Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Libertarians, Brace For Heartbreak

Elections, Foreign Policy, libertarianism

David Gordon is hopeful. “Surely it is grounds for optimism when one finds a knowledgeable account of [Murray] Rothbard in The New Republic!” he remarks. David is referring to “Rand Paul Will Break Libertarian Hearts, Just Like Reagan Did” by Jeet Heer. An excerpt:

… The late Murray Rothbard, a towering intellectual and political activist in libertarian circles, was a striking example. During the 1940s, he belonged to New York’s Young Republican Club, but during the Cold War he concluded that the GOP’s militarism was a betrayal of the traditional anti-war and isolationist principles of the Old Right. During the 1950s, Rothbard preferred Democrat Adlai Stevenson to Eisenhower, and while some other libertarians like Milton Friedman jumped on the Goldwater bandwagon in the early 1960s, Rothbard still distrusted the Republicans. “Goldwater and the Conservative Movement are not only not libertarian, but the preeminent enemies of liberty in our time,” Rothbard wrote in 1964 in a letter to a small libertarian magazine called the Innovator. “For the Goldwaterites are, first, aggressive and ardent champions of American imperialism and intervention in political affairs all over the globe; and, second and most important, are eager advocates of nuclear war against the Soviet Union.” During the heady days of the late 1960s, when he dreamed of a new politics cutting across the traditional left-right spectrum, Rothbard even forged an alliance with the Maoist Progressive Labor Party, preferring them to Nixon’s Republicans.

Although Rothbard had a propensity for extremist gestures, he shouldn’t be dismissed as a fringe figure, at least not among libertarians. His application of Austrian economic theory to America, formulating a critique of the Federal Reserve as a central source of bad policy, was widely influential, not least on Rand Paul’s father, Ron Paul. Moreover, Rothbard’s allergic reaction to the Republican Party was widely shared within the libertarian movement, culminating in 1971 with the formation of the Libertarian Party (LP).

The party—founded by David Nolan, an anti-statist advertising man who was disgusted by Nixon’s embrace of wage and price control—quickly gained the support of a wide swath of the libertarian movement, including generous subsidies from David and Charles Koch. David Koch was even the LP’s vice presidential candidate in 1980. In the 1970s, the Koch Brothers seemed to have shared Rothbard’s hope that libertarians forge a partnership with the radical left. In the mid-1970s, Charles Koch made a bid to buy The Nation magazine, hoping to use it as a wedge for an opening to left-of-center opinion. When that attempt failed, Koch financed Inquiry, a libertarian journal that published many left-wing radicals like Noam Chomsky.

For Rothbard, the mission of the LP was to be a “party of principle,” as against the GOP, a party of expediency. This disgruntlement with the GOP remained core to the LP’s identity. Andre Marrou, who was the LP’s presidential candidate in 1992, despite his checkered history of not making child care support payments, voiced the common consensus when he said in 1991 that Nixon “really disappointed me. He didn’t cut government like he said he would—just like Bush and Reagan.” After a lifetime of spurning the GOP, Rothbard returned to the Republican fold in 1992, just three years before his death, giving his blessing to George H.W. Bush. Rothbard became a born-again Republican because he saw Pat Buchanan’s success in the primaries as proof that there was a still a vital anti-establishment wing to the party. Ron Paul, who was deeply swayed by the ideas of Rothbard and his ideological mate Lew Rockwell, made a similar return to the GOP. The Koch Brothers, perhaps out of pragmatism, have also turned their energies toward the Republican Party.

Yet if there has been a Republican turn among libertarians, it is worth remembering that this movement has come from people who don’t see the GOP as their ideal vehicle but rather as a necessary evil. Moreover, Rand Paul is not necessarily one of those people. Unlike his father, he didn’t leave the Republican Party and return as a blistering libertarian voice. He has always been a Republican, albeit one that spoke with a libertarian lilt …

MORE.


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Rand Paul: ‘People Shouldn’t Be So Afraid Of Freedom’

Foreign Policy, Iraq, Neoconservatism

Admirably, Sean Hannity went through the gamut of issues with Rand Paul, who announced today he would stand as a Republican presidential candidate. From Paul’s initial critique of the Civil Wrongs Act to the war against Iraq—Mr. Hannity shied away from no controversy. On toppling secular strongmen—Saddam, Assad, Mubarak, Gaddafi—Rand Paul did not, for once, let libertarians down, as is his wont. Instead, Paul condemned the disastrous toppling of all the secular strongmen of the Middle East who kept radical Islam at bay. If it were up to the neoconservative, we’d be bombing both Assad and ISIS in Syria. Cui Bono?

“Almost anyone in the Senate would have better defended the Bill of Rights than Lindsay Graham,” snorted Paul, taking a much-needed swipe at the awful Graham, evil twin of more-bombs-from-above-and-more-boots-on-the-ground John McCain.

Paul cleverly framed his plan to poach traditionally Democratic and independent voters, not by promising them stuff, but by emphasizing the entire Bill of Right and not only the 2nd Amendment.

Yes, weening people off “free” stuff and onto freedom is a good tone to strike.

Let’s see if he keeps it up.


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Obama’s Choice: Executive Override

Barack Obama, Constitution, Foreign Policy, Iran

By default, given the president’s predilections, the agreement struck between Iran, Barack Obama and the Democrat Party must be called an executive agreement.

Here’s why:

As specified by the Constitution, there are two types of treaties. The first kind has “received the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate and has been ratified by the President.” The second is “called an executive agreement,” because it rests on the president’s “authority to create international agreements with other nations without Senate approval.”

I think it’s safe to say that of the protocols afforded him by the Constitution, Obama will opt for the executive option in finalizing the deal with Iran.

Obama’s Choice is to do executive override.


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‘Beer Talk’ From Blowhards: Pat Buchanan On Iran Hysteria

Britain, Foreign Policy, History, Iran, Israel, Middle East

“Are we going to be frightened by words from an Iranian blowhard?” Pat Buchanan tries to school Sean Hannity on the insignificance of Iran’s military as compared to American and Israeli might (and Bibi’s 200 plus atom bombs). It has not dawned on Mr. Hannity that the Arab alliance forming in the Middle East against ISIS, our mortal enemy, is exactly what the US needs if she is to get the hell out of the business of meddling where we are hated.

I like Pat’s description of Britain ending up on US food stamps because of WWII.

What is so disconcerting is the blowhards of cable. In Pat Buchanan you have a learned man who partook in successive American administration, at crucial times in our history; who has so much too impart. And rather than let him teach you something, you scream him down.

Anti-intellectual.


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March Madness À La Myron Pauli

Bush, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Military, Terrorism

MARCH MADNESS À LA MYRON ROBERT PAULI

If there’s an activity that is definitely hazardous to my mental health, it is following the news. News item #1: The Army wants to courtmartial Generalissimo Bowe Bergdahl. He was a Private First Class when he apparently deserted but received “automatic promotions” to Sergeant since. Given enough time, he will be a Four-Star General! I stupidly asked: “If the Army promoted him twice, does this not indicate ‘reasonable doubt’ as to his desertion?” only be told that “automatic promotions” are the law!! Maybe it is me (who cites Grover Cleveland “public office is a public trust”) that doesn’t understand how Major Nidal Malik Hasan received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (thank you, Nidal) as well as two National Defense Service Medals.

As for our hero Nidal: None of the psychiatrists who served with him either sensed something wrong or could do anything about him. According to Wikipedia, Chief of Staff General Casey of the Army observed: “‘real tragedy’ would be harming the cause of diversity, saying, ‘As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.” Several months later, in a February 2010 interview, Casey said, “Our diversity—not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” Not only is Nidal still alive (he should have been shot after his first shot by troops bearing arms, but that is another craziness), but he has been writing letters to ISIS from prison!

In Catch-22, Joseph Heller had a character named Milo Minderbinder who wound up having the Air Force bombing both sides in order to collect more profit. When the Iraq-Iran war broke out in 1980, I joked that under the CENTO Treaty (Baghdad Pact – the Middle East version of NATO), the US was obligated to fight for both Iraq and Iran. Well, as of this week, America’s now fighting WITH Iran against the ISIS Sunnis in Tikrit and fighting WITH Saudi Arabia against the Houthi Shiites in Yemen.

Of course, Iraq got completely destabilized by George W. Bush trying to bring “democracy” to Shiite-majority Iraq while Yemen got destabilized when Barack Obama tried to bring “democracy” to Sunni-majority Yemen. But, to quote Madeline Albright, “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” – even on both sides!

And Congress voted 338 – 48 to ship heavier weapons to Ukraine in order to help stick it to nuclear armed Big Bad Vlad Putin. I’m not sure where this insanity is going to end, up but I am imagining Major King Kong of Dr. Strangelove suiting up to ride that bomb down on Russia waving his cowboy hat and shouting yeehaw!

And while the Iranians, Saudis, and Ukrainians are “protecting our freedom,” I can at least salute the ACLU for defending a black pro-life conservative being silenced by “trademark infringement” for non-commercial speech calling the NAACP the “National Association to Abort Colored People.” The case went to Justice Raymond A. Jackson who decided that this criticism of the NAACP was NOT parody (because he said “it wasn’t funny”), but was “trademark infringement.” Justice Jackson is a distinguished jurist whose sister-in-law, Elaine R. Jones, was President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (“surprise, surprise, surprise” said Gomer Pyle about this ubiquitous conflict of interest). Naturally, Justice Jackson could not recuse himself from this case because if 300,000 black babies were not aborted every year, one of them could grow up to be Justice Jackson! As for the silenced Ryan Bomberger, who objects to aborting 55 percent of all black fetuses; he clearly is a RACIST!

Lastly, the Republicans are holding up the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General. For doing this filibuster, they are RACIST, according to Senator Durban and the Democrats who held up the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to the Federal District Court for two years via a filibuster. I have to confess that I am looking forward to Attorney General Lynch. I can envision the headline: “Justice Department adopts Lynch rules.”


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US Interventionism In-Action: Fighting Both With And Against Iran

Foreign Policy, Iran

Foreign policy confusion is in part a consequence of intervening everywhere. The US can’t get its story straight. NBC’s Richard Engel, an excellent foreign policy correspondent of the Arwa Damon caliber, was on the nose when he recently said the following:

the Obama Administration’s foreign policy toward Iran … seems “convoluted” and “incoherent” at best, given the fact that the U.S. seems to be contradicting itself in its support and opposition to Iran in a number of countries.

Engel explained how the U.S. is fighting both with and against Iran in Syria, which he said is “an incredibly convoluted dynamic.” He said that while the U.S. is negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, it is supporting the fight against Iran in Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels recently forced out that country’s president and Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against them in retaliation.

“We’re fighting both with and against Iran in Syria, and fighting with Iran in Iraq,” Engel said. “There are many people who I’ve spoken to — many in the military, many policy analysts — who say that what we’re seeing here is an incoherent policy regarding not just Iran, but regarding the Middle East in general.”

Engel also said many in the military were “taken by surprise” when Saudi Arabia started bombing Yemen because they did not “consult extensively” with the U.S. military.

“Senior officials who would have been expected to know that there was going to be an operation in Yemen, they didn’t,” Engel added. “They were finding out about it almost in real time.”

About one thing Engel is wrong: US foreign policy is not newly “incoherent” and “convoluted” since Barack Obama. Did the CIA not back a coup in 1953 against Mohammad Mosaddegh, the Prime Minister of Iran, even though he was democratically elected? Did we not back the Mujaheddin against Russia in Afghanistan, before the former morphed into the Taliban and al-Qaida? Did George Bush’s puppet government in Iraq not turn to its coreligionists in Iran soon after it was ensconced? Are our people and diplomats not under frequent attack (such as in South Korea, Okinawa, on and on), due to blowback over the perception that the US bestrides the world like an arrogant colossus?

MORE Engel.


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