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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15249/the-unthinking-right/

The Unthinking Right

January 7, 2011 by

What’s weird is the world of National Review, where it troubles no one to call for huge spending cuts and slashing government at the domestic level while defending the worst form of global imperialism abroad, complete with reflexive defenses of every violation of human rights and liberty. FULL ARTICLE by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.


Robert R January 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

When I read this article, I thought of a recent appearance by Larry Elder on the John Stossel show. Elder labeled Assange an “enemy of the state”. I thought “why is that a pejorative, Elder?”

WhiskeyJim January 7, 2011 at 9:33 am

From a purely practical perspective, ideology aside for a moment, surely conservatives must acknowledge that the current military is still fashioned to fight yesterday’s war. And that they are getting a very wasteful, politicized ROI on their money.

Most high ranking military officials would in private at least say that 30-50% of military spending is a waste, even given the current imperialist strategy.

These are gob-smacking numbers that even conservatives must consider under their own lights.

I would settle for addressing those issues in the short run, with the potential for more substantive withdrawal in the future. Let’s face it; regardless of ideology, we can no longer afford it. It seems the discussion might be its most productive if it started there.

Dave Albin January 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Yeah, one of the biggest federal entitlement programs is defense spending.

Barry Loberfeld January 7, 2011 at 10:10 am

“What’s weird is the world of National Review, where it troubles no one to call for huge spending cuts and slashing government at the domestic level while defending the worst form of global imperialism abroad, complete with reflexive defenses of every violation of human rights and liberty.”

That’s because the Unthinking Right is, to quote another LewRockwell.com article, the Spite Right:

The Spite Right was born, not in the reflection of Read or Chodorov or Garrett, but in the confrontationalism of Up from Liberalism. Its progeny include Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Goldberg, Gallagher, Malkin, Ingraham, Savage, O’Reilly, Beck — self-scribbled caricatures who dwell in their own political cartoon, where there are only intrinsically evil “liberals” (Mr. Limbaugh adduces Ed Koch and William Kunstler on the same page) vs. “conservatives” whose goodness derives solely from fighting them. Such “liberals” are the Spite Right’s Left, and once that Left was deemed “anti-war,” pro-war was deemed anti-Left, i.e., the Good. Thereafter, the only matter of duty was to defend that war from this “liberal” assault. That meant fighting any and all “liberal lies” that challenged Administration Truth, which was Truth because it stood in opposition to those “lies.” It meant fighting any moral challenge to the war, which actually could be only immoral because it challenges the war — the War on Liberals, the struggle that is the essence of morality. It meant fighting the usual “anti-war” suspects, from Hollywood “limousine liberals” to sign-waving street protesters. For the Spite Right, Iraq is another name for Vietnam.

William P January 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

As a reader of NRO and of mises.org and Mises in general, I have to say: I find that when Ron Paul talks foreign policy, and begins to speculate the the Federal Reserve is sending our gold away, this sounds bizarre to me. I also find it bizarre how libertarians, who write so passionately about the evils of the state, cannot seem to imagine a case where an isolated America, who does not stand with her allies, soon finds herself alone in a world run by an evil empire.

You don’t need to approve of price controls to like Truman’s containment policy. To me this is not a matter of economic logic. A better understanding of war comes from reading military history, preferably from an historian who knows his economics. Mises, as I recall from his book Omnipotent Government, was not exactly a peacenik when it came to militarily opposing the Nazis.

BioTube January 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

Totalitarian states are not long for this world; they necessarily destroy themselves. Containment isn’t necessary.

William P January 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

OK, well with that logic, the United States (and every other country) should be content to sit on the sidelines as Hitler liquidates the untouchables. And in 50 years, long after Hitler’s death, when the Nazi state collapse on its own weight, there will be a lot less gypsies and jews, not to mention whoever would have been added to the list as time went on.

Sorry, not a matter of economic logic. It’s about smiting the bastards because they deserve to be smote.

Slim934 January 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm

This line of narrative simply assumes that these sorts of individuals come to power organically. When the truth is that in almost all cases these people come into power almost solely owing to previous state action (either internal or external).

For example, hitler and nazism did not simply rise up out of the earth like a Titan. It largely came about as a blowback from previous policies relating to World War 1 (ie. German hyperinflation).

We can on doing this all day, and still have a respectable list if we limit ourselves to Tyrants that the US directly helped and subsidized (Stalin and Saddam Hussein come directly to mind here).

I would also argue that it is overly simplistic to not take into account economic logic in looking at war, given that the largest and most destructive wars in the 20th century came about largely due to complex interactions from protectionist trade policies.

BioTube January 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

It’s one thing to smite a bastard you think ought to be smote; it’s another to force others to do it for you. The American public refused to get involved until the Pearl Harbor, which only happened because Roosevelt was manipulating Japan into firing first so he could get in on the war in Europe. Besides, the Soviets did most of the heavy lifting when it came to defeating the Nazis(one case of “I created you, I can destroy you” that actually worked).

newson January 7, 2011 at 11:50 pm

fdr’s application of trade sanctions against japan on account of the nanking massacre would seem misguided, or wickedly cynical, if it happened that no such event was alluded to by the kmt in the immediate aftermath of the alleged atrocity.


The Anti-Gnostic January 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Sorry, not a matter of economic logic. It’s about smiting the bastards because they deserve to be smote.

Yes, because principles are worth fighting for and justice Has. No. Price. I’m sure that should be sufficient to get the tanks, rifles, artillery, etc., to materialize at your feet, along with all the combat-ready men to operate them. All this stuff just comes from the ether once you invoke principles.

Short of that, you will have to provide me with a very good, very thorough, cost-benefit analysis that explains why my blood or treasure should be spent fighting overseas wars. And no, bad things happening to other people won’t cut it.

Dave Albin January 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I think if you and like minded people in the US during WW II wanted to hire some sort of security or war-making force to fight against the Nazis, then you should have been able to go for it! Problem is, the Feds take our money and use it to run their monopoly on force – the military. I’m sure that some pro-Sudan people in the US and world would like to do that in Darfur right now. The UN and US will still take your money and run the military, but won’t bother with Sudan.

newson January 8, 2011 at 4:40 am

concentration camps were created after the outbreak of war.

as for gypsies, the much-mentioned figure of half a million victims is completely undocumented.

Martin OB January 7, 2011 at 11:30 am

Nothing lasts forever, neither good nor bad institutions. But if History is any guide, ruthless empires can survive for centuries, those who refuse to fight for their freedom quickly become slaves, and international alliances are crucial.

William P January 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm

That’s an excellent point. Liberty is the exception, not the rule, historically speaking. That should tell us something.

Dagnytg January 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm

As I recall, we didn’t fight the evil Soviet Union. They were brought down by the desire to have Levi jeans and toilet paper. (That according to a college professor who spent time in Russia during the 70′s…these were the items that his overseers (privately) asked of him.)

Of course, there is Red China and they have definitely impinged on my liberty. My beautiful Chinese girlfriend takes up so much of my free time and on top of that I’m always buying low cost, quality goods made in China …damn that Mao!

And last, “international alliances are crucial” let’s just ask the 16 million who died in WWI. Oh we can’t…they’re dead. But if they were alive, I’m sure they would voice an opinion. Though I’m not sure they would agree with you…Martin.

Finally, (cause I’m having too much fun) let’s quote my favorite libertarian, Bastiat, who said where goods and services don’t cross borders armies do…an idea so true…so eloquent…so simple…but apparently difficult for people to understand.

PS>If fighting for my freedom means selling jeans, toilet paper, and dating their women…I’m all for it;)

Martin OB January 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm

America did fight the Soviet Union, that’s what the Cold War was all about. Do you doubt they believed in taking over countries by force?

Do you think the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe was stopped by market forces? No, the Empire was defeated in war, and international alliances played a key role at the gates of Vienna.

I’m glad you are having fun. I’m a bit bored myself with all the same a-historical reasoning and out-of-context Bastiat quotes the dogmatic Rockwellian anti-war people are so fond of.

Jim January 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Coming from the assumption that it is only right and proper that the Ottoman Empire was stopped and driven back. Maybe the Turks have a different view of the matter? You can’t simply assume the natural “correctness” of the side you happen to favor winning.

Gil January 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm

You would have loved being a Muslim wouldn’t you Jim?

Martin OB January 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm


I won’t bite. I know some people here find it cool and sexy to defend the Islamists, the Nazis, imperial Japan, absoulute monarchy, medieval theocracies, anything except modern Western liberal democracies, “imperialist” America and “Zionist” Israel.

But that’s beside the point. My point is, armies are there for a reason. You can’t just expect the enemy to fall on its own because of internal inefficiencies. Also, you can’t get a hostile power to leave you alone by looking harmless.

Beefcake the Mighty January 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm

““Zionist” Israel.”

So, by your use of quotation marks here, I take it you do not regard Israel as inherently a Jewish State? Interesting. I bet the Settler movement (and if the term “racist” is to have any meaning at all, surely it applies to them, although probably “Jewish supremacist” is more accurate) you wish to ally with would beg to differ.

Martin OB January 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm


I used the quotation marks because the term “Zionist” is used so often by the enemies of Israel and of the Jewish people (alas, some of those enemies are Jewish themselves), not because I find anything wrong about Zionism itself. Zionism is just a Jewish nationalist movement. There’s nothing essentially supremacist about it, so I don’t think it’s fair to call it “racist”, but the term “racist” has been (and is being) redefined to suit the needs of lefties so many times that it became useless. You are right, Israel is (and can only be) an openly Jewish state, but one which grants full civil rights to its non-Jewish residents, who can become citizens and even MPs, which I think is a mistake; political power should not be lumped together with fundamental human rights, but I digress.

Dagnytg January 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Martin OB,

It is common knowledge that international alliances caused the escalation of WWI. What is not common knowledge is why the Ottomans joined the war.

Please click on the links below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_the_Ottoman_Empire (see subtitle World War I, 1914–1918)

Apparently, they were reluctant participants.


The Cold War was a war of propaganda not one of battlefields.

The Ottomans of the 20th century were not advancing on Europe. In fact, their empire was in decline due to ethnic nationalism and separatist movements.

You have it wrong…we’re not anti-war…we’re pro-property rights. It’s called ethics…

Martin…do you have any ethical standards or do you comment only from a foundation of emotionalism and fear???

newson January 9, 2011 at 12:22 am

to beefcake the mighty:
on semantic quibbles, “settler” to me signifies original appropriation.

Beefcake the Mighty January 9, 2011 at 9:53 am

Good point, newson.

Beefcake the Mighty January 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Martin OB, if you reread my post you’ll see I was using “Jewish supremacist” to describe the settler movement. I don’t see how any reasonable person can listen to the deranged rhetoric of some of the rabbis representing this movement and not come to similar conclusions. These are the people you have said (elsewhere on this blog) that you want to ally classical liberalism with. Good fucking luck.

Re. Jewish nationalism, there’s nothing wrong with nationalism as such, be it Jewish, black, white, whatever. The problem of course is when the immensely powerful diaspora puts their national interests ahead of the national interests of the host peoples in whose countries this diaspora has established residence. Pretty clear you don’t care particularly much about these peoples. Only question is whether you are a plant or a traitor.

Martin OB January 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm


Interesting remarks about the Ottoman Empire’s intervention in WWI, but I was talking about the Ottoman Empire’s siege of Vienna in 1529, where it was crucially defeated by a Christian European coalition.

The causes of WWI have been hotly debated ever since, with beligerent autarchistic nationalism playing a key role in many explanations, but blaming the alliances for it is just as pointless as blaming the weapons. Maybe wars would be smaller if no-one formed coalitions, and maybe they would be less bloody if pillows were used instead of weapons. Good luck with disuading the enemies from using weapons and forming coalitions.

The cold war involved propaganda and many other things, but it was basically a military muscle showdown. Just because two people point a gun at each other while they talk and negotiate, instead of shooting each other, it doesn’t mean that violence plays no role in the dynamics of the process.

Here we go again, I disagree with you, so I am unethical. Nothing new here, but I find it odd that you contrast ethics with emotion and fear. There are strong emotions behind the quest for the ethical life, and behind every honest debate on ethical matters. As for fear, like any other emotion, it must be kept in check, but it has its place and its utter elimination leads to disaster.

Martin OB January 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm


I don’t see anything inherently supremacist about claiming Judea and Samaria as part of Israel, as they obviously are, from a legal and historical point of view. If you can point out exactly who is making Jewish supremacist claims and what those claims are, I can tell you what I think of them. In all political movements some are reasonable, some are fringe and some are way out there. I don’t think it’s fair to single out Zionism, or even the settler movement, as uniquely guilty of having some members who go too far.

And now you say that I’m a traitor who defends diaspora Jews aginst the national interests or the host populations, namely Western countries, which I don’t care about. Oh, my, I’d say that’s textbook psychological projection. It’s you who plays into the Islamic divide-and-conquer game, ignoring the fact that our civilization is often called Judeo-Christian for a reason, weakening the alliance which can best defeat the real, proven, hostile intruders in Western societies, that is, the Islamists.

Robert January 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I don’t see anything inherently supremacist about claiming Judea and Samaria as part of Israel, as they obviously are, from a legal and historical point of view.

Leaving aside the claim of a historical claim (which is also highly dubious) Israel has no legal claim to the West Bank. Zip. Under international law it’s not Israeli, and even ISRAELI LAW ITSELF does not claim the West Bank is part of Israel, except for the portion in and around East Jerusalem which they have attempted to annex.

newson January 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm

it’s also possible the three main monotheistic religions are, and have always been, rivalrous or antagonistic.

Martin OB January 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm


Fair remarks, but the legal status of Judea and Samaria is complex and hotly debated. No other state has a higher legal claim to those territories than Israel (Jordan invaded them illegally and the would-be Arab state proposed by the non-binding UN resolution was rendered moot when the Arabs rejected the resolution), but instead of just annexing them, Israel set up a military government there, hence the complaints of “occupation”.

I can understand that the fact that the Supreme Court of Israel played along with the “occupation” concept can be seen as proof of indisputability, but it can also be seen as proof of commitment to fair play by Israeli institutions in an ongoing dispute. In any case the ruling is about the legal framework to be applied in the governance of the territories under the current regime, not about the extent of Israel’s legitimate territorial claims.


Dagnytg January 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Martin OB.

I wasn’t suggesting that you were unethical. I was making an attempt to get you to define your beliefs from an ethical and objective point of view.

It’s very easy to give references to various historical periods and rationalizations for their outcomes, but it doesn’t make it clear to me (and I am questioning if it is clear to you) just exactly when you believe war is appropriate and where you draw the line. When is war morally just and when is it unjust?

These are the questions that need to be answered before one can have a serious discussion on such issues. It is has become apparent to me that some libertarians and most non-libertarians have yet to really define what they believe. Many are big on citing history, theory, law, philosophy, and personal rationalizations but few can define what they believe.

I understand why. If one is clearly defined in their beliefs then he/she should be willing to present them for everyone to see. Of course, this makes you vulnerable to serious critique (especially if your beliefs are not sound or unethical). Most people are not willing to take that risk especially if they are not sure what their beliefs are.

In summary, since war is synonymous with death and those who die are usually innocent, one should be very clear on the moral justifications of war.

So, I ask you, Martin:

When is war morally just and when is it unjust?

Martin OB January 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm


That’s the thing, I don’t believe you can come up with an infallible practical criterion to decide whether war is permissible or not in any particular case, when you should respect the law or break it, try to improve the system or to bring it down, pay a ransom or attempt a rescue, accept stagnation forever or try some new technology which may pose a risk to third parties, and so on. Life is not so simple. In any case, I’m pretty sure “never” is the wrong answer. The problem I see with some libertarians is that their answer is too close to “never”, because they only see the bad consequencies of war, but they dismiss the disastrous effects of appeasement.

War is permissible when the alternative is worse, and I think letting violent thugs have their way is worse than war. If civilized people insist that war is never permissible, those thugs will learn that all they have to do is threaten with war and they will get all they want. Combatants should take the interests of non-combatants seriously, but it goes both ways, that is, non-combatants should be fair and lay the blame where it belongs, look at things from the perspective of the enemy and wonder how they would behave in their place. It’s not fair to compare unintended civilian victims of military attacks with the explicit targeting of children, hostage executions and other barbarous acts. Yes, people die in both cases, but that’s also true when people die in ordinary accidents. Intentions matter.

I see two possible reasons for the (in my opinion) unreasonably extreme anti-war position of some libertarians.

First, those libertarians emphasize their opposition to the state by rejecting all its symbols and initiatives, and of course, war is usually waged by a national army, which is the ultimate embodiment of the state. I understand no true libertarian can feel comfortable applauding essential institutions and initiatives of the state, but nevertheless those institutions and initiatives respond to a real underlying need for organised defense.

A second reason may be as a reaction to the Keynessian appreciation of war as a great source of economic activity. To this egregious fallacy, libertarians respond by insisting that war always means destruction and death, which are intrisically harmful. I agree the alleged reinvigorating effect of war is nonsense, but those libertarians should also consider the unseen destructive effects of appeasement.

To sum up my position, a libertarian should neither celebrate the perspective of war, as a hawkish Keynessian old-leftie would, nor squirm at the thought of fighting for a good cause, as a counter-cultural new-lefty would.

Dagnytg January 11, 2011 at 4:41 am

Martin OB,

I appreciate your sincere answer…

If I had to sum up your position on war and life in general, I would say you’re a pragmatist or perhaps an amoralist? Your reply is interesting…

One clarification:

Though you give examples of libertarian arguments against the act of war, they are at best adjunct arguments.

What you’re missing is the essence of libertarian thought (I alluded to this in an earlier comment). It is the respect of property rights (remember we define property as ones self as well as ones possessions) and because of this axiom, I cannot morally condone the reckless destruction of property. It’s an ethical argument. Many call it the non-aggression principle but really, it is self-evident to the ethics of property rights. To embrace the idea of non-aggression is what makes one a Libertarian.

Remember, Libertarians aren’t against war…we are against aggression. Think of the meaning and implication of the saying “Don’t tread on me”. If one violates your property, one is allowed to defend it.

But I’m not surprised that you do not have a clear definition of a just or unjust war.

It takes an evolution in thought and requires much introspection, the acceptance of reason over emotionalism, and looking at people NOT through the eyes of religion, culture, ideology, or their government but as individuals…who needs are universal to all individuals regardless of the collective haze from which we wish to view them.

Martin, I don’t mean any of this disparagingly towards you. I’ve walked this lonely road and though the path has always been apparent to me, it has not absolved me of the responsibility to labor rigorously at my beliefs and challenge them constantly. I can only imagine, for those who are unsure of the road to follow, that the journey seems arduous, overwhelming, and difficult. But it’s a journey worth taking.

Martin, I hope someday you will take that journey and I wish you the best of luck:)

Charlie Virgo January 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I think you have to look further into what it means to be pro- and anti-war. I am anti-war, which means I don’t subscribe to the Bush doctrine that it’s ok to attack someone you “think” is going to do you harm. I don’t believe in preemptive strikes. However, if someone attacks the US, you can believe I’ll be all for taking them out. The issue nowadays, though, is determining who attacked who first…

Slim934 January 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm

This is the whole problem I see with the militaristic position at all: confusing an entire geographic polity with that polity’s government.

I hear people all the time talking (jokingly, but I would guess just barely) about turning the middle east into a “glass bowl” using nuclear weapons. This strikes me as disgusting and unbelievable talk, and it leads directly from this idea of “Who attacked ‘us’ first”? Who the hell is this mystical “us” supposed to be? This whole line of reasoning that some country’s people are equivalent to their government, which is an obvious load of crap. The politicians and bureaucrats at any given are the government, not the people at large. Hoppe has written extensively on this, specifically in Democracy the God that Failed.

Another point which I find paradoxical, the mises readers who also ascribe to the NRO view I assume believe in Mises’ ideas on economic calculation and the nature of bureaucracy. They naturally believe this in relation to the various domestic government organs, as they should. But what exercises in cognitive dissonance are they engaging in to believe that these rules do not apply in the area of foreign relations? As the government cannot know the best domestic policies because their policies have no basis in individual desires (no price mechanism, no actual basis in genuine voluntary interaction), how in the hell can they know what the correct policies to institute militarily abroad will be? Then there is the whole paradox of simultaneously seeing special interest groups game the political system domestically but then willfully blinding themselves from seeing it in foreign affairs.

I am curious as to how exactly they are able to logically parse this. Also: the idea that mises was not a peacenik concerning the Nazis. This is true, but even then he was against actual government control of the market in any capacity. There is also the fact that he explicitly argued against an interventionist foreign policy in his book Liberalism. Mises overwhelmingly favored totally free trade and peace in foreign relations between states, saying that this was the only true basis for peace between different peoples.

Worm January 10, 2011 at 4:37 am


“I don’t believe in preemptive strikes.”

So you’d let the criminal shoot first before you returned fire?
You’d let a U.S. city be a smoking crater with millions dead before you attacked another nation?

J. Murray January 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm

The problem is the confusion between isolation and non-interventionism. Ron Paul has never once called for isolation. This entire concept is 100% invented by the media and his opponents who can’t tell the difference between staying out of everyone’s business and refusing to interact with anyone at all.

I’m a non-interventionist when it comes to my neighbors for instance. It means I won’t show up in their home, rifle through their things, and tell them how to get their bills under control. It doesn’t mean I refuse to make any contact with them.

Non-interventionism means we stay out of any affair that doesn’t directly impact our nation. We don’t use our military to engage in fights between two foreign nations, we don’t use political power to force foreign nations to adopt internal policies, etc. And by directly impact, I don’t mean some regional strife in the Middle East may increase oil prices. If anything, our government today is far closer to an isolationist policy than what the media makes Ron Paul out to be. What else would you call things like the “Buy American Act” or trade embargos to be? A violent and nosy neighbor finds himself isolated far quicker than the one that minds his own business but still engages in friendly talk with his neighbor over the fence, invites him over for BBQs, and lends tools to.

ABR January 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm

If you hear your neighbour scream for help, will you intervene?

Richie January 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm


newson January 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm

which one, the husband or the wife?

Anthony January 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

The real question is, should I force the people across the street to intervene?

Would you be ok if I go into your house and take your money so that I can buy a gun or pay somebody else to intervene? That is the appropriate comparison here… nobody is contending that people should be prevented from volunteering to fight and paying their own way.

newson January 8, 2011 at 1:25 am

volunteering money and services for a foreign struggle is called terrorism, depending on whether the government sanctions that cause.

ABR January 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Thus, the existence of States presents a dilemma to the Good Samaritan. If he tries to help the aggressed in a foreign land, he could end up in gaol before he even leaves his own country, having been charged with the purchase or manufacture of military weapons. His only alternative, apart from apathy, is to convince his govt. to go to war, which typically involves the extortion of taxes and the conscription of unwilling soldiers.

Rush January 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I can remember listening to Rush Limbaugh back in the 90′s reaming Clinton about how Clinton was trying to be the world’s police force going into Bosnia and all these other places we didn’t have any business in. I agreed with him. 10 years later, he preaches us invading and occupying anyone who looks at us funny. That’s weird.

To The Anti-Gnostic – I hear you and generally agree about needing an economic argument and that “bad things happening to other people won’t cut it.” However, surely there is some limit to your feelings on this. If we were living in our ideal libertarian world and some lunatic in Africa got power and started mass killing people, would you really just sit back and say, “too bad for them”? Again, I’m not making the argument to argue that anything we are currently doing or have recently done would fall into this category, but this is not an unrealistic situation. What is your solution to this? Do we just let people die to stand by our principles of non-interventionism? I don’t know.

BioTube January 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Defense of others is a legitimate action, so if you wanted to do something, nobody could justly prevent you; however, forcing others to bear the cost of your action is impermissible.

Rush January 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I think that’s a pretty safe answer, but it pretty much guarantees that you won’t be able to do anything, since rapidly organizing an effective, all-volunteer force with the necessary equipment to take any meaningful action would in practicality be awfully difficult.

What about the situation where the aggressor is likely to attack your country next? I would like to say that I can’t force anyone to pay me so that I can defend them, but war is something that requires a level of collective action that doesn’t generally happen spontaneously.

Jim January 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm

You’re basing the entire line of reasoning on the premise that there is a moral imperative to act on other’s behalf. It’s easy to make a clean argument that we’re “helping” people by going in and taking out dictators, but it ALMOST never works out that way in real life.

We thought we were doing right by the Iranians to assist the British in assassinating their elected leader back in ’52 (I believe was the year), and installing the Shah. That didn’t really work out for anybody. Same with most of central America and the Caribbean during Wilson’s presidency, and Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, South Vietnam, et al during the Cold War. All places we set up (or assisted to power) a dictatorship to “save” these people from themselves.

We do not perform organized action as a nation-state of the manner you are describing to “help” people out of altruism. We do it when it’s in our own interests, and more often than not, we leave the people worse off than when we found them. Why did we need to “save” the Iraqis (after assisting Saddam’s rise to power), but half the nations in Africa suffer under worse dictatorships, and all we do is protest in the UN? Why don’t we go in there, guns blazing? Short answer: they don’t have anything we particularly need (not just oil, but strategic locations, etc).

That’s why voluntary assistance is the libertarian ideal; because frankly, the state-sanctioned interference is not for the good of the people being interfered with, but is usually just for the benefit of the one doing the interfering.

Rush January 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Jim, I agree that it has never worked out in practice, but that isn’t so much because victims can’t be helped, but that the the helper in each case you cited is a massively over indulged state apparatus that, as you said, isn’t actually trying to help anyone other than itself. The argument I am making is an academic one for a situation that does not currently exist. If we were to achieve either a minarchist or anarcho capitalist society in our own country, would we essentially be giving up the possibility of making a meaningful positive difference in situations overseas where there was an urgent crisis? I know that our very existence would be a huge positive force in the world, just through our wealth generation, but to assume that evil would suddenly evaporate in the world is naive. I wouldn’t try to justify any past action based upon any of this, but I think that there could be a potential sacrifice in the ability to do what could be a good thing. If that is the case, then that needs to be acknowledged.

Jim January 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm

The problem with that scenerio, is that by using state power to force people to organize and assist, you are essentially disavowing the minarchist or anarcho-capitalist society that you state the scenerio is beginning from.

If your question is whether thus a minarchist or anarcho-capitalist society is less “just” because of it’s inability to coerce foreign intervention and aid, then basically what you’re doing is making an argument for the continuation of the interventionist state, which, as previously pointed out, only acts in it’s own selfish interest.

I understand what you’re asking, but you’re basically in a catch-22. The state is capable of massive, organized, rapid intervention…but will never choose to use this power out of pure altruism, because it’s very existence is dependent on the ability to behave selfishly in order to ensure it’s continued existence.

The alternative, an AnCap or minarchist society, will probably lose some of the ability to enforce massive and immediate intervention, because you’d be relying on volunteers and bottom-up organizing and fund-raising. However, you are much more assured of a genuinely helpful response since there is not a state apparatus with self-interest at the heart of it’s actions.

Dave Albin January 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I disagree – small militias would be able to work independently or with other small groups and provide self-defense better than a huge military spread over the world running a bunch of police states.

Anthony January 8, 2011 at 12:07 am

Furthermore, perhaps new “charities” would form whose function was to mobilize and use military force to protect people in other countries. This would allow people to coordinate their efforts while the system as a whole remains purely voluntary.

P.M.Lawrence January 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm

We thought we were doing right by the Iranians to assist the British in assassinating their elected leader back in ’52 (I believe was the year), and installing the Shah.

He wasn’t assassinated but imprisoned for life, he wasn’t elected (though he had been, on an earlier occasion, but had lost his electoral mandate), and it was slightly later.

The Anti-Gnostic January 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm

However, surely there is some limit to your feelings on this.”

I don’t think “feelings” belong in debates over public policy, which is also why I don’t think women should be allowed to vote.

If we were living in our ideal libertarian world and some lunatic in Africa got power and started mass killing people, would you really just sit back and say, “too bad for them”?

You bet I would. Why should I put my life or my money at risk for them? Do you think they’d reciprocate, or do you think they’d slit my throat and take my money?

newson January 8, 2011 at 5:20 am

there are plenty of local suffragettes who’d gladly slit your throat and save you a trip to africa.

Anthony January 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Great article, Lew…

Concise, well-written and persuasive. Keep up the great writing.

Rush January 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm

OK, now I’ll take this a different direction. What about the 1st Gulf War? Saddam Hussein, one of the larger oil producers in the world, took over Kuwait, another of the larger producers. Based on his rhetoric, it was at least very possible that he would move to Saudi Arabia next. It seems we had a very logical economic justification to attack him, even though there were many people in the US who would not have voluntarily paid taxes to support this action.

Jim January 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Do we have a right to that oil? Or is the only right we have to purchase it on the open market at the prevailing rate? If we step in to stop Saddam to protect world oil markets, essentially we’re saying that we have a “right” to militarily defend a certain price point on a commodity we want.

China recently decided to cut back on their export of rare-earth elements, needed for manufacturing a lot of high-scale technology. Do we have a right to attack them in order to defend the prices we’re used to?

If Saddam had taken over Saudi Arabia (which is unlikely; he was a secular regime and Islam’s two holy cities are in that country), all that would have happened is that these recent oil finds by other nations would have happened sooner (due to increased exploration), and the Russians, Venezuelans, etc. would have beefed up their infrastructure sooner, all in response to higher price incentives.

Jim January 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Sorry if this double-posts; it isn’t showing up the first time I hit “submit”.

Do we have a right to that oil? Or is the only right we have to purchase it on the open market at the prevailing rate? If we step in to stop Saddam to protect world oil markets, essentially we’re saying that we have a “right” to militarily defend a certain price point on a commodity we want.

China recently decided to cut back on their export of rare-earth elements, needed for manufacturing a lot of high-scale technology. Do we have a right to attack them in order to defend the prices we’re used to?

If Saddam had taken over Saudi Arabia (which is unlikely; he was a secular regime and Islam’s two holy cities are in that country), all that would have happened is that these recent oil finds by other nations would have happened sooner (due to increased exploration), and the Russians, Venezuelans, etc. would have beefed up their infrastructure sooner, all in response to higher price incentives.

In fact, the western world benefited greatly (in the long run) from the first oil embargo in the 70s. We underwent massive energy efficiency pushes that yielded so much long-term results, that they helped (along with several other important factors) in the collapse of oil prices in the 80s. If Saddam had taken Saudi, we’d be further along now in alternative energy research, and a lot of other sources of oil that are just beginning to open would already be on the market, causing us to be a lot less dependent on unstable OPEC. Saddam taking Saudi in 91′ might have produced a better, cheaper world than the one we live in now.

Matt January 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I recommend you become a mercenary. Fight until your heart’s content. But please, don’t drag me, my money or any member of the uniformed service(*) into your fight.

* Those under contract with the armed forces should be allowed to leave without penalty if they are chosen to fight overseas and do not agree with the war

Mac January 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm

The terrible error here is assuming we would’ve been held hostage for “our” oil in their ground. What would Saddam do if he had taken over those countries? Keep the oil in the ground and bankrupt himself?

The only way he could finance the war is through the oil in the first place. And how would he maintain the security of his new territories without selling the oil? He would forced to sell no matter what—and at rock bottom price.

Don’t forget that every middle eastern state was created by Imperial fiat. Kuwait itself was a former province of Iraq, which the British granted independence to landlock Iraq. Do you know that Iraq has no seaport? Why did the British do it? I think you can guess yourself that it was to get at the oil by controlling the ports of a much smaller country like Kuwait.

And as for taking over Saudi Arabia or other countries in the region? Really? They would’nt have fought off Saddam, you think? And wouldn’t they also have to sell their oil to keep it going?

The whole impetus Saddam’s war in Kuwait was another war. The one where we egged on Iraq (then our ally) against Iran. Saddam financed that war with debt, with money coming from countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc. I’m going by memory here, but Kuwait was the only country that didn’t “forgive” Iraq’s debt. They wanted to be paid back that money, which surprise, surprise they raised by selling oil to us. And Saddam’s Iraq used that money to buy weapons… from the Russians and us!

So in this grand bargain, we got their oil and the money we paid for it back, and they got to screw themselves with weapons we sold them. But now that we’re involved in this protecting the oil business, this imperialism is costing us a heck of a lot more.

Lew is right. The “right” is filled with unthinking halfwits looking for bogeymen to bag.

newson January 8, 2011 at 12:01 am

even if the electorate can’t be persuaded by facts to intervene militarily, there’s always propaganda to get them over the line:


Anthony January 8, 2011 at 12:11 am

Is that the same Saddam Hussein that the US helped get into power and supplied with weapons of mass destruction?

If so, perhaps you might want to reconsider your assumption that the governments acts in the best interests of anyone outside of itself.

Ohhh Henry January 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Dear Lew

Yes the National Review and other media of its ilk are unthinking and robotic in their support for the national socialist state and empire. You seem somewhat at a loss to understand why they are this way. Your two possible explanations strike me as somewhat weak. Chauvinism and partisan hackery are common everywhere and always. But why would this media phenomenon, which claims so loudly that it is an intellectual movement, be beneath its surface so stupid and robotic?

As I just commented on Hulsmann’s article about the so-called conservative ideology of the National Review, its founder and longtime editor was a CIA agent. That is, as far as I know, an undisputed fact.

And now, am I to believe that after the passing of Buckley, there was no further involvement with or influence over this publication by any government agency? They just decided to leave well enough alone and concentrate on finding Iranian nukes? Do you think that the CIA or other agencies have also refrained from involvement in any of the other, more popular media outlets which produce this robotic conservative-speak far more prolifically every day? And why does this conservative-speak enjoy so much more financial success, compared to its partisan-hack opposition on the left (such as Air America). Do the military-industrial propaganda outlets gather more sponsorship $$$ because they really speak to the core of the average American’s being, or do they have some kind of artificial subsidies?

Your guess is as good as mine but I think there is something more at work here than chauvinism and partisan politics.

dmort January 7, 2011 at 5:12 pm

While I agree with Mr Rockwell’s assessment of National Reviews bi-polar inclinations, the fact remains that had Rockwell been in control of actions in 1941, there would have been either a rising sun or swastika flirting with the breeze in Omaha sometime before 1950.Ron Paul is 99% right about the corrupt foriegn policy in which we currently find ourselves engaged. That doesn’t mean you strip the military and turn your back on the innocent in this world.
Foreign policy is little more than choosing a side. In that context, I’m with Rockwell, go about your business, keep your fences in order and treat others the way you prefer to be treated. My question for all you high falutin word-gladiators is, “where are you going to draw the line?” When is enough, enough?
With the exception of William P, I don’t think there is another commentor, writing here, who understands how close we were to losinig World War II. I can tell you that our military knew. The people in the white house and congress knew. Now put yourself in the position of someone whose psyche was tempered by the consideration that but for a few lucky breaks,such as; timely, brutal russian winters, unlikely outcome at midway, the temerity to watch half your bombers destroyed in an effort to cripple the german war machine. Then couple that with the knowledge we were responsible for the death of millions of innocents, before we stopped the germans and the japanese. Rockwell is incapable of that level of intelligence. The impression WWII left on our military and political leaders effects us today. Rockwell hasn’t the capacity to call our meddling anything other than imperialism. It’s too complex for him. I don’t like what I seen in Afghanistan, it’s my opinion that we should pull up stakes and return home, set up on our south border and heal ourselves. You do understand the consequences of such a decision, right? I’m pretty sure Lew hasn’t a clue.

Beefcake the Mighty January 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm

You are a moron.

dmort January 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Come on Pattycake, everyone knows your first name is Lew

Dave Albin January 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Read my posts above

dmort January 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Just did, Dave. Sorry for the oversight, point taken.

Robert R January 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Why do you limit the analysis to WWII? It’s been widely recognized that the Nazi state arose in large measure because of the brutally harsh way Germany was treated after WWI. What’s your justification for American involvement in that one?

Every time I hear a neocon talk on and on about “America’s moral duty to rid the world of evil”, I keep thinking how much they sound like the Social Democrats, who love to talk about America’s “moral duty” to help the poor, the aged, the sick, ad infinitum. In other words, ANYTHING done in the name of the American State’s Just Cause is “right”.

newson January 8, 2011 at 1:03 am

a: because wwii was to become the allegory of absolute good vs. absolute evil.

Mark January 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Well, let’s see what did happen since libertarian thought did not keep the US out of WWII. We strengthened a soviet state and then spend the rest of the 20th century in a cold war with them. And is it so easy to say that roosevelt’s deliverance of western europe to soviet domination was better than a nazi regime? The russian savagery and mini-genocides before and after the war put a lie to the complacent analysis that paints WWII as the one good war where good prevailed over evil. After WWI was the war to end all wars.

Beefcake the Mighty January 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I’ll pass on commenting on the obvious ommission from Rockwell’s article re. the belligerence of the American mainstream right. We all know exactly where he won’t go, and I can only hope it’s helped him gain adherents to libertarianism (but I rather doubt it).

This does stand out though:

“Another explanation is that it is a purely oppositional stance. The American Right is against the Left. The Left tends toward peacenikism. Therefore the Right must oppose peace. ”

What’s not clear from this is whether Rockwell is describing the Left (by which I assume he means the liberal left affiliated with the Democratic Party) *as viewed by* conservatives (ie, they’re perceived to be for peace, at least that’s their assigned role in the official charade), or whether Rockwell himself actually believes the Left favors peace. If the latter, then one really wonders how Rockwell can be taken seriously.

dmort January 7, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Beefcake – either a moron or a coward. Why not both?

dmort January 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm

OH, I see, Beefcake’s an editor, Definitely a coward

Beefcake the Mighty January 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Go fuck yourself, please.

dmort January 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm

An intellectual as well, eh, Beefcake the impotent?

dmort January 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Fourth or fifth grade, Lew?

newson January 8, 2011 at 12:56 am

blitzkreig didn’t refer to the horse-drawn artillery that followed the tanks. hard to imagine a world takeover when much of the army still used wwi technology.


The Anti-Gnostic January 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm

the fact remains that had Rockwell been in control of actions in 1941, there would have been either a rising sun or swastika flirting with the breeze in Omaha sometime before 1950.

LOL. Germany wouldn’t even invade Switzerland, much less cross the Atlantic on diesel-powered boats to attack a nation forty times its size full of armed citizens.

Japan, you’ve got a better case maybe, but a response in kind would have been to stop after Midway. Do you have any evidence that the Japanese intended to conquer the US mainland?

Beefcake the Mighty January 7, 2011 at 5:38 pm

dmort is insane. Neither Germany nor Japan had anywhere near the resources needed to conquer America, even assuming their campaigns in Russia and China were successfully completed.

dmort January 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Beefcake, like lew, is incapable of logic and certainly delisional. Of, course, you pious jerk, within their repective boundaries, germany and japan, didn’t have the resources, that’s why they were invading other countries. Really, are you that stupid?

Beefcake the Mighty January 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm

dmort apparently can’t read; I said even assuming their wars were prosecuted successfully (nevermind there was no indication either country desired to occupy America). I guess dmort’s war-lust, Rambo fantasies, etc are causing the blood to flow from his head to his middle regions. Rather shameful. Let’s hope his farm animals are out of reach, for their sake. Please, take your meds for God’s sake.

dmort January 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Yeah, Einstien, Germany wasn’t at the forefront of technology! Where did we get most of our rocket sceintists? What were the names of the people who helped us build the atom bomb? Let’s see, Johnson, no… Smith? no… Szlard? yes, got his degree in Berlin, Otto Bohm, there’s a nice italian name. Clueless, Anit, you’re clueless. Are you related to Pattycake?

BioTube January 7, 2011 at 7:56 pm

First, the only part of the United States the Japanese army tried to conquer was the Aleutian islands, which might not have happened had Roosevelt’s administration not egged them on so much(IIRC, the islands contain no strategic resources, the whole point behind Japan’s war). Second, Hitler had proven himself willing to ignore blatant acts of wars to avoid open conflict with the US. Third, Germany’s most advanced warplane was only able to reach New York on a one-way trip with an atom bomb, so even if the Soviets had been defeated, it would have taken some time before technology advanced to the point where foreign military might could be a serious threat to the mainline United States(not even counting the time it would take to recover from a massive war). Fourth, Operation Paperclip had little or no effect on the Manhattan Project – it was pretty far along when Germany fell. Finally, the sheer number of places with no love lost on the Reich would have given US forces a strategic advantage in any conflict with the Nazis(as mentioned above, Japanese forces were trying to establish autarky; they likely wouldn’t participate).

TLDR: You’re a moron.

newson January 8, 2011 at 1:10 am

nazi autarky would have delivered impoverishment as surely has every other autarky in history.

Beefcake the Mighty January 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Another head-scratcher:

“The first is rooted in an ancient nationalist/Manichean instinct variously alive from the Roman Empire in the ancient world through the 19th-century British experience. The idea here posits that one’s own state is the light, and the rest of the world is the dark. ”

There’s some truth to this, certainly, but it raises more questions than it answers. Most peoples, I would think, regard their own State as somehow more righteous than others, it’s a pretty universal delusion. Why then, are we confronted with an American Empire, and not, say, a Canadian one? Also, one would think this delusion afflicts the Left as well as the Right in America, so what, really, sets the two apart (if anything)? Better yet: why is the Right more explicitly belligerent than the Left in America now?

Again, there’s a fairly obvious answer to these questions, but they apparently can’t be raised.

dmort January 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Are you in the fourth or fifth grade?

Beefcake the Mighty January 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Actually I’ve made it into high school, thank you for asking.

TokyoTom January 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Lew, a great piece, but your ending is feeble and unenlightening.

You say that ‘”it is hard to make sense of why people on the Right are so solidly proimperialist” and can come up with only two possible explanations – explanations that barely scratch the political economy/statism/kleptocracy surface and ignore our tribal proclivities and ability to self-deceive.

The Right loves “defense” because it’s a great tool of theft by those in power and the military-defense kleptoelites who support them; great because it allows them to deceive themselves and voters on the Right that they are defending all that’s good and holy while ripping us all off.

But it’s not surprising that you and others on this comment thread miss this; it’s of a piece with the reflexive defense by you and other libertarians of BP and fossil fuel interests while attacking ‘enviro-fascists’, scientists, and common folk who are injured/threatened by statist corporations that, via the grant of limited liability of shareholders, embody moral hazard that has fuelled the growth of a regulatory state that corporations have since captured.




Sione January 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Tokyo Tom attempts the dishonesty of “passing off”. He wants the reader to think that libertarians are of the “Right.” He pretends that Rockwell (in particular) and other libertarians are little different in outlook than the “Right” and are apologists for “statist corporations”. He is making the claim they support a ruling military kleptocracy. The facts are different.

Lew Rockwell has written on numerous occasions of his opposition to the policies of the Right and his opposition to corporations engaged in cronyism with those controlling the power of the state – particularly those using the state to enrich themselves at the expense of all others. For example, Rockwell, like Ron Paul, is in favour of non-intervention in the affairs of foreigners. He supports major reductions in military expenditure and withdrawal of the US military from bases all over the planet. This is not support of the present regime or its related interests- far from it. The libertarian position consistently opposes any and all infringements of Individual Rights whether they are characterised as “Left” or “Right”, whether fascist, communist, socialist, environmentalist, welfarist, “progressive”, “liberal”, religious or any other form of collectivism. Confirming that Tokyo Tom’s smears are false is as simple as checking what Lew Rockwell has written on this topic on this very site. A more extensive review of Rockwell’s position can be discerned by visiting http://lewrockwell.com/


TokyoTom January 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Sione, I welcomed you back to these pages last year despite our earlier disagreements; you repay me with hostility, rude third-person references, and a layer of false and think-headed suppositions and accusations.

This is not how members of a community behave to each other. Please, grow a sense of honor, if not a sense of perspective. Otherwise, you may find yourself wandering in the wilderness again.

I was not in the least trying to suggest that Lew Rockwell (or the community of libertarians here generally) “supports a ruling military kleptocracy”; it’s patently obvious that Lew doesn’t – I mean, even if I were completely clueless as to Lew’s views up to now (I have of course read Lew’s writings, and he’s previously paid me the compliment of citing some of my favorite anti-war quotes), I AM commenting on a piece where he’s made it quite clear that he is opposed to our bloated military and interventions abroad!

That you have somehow missed this is itself an illustration of one of my points: we are all human, so we all have penchants for blind spots, particularly when partisan impulses are triggered.

As for my claim that Lew and other libertarians at times reflexively defend BP and fossil fuel interests (while attacking ‘enviro-fascists’, scientists, and common folk who are injured/threatened by statist corporations that, via the grant of limited liability of shareholders, embody moral hazard that has fuelled the growth of a regulatory state that corporations have since captured), far from “pretending” it I thought I stated it rather clearly; it has been my experience over the past several years, I stand beside it and even proffered a link to where Lew and others WERE engaged in an apology for a very statist BP. My references to what Lew has said and to my extensive disagreements are not “smears”, but simply disagreements.

The libertarian position consistently opposes any and all infringements of Individual Rights whether they are characterised as “Left” or “Right”, whether fascist, communist, socialist, environmentalist, welfarist, “progressive”, “liberal”, religious or any other form of collectivism.

Fair enough, even as so-called libertarians routinely ignore real problems regarding unowned and government-owned resources in favor of ad hom attacks on “collectivists” and “environmentalists”, while ignoring the role of governments and government-created corporate collectives in such problems. A further quibble is that libertarians do not insist that man deny his nature and forsake all communities, into which we are born and to which we are wont to join and to enter into bonds of mutual obligation, in favor of individual rights; rather, the instence is that individuals have the right to leave such communities, including communities with formal governments.

Please relax, Sione; beside the offense you cause, you constantly put egg on your own face. As a member of this community, I’m embarrassed for you.



Daniel January 9, 2011 at 1:41 am

To all the “smoters”:

In cram school I had a(n openly) marxist geography teacher. Legend has it, on September 12th 2001, he came into class and said “Who didn’t crack a smile when it happened?”

Given the US’s foreign policy and blowback theory, I understand the sentiment behind his assertion. However, it must be enphasized that it is the US government which perpetuated horrible acts upon foreigners muslim or otherwise and not the 3000+ people who died on September 11th, many of which were (even if only to a lesser degree) also victims of the state.

My former teacher suffers from the same affliction as the terrorists behind 9-11 and the bureacrats behind the US’s monstruous foreign policy: they are all collectivists.

And so are you.

Nikolaj January 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

“What’s weird is the world of National Review, where it troubles no one to call for huge spending cuts and slashing government at the domestic level while defending the worst form of global imperialism abroad, complete with reflexive defenses of every violation of human rights and liberty.”

Isn’t it even more “weird” when a “true libertarian”, like Ron Paul, advocates the huge spending cuts in military budget and oversees spending and promises to use the money thus obtained to “shore up” the entitlement programs, i.e. welfare statel? That seems to be an even bigger anomaly from the libertarian point of view, than mere foreign policy hawkishness. After all, miltary spedning is consistent with the minimal state libertarianism, while welfare state isn’t, and also it is unconstitutional. Where is the “constitutionalist” Ron Paul to deride the obviously unconstitutional programs like Medicare or Social security? He promises to “shore them up”! It can be debated among the reasonable libertarians whether the current level of funding for the military is justified by the military threats facing the US, but what kind of libertarian would say that welfare state is untouchable?

This is even more problematic when we take into account that the military spending declined as a percentage of GDP in the last couple of decades and it is not expected to rise in the next 50 years. On the other hand, the welfare state expenditures, especially Medicare, Medicaid and social security are expected to skyrocket, even according to the phony government projections that always underestimate the true costs of welfare statehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GAO_Slide.png. So, even according to these sources the overall government revenue would be insufficient to cover the mandatory entitlement spending “sometimes between 2030 and 2040″ ! And Ron Paul wants to “shore up” these programs by cutting military spending and pouring more money into these welfare state black holes!

I am not saying that any other Republican is better than that, just noting that this is a double standard; when Cantor or Boehner are unable to name a single federal welfare program they would cut, this is for many libertarians here a crucial proof that these are the lying, big government phonies. When Ron Paul does the same, or even worse, PROMISES to actually increase the entitlement spending that is kinda cool. Because, you know, he is calling the American imperialism names and promises to defund Pentagon (while preserving the welfare state, at least for the foreseeable future).

Ron Paul is great on monetary policy, as well as in his general refusal vote for any additional spending, but he is on welfare state even weaker than some other republicans.

gml January 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I’m not sure I understand how a desire for the 100% abolition of all governments transfer payments, of any kind, could be interpreted as thinking that the “welfare state is untouchable.”
Either you have grossly misunderstood something or are having a little fun. Now, if you changed that to: “the welfare state cannot be dismantled in one day and people should have help during the transition period,” then you would probably be fairly representing Dr. Paul’s position, but you would also no longer have any argument so that won’t work. Personally I think Dr. Paul is correct on this. I think abolishing all these programs overnight would cause infinitely more problems than it could ever be worth.
I know of no other Republican who advocates the total and complete discontinuation of any and all form of transfer payments.
Sorry, no prize today but thanks for playing and come again!

T.D. Doering January 9, 2011 at 7:42 pm

At what point does our current model of imperialism collapse? can we afford a defense budget that is more than 60%, 75% of our GDP? How many wars can we fight around the world at the same time? I read a article the other day that the military has to turn away enlistees because they lack sufficient levels of math and reading. where will soldiers come from?

There are some very recent examples in history were these same questions were answered. remember when Russia and here satellite states were falling apart. Europe (generalized but France, Germany, England, etc… at different times/places in the last century) granted Independence to colonies around the world.

Where, and How will it end?

Mark January 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I attended a Ron Paul ‘Rally for the Republic’. Llewellyn spoke, and when he started attacking Bush, I was offended an thought L was some sort of liberal. As time went on, I learned more about L and Bush, and I came to agree with L and viewed Bush’s terms as president with nothing less than alarm.

I have learned much from L, and thank him for all he has done. At one time I felt like a voice in the wilderness, until I reached out for like-minded people and discovered that I was a libertarian.

There is a sort of underlying rumbling that the permawars in the middle east are pointless and wasteful, but it hasn’t quite risen to a mandate, as the left dropped the issue once Obama was the one expanding and extending the wars.

newson January 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm

pointless and wasteful for america, yes.

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