Israel, Raimondo, and War

Julius Blumfeld of Libertarian Musings shares his thoughts on Israel and Justin Raimondo's Nov. 12th column - thoughts which largely echo my own.

The U.S. has no interest or business in subsidising Israel. Those (especially American Jews) who campaign for and support that policy should be ashamed of themselves. As a Jew myself, I am embarrassed and appalled when my fellow Jews agitate for money to be taken by force from American taxpayers and given to a foreign country. It is also indisputable that the Palestinians have had an awful deal from 1948 onwards and that successive Israeli Governments bear much responsibility for that state of affairs. Israeli policies in the West Bank (and until recently, Gaza) are both cruel and self-defeating. The treatment of Vananu is hypocritical and oppressive.

And yet...

[I]t is nonsense for [Raimondo] to suggest that Israel is not -for better or worse - a broadly western style democracy or that Israel is likely to lob nuclear weapons onto Iran.

The problem here is that Raimondo does not seem to be able to think of Israelis as people. If he went there, he would soon find that it is not some sort of ersatz entity populated entirely by religious zealots with guns, but a real country with real people who are as diverse in their views as the population of London.

I don't believe there is any question of Raimondo being an anti-semite any more than was Rothbard - who was also fiercely anti-Israel. So what is going on here? Why does Raimondo seem to hate Israel and Israelis so much (and so much more than anything or anybody else), that all objectivity seems to vanish and he just ends up ranting?

I don't know, but it's a shame.

As the Brits would say, a bloody shame.

I concluded long ago that the problem with Raimondo is that he writes angry. Anger can be a great motivational force for writers, and I can surely understand why someone with as much editorial output as Raimondo needs to find ways to motivate himself to produce. But angry writing is bad writing. Emotional diatribes heavily laden with insults can be satisfying for both the author and those readers who already share the author's opinion, but bitter flame-fests are rarely if ever persuasive.

On the other hand, Raimondo's most recent column is surprisingly calm and rational, at least in comparison to his usual fare. I found his Rothbard reference interesting - an article titled "War, Peace, and the State" which I had not previously read.

Many libertarians object as follows: "While we too deplore the use of taxation for warfare, and the State's monopoly of defense service, we have to recognize that these conditions exist, and while they do, we must support the State in just wars of defense." The reply to this would go as follows: "Yes, as you say, unfortunately States exist, each having a monopoly of violence over its territorial area." What then should be the attitude of the libertarian toward conflicts between these States? The libertarian should say, in effect, to the State: "All right, you exist, but as long as you exist at least confine your activities to the area which you monopolize."

In short, the libertarian is interested in reducing as much as possible the area of State aggression against all private individuals. The only way to do this, in international affairs, is for the people of each country to pressure their own State to confine its activities to the area which it monopolizes and not to aggress against other State-monopolists. In short, the objective of the libertarian is to confine any existing State to as small a degree of invasion of person and property as possible. And this means the total avoidance of war. The people under each State should pressure "their" respective States not to attack one another, and, if a conflict should break out, to negotiate a peace or declare a cease-fire as quickly as physically possible.

I see a disconnect here between Rothbard's claim that libertarians should "pressure their own State to confine its activities to the area which it monopolizes and not to aggress against other State-monopolists" and his assertion that "this means the total avoidance of war." Isn't a defensive war in response to another State's aggression one of, if not the primary activity all States monopolize? Providing for the common defence[1] is right up there with insuring domestic tranquility. If there's one thing a State ought to do - so long as it's monopolizing the right to do so - it is to protect its subjects from foreign aggression. This is not to argue that preemptive war and all of the other creative interpretations of self-defense are justified on libertarian grounds. Rather, it is to say that monopolizing the use of retaliatory force while at the same time not actually retaliating when defense is necessary and justified is an ever greater offense than monopolization alone.

fn1. Has it ever troubled anyone that the Constitution is written with British spelling? We fought a war for a reason, goddammit. I did not watch my buddies die face down in the muck just to see our founding document written in the Queen's English. And before you object that you don't see any connection, let me just say that there isn't a literal connection, Dude.

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Can i assume familiarity

Can i assume familiarity with vernor vinge's exploration of this topic?
One approach a fairly minimal state could take would be to have buffer zones around its perimeter in which it doesn't offer defense, but allows
citizens to defend against aggressors. And an interior fall-back position the state will defend. Property values would adjust.
Encroaching states might find it not in their interest to attack people prepared to defend themselves. The costs of mutual assured destruction are low enough to be affordable by individuals or other non-state actors.
A little more complex, you could have the state offer different levels of protection based on opt-in or opt-out menus with user fees.
Invaders are handed a map of where the pacifists and free riders live.