Category Archives: Just War

Syria At The Week’s End: Where Do We Stand?

Just War, Middle East, Russia, UN, War

Tuesday, September 10, Barack Obama opened his mouth to say … nothing much at all. On display, in the his meandering message on Syria, was the president’s very elementary thinking—eighth-grade elementary. Why the allusion to the eighth-grade? A Smart Politics study has found that, as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, the President’s State of the Union messages were written at an eighth-grade level.

On Syria, he stuck to this simplistic formula.

The Abstract: A horrible chemical attack happened in Syria. How do we know that? We saw the videos. Assad did it. How do we know that? Trust us (no need to verify). If we don’t “stand against the use of chemical weapons,” we, Our Allies and The Children will be imperiled forever after. The Argument from Hitler was thrown in for good measure. Iran the evil-doer too. As he rejected the world’s policeman mantle, the president ventured that the US is “the anchor of global security” [what's the difference?] Only the US is up to the task, because we’re special. Think of The Kids. Franklin Roosevelt would have.

The president then paraphrased questions purportedly posed by Americans, the majority of whom oppose the strike, choosing to reply—sort of—to the easiest among them.

Left unanswered was a question like this about The Kids. “If you’re so dead-set against the killing of children that you are willing to send us into yet another conflict,” demanded TV’s Judge Jeanine, in her weekly Opening Statement, “will you guarantee that the 1000-pound Tomahawk missiles that you will heap on Syria won’t kill children—or are they simply your collateral damage? Will the murders of those children be less significant than those we go to avenge?”

The president took full credit for the Russian initiative. As such, it stipulates that, provided the US foreswears the use of force against Syria, Russia will assist in disarming that country of its chemical arsenal. (Next Obama will be taking credit for Dennis Rodman’s inroads in North Korea, or for the basketball player’s road-map for peace with that country: “building trust and understanding through sport and cultural exchanges.”) Syria has joined in insisting that the steroids-pumped president of the US foreswear the use of force against it.

There was also Obama’s likely unintended admission in the address that Libya was his “prolonged air campaign.” At the time, the president used NATO as a fig leaf for that offensive, when the truth was that the U.S. Africa Command was in charge of the mission. By Conor Friedersdorf’s telling, President Obama had authorized CIA agents to liaise with Libyan rebels and supply them with arms.

In Libya, Obama was even in violation of the War Powers Resolution, which in itself is an affront to the constitutional text and the framers’ original intent, as it expanded presidential war-making powers. In the words of James Madison: “Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded.” Explained Louis Fisher, senior specialist in separation of powers at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress: “Keeping the power to commit the country to war—and to all the costs of war—in separate hands from the power to wage war once declared was a bedrock principle for the framers.”

How did Obama violate the statute? Contrast his actions with the relevant section of the Act, courtesy of The Atlantic:

“The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

Not even under this permissive statute, which blurs red lines America’s Constitution makers drew, is the excursion into Syria legitimate.

Then there is the pesky matter of the evidence. Here the president’s modus operandi in Libya is also instructive. As revealed by Daniel McAdams, in “Humanitarian Wars and Their NGO Foot-Soldiers,” the allegation that “Gaddafi had already killed 6,000 of his own people and was determined to kill many more” was a fiction invented by Soliman Bouchuiguir, the head of the Libyan League for Human Rights, funded in part by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

“Bouchuiguir initiated a petition that was eventually signed by 70 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) demanding that the US, EU, and UN “mobilize the United Nations and the international community and take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people.”

In short succession, “Bouchuiguir’s petition turned into a UN Human Rights Council action, which then turned into a UN Security Council action, which then turned into a NATO [nudge, nudge. wink wink] war on Libya.”

As to Syria, McClatchy was, I believe, first to relay that “German intelligence does not believe Assad sanctioned the alleged attack on August 21.” When the skepticism finally percolated down to the US press, The Washington Times seconded that the “U.S. can’t prove Bashar Assad approved the chemical attacks in Syria.”


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UPDATE II: His Highness’s Collateral Damage

Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Just War, libertarianism, Middle East, Neoconservatism, Republicans

“… And if you’re so dead-set against the killing of children that you are willing to send us into yet another conflict, will you guarantee that the 1000-pound Tomahawk missiles that you will heap on Syria won’t kill children—or are they simply your collateral damage?”

These powerful words were delivered by Judge Jeanine (written, no doubt, by her show’s writers), five minutes and 28 seconds into her weekly Opening Statement.

Judge Jeanine was speaking about the thing no Republican cared about during Iraq: collateral damage.

Let us hope that this wonderful, country wide awakening is no brief jaunt, but a return to an America-First, do-no-harm foreign policy.

Photos: Nine Years of War in Iraq.

UPDATED I (9/8): And “Will the murders of those children be less significant than those we go to avenge?” I failed to transcribe Jeanine’s last clincher. This is the sort of sharp logic missing from most tele-commentary.

UPDATE II: In reply to the thread on Facebook: Other than as an economist, Thomas Sowell is unpersuasive. No serious libertarian should take him seriously on issues of just war. Sowell was full-throttle for the war against Iraq.


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UPDATE III: Shock ‘N Awe For Syria? (Senators Say Onward To Syria)

Foreign Policy, Just War, libertarianism, Media, Middle East, Neoconservatism, Propaganda, Republicans, War

“A non-interventionist does not pretend that he is all knowing,” explained the great, much-missed Ron Paul to the war mongers on CNN (cheerleader Christian Amanpour is seriously aroused at the prospects of shock ‘n awe). Given the US’s dismal record in detecting WMD in faraway lands about which we know NOTHING, Dr. Paul rightly doubts the evidence as to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Syria is immersed in a civil war, observed Paul, we know nothing about the dynamics there—who’s fighting whom—and Uncle Sam killing more Syrians just because the factions in that country are killing one another will accomplish nothing good.

Van Jones, a former Obama lackey (whom I might just begin to respect on some limited level), seconded Ron Paul’s sentiments. (This just highlights how serious was the failure of Mitt Romney and his surrogates to adopt the libertarian foreign policy so as to galvanize both libertarains and the left to his candidacy.)

Little daylight exists between the Republicans and Democrats in the halls of power. This, in my opinion, will be patently evident in the vote in Congress for Obama’s so-called “strategic” strafing of Syria, as if daisy cutters can be lobbed judiciously.

UPDATE I: Debate, Or Self-Aggrandizing Disquisitions? The “debate” conducted by members of the “Senate Committee Foreign Relations,” better described as the delivery of self-aggrandizing disquisitions, confirms the unanimity of opinion among the people’s so-called representatives—even as most Americans oppose the strike.

If you have any sense, you’ll see that going into Syria, an adventure whose costs our people will shoulder, demonstrates again that is us against them, where them constitutes “The Comitatus—”the sprawling apparatus that encompasses the ministries of government, the lawyers, the diplomats, the adjutants, the messengers, the interpreters, the intellectuals”

Lest you forget, the D.C. hood is also home to your favorite, oh-so gritty media personalities, who gather inside or near the Bubble to reap “the benefits of being at the center of the Imperium.” This means rocking the ship of state just enough to retain street cred with “the folks.”

UPDATE II: ONWARD TO SYRIA. As was predicted in this post, “they” would win; “we” would lose. BBC NEWS is first to report that “US senators’ draft backs limited action.”

The measure to be voted on next week sets a time limit of 60 days on any operation. The draft document also bans the use of any ground forces in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the US had to act after the Assad regime’s “undeniable” chemical weapons attack.

The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, endorsed Mr Obama’s call for military action.

According to a copy of the draft resolution obtained by AFP news agency, the senators wish to restrict the operation to a “limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces against Syria”.

The resolution states that “the president may extend” a 60-day operation “for a single period of 30 days” if he obtains further specific Congressional approval.

“The authority granted… does not authorise the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations,” the statement added.

FACEBOOK THREAD. It amazes me how immoral people the world over are (US politicians included) about demanding American blood and treasure. As I wrote in The Titan is Tired, “We Americans have our own tyrants to tackle. We no longer want to defend to the death borders not our own—be they in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, [Syria], wherever. And we don’t need our friends looking to us to do so.” And I added, “This column has been consistently polite about—but disinterested in—the putative push for freedom across the Middle East. Dare I say that such a stance, and not slobbering sentimentality, is the proper, libertarian position? I promised, accordingly, that when liberty deprived peoples the world over supported patriots stateside, I’d return the favor. The same goes for Israel.”


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The Latter-Day Rome Lives And Kills

Ancient History, Foreign Policy, Just War, Military, The State, War

“The Latter-Day Rome Lives And Kills” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

“Libertarian extraordinaire John Stossel asks the right questions. He doesn’t always arrive at the right answers.

The questions Mr. Stossel poses on his Fox-Business TV show, small mercies, have little to do with the mindless things that busy Big Media. For the last couple of weeks, for example, the impetus among the mindless has been to provide the priapic Anthony Wiener with the boost his worthless life and life’s work have clearly needed.

The sexting antics of this engorged organism—a New-York City mayoral candidate and once a Democratic congressman—have allowed Mainstream Media to carry out its mission: knocking down one straw man (Weiner) to conceal the catastrophes of another (Obama).

Back to Stossel. To the question of ‘Are We Rome?’ posed on the July 18 segment of his eponymous show, Mr. Stossel replied, ‘Not yet.’

Wrong.

Mr. Stossel takes comfort in the fact that ‘we don’t kill people for sport. When we go to war, misguided or not, we don’t conquer or plunder. And when we win, we usually leave.’

The popular host is utterly mistaken—just as he was wrong to summarily dismiss the the threat to liberty of the ‘National Security Administration tracking patterns in our emails and phone calls,’ to quote his nonchalant column.

Who is Stossel kidding? American assassins hunt down and kill very many innocents abroad by drone. Unmanned aerial U.S. ‘drones have killed thousands, many of them civilians,’ attests Gabor Rona of Human Rights First.

And talk about a Roman spectacle! Targeted killing is even a bit of a sport—so much so that the latter-day Rome has established a “new medal that honors drone pilots and computer experts” for their long-distance killing prowess. It was to be called ‘The Distinguished Warfare Medal.’

Rome’s rulers were not early as efficient as the US is at killing. Uncle Sam has industrialized and streamlined war-time slaughter. No longer do thousands of legionnaires lay siege to a city with attack catapults; one pilots flattens it with a single ‘daisy cutter’ (and few qualms). …”

The complete column is “The Latter-Day Rome Lives And Kills.” Read it on WND.

If you’d like to feature this column, WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, in or on your publication (paper or pixels), contact ilana@ilanamercer.com.

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On The War Path With Samantha Power

Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, John McCain, Just War, Left-Liberalism, Middle East, Neoconservatism, Paleolibertarianism

“On The War Path With Samantha Power” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

“… By far the more dangerous of the two Obama Amazons is Samantha Power. Susan Rice, in a sense, has been neutralized by scandal; she’s under scrutiny. And if you’re wondering what a U.S. ambassadors at the UN could possibly do by way of taking the country to war, think of John Negroponte. He pushed for the Security Council resolution “that President Bush eventually cited in going to war in Iraq.”

If they play rough, Republicans will lap up the ladies’ foreign-policy antics, starting with the Senior Republican Senator from Arizona. John McCain recently crossed enemy lines to cavort with Syrian rebels, the type of chaps who lunch on enemy lungs. He, Lindsey Graham (another senior Republican Senator), and their colleagues can’t wait to supply the noble savages of the world with rations.

The only time Republicans will shake fists and point fingers is over a war delayed, one that isn’t led by the US, or a war waged without the necessary conviction (read collateral damage).

In all, white progressives like Power derive an erotic rush from swooping down to save The Unknown Other, whether he likes it or not. The coolest place from which to keep this hot thrill going is the global geopolitical scene.

To expect someone like Power to care about her homies first is a lot like expecting Angelina Jolie to adopt a poor white baby (an Afrikaner living in a shantytown , for example). How unglamorous! There’s no chic value in that. In Jolie’s defense, it’s her money. It’s hers to do with as she pleases. In a public servant, however, Power’s proclivities amount to treason.

Edmund Burke certainly thought so. …”

The complete column is “On The War Path With Samantha Power.” Read it on WND.

If you’d like to feature this column, WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, in or on your publication (paper or pixels), contact ilana@ilanamercer.com.

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UPDATE IV: Dying For Nothing Day (You’re For The Military, But Not For Liberty)

Bush, Classical Liberalism, Homeland Security, Just War, libertarianism, Nationhood, Propaganda, The State, War, Welfare

It is the habit on the Memorial Day weekend to thank uniformed men for their sacrifice. My sympathies go out to Americans who fight phantoms in far-flung destinations. I’m sorry they’ve been snookered into living, dying and killing for a lie. But I cannot honor that lie, or those who give their lives for it, and take the lives of others in America’s many recreational wars. I mourn for them, as I have from day one, but I can’t honor them.

I am sorry for those who’ve enlisted thinking they’d fight for their countrymen and were subjected to one backdoor draft after another in the cause of illegal, unjust wars and assorted informal attacks. My heart hurts for you, but I won’t worship at Moloch’s feet to make you feel better.

I honor those sad, sad draftees to Vietnam and to WW II. The first valiant batch had no option; the same goes for the last, which fought a just war. I grew up in Israel, so I honor those men who stopped Arab armies from overrunning our homes. In 1973, we came especially close to annihilation.

I can legitimately claim to know of flesh-and-blood heroes who fought so that I could emerge from the bomb shelter (in the wars of 67 and 73) and proceed with my kid life. I always stood in their honor and wept when the sirens wailed once a year. Every Israeli stops on that day, wherever he is, and stands still in remembrance. We would have died or been overrun by Arabs if not for those brave men who defended the homeland, and not some far-away imperial project.

But can we Americans, in 2013, make such a claim? Can we truly claim that someone killed an Iraqi or Afghani or a Libyan so that we can … do what? Remind me?

What I learned growing up in a war-torn region is that a brave nation fights because it must; a cowardly one fights because it can.”

UPDATED (5/26): GIVE GOVERNMENT A LEG, RIDE WITH DUBYUH. Thomas DiLorenzo nails it:

That’s how emailer John D. describes the Marc Levin (“The Grate One”) radio show Friday night during which he “played nationalistic and patriotic music nonstop” during the third hour, motivating “a weeping veteran” to call in to say “thank you for all you do, Mark.” One envisions a “weeping veteran” who lost both legs or an arm or two in Iraq calling in to thank the neocon propagandist/shill for the military-industrial complex for making it all possible. It’s kind of like those old pictures of legless veterans with their new iron “legs” jogging with President Dub-Yuh and smiling away at the “honor”he bestowed on them.
Get ready for all the chubby chickenhawk neocons like Levin and Limbaugh, who never even tried on a military uniform, to produce an explosion of war propaganda tomorrow.

UPDATE II: “For The Love of A Brother-In-Arms, And ‘Big Brother’ Be Damned.” Robert Glisson was once asked by myself to write an op-ed for Barely A Blog about the “Patriot Guard Riders.” I prefaced his op-ed—which I entitled “For The Love of A Brother-In-Arms, And ‘Big Brother’ Be Damned”—with this comment: “I do not identify with the military mission, but who can fault the humanity of the effort?”

It’s a shame Robert failed to remember the distinction when engaging with boorish warmongers on my Facebook Timeline.

UPDATE III: DITTOHEAD DAY. The military is still a government job; a career path with huge risks. How fast the so-called small government types forget this immutable truth. From the appropriately titled “Your Government’s Jihadi Protection Program” (which the military has become):

“When Republicans and conservatives cavil about the gargantuan growth of government, they target the state’s welfare apparatus and spare its war machine. Unbeknown to these factions, the military is government. The military works like government; is financed like government, and sports many of the same inherent malignancies of government. Like government, it must be kept small. Conservative can’t coherently preach against the evils of big government, while excluding the military mammoth.”—ILANA (“Your Government’s Jihadi Protection Program.”)

UPDATE IV: IF YOU DON’T GET THIS; YOU’RE FOR THE MILITARY, BUT NOT FOR LIBERTY. From “Classical Liberalism And State Schemes”:

We have a solemn [negative] duty not to violate the rights of foreigners everywhere to life, liberty, and property. But we have no duty to uphold their rights. Why? Because (supposedly) upholding the negative rights of the world’s citizens involves compromising the negative liberties of Americans—their lives, liberties, and livelihoods. The classical liberal government’s duty is to its own citizens, first.
“philanthropic” wars are transfer programs—the quintessential big-government projects, if you will. The warfare state, like the welfare state, is thus inimical to the classical liberal creed. Therefore, government’s duties in the classical liberal tradition are negative, not positive; to protect freedoms, not to plan projects. As I’ve written, “In a free society, the ‘vision thing’ is left to private individuals; civil servants are kept on a tight leash, because free people understand that a ‘visionary’ bureaucrat is a voracious one and that the grander the government (‘great purposes’ in Bush Babble), the poorer and less free the people.”


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