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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6858/how-very-strange-that-the-war-hasnt-gone-according-to-plan/

How very strange that the war hasn’t gone according to plan…

July 17, 2007 by

Randy Barnett lectures us that libertarians can and should be all for war — but for the life of him, he just can’t seem to figure out why this particular centrally planned war on Iraq hasn’t gone well. Really, it’s just a mystery, all these unintended consequences, these unexpected results, the expense, the bizarre and inexplicable failure of the government to achieve its ends.

(Note to aspiring writers: an excellent way to get published in the Wall Street Journal is to upbraid libertarians for failing to support vast subsidies for the military-industrial complex.)


Brent July 17, 2007 at 9:31 am

Well, it is good that he solidified his position as among the last dozen non-executive branch employees to actually believe in this war. It is really outstanding company… Rush, Sean, Joe, Rudy, John, and… Randy?

Jeremy July 17, 2007 at 1:07 pm

Some libertarians supported the war in Iraq because it was part of a bigger war on radical Islamic fundamentalism? Say what? Iraq from my understanding was just about the most secular of all “Islamic” countries before the war.

After thinking about it I’ve stopped saying outright that I am against the war even though I am. The way I present the argument with the few pro war people left is that I am not necessarily against the war. It might just be the moral thing to do to try a free a people from tyranny, however, it is completely immoral to make anyone who doesn’t want to pay for it do so. If you want to wage war against the world pay for it yourself.

Sad Spooner July 17, 2007 at 1:08 pm

I’m extremely disappointed by Barnett, a man who I have profound respect for. Can anyone point to a rock-solid and detailed legal argument as to why the invasion of Iraq (including giving Bush the authority to use force) was unconstitutional?

As perhaps the greatest living theorist of how and why the Constitution should be interpreted according to its original meaning, its too bad Barnett didn’t use his WSJ editorial to make that argument himself. He could have beautifully situated it within is “presumption of liberty” theory.

What really annoys me is that Barnett refers to Ron Paul as “Mr. Paul” when we all know that he is a physician–so that’s Dr. Paul to you.

TGGP July 17, 2007 at 1:12 pm

There are a number of other pro-Iraq-war libertarians (Rose Friedman was one though Milton was not). What I find interesting is that Randy Barnett is an anarchist (and since he’s a law prof, presumably an absolute rights based libertarian rather than a maximizing economist), which should make him opposed to just about every government activity. On the other hand, he has also been a public prosecutor. Another anarchist Iraq-hawk is Tim Starr. Even though, as an isolationist, I oppose the Iraq wars, I found his columns at no-treason (normally a very anti Iraq-war, absolute moral rights kind of place) to be persuasive, though I can’t find one of the columns by a LewRockwellite he’s responding to. Interestingly, Robert Bidinotto (apparently an objectivist) claims here that Starr views gangstas (not organized crime, but unorganized thugs) as heroic fighters of the system. That sounds a bit more like Keith Preston, and there’s no way in hell you’d find him supporting a war waged by the U.S government!

happylee July 17, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Mr. Barnett is a sellout. Perhaps, if he were to choke on an olive while sipping a martini at some DC cocktail party, the thought will slowly enter his mind, as his spirit is slowly drawn to its place of final judgment, that selling out longterm principles for shortterm earthly prestige and delights was, maybe, a mistake.

Someone like Professor Dr. Rothbard, who Mr. Barnett once called a foolish extremist, never gave in principle to attain higher prestige — although, if he had wanted to, Rothbard could’ve been a cocktail party ho par excellence in DC, perhaps with some bit roles in hollywood under his belt, to boot.

L Spooner July 17, 2007 at 3:48 pm

Talk about hitching yourself to a sinking neocon ship. If you’re gonna sell out to the beltway crowd, at least know which way the wind is blowing.

lester July 17, 2007 at 4:31 pm

the one that shocked me the most was Thomas Sowell.

Brent July 17, 2007 at 7:43 pm

Thomas Sowell was a disappointment, as was Walter Williams.

TokyoTom July 17, 2007 at 8:28 pm

Glad to see that you saw this too, Jeff. I earlier commented on it on Lew Rockwell’s recent thread here: http://blog.mises.org/archives/006825.asp

It seems that libertarians like Ron Paul and antiwar sentiment generally have the neocons and their defense industry backers sufficiently scared that needed to scrabble together an apparently principled “libertarian” apology for continuing this ruinous war.

jeffrey July 17, 2007 at 8:30 pm

TT, actually it was your link that drew my attention to it first (should have given credit). Thank you!

Bill, Who are we defending ourselves against in Iraq? July 17, 2007 at 10:07 pm

The editorial like a number of talk radio shows in a futile attempt to convince liberty loving-state hating individuals to support their pointless, expensive, liberty sucking and brutal war, keep bringing up the Right of Self Defense.

The war can not be won because eventually the US will tire of losing money and lives and punt the whole thing. That is because the Iraq folks are not going anyplace but the US folks can. Unless Bush keeps them as psuedo-draftslaves forever? Maybe he can do it?

My problem with the self defense argument is:
WHO ARE WE DEFENDING OURSELVES AGAINST IN IRAQ? DO THESE PEOPLE HAVE THE DESIRE AND CAPACITY TO ATTACK THE CITIZENS OF THE USA? Please give me some names. We got rid of Sadam, and the red headed dude, and the chubby guy, and the hairy guy in the Teeshirt, now exactly who is left? I know the response: Terrorists are left? Are they really terrorists?

David Tomlin July 17, 2007 at 11:23 pm

Thomas Sowell is not a libertarian. He is a conservative, and a Republican shill.

LukeM July 18, 2007 at 12:13 am

Justin Raimondo has an article discussing Barnett’s opinion piece over at antiwar.com:


Anthony July 18, 2007 at 5:40 am

“Thomas Sowell is not a libertarian. He is a conservative, and a Republican shill.”

Even so, and even though he’s a Chicagoite, he’s good on economics.

TokyoTom July 18, 2007 at 7:27 am

Luke, thanks for linking to Raimondo’s takedown of Barnett.

As an aside, it seems that Raimondo has taken an unfair swipe at Ron Bailey as another “dead-ender”, based on what appears to be a misreading of a rather firmly tongue-in-cheek post by Bailey.

lester July 18, 2007 at 12:02 pm

david- i say it partially because his book “classical economics reconsidered” has profiles of people like Adam Smith and JB Say and describes their opposition to war and colonialism in logical economic terms. and of course his general support for free markets and against intervention in the economy makes you think he’d take a more cynical, less nationalistic view of this war. not the case

TGGP July 18, 2007 at 12:13 pm

I suppose Sowell is a conservative that leans libertarian. I am disappointed by some of his recent writings, including his musing about a military coup. At the same time, I have to acknowledge him as possibly my most important intellectual influence. He was the one who made me a libertarian, and no matter if I become more radical in my libertarianism (as I have since I first realized I was one), I will remain a Chicagoite. I think the reason for Sowell’s attitudes is his own military service, and the pride he feels in America’s role in the “good wars” of the past. There are some who say “No one hates war like a solider hates war” or “Anyone who has seen the horror of war will do all he can to avoid it” or something like that (that second one is by Hitler, who actually did manage to avoid war for quite some time and miscalculated how England would react to Poland), but it seems to me that those involved in war are more favorable than average to it. During Vietnam, those in the military and their families were most in favor of continuing the war, even though that put their lives at risk. Dan Klein has a paper here containing an excellent H. L. Mencken quote on veterans of the two world wars.

TGGP July 18, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Raimondo’s piece is awful. Barnett does not actually attack Ron Paul and his position (that is itself a weakness of the piece!), he merely notes disagreement within libertarians without really laying out why his side is correct and the others are incorrect. His referring to him as a “fake libertarian legal scholar” is rather low as well. Raimondo, like Paul Craig Roberts, is the type that makes one embarrassed to be a paleo.

Mathieu Bédard July 18, 2007 at 4:11 pm

That was a major point of disagreement between him and Tibor Machan when I saw them last summer..

I still think Structure of Liberty and his book on the constitution is great insight into decentralized judicial order.

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