Analogies

It appears that my snark on the Badnarik campaign with regard to their blog & response on the biggest issue of the '04 campaign has gotten results- a trackback from the campaign blogger and a response from the Badnarik campaign's communications director Stephen Gordon[1]. Huzzah!

Thanks for the quick turnaround guys, and Peace to You, too, Stephen. I sympathize with the ideals of the Badnarik campaign, and am certainly not enamored with either King George or Kerry. So, the following should be taken in the spirit of constructive criticism. I'll respond to the blog and to Stephen in turn.

The Badnarik blog says that they were just trying to point to the debate and that Long et al. answered well enough for their purposes (and, after all, the blogrunner is just a volunteer anyway). Fair enough.

They also mention the fact that the comments section is open to pro and con discussion is good too, but that's kind of a non-sequitur. Freedom of speech- gotcha, great! Not a problem. Also neither here nor there when it comes to a campaign response to such a criticism. Reading the bits by Stephen and David in the comments to the original post, it would seem that Michael Badnarik is running as an explicitly anti-war candidate, or at least that the anti-war stance is critically important to his platform. If that is indeed the case, I'd expect multiple papers to be written on it, or at least some sort of "pre-emptive response" to an easily anticipated line of questioning. Its not like libertarian 'hawks' haven't been saying what Jacob Levy's been saying for almost/over a year now (for many, since 9/11). If the Badnarik campaign wants to use Dr. Long's arguments as its own, fine, go ahead[2], but the campaign should own its position rather than just put out one issue paper and leave it at that.

Moving on, Stephen Gordon responds to Levy's criticism with a long analogy to defend the Badnarik position. Analogies can be very useful to clarify a position, but they depend critically on being, well, analogous to the facts of the record. Stephen's analogy is not quite. He begins thus:

Imagine that I heavily arm my extended family members and place them in my next door neighbor?s house (the Sod family) for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, I instruct them keep their weapons pointed at the house across the street (the Whosane family). Whenever the people across the street attempt to leave to purchase food or medicine (someone please bring up the U.N oil-to-survive extortion racket), I have my family members pop off a few rounds at them.

This is problematic from the start. This starts from a position assuming that the US just started being mean to Saddam's regime for no apparent reason (i.e. that I heavily arm some family members and just point them at another house). That 1992 is somehow Year Zero, and that all narratives must start there.

The post-war period is considered Year Zero precisely because it eliminates the sticky and inconvenient fact that Saddam's regime started the war by it's initiation of aggression against the Kuwaitis. Thus, the analogy would properly start by mentioning that the "Whosane" family invaded the Sod's next door neighbor, raped their children and took their valuables, claiming that the house really belonged to them since their great-great-grandfather homesteaded the neighborhood back in the 19th century (and never-you-mind that he subdivided and sold his property...) and so it all belongs to them. That there might concievably be a reason why the Sods would want heavily armed people in their house keeping the Whosanes at bay (not to mention that your family members restored the property of the Sods' neighbor and kicked the Whosanes out) is never mentioned...[3]

After a while, the folks across the street would become understandably irate. After time, Junior suffers from scurvy for a bit and Grandma dies from not receiving her insulin shot. Surprisingly, they might justify, in their minds - that it is rational to take out my side of the block.

Unless one buys Dick Cheney's increasingly unglued insistence that the Iraqi government had a hand in 9/11, the previous paragraph isn't analogous at all. Though yeah, the Iraqi people are a bit pissed at the US waging war on them via economic sanctions, they're not the ones who blew Americans up pre-2003. Worse yet is that such an analogy is a justification for violent criminals, angry at being imprisoned or punished for their crimes, to try and kill their punishers or better yet their victims (or victim's family, if they murdered the victim in the first place). Justifying recidivist crime is not the best direction to take a candidate for President...

If the people in the house across the street are still docile, their cousins (the Laden family) next door, just may not be. Who could blame the Ladens if they decide to rent a couple of Piper Cubs (the best weapons they have available) and crash them into my house, as well as the one occupied by my extended family? From their perspective, it is self-defense ? or defense of their cousins, anyway. Even if they fight over their mutual property line and Grandpa?s will - between them, blood is always thicker than water.

The analogy of family relations to ethnic relations is strained. The Saudis and Egyptians that murdered 3,000+ people in New York and Washington (and contributed to the deaths of the Flight 93 patriots) were not kin of the Iraqis at all, unless you concede some sort of right to collective 'ethnic' defense. But if you allow that, then your criticism of America's 'collective ethnic defense'[4] becomes muted or moot. Either America doesn't have the right to go kick the crap out of the murderers that killed 'our' people[5], in which case neither do the Jihadis, or else we both do; in both cases it is just for the US to attack, either because its an unjustified aggression on the part of the Jihadis or because we have a right to collective ethnic defense as they do.

In other words, the analogy fails to clarify anything by virtue of being incomplete and somewhat irrelevant.

An unrelated point to his analogy is the idea that "there is a relationship between the morals of our foreign policy and how the people suppressed by it may think of us, and for them to act on their perspectives of these thoughts. We fought our own Revolutionary War based upon this same concept."

The American revolutionaries didn't fight the English because their feelings were hurt or because they thought the English weren't moral. Its because the English Monarch was denying one set of British citizens the rights that all Britons possessed; dispossessing them of political representation and therefore denying them a say in their own governance. That's the fundamental reason for the revolution, not because we thought the English were a bunch of berks. It was a matter of simple law (denial of rights), not perspective.

Finally, David Rostchek erects a strawman and boldly knocks it down, proclaiming that "if you're looking for a candidate to wage war on the Islamic world, Michael is most emphatically not your candidate." Well good to know! I'll tell the libertarian hawk who believes that the first thing I do; I believe he hangs out with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Meanwhile, the rest of us that want the US government (for lack of a more liberal alternative) to destroy the barbarians who started the war with the US[6] are still waiting for an answer. Why isn't it ok to defend yourself? Why isn't it OK for the US state to defend the people it claims a monopoly over in terms of territorial defense? Especially when the constitution explicitly allows for such action?

Badnarik campaigned for the LP nomination wanting to restore constitutional rule (a minarchist stance). The problem with that stance is that there is nothing unconstitutional about the US taking military action, as it is specifically granted to congress in Section 8, Clause 11. Congress gave King George the thumbs up on Afghanistan and Iraq. So if the Iraq war is wrong, and that the US government has no right to do it, then Badnarik ultimately wants a restoration of only some of the Constitution. In other words, he should spell out precisely when he thinks it is OK for the US government to engage in its constitutionally granted right to wage war, and when it isn't, and defend it. As it stands, his antiwar stand is severely ad hoc- it's anarchocapitalism through the backdoor, not constitutionalism[6].

If Michael Badnarik is the explicit Anti-War Candidate, then he needs a more thorough defense of that position, given that the WOT and general international defense is the issue of the 2004 campaign. If he isn't, then he's still got some 'splainin to do.


fn1. Just goes to show that you often get better service from the smaller outfits. ;-)

fn2. with Dr. Long's approval, of course.

fn3. The sanctions regime, of course, was immoral as it was war against the Iraqi people, not the bastards responsible for starting the war in the first place. I agree that the UN Oil-for-Fraud program was horrid and that the low-level war we had on the Iraqi people for 12 years was repugnant.

fn4. American is an ethnicity by dint of mindset. A chinese or indian man or woman, or really anyone born and raised in America is an American to me. And that is just as justifiable as the "ummah", which is also multiracial and multiethnic. If Indonesians (southeast asians) are brothers with (semitic/persian) Iraqis (or even Egyptians, who are also not the same kind of ethnicity as most Iraqis) then certainly I can claim all Americans as my kindred.

fn5. Because response to direct injury is an individual thing that can't be scaled to the collective.

fn6. By murdering American civilians, by the way.

fn7. If he wants to run as an anarchocapitalist, that's fine too. But own your anarchism, don't mumble, fudge, dissemble, and pretend that the constitution agrees with you on that point when it doesn't.

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Thank you for addressing the

Thank you for addressing the anti-war stance, this is something that has irked me as well. I think there is a need to eradicate al Qaida or at the very least mortally cripple them so that they won't be inclined to come attack us again. We can't just cut and run.

We need a multi-pronged response (curbing resentment by removing troops from unessential engagements and engaging the enemy directly where we should). We started properly with George Bush right after 9/11 but everything was derailed the minute he started this whole Axis of Exil nonsense (which led to Iraq). I'm all for invading countries like Afghanistan who were directly involved with supporting Al Qaida, but we need to have our ducks in a row when we start making claims. And none of this pre-emptive war crap either, that's pretty much blown our goodwill to pieces.

But that's how I diverge with Badnarik. He and Kerry seem to have the impression that we can barter with terrorists and offer them our retreat from the Middle East in exchange for peace. I don't buy that happening. One of the ways we can accomplish our goals is to remove troops from every military base other than Pakistan and Afghanistan (and leaving Iraq the day after the elections are held) while we hunt down the remaining terrorists.

To be fair, when I said "He

To be fair, when I said "He and Kerry seem to have the impression that we can barter with terrorists and offer them our retreat from the Middle East in exchange for peace," I also meant to add that Bush has absolutely no idea what he's doing, but seems to be doing it as corruptly as humanly possible.

I agree with you except that

I agree with you except that I also think the Iraq war was justified, but for different reasons.

The US Government ("we" in a generic sense, given that those of us who pay any sort of federal tax has funded the US military) had been at war with Iraq since 1991. The difference was only in degree and who was facing the brunt of the war. After the "cease fire" in 1991, we bombed Iraq daily and prevented the Iraqi people from trading with the world. This is where Stephen and I agree. This state of affairs left Saddam in power, and in a position to make sweetheart deals to enrich himself while the honest people of Iraq had to deal with the sanctions.

The problem for me is that there were only 2 options prior to 9/11- keep the status quo or let Saddam off the hook. Except that after years an years of the sanctions, Saddam would easily be able to keep the Iraqis impoverished under a new "free trade" regime (no sanctions), and would likely have then resumed his WMD production. Even if he didn't, he'd still support terror by proxy (as he was doing in Israel) and seek other proxies to fund to fight the US.

Also, it wouldn't be the best signal to the other would-be jihadis that the West will cave to a strongman's intransigence rather than fight. THAT guarantees getting more Jihadis.

After 9/11, the options were switched- letting him off the hook was not on the table, and getting him out of power WAS. Given that the new option would also end the sanctions regime AND install a government that, at the very least, would be marginally better than Saddam, seemed like a no-brainer. End the war by ending Saddam, once and for all, and deal with the consequences of our 12 year war against the Iraqi people.

Iraq was a special case born of unique circumstances. No other state yet rises to the bar I set for Iraq, so I am not in favor of any continued wars around the world, aside from the usual anti-terror strikes hither and yon.

Speaking ONLY for myself,

Speaking ONLY for myself, not Badnarik or the campaign here. I'm the 'volunteer' listed above.

I feel that the war in no way was justified, that 9/11 "conspiracy" facts are still being discovered, that Moore didn't go nearly far enough into the truth, and that 'out on a limb' people like Alex Jones and Michael Ruppert are much closer to the truth of it... In other words, my assumptions about the root cause of this whole thing is radically different than the accepted norm viewpoint.

Given that basis of thought, I want the US troops to get out of there, should never have been there, and should apologize for ever going there.

All of the above is one reason I think Badnarik's policy is so firmly non-intervention focused: regardless of what you believe or not, the root causes are still about the US being involved in global politics, even if the question is when and how.

Washington said it best: Avoid foreign entanglements. Every single war has been caused by ignoring that basic idea. (Feel free to argue that, but it's true, including the Civil War, and both WWs)

Kerry and Bush do not believe in Zero Aggression, and neither did Clinton, nor Bush Sr, nor Reagan, etc etc... we are only reaping the fruit of non-Zero Aggression over time, and until we stand back, we'll continue to be in a mess.

If you believe that 'helping someone else' is a virtue, go join a mercenary group. Stop pulling the US (and those of us who disagree with you) into wars, terrorists, and other ugly reactions to your altruistic policy ideas.

I feel that the war in no

I feel that the war in no way was justified, that 9/11 ?conspiracy? facts are still being discovered, that Moore didn?t go nearly far enough into the truth, and that ?out on a limb? people like Alex Jones and Michael Ruppert are much closer to the truth of it? In other words, my assumptions about the root cause of this whole thing is radically different than the accepted norm viewpoint.

Thank you for making that clear, so I can dismiss your opinions out of hand. The "the CIA planned 9/11!" argument is one that should not be condoned, even implicitly. It is based on one unproven and illogical premise: GWB is evil.

GWB may be "not good" but he is far from evil. Evil isn't even rationally arguable in his case.

"I feel that the war in no

"I feel that the war in no way was justified, that 9/11 ?conspiracy? facts are still being discovered, that Moore didn?t go nearly far enough into the truth, and that ?out on a limb? people like Alex Jones and Michael Ruppert are much closer to the truth of it?"

I do not accept this argument and that is the reason I was not supportive of Russo's attempt to get the nomination.

In response to the post by

In response to the post by Seth Cohn, who writes:

"If you believe that ?helping someone else? is a virtue, go join a mercenary group. Stop pulling the US (and those of us who disagree with you) into wars, terrorists, and other ugly reactions to your altruistic policy ideas."

This is the truly central argument that invalidates the State, the Mob, and all territorial monopolists. In the overwhelming majority of situations, freedom is not a complex concept: no one personally, and no entity in the form of an abstract association of people (such as governments or corporations or majorities), has the right to plunder my body or my property.

In other words, convince me to voluntarily join in your war. You surely have no right to coerce me.

Seth Cohn wrote: "I feel

Seth Cohn wrote:

"I feel that the war in no way was justified..."

The war in Iraq was never justified in my opinion either, however escalating the war in 2003 with a full scale invasion so that the conflict could finally be ended after 12 years was the right course of action.

"Given that basis of thought, I want the US troops to get out of there, should never have been there, and should apologize for ever going there.

All of the above is one reason I think Badnarik?s policy is so firmly non-intervention focused: regardless of what you believe or not, the root causes are still about the US being involved in global politics, even if the question is when and how.

Washington said it best: Avoid foreign entanglements. Every single war has been caused by ignoring that basic idea. (Feel free to argue that, but it?s true, including the Civil War, and both WWs)"

I agreed with this until you got to the civil war part. I am honestly curious to know, how was the civil war started through "foreign entanglement?"

If you believe that ?helping someone else? is a virtue, go join a mercenary group. Stop pulling the US (and those of us who disagree with you) into wars, terrorists, and other ugly reactions to your altruistic policy ideas.

Ending a war that we had been in for 12 years is a far cry from "helping someone else." Imagine if someone had been torturing their neighbor's children for many years to get at the parents and one day decided to stop and go after the parents directly. You wouldn't call that "helping them" would you?

Likewise this war has never been about altruism, and I have yet to meet anyone on the face of the earth that claims or believes that it is (libertarian or otherwise). For some of us it is about doing the right thing, but don't confuse that with altruism.

I am honestly disappointed that the Badnarik campaign seems to be so poorly prepared for such a crucial issue. Though in their defense I have no doubt that Michael is far more knowledgable on the subject than the other potential LP presidential nominees were. Libertarians candidates are just not known for their brilliance when it comes to foreign policy. For example Harry Browne claimed on national television that he would get rid of Saddam by putting a bounty on his head and effectively hiring people to assasinate him.

That's right, you don't like a leader of some other country... just shoot them. That's an America I want to live in... let me tell you. I think most libertarian candidates, and the party in particular is focused on "ME." They want isolationist foreign policy, and for the american government (if any) to focus on America. I can agree to that. The problem is we can't just back out of treaties, alliances, and institutions that we have already agreed to uphold.

There must be some way to get out of them, however, just dropping them as if they didn't exist is not the solution. I doubt any of the major libertarian candidates have given these issues much thought, because when push comes to shove they do not expect to ever be in the position (president for example) to have to address them.