers do to some extent control law firms. After all we Partners own the business and work in it. The other lawyers mostly want to be Partners, so they too will one day own the business 🙂

  173. Yobbo says:

    Excellent point. The Russians (for the most part) definitely hated Stalinism. It doesn’t mean that they wanted free market capitalism in its place. Every bit of research that I’ve done in this area suggests that people actually wanted socialism,

    That’s the point though isn’t it THR? Communists always want the fluffy bunny and lollies version of socialism where everybody lives together in peaceful happiness.

    However this system ignores the reality of human nature, and so in order to make sure nobody bucks the system, Stalinist repression of liberty and re-education of non-socialists is necessary in order to get the ball rolling.

  174. “‘cruise missile liberalism’”

    I can’t fault low cost targeted assassination of undesireables like Mugabe and the Taliban leadership.

    Yes you’re right Yobbo – only 100 million died.

  175. dover_beach says:

    anarchist rule

    Firstly, an apparent contradiction. And secondly, with the passage of time the practices connected with this mode of rule become institutions, and thus the offices of authority appears including their apparatuses of power.

    In terms of foreign policy, there’s absolutely no doubt that the US is the most horrific regime of the past 30 years. It supports regimes as bad as North Korea, such as those in Egypt, or Uzbekistan, which somehow manage to escape media reporting.

    I’m really amazed by this argument, it shows a high degree of tendentiousness and an almost complete lack of judgement. To suggest that the US “supports” NK is akin to arguing that the US “supported” the USSR once it engaged in the policy of détente. Moreover, it’s associations with unsavoury regimes is hardly unique; it is of a piece with most major Western European powers and yet the US is singled-out as “absolutely no doubt…the most horrific regime of the past 30 years”.

  176. Capitalist Piggy says:

    The following is a link to an interview of Murray Rothbard in the February 1973 issue of Reason magazine.
    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/rothbard_on_war.html

    And a couple of extracts:

    The libertarian position, generally, is to minimize State power as much as possible, down to zero, and isolationism is the full expression in foreign affairs of the domestic objective of whittling down State power. In other words, interventionism is the opposite of isolationism, and of course it goes on up to war, as the aggrandizement of State power crosses national boundaries into other States, pushing other people around etc. So this is the foreign counterpart of the domestic aggression against the internal population. I see the two as united.

    The responsibility of trying to limit or abolish foreign intervention is avoided by many conservative libertarians in that they are very, very concerned with things like price control – of course I agree with them. They are very, very concerned about eliminating taxes, licensing, and so forth – with which I agree – but somehow when it comes to foreign policy there’s a black out. The libertarian position against the State, the hostility toward expanding government intervention and so forth, goes by the board – all of a sudden you hear those same people who are worried about government intervention in the steel industry cheering every American act of mass murder in Vietnam or bombing or pushing around people all over the world.

    And this:

    Q: What are the basic elements of a proper libertarian foreign policy?

    A: Well, the basic elements of any libertarian foreign policy is to pressure the government to do nothing abroad, just to pack up shop and go home. General Smeadly Butler, one of my great heroes, formerly of the Marine Corps, in the late 1930s proposed a constitutional amendment in The Woman’s Home Companion. His article was a sensation for awhile but of course the amendment never was adopted and has now been forgotten. But it was kind of a charming constitutional amendment – I recommend that everybody read it. In essence it says something like this: no American soldier, plane, or ship shall be sent any place outside America. In other words, complete abstinence from any kind of American military intervention and political and economic intervention.

    Moreover, he would agree with THR that the US is an imperialist nation:

    …empirically it so happens that the American government since the days of Woodrow Wilson has been the main threat to the peace of the world, the main imperialist, the main embarker on a policy of meddling in every conceivable country every place in the world to make sure their government shapes up properly. So that the policy of American isolationism is more important for libertarian principle than any other country’s isolationism.

  177. dover_beach says:

    The libertarian position, generally, is to minimize State power as much as possible, down to zero, and isolationism is the full expression in foreign affairs of the domestic objective of whittling down State power.

    I think this is simply wrong. If the analogy is going to work he needs to explain how the analogy holds beyond glib references to state power, etc. What would “isolationism” mean domestically speaking? And is every “intervention” abroad an extension of ‘state power’? I don’t think that the Rothbardian answers to these questions will be at all satisfying but I’m prepared to hear them.

  178. daddy dave says:

    THR is in denial about the fact that the world is a big, nasty, dangerous place, and is full of competing hostile interests.
    That lack of understanding leads to statments like this:
    The US and Australia have had only one military campaign in the past 100 or so years that could even vaguely meet the criteria for being ‘just’, or a war of liberation. That was WWII.
    .
    which leads to conclusions like this:
    In terms of foreign policy, there’s absolutely no doubt that the US is the most horrific regime of the past 30 years.
    .
    There’s little point in arguing the details, when the big picture view is so distorted.
    This is the same mistake that Obama makes. That’s why he kowtows to the Russians and the Iranians and pretty much every other megalomaniacal vampiric drinker-of-the-people’s-blood he can find, because if they are just shown some love and understanding, they’ll all be really nice to each other, and to us.
    It’s wrong, it’s deluded, it’s dangerous.

  179. THR says:

    And what do you mean by ‘worker’? (You seem to assume a factory model). Or is this only to apply in identifiable ‘factories’? (Car plants and the like). What about, say, law firms?

    I define worker as somebody who lacks ownership or control of the means of production. So yes, a lawyer could be considered a worker. Factories are not the only model here. Public hospitals, for instance, could be run by health workers, rather than bureaucrats, for example.

    However this system ignores the reality of human nature, and so in order to make sure nobody bucks the system, Stalinist repression of liberty and re-education of non-socialists is necessary in order to get the ball rolling.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about, Yobbo. Anybody who invokes ‘human nature’ in their defence of atrocity is clutching at straws.
    The fact is, it isn’t hard to find, among the older generation in Russia, or other communist countries, significant nostalgia for the old regime (though not the Stalinist aspects of it). In many cases, life has actually gotten worse for people following the fall of Sovietism.

    I’m really amazed by this argument, it shows a high degree of tendentiousness and an almost complete lack of judgement.

    Read again for comprehension, dover. The US directly supports regimes such as Egypt by supplying them with arms and aid. It’s idiotic for you and your pals here to clutch your pearls about North Korea, but turn a blind eye to US-backed dictatorships in Colombia, Uzbekistan, and so forth. Then you’ve also got the US paying Israel $3 billion a year to terrorise Palestinians, and a rather fawning alliance between the US/UK and Saudi, and so on. It’s true that the US is not unique in this regard, but it’s also true that, by any empirical standard, the US has supported vastly more bloodshed than anybody else in the past few decades.

    THR is in denial about the fact that the world is a big, nasty, dangerous place, and is full of competing hostile interests.

    What rubbish. Why don’t you demonstrate that US ‘intervention’ was justified by self-defence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Central America, Indonesia, Vietnam, and so forth. Your comments about Obama make no sense – he doesn’t ‘kowtow’ to anybody that his predecessor didn’t also support.

  180. dover_beach says:

    Read again for comprehension, dover. The US directly supports regimes such as Egypt by supplying them with arms and aid. It’s idiotic for you and your pals here to clutch your pearls about North Korea, but turn a blind eye to US-backed dictatorships in Colombia, Uzbekistan, and so forth. Then you’ve also got the US paying Israel $3 billion a year to terrorise Palestinians, and a rather fawning alliance between the US/UK and Saudi, and so on.

    There is nothing wrong with my comprehension, THR. No one’s turning a blind eye to the realpolitik engaged in by the US which is no different from that engaged in by any other contemporary European state and yet you single out the US for opprobrium; that is simply being tendentious. I also find it curious beyond words for you to “clutch your pearls” at US support for Israel while at the same time ignoring its support of the PA (but lets not get into another Middle Eastern deathmatch) or the support provided by the EU to the PA that helps, among other things, the latter terrorise Palestinians and Israelis.

  181. daddy dave says:

    What rubbish.
    .
    What was 9/11?
    .
    Why don’t you demonstrate that US ‘intervention’ was justified by self-defence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Central America, Indonesia, Vietnam, and so forth
    .
    okay. but, how about simply “justified”.
    Iraq: WMD’s (later found to not exist) + genocidal, warmongering dictator (yeah I know you lefties are tired of hearing it)
    Afghanistan: you’re fucking kidding, right?
    Central America: given communism’s track record in Russia and China, it seems justifiable on face value to stop it taking hold in other places;
    Indonesia: (I don’t know enough about that one)
    Vietnam: see Central America
    Chile: events in Chile, contrary to Leftist conspiratorial theorising, were largely driven by internal political events within Chilean society, although admittedly America got involved and tried to influence the outcome of the upheaval to its own benefit. Unfortunately, America didn’t predict that the guy they were backing, Pinochet, would turn out to be a sadistic megalomaniac once he gained power. Not good, but America’s role as the puppet master here, as in many places, is somewhat overstated.

  182. daddy dave says:

    dover beach, you hit that nail on the head every time.

  183. THR says:

    No one’s turning a blind eye to the realpolitik engaged in by the US which is no different from that engaged in by any other contemporary European state and yet you single out the US for opprobrium; that is simply being tendentious.

    I made perfectly clear that other states engage in similar behaviour, but I also asserted that the US eclipsed all others in terms of the scale of tis support for brutality.

    You and dave both seem utterly confused, or hypocritical, or both. You suggest that, because some regimes (‘communist’ or ‘genocidal’) are repressive, the US needs to enact its own mass repression in order to save them. Are you suggesting that the US political and economic system cannot exist unless the US military and the CIA flex their muscles around the world?

    What was 9/11?

    It was an act by a terrorist group, not the state of Afghanistan, and still less the people of Afghanistan, yet its the latter whom the US are subjecting to bombings on a regular basis.

  184. daddy dave says:

    THR, let me take one aspect of this debate: the cold war. I agree with dover beach: the US engaged in realpolitik in a big way. However, the prevailing view inside the US was that communism was a real threat to America. Maybe they were mistaken. But even if they were, they were nonetheless genuinely motivated by defensive self-interest.

  185. daddy dave says:

    I also asserted that the US eclipsed all others in terms of the scale of tis support for brutality.
    .
    I think that’s not correct.
    .
    It was an act by a terrorist group, not the state of Afghanistan
    .
    I think that’s also not really right. they had state sponsorship.

  186. C.L. says:

    Lefty Boston Globe now concedes:

    Mission accomplished, indeed.

    RONALD REAGAN liked to say that there was no limit to what a man could accomplish if he didn’t mind who got the credit. The transformation of Iraq from a hellish tyranny into a functioning democracy will be recorded as a signal accomplishment of George W. Bush’s presidency, and he probably doesn’t mind in the least that the Obama administration would like to take the credit.

    RTWT.

  187. dover_beach says:

    I made perfectly clear that other states engage in similar behaviour, but I also asserted that the US eclipsed all others in terms of the scale of tis support for brutality.

    You’re now retreating from what you initially said, THR, which is welcome, but don’t feel offended if I recognise as a retreat nevertheless. You said that the US was “absolutely” the most horrific regime in the last 30 years, not relatively speaking, the most horrific. So don’t hide behind “similar” or “scales”; you exposed your slip by saying “absolutely”.

    You and dave both seem utterly confused, or hypocritical, or both. You suggest that, because some regimes (‘communist’ or ‘genocidal’) are repressive, the US needs to enact its own mass repression in order to save them. Are you suggesting that the US political and economic system cannot exist unless the US military and the CIA flex their muscles around the world?

    In fairness, I want to concede this point if only in recognition of your own ‘mastery’ here but I won’t. The ‘you’ that refers to me above should refer to Dave since I didn’t raise the point you’re addressing, Dave did.

  188. dover_beach says:

    But, anyway, enough talking about the US and the West, isn’t there a single libertarian that is willing to answer the questions I raised here:

    http://catallaxyfiles.com/2010/03/05/libertarian-foreign-policy/comment-page-4/#comment-22133

  189. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop says:

    I see so Iraq has functioning institutions like all other deocracies.
    I guess that is why they have abolished corruption there and capitalism is thriving.

  190. dover_beach says:

    I guess that is why they have abolished corruption there…

    Have we abolished corruption here?

  191. daddy dave says:

    Are you suggesting that the US political and economic system cannot exist unless the US military and the CIA flex their muscles around the world?
    .
    Realistically, this has to be true to an extent. Pirates are one non-controversial example. Juntas (which are really like land-based pirates that take over a small nation) are another. The question is, to what extent.

  192. C.L. says:

    I guess that is why they have abolished corruption there and capitalism is thriving.

    I take it you’re sarcastically describing Obama’s America, Homer?

  193. DB,

    Not many people follow Rothbard. His ideas went from pragmatism (don’t get involved in shitfights) to reductio ad absurdum (all war is wrong).

    He’s not libertarian anyway. He essentially wanted to ban banking.

  194. dover_beach says:

    SRL, thanks.

  195. THR says:

    You said that the US was “absolutely” the most horrific regime in the last 30 years, not relatively speaking, the most horrific.

    There’s no retreat here, dover. I stand by the claim that the US is the most horrific in terms of foreign policy in the past 30 years, in absolute terms.

    Moving along, I think there are two broad arguments here in defence of US foreign policy. The first is the claim that US atrocities are justifiably motivated by self-defence of US ‘interests’. The second, which is the more pertinent on this thread, is the liberal idea that US foreign policy can be defended according to ‘humanitarian intervention’, democracy-building, etc. Both views share a presupportion of US exceptionalism.

    Now, the argument by self-defence is fairly ridiculous. The two most serious attacks on the US in the past 100 years – Pearl Harbour and 9/11 – had nothing whatsoever to do with ‘communists’. There’s no credible argument that the US was at any immediate threat from the countries in which it ‘intervened’. These areas include Indochina, Central America, Chile, Bolivia, and Colombia, some of the Central Asian states, the Middle East, etc. Iraq, for instance, was supposed to have been justified according to WMDs and an attendant need to protect the US. It was only when this lie was exposed that humanitarian reasons were sought. Even then, there was no good reason to believe that Iraq posed an immediate threat. Iraq’s neighbours (previously attacked by Saddam) did not believe so, nor did UN weapons inspectors. US ‘intelligence’ was derived by cherry picking the statements of dissidents and exiles. Iraq was a country that had been subject to no-fly zones for years, and whose military capacities were crippled. So, even in the case of Iraq, where the self-defence argument was more prominent than elsewhere, it really doesn’t hold any water. We should also note the ‘blowback’ caused by US intervention, of which 9/11 was a byproduct.

    The humanitarian argument is even more ludicrous. The humanitarian situation in places like Iraq and Afghanistan has actually deteriorated post-invasion. Only an idiot would claim that US-backed death squads in Colombia, Nicaragua and El Salvador are spreading democracy as they rape and torture their way through the countryside. Likewise, US support of scumbags like Hosni Mubarak and Islam Karimov is clearly an impediment to democracy (both leaders have brutally opposed pro-democracy activists).

    We can discuss specific examples at greater length, but there’s no serious case for US atrocities being justified by either self-defence of liberal-humanitarianism. Strictly speaking, US exceptionalism requires a suspension of liberalism, since it abolishes universalism for one reason or another. ‘Our’ liberty is held to be of greater value than that of the Iraqi/Afghan/Nicaraguan or whoever. In this respect, Rothbard and Mises are far more coherent than the cruise missile liberals like Geras (or indeed, Mill) who insist that ‘we’ bomb or rule ‘them’, for their own good.

  196. Peter Patton says:

    Claims of the US global military preeminence over the past 30 years are so obvious, they are banal. Ergo, any surprise/outrage the US military’s carnage. Who else do you think might have challenged the US as numero uno?

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