No True Scotsman...

In today's Manichaean political climate, there are many assumptions bandied about by partisans, commonly that if you disagree with Side A, you're automaticaly a partisan of Side B. What follows after such an 'instantaneous straw man' establishment is that Partisan A lights into you for all the sins (imagined and real) of the other side, demanding that you defend those positions or else recant your heresy.

Mindles Dreck, from Asymmetrical Information, having seen this, decides that he's had enough.

It's a critical moment, one where a number of assumptions are made. One is that if I'm not necessarily for Kerry, I must be a card-carrying member of the G.O.P., in favor of everything any Republican ever proposed.
[...]
Point being, Tim spins mighty big assumptions about Jane and me from a few comments (in my case, very few in months). "You guys honestly believe Bush has done a great job", he says. Jane and I are far from card-carrying Bush boosters. Neither of us share his views or endorse the GOP platform on abortion, gay marriage, government spending or a variety of personal freedom issues. While we like the idea of a very limited government, we both would prefer a different direction for taxation than the Bush tax cuts. There is plenty of evidence in these pages. Jane has called for Rumsfeld's resignation, and even when I was just starting blogging, I pointed out that Bush was an awful lot like Clinton, lacking firm principles and co-opting the other party's issues.

We have devoted a lot of space to defending the President/administration from over-the-top rhetoric. In some sense we've felt almost forced to. I wonder occasionally whether addressing partisan polemics makes you partisan yourself. That's actually one of the thoughts that's diminished my enthusiasm about posting. I know I'll be backed into some argument where fierce partisans insist that if I don't share their wildly unreasonable demonization of the other side I must be....one of them!.

I felt that way, too, upon reading the comments to my Mises post by John Lopez. The tenor of the comments was that since I approved of the War on Terror in general terms (and, personally for the record now, specifically the Iraq War), that I believe that government is the answer, praise Jebus! And just as in Mindles' experience, from that assumption flows a litany of "you statist, you!" John specifically tells us that no true Scotsman free-market folk can hold my position:

There is always a certain group of purportedly free-market folks who think that the crises of the decade (Nazis/Communists/?Terrorists?, for instance) is so Godawful that only the government has the means/ability to deal with it, and everyone else ought to shut their traps. You know, the same government that they can give plenty of examples of utterly failing to provide other goods and services. Somehow, the government, which is too incompetent to deliver mail for example, is supposed to take care of Terrorism.

Thus, I figure that I too should set the record straight. Misunderstanding my initial point, John starts out by slapping me with the clue by four:

Get this, Brian, and get it real good: the Terror War is only another facet of the liberal project, one properly aimed at a subset of savages who are merely less sophisticated and more forward than their Western soul-brethren.

There can?t be any ?putting it on hold until a better day?, or there won?t be a better day.

Quite true, accepted and granted. My post was not intended to suggest that we stop working for a freer society during the 'crisis'. Indeed, the Terror War is part and parcel with the liberal project. The liberal project, though, is about advancing peace among individuals (civil society), voluntary exchange (free market and social relations), and an ever increasing and extended division of labor (capitalist production and trade).

Advancing peace among individuals under even the most paleo of formulations includes the right to retaliate against those who break the peace. Thus, that there are Barbarians at the gate that we must deal with means that more effort must be focused on the first aspect of the project (peacemaking), and means there is less time to devote to the other two.

Thus my point stands that, ala Mises, we must not forget that while fighting against barbarians is part and parcel with the liberal project, until the barbarians are destroyed there is less time to advance the project, risking stagnation or backsliding[1]. After all, it's a libertarian motto that 'War is the Health of the State', and in the case of liberty vs. state, it's too often a zero-sum game. But, to paraphrase Aragorn[2] from the movie adaptation of The Two Towers, "Open war is upon us whether [we] would have it or not." So long as the Islamofascists are a vital force, we are at war. The US, both as a state and as a civil society has no choice in the matter, except on how long we're willing to let it go on.

However, the idea that by endorsing Mises' call to fight against tyranny and that consequently Islamofascists ought to be fought and aggressively eliminated from the world, I must therefore automatically also think that only the government can do the job is amusing[3]. I will grant that individual/entrepreneurial military action against tyrants is heavily frowned upon by the US state, and so private means to oust Saddam were severely circumscribed, at best. But However, the US military does exist, the US intelligence service does exist, and these tools can be used in prosecuting the liberal project of defending civilization against barbarians. But, still, at no point does the government have the only solution or possessess the only means to deal with it.

John's proposed solution is a strict opt-in system where only those who care about the problem oughtta pay for it. In other words, only an anarcho-capitalistic approach of individuals freely contracting for anti-terror services ought to obtain, such as is done in the mythical land of Ancapistan. The problem is that, like the Lubavitchers who cried out "We want Moshiach NOW!", the folk who cry out "We want Ancapistan NOW!" are similarly disappointed when their cries result in no change in the status quo.

I'd be all for a situation where we had a completely voluntary society, with private defense agencies working to find and eliminate Osama and his band of butchers, as well as PDAs to take out tyrannies elsewhere in the world. That would be great, wonderful even! But we don't live there. Ancapistan isn't here right now. Not likely to happen any sooner, either, if Osama et al. have their way. And though the current alternative to Ancapistan's response[4] is highly flawed, it is not an excuse to inaction (which, as Mises points out, is not an option when fighting implacable tyrants/barbarians).

On the other hand, there ARE many options not verboten by the state that individuals can engage in (such as the efforts of cybervigilantes), as well as keeping a keen eye out for threats around you, and staying personally prepared. The 'instamilitia' on Flight 93 shows what Americans can do even without much preparation. There are ways for civil society to fight terror apart from the state response.

Further in the comments, when responding to Steve Verdon, John later tries to shift the argument to more familiar ground:

No, the idea here is that government intervention (otherwise known as shoving The Gun between some poor sod?s teeth) is wrong, from beginning to end.
[...]
I?ll note that you may be correct as far as you go: there may not be a market-oriented approach to national defense. In fact, the existence of a nation-state pretty much comes at the expense of some part of the market. But that doesn?t mean that a culture can?t defend itself quite successfully against a nation-state via non-state methods.
[...]
Please name one thing that the government does better than the private sector, not to include mass initiation of force.

I completely agree that a culture can defend itself successfully against nation-states using non-state methods. I don't rule out a culture choosing to defend itself against a nation-state using the state methods that it happens to have, either. The question of whether or not state militaries are justified or gain their pay immorally is a good question but irrelevant to the Terror War. The tool is there, it can be used. Getting a different tool for the future is a separate question.

As for the last comment, talk about rigging the question! The whole point of the government is massive initiation of force. As it happens, the US military is the premier provider of projected mass initiation of force on the planet. Given that a mass initiation of force against Saddam was needed to complete the goal of destroying his regime, it makes sense, both now and before, to get the 'Top Outfit' for the job. When I have need of brain surgery, I don't call an accountant. Likewise, when I need estate or tax planning I don't call up a neurosurgeon. In both cases I get the people who specialize in what I need done. The US military specializes in massive amounts of precision violence delivered fast. In this case, I think this is something that the 'government' can do rather well[5].

While I've so far disagreed with John in theoretical/philosophical terms, I now have to disagree on the facts. John asserts:

Al-Qaeda funds itself through mostly market methods, which may or may not include initiating force as well. Nobody can look at the world ca. 2004 and think that a handful of dirt-grubbing savages aren?t taking on the world?s largest military/intelligence complex and at the very least making a very good show of it.

Unfortunately, this is where I have to call bullshit. It is extremely wishful thinking to imagine that what a handful of dirt-grubbing savages have been doing in the past year and a half (or, really, since 9/11 period) can even remotely rise to the description of "making a very good show of it"- let alone that being the very least you can say. I submit that the most you can say about them is that they're more media savvy than they are tactically bright. Any time you end up taking 100-to-1 losses engaging your foe, and cannot materially change your foe's strategy, you're a loser. The Al Qaeda jihadists in Iraq are successful only in getting media coverage- Fallujah's jihadis were ground into dust, US efficacy priced locals out of the market[6], and while not part of Al Qaeda, the similarly theofascist Al Sadr insurgency was thoroughly crushed[7] and the occupation goes on. In fact, in most of Iraq, nothing of 'note' goes on at all. (No IED explosions, no attacks, nothing; bad things being about the only things Western media and anti-war pundits wish to 'note'.) Looking at it as an insurgency, it's a piss-poor one. Even the VC were better than these clowns, and the VC also got their asses handed to them despite working with a friendly population and a jungle cover (all that remained were NVA regulars by ~1970, IIRC). That the Jihadis can't seem to mount a new attack against the US (and barely got one off against a European state) says far more about their ability than someone going a block from his house in the Bumfuq neighborhood of Baghdad and setting up some rigged dynamite on the side of the road.[8]

But I digress.

The point of this is not just to further explain my original post, but also to explicitly state that despite supporting the WOT (a stupid name) and the toppling of Saddam, I neither support the President nor most of the policies he has enacted since 9/11. To wit, I say:

(1) Afghanistan was pure self-defense, and Iraq was settling an old question, finally ridding the Iraqi people of their dictator rather than continue the US government's low-intensity war against them via sanctions and routine daily bombing, that left Saddam in power. As a matter of general principle, I don't believe the US should 'intervene' in other countries at all (defense is another matter), and I disagree with the PNAC idea of the National Greatness Empire (as well as with the illiberal and leftist's preferred Empire of multilateral chickenshit humanitarian interventions).

(2) I think the PATRIOT ACT is an obscenity and useless in defending the US from terrorists. We knew a few months after 9/11 that existing laws, police, and intelligence operations had the authority and opportunity to stop the 9/11 plot. There were no legal impediments to stopping any of them, it was simply horrible, blind, bad luck. No new laws were needed, just new vigilance (from everyone, not just gov't agents).

(3) George W. Bush's increasingly autocratic style of the Presidency is nauseating and I wish we had a different set of pigs in the farmhouse White House. Unfortunately, I'm set to get just that, since the alternative, Sen. Kerry, essentially promises all the bad of Bush (more deficit spending, same war, maybe a slightly different PATRIOT ACT) but with Extra Leftism Multilateralism! (woo.) Oh, and more taxes. Definitely more taxes.[9] (woo, woo.)

(4) The TSA is a complete waste of time and space. The 9/11 tactic cannot work again, since any and all passengers would rise up against would-be hijackers, feeling they have nothing to lose. Thus, no amount of interdicting clippers, tweezers, etc., ad nauseum will make us any safer, but it has made flying into an unholy bitch as well as cost us millions of dollars in taxes, too. Good job, Bush. (Again, where's Kerry on this? I bet that fool wants to spend even more money on TSA...)

This isn't an exhaustive list, either. The point is that disagreeing with one's antiwar anarchocapitalist comrades does not mean that one becomes a partisan for the Statist Side (accepting the entire project as Right and Good), but rather that it is possible to support the war AND still remain a true scotsman (just like Mises. Except that he was Austrian. Er.)


fn1. Truly, liberalism took a big hit during the fight against the Nazis (and in the 30's prior), though we're lucky that the less illiberal socialists won vs. the totalitarian national socialists of WWII, or the totalitarian international socialists of the Cold War. As I said in the comments section, though, because a relatively freer socialism won against the Nazis and kept the Commies at bay, postwar liberals were able to spread their ideas, their efforts culminating in the Thatcher and Reagan revolutions. As a result the US and a large portion of the world is indeed a more liberal place than it was in the decades prior to 1980.

fn2. Yes, I'm a nerd.

fn3. Especially in light of my other recent post lauding decentralized responses to terror.

fn4. That is, using the existing national defense apparatus of the US instead of private defense agencies.

fn5. Aren't libertarians fond of pointing this fact out?

fn6. It's telling that very few Iraqis are willing to die for the insurgency, as well as the fact that the price of hiring someone to attack the US went up several orders of magnitude in the space of a few months last year and has stayed astronomically high since. It means that Iraqis, at least, realize that attacking the US military is an almost certain death sentence.

fn7. With greater than 10,000 of his fighters killed or maimed, his entire militia was eliminated both as a fighting force and as a 'terrorize the locals' force.

fn8. American forces have since cracked the freq's of the commonly used detonators, and have been remotely detonating roadside IEDs well before US forces get within range.

fn9. Does Kerry even want to win? What an idiotic platform he's assembled so far; no substantive policy differences other than "I'm not Bush". Running on pure Bush Hate. Way to reach out to the middle/libertarians by promising even yet still more taxes on top of the crap we've have to deal with.

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I can easily see how you

I can easily see how you could wield a state funded shovel without wielding the state, but how will you wield the military without wielding the state?

That ain't happening. The state is a crime in progress and you can't wield the military without taking part in the crime. This military isn't an inert tool, it's current operation requires robust cram-it-down-your-throat governing.

It's one thing to say "I'm not going to complain when the military does something good", but quite another to say "We should use government to do this", which is what you're saying now.

Let's just take a look at

Let's just take a look at Doss' strategic and tactical analysis, here:

"Unfortunately, this is where I have to call bullshit. It is extremely wishful thinking to imagine that what a handful of dirt-grubbing savages have been doing in the past year and a half (or, really, since 9/11 period)"

Uh, Brian? You kinda remember an attack or two against US embassies in Africa, right? Khobar towers? Maybe if you scratch your head you'll remember the previous attack on the WTC, too.

"... can even remotely rise to the description of ?making a very good show of it?- let alone that being the very least you can say. I submit that the most you can say about them is that they?re more media savvy than they are tactically bright."

So let's get this straight: the US is squandering lives, money, and goodwill over that essentially worthless parcel of land in Iraq, and that's not "bright" of Bin Laden?

" Any time you end up taking 100-to-1 losses engaging your foe,"

Huh? 100 x 3000 = 300,000 Al-Qaida killed (just counting Sept 11th alone)? That's ridiculous.

"... and cannot materially change your foe?s strategy, you?re a loser."

Why change what's working? You think that Bin Laden cares one whit about the *temporary* inconvenience to those child-molseters-in-rags in Afghanistan? He wants the US out of the picture, and he's doing it just like the muj did in Afghanistan: he's bleeding his enemy out.

He doesn't care if he *never* gets to personally see victory, Brian. He's working toward a *goal*, one that's a helluva lot farther away than the next election.

" The Al Qaeda jihadists in Iraq are successful only in getting media coverage- Fallujah?s jihadis were ground into dust, US efficacy priced locals out of the market6, and while not part of Al Qaeda, the similarly theofascist Al Sadr insurgency was thoroughly crushed7 and the occupation goes on."

Yeah, and that warrant sure was served on him, too. Brought him right to justice, it did. That mess in Fallujah's a *stalemate*, Brian, which in an occupation means a *win* for the home team.

" In fact, in most of Iraq, nothing of ?note? goes on at all. (No IED explosions, no attacks, nothing; bad things being about the only things Western media and anti-war pundits wish to ?note?.) Looking at it as an insurgency, it?s a piss-poor one."

Yeah, and the Mau-Maus had shitty little homemade guns, too.

Even if you're right about the "piss-poor" insurgency, that speaks exactly *nothing* to the following:

a) Bin Laden *isn't* an Iraqi insurgent, and Iraqi insurgents are exactly zero threat to you.
b) When two piss-poor oponents fight, someone has to win. Unless your claim is that the US military's stunning record of counter-insurgency warfare is going to make a magic 180-degree turn.

"Maybe. Even the VC were better than these clowns, and the VC also got their asses handed to them despite working with a friendly population and a jungle cover (all that remained were NVA regulars by ~1970, IIRC)."

[double blink]

Okay, Brian. Let's just sit down, take a deep breath, and consider *who the hell WON that war*, m'kay?

" That the Jihadis can?t seem to mount a new attack against the US (and barely got one off against a European state)"

Which "barely" got that state *out* of Iraq, too.

" says far more about their ability than someone going a block from his house in the Bumfuq neighborhood of Baghdad and setting up some rigged dynamite on the side of the road."

Brian, take another breath and think about those utter idiots who were shooting up DC. Now, think about a half-dozen mixed ethnicity sniper *teams* scattered around the country who aren't so stupid that they turn themselves in to the Feds.

Now imagine what an utter state of flat-out pants-shitting *panic* that that dozen people would put this country into.

Now multiply that dozen by five or so, with some of them snatching clerks and customers from lonely gas stations and videotaping their beheadings. Others planting random toe-poppers in flower beds and football fields.

Shall I continue?

There isn't such a terror campaign going on *here*, Brian, because it isn't necessary. One attack every few years will keep the US tied down in the Arabic world until social and/or fiscal collapse/contraction sets in, and then the Mid-East'll be wide-open for the taking.

After supporting the

After supporting the invasion of Iraq, I found myself complaining about more and more things I didn't want to pay for that were screwing things up. The government wasn't doing things right and, damn it, I was getting annoyed.

And then I realized what I was saying was scarcely different from your garden-variety collectivist complaining about Social Security not providing for everyone's Cheerios in the morning and ergonomic environmentally correct mattresses in the evening. I was advocating tax money be spent on some certain thing where elsewhere I was bitching with a hoarse throat that I should not be coerced into paying for someone's heart bypass or car insurance rates.

So, while I still fully support the abolishment of slave states and kleptocracies - as well as the vicious bastards who run them - in at least the very name of consistency I can no longer advocate the US military do it. Hell, I can no longer advocate we even have a taxpayer-supported military.

Such a position does offer one comfort. Even though I've turned my back on one part of Bush's policy I once supported, I do so in terms that still manage to infuriate the Left. :)

until the barbarians are

until the barbarians are destroyed

Ahh, good luck with that . . .

As long as taxation is

As long as taxation is involuntary I don't think we should have a tax-payer-supported military either. But consider the options that were set forth in regard to Iraq. The anti-war people argued that we should "contain saddam." That was always the argument that "containment was working." Effectively the so-called anti-war activists were advocating that we continue another decade of dropping bombs on civilians, the disastrous oil-for-food program, and economic sanctions that were killing millions of innocent civilians a year. Somehow it was reasonable to kill thousands of innocent people through a slow and stationary war, but an upfront and obvious invasion that focused on military targets was unreasonable.

If there was some way to end the war we had been waging in Iraq since 1991 without the use of the U.S. military or some other tax-funded military I never heard it brought up or discussed previous to the invasion of Iraq. The only other option I saw was leaving the middle east entirely, an option that was pretty much impossible for America in lieu of 9-11. Furthermore that option would have likely lead to a destabilization in the region that would have killed far more civilians in the long run.

I do not think it is fair to make this an issue of the morality of taxation. This is about war. When you are in a war your first priority must be to end the war. It was the meddling of the United States and other western countries in the region that created the problem to begin with.

Let me put it this way, if you find yourself buried in a hole and there are only two ways to get out: one is by using a tax-funded shovel to start digging a tunnel out, and the other is to use a privately funded stick of dynamite that would not hurt you but could potentially hit a gas line and kill hundreds of innocent people, you would use the shovel. Likewise the U.S. had to get out of the situation in Iraq, we could either go all in, or simply drop everything and leave. I favored the latter solution, but another decade of warfare between Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, etc. would likely have cost far more in terms of human lives than the U.S. led invasion did.

The U.S. did the right thing ending the "containment of saddamn," regardless of whether it used a tax-funded military to accomplish the task.

Rainbough, You can approve

Rainbough,

You can approve of an end without approving of some particular means to that end, but you cannot accomplish an end without being responsible for the means by which you accomplish it.

The state is not a shovel, it is a corrupting institution by it's nature.

Rainbough, While most of the

Rainbough,

While most of the lefty antiwar sorts indeed thought as you claim they did, there were many who didn't. We didn't need to contain them, and didn't need to keep up the sanctions. A perfectly valid alternative to either the war, or continuing the status quo would have been to pull out, drop the sanctions, and let his neighbors deal with him. Turkey and Iran were both militarily far superior to Iraq even in its glory days. Syria wasn't at much risk, Jordan only a little, Israel not very much (if he had used chemical weapons against them, he knew he could count on nukes being used back at him). That leaves Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. They make billions on oil imports every year--they can afford to get themselves a good military. Basically we weren't needed.

In fact, after the first Gulf War, we probably could have left (or not gotten involved in the first place) even without sanctions. The best policy of all would have been to stay out of the whole mess in the first place. But basically, yes there were other alternatives to war or brutal sanctions. Lack of imagination does not equal lack of real options.

~Jon Goff

"The tool is there, it can

"The tool is there, it can be used."

Yeah and it can be used for lots of things, can't it?

It's funny you quote Aragorn, who faced that very choice with Isildur's Bane....

I agree that we shouldn't

I agree that we shouldn't have gotten involved in the first place in 1991, which is why getting out of a situation where the U.S. was killing civilians should have been our priority. I agree that we should have pulled out altogether rather than an invasion. I said as much. However the question still remains would that have cost more lives in the long run if the region had destabilized and would that have been a realistic solution for the Bush administration?

If pulling out could have been done that's absolutely what I would have supported, and in fact I argued that plan explicitly previous to the invasion. The problem is that the Bush administration could not have ended the U.S.'s operations in Iraq much less pulled out of the surrounding region without looking as if it were yielding to terrorism.

Now personally I would have just bit the bullet and pulled our troops out of the region entirely, but I am not the president. Pulling out was the ideal solution, it was not the only one, and taking out a regime that was a relic of our cold war and thus our fault was not a bad solution in my eyes.

"But basically, yes there were other alternatives to war or brutal sanctions. Lack of imagination does not equal lack of real options."

The options were never war or sanctions. WE WERE ALREADY AT WAR. When you drop bombs on people, and starve people using force it doesn't matter what the media calls it, or what some agreement says. We were at war with Iraq, last year it got escalated. Which made all the media-attentive-anti-war folk crawl out of the cracks and start protesting. I call them media-attentive because if the media isn't covering it they do not know that it's there, whereas people truly opposed to war such as myself do not wait for media attention of a war to advocate that action be taken to end it. There were plenty of options and plenty of imaginations running wild at the time. There were not however many solutions.

It sometimes takes additional force to end a war. A precise invasion of Iraq focusing on military targets and minimizing civilian deaths was far superior to killing civilians and not touching the regime for another decade or even another year. And unlike the option of pulling out of the region (and keep in mind that Israel is in this region) it was actually a viable option to the Bush administration.

John,

No one has called the state a shovel. You do know what an analogy is don't you?

Now, that's better, Brian. A

Now, that's better, Brian.

A great amount of the anger I felt was at the title of your article: "Ludwig von Mises, Neocon."

I found this to be obscene. Many of us given to the philosophy of individual liberty are reluctant to involve ourselves in hero-worship, but Mises is one of the few people a lot of us would call a hero, and for you to generate, on Mises' behalf, a posthumous endorsment of the failed ideas of Perle and his execrable little cabal stuck in my craw no end.

By the way, it is utterly impossible to remove every last terrorist by use of force. The neocon insistence that this is the only way to fight terror necessarily implies that we will be at war eternally. And we all know what a state of active war does to individual liberty.

Rainbough, No one has called

Rainbough,

No one has called the state a shovel. You do know what an analogy is don?t you?

You likened it to a shovel and I rejected the shovel as a metaphor for the state. The state is not an inert tool, it's a crime in progress.

Of course it is impossible

Of course it is impossible to eliminate every possible terrorist by force, just as it is impossible to eliminate every murderer, or every criminal for that matter.

The point, though, is to eliminate it as a global movement/threat, and make the cost of being a terrorist so high that as few people do it as possible. If the evil people (and yes, they're evil) who follow Al Qaeda see that terrorism doesn't 'pay' anymore, fewer will be likely to try, etc etc. Piracy (the old-school sea kind) used to be a major problem until Britain and the US declared a "War on Piracy", destroying the states that harbored pirates and hunting down pirates whenever and wherever. Sea pirates still exist, but are not even remotely the problem they once were (evidenced somewhat by the fact that most people don't even know that sea pirates still exist, and that the US Navy's primary job is sailing around the world's sea lanes hunting them down). Thats the kind of problem I want terrorism to be in the future- no worse than murder or piracy, avoidable by most prudent individuals, and dealt with as a matter of course by civil authorities (and not, as today, a matter of potential worldwide mass murder, destruction, chaos, etc).

As far as Iraq pre-2003 goes:

Rainbough is absolutely correct. We have been at war with Iraq since 1991. Prior to 9/11, the options were: Status Quo War (daily bombing, sanctions; essentially aiding and abetting Saddam's murder regime while allowing him black market profits dealing with unscupulous Europeans taking advantage of the Oil-for-Fraud program), or Giving Up and letting Saddam 'win'. Saddam, despite being a bastard, was the 'hero' to many wannabe fascists on the Arab street, because he took the hit from the Big Man and stayed alive. Every year he remained in power after 1991 made him stronger and stronger, and increased the mythos of "you can fight the Man; the Man has a big gun, but he's a pussy who can't close". It bears repeating that such a myth is precisely the animating myth of Al Qaeda. Osama believes that the west is a bunch of glass-jaw pussies who are rich but decadent fuckups who'll cave under the slightest pressure.

Now, if we had given up the sanctions on Saddam after 9/11, THAT would have been the greatest recruiting coup for Al Qaeda ever. Like it or not coming from the Warblogger crowd, they're absolutely right that regardless of reality, the terrorist barbarians are firm believers in "post hoc ergo propter hoc"- policy step-downs after successful terror means it was caused by terror and thus you're going to get MORE terror in the future.

Thus, there was no way to end sanctions on Iraq short of ending Saddam's regime (that is, if the state took it's self-described job seriously and was interested in defending the US from attack). Which means low-scale war targeted at the Iraqi population (slowly grinding the people of Iraq into pulp in the increasingly futile hope of forcing a rebellion) or quick, high-impact war targeted precisely at the regime itself. It seems clear that the only humane response was to end it as quickly as possible, using the window of opportunity granted by 9/11 (where the US polity was open to war).

Since that was done, I am happy. I pretty much figured that the US occupation would be run by fucktards (pardon my language), but I admit to being even more disappointed in the civil administrators who seemed to pick the wrong decision each time at every crossroads. The only bright light is the work done by the US military itself to restore order (Gen Petraeus of the 101st Airborne is a godsend; he should have been the CPA Head, not that assclown Bremer. Never send diplomats to do a diplomat's job.) However, the inherent resiliency of Iraqi civil society means that pretty much despite the CPA, Iraq will recover. The best thing we can do for them now is to be like the Turkish Army, ruling out theocracy and guaranteeing (a) the rule of secular law and (b) democratic succession. The US army did a good job in ruling out dictatorship in Germany in this way (with the implicit and sometimes explicit threat that US tanks would roll out of German bases to wipe out the government should another dictator arise), and now Germany is perhaps the least belligerent state in Europe. The worst thing we can do in Iraq now, is leave.

Which of course isn't the best outcome either, but if we want the best long term consequences for the US, we have to suck it up and deal. Blame Bush I for either (a) agreeing to be the Kuwaiti royal family's Defense Provider, contracting to liberate the country, or (b) not finishing the f*****g job in 1991 in the first place, saving us all this time and effort 13 years later. Justice delayed is both Justice Denied and More Expensive.

Richard, I used the title

Richard,

I used the title advisedly to be provocative and to make a point about the Rothbardians who are absolutists on what constitutes "true" libertarian foreign policy. The folk who supposedly hold Mises in high regard went about smearing every libertarian who dared dissent from their orthodoxy as some sort of trotskyite Neoconservative, mere stooges of the state, for daring to suggest that barbarians and tyrants be fought.

Mises was an arch rationalist and defender of liberalism and the liberal order (and the classical liberal nightwatchman state; no anarchist was dear Ludwig). In his own words, too, he advocated fighting and destroying the great tyrannical threat of his time, Nazism. He didn't balk at the fact that socialists were using tax-funded militaries to do the job; he knew that the job needed to be done, and tax-funded state militaries were all that were available. He wrote so in "Omnipotent Government", and thats why I posted it, and thats why I put the challenge at the bottom- if libertarians are "neocons" for supporting the fight against tyranny, then Mises is a Neocon, too. Since he isn't, maybe the rest of us aren't either...

And even though Mises understood that tyranny had to be fought with existing methods, he never stopped fighting for the liberal order, either. The two positions are not incompatible, and the Rothbardians are dead wrong on this issue.

No actually I likened the

No actually I likened the shovel to a tax-funded military, I did not liken it to "the state." The military is only one part of the state. The comparison was actually of being buried in a hole, to being in a state of war. The tool for getting out of the hole (in the analogy) was a tax-funded shovel, and the tool for getting out of the war was a tax-funded military. Now you may think that the military and the state are no different. I disagree.

Since just like a shovel we can have a military that is either tax funded or not tax funded and both were appropriate tools for getting out of the situations described I do not see a problem with the analogy.

A comparison of a shovel to the philisophical concept of "the state" would not have made any sense in this context which is why your claim is a straw-man argument.

"[A]n ever increasing and

"[A]n ever increasing and extended division of labor" should not be an object of government policy for a free market advocate.

The global division of labor, like economy of scale, has diminishing returns. At some point, the diseconomies of large-scale organization and long-distance distribution offset economies of scale. And it should be left for a free market, in which market actors fully internalize all the costs and benefits of division of labor, to determine where the point of diminishing returns is reached. Under the present corporatist system, the state underwrites the diseconomies of centralization and thus artificially shifts upward economy of scale and profitable division of labor to a level far above what they would be in a free market. The free market is not about promoting trade or hindering it--just letting it alone.

Your idea that the state should be actively promoting "trade" sounds less like the free trade of Cobden than the "free trade" of Lord Palmerston, who believed the state should be an active partner through its state loans and gunboat diplomacy: "It is the business of Government to open and secure the roads of the merchant." ....

Here's how Joseph Stromberg put it:

For many in the US political and foreign policy Establishment, the formula for having free trade would go something like this: 1) Find yourself a global superpower; 2) have this superpower knock together the heads of all opponents and skeptics until everyone is playing by the same rules; 3) refer to this new imperial order as "free trade;" 4) talk quite a bit about "democracy."

This is the end of the story except for such possible corollaries as 1) never allow rival claimants to arise which might aspire to co-manage the system of "free trade"; 2) the global superpower rightfully in charge of world order must also control the world monetary system....
The formula outlined above was decidedly not the 18th and 19th-century liberal view of free trade. Free traders like Richard Cobden, John Bright, Frederic Bastiat, and Condy Raguet believed that free trade is the absence of barriers to goods crossing borders, most particularly the absence of special taxes - tariffs - which made imported goods artificially dear, often for the benefit of special interests wrapped in the flag under slogans of economic nationalism....

Free Trade, Mercantilism and Empire

"I can easily see how you

"I can easily see how you could wield a state funded shovel without wielding the state, but how will you wield the military without wielding the state?"

This has nothing to do with "wielding the state." It's a tax-funded shovel. That means money was taken from innocent people by force to pay for the shovel. At best the shovel can be described as "stolen property." The military is also funded by money taken from individuals by force. Both of these things are funded in a manner that I think is unethical and immoral. That's not the point. The point is that when you are in the hole you worry about getting yourself out first. If you have to choose between an unethically funded shovel, and something that could potentially kill other people you use the shovel. Using the shovel does not mean that you agree that we should have tax-funded shovels or that the only way to get out of any hole is through the use of tax-funded shovels. Likewise in a war your first priority must be to end the war, because continued warfare will mean continued death and destruction. Using a tax-funded military to end it because it is the most effective way to end the war, and will cost the least in terms of human lives does not mean you advocate taxation, tax-funded militaries, or the existence of the state.

That ain?t happening. The state is a crime in progress and you can?t wield the military without taking part in the crime. This military isn?t an inert tool, it?s current operation requires robust cram-it-down-your-throat governing.

It requires huge amounts of money taken from us by force, this only differs from the shovel in scope. No it is not inert, but the issue of the shovel being an inert tool was not a meaningful part of the comparison. The military is also not shaped like a shovel, and it is likely not made of the same material as the shovel, and it doesn't weigh the same amount as the shovel. So what? None of these matter in the context of the comparison I made.

"It?s one thing to say ?I?m not going to complain when the military does something good?, but quite another to say ?We should use government to do this?, which is what you?re saying now."

What I am saying is that the government got us into this war and it was appropriate for the government to get us out of it, specifically because it was the only viable means of doing so.

"It requires huge amounts of

"It requires huge amounts of money taken from us by force, this only differs from the shovel in scope."

No, the shovel has already been stolen but you have to continue to steal huge amounts every day to operate the military. The former is a done deal, the latter a crime in progress. That's not a difference of scope.

Operating the shovel doesn't violate anyone's rights but there is no way to operate this military without violating rights.

"No, the shovel has already

"No, the shovel has already been stolen but you have to continue to steal huge amounts every day to operate the military. The former is a done deal, the latter a crime in progress. That?s not a difference of scope."

The money the military is operating on has already been taken just as in the case of the shovel. It could not function as a military if they had to stop and say "how much money did we collect from taxes today." Now perhaps the military would start losing it's funding in a year or two if taxation were ended, but seeing as the government is not funded exclusively through taxation I imagine they would find some other means. Regardless since your argument hinges on the point that the military must continously collect taxes and thus violate rights to survive, rather than operating on funds already collected, the question becomes could the entire invasion of Iraq be done without collecting an additional cent of money through taxation for that purpose. By that I mean if everyone in America stopped paying taxes midway through the operation would it have failed. The answer is no because just like the shovel the money they needed had already been taken. Nice try though.

Why not use that same

Why not use that same rationale to justify *any* project requiring massive public spending?

Do you really think starting today with the pieces currently in place you could prosecute a war without futher violations of the rights of Americans?

The idea is to end a war we

The idea is to end a war we are already in. It is not to invent one, "prosecute" one etc. Nor could the same rationale be used to justify spending for other projects. Yes I think the war could be ended without further violating rights through the collection of taxes. Will the government stop collecting taxes just because I want them too? No of course not. But once again its not realistic to think that the war in Iraq could have been ended via libertarian solutions given the nature of the world political climate, our own military-industrial complex, and the nature of groups like al-quaeda.

What you want is to invent an alternate reality where we can just insert a libertarian world, and libertarian solutions on top of existing problems. But the fact is getting to that world can only happen gradually. By invading Iraq the Bush administration chose the best thing it could do to end the war. It doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about what is and isn't appropriate for the Bush administration to do when you do not believe they should even exist.

In fact you out to be just as upset everytime the administration eats lunch at tax-payer expense.

John, In case you didn't

John,

In case you didn't know those DC snipers were Islamic terrorists. They were motivated by their religious beliefs to destroy the infidel. For some reason the mainstream media and government have choosen not to press this point.

I came across these facts as I was researching the Islamic roots as moon god worship on a Canadian web site of all things. Here's a link: http://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-kills.htm. I wonder why this wasn't picked up here. The evidence is clearly posted on the Fairfax County Virginia websites.

Here's a news article that looks so similar to the other site that I think one was copied from the other or a common source.

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/mm20031210.shtml

Seeing how most reporters don't actually do their own leg work I imagine Malkin either copied it from there or they both copied it from somewhere else.

After having read about Islam I do not see how any sort of Libertarian philosophy can be tolerated by it. If you are familiar with Islamic countries you will be aware that most have blasphemy laws and regularly chop peoples heads off for just carring around a bible. Nor is this a government thing. I read a book by a Muslim who grew up in Egypt. He claims that not only the government but the common religious nuts on the street will kill any person who questions Islam. Especially if they are Muslim.

I believe any ethical system requires a two way street. I don't see how the concept of religious freedom can stand up to a religion that is so war like. In Islam the Mosque is the the State. It is a center of not only religion but political, and military power. This is why there is often weapons found in Mosques by our military, why Muslims have no compunction about shooting from Mosques, and preaching military conquest from their "pulpits".

Hope you don't mind my Anon but it's that Salman Rushdie thingy. Another example of the anti-libertarian nature of Islam.

"In case you didn?t know

"In case you didn?t know those DC snipers were Islamic terrorists. They were motivated by their religious beliefs to destroy the infidel."

Who cares? The point is that they were total *morons*, and yet they managed to create an enormous amount of havoc.

Multiple teams of non-morons would be exponentially worse.