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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Wrong, Hillary

Hillary Clinton says there would be no Islamic State had her advice been taken about arming the "moderate" opposition in Syria. To which Stephen Zunes replies:
In reality: 1) Much of ISIS's weaponry has come from overrunning FSA [Free Syrian Army, i.e., the "moderate" opposition's] positions and from fighters who left FSA and joined ISIS; 2) The FSA consists of hundreds of independent uncoordinated militia of largely untrained fighters, additional arms would not have made them effective; 3) Their [the Islamic state's] coming to power in northern Iraq is a direct consequence of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, which Clinton supported and Obama opposed.

TGIF: "The Police Force Is Watching the People"

Political philosophy — the libertarian philosophy included — can take you only so far. The libertarian philosophy provide grounds for condemning aggression, that is, the initiation of force, and along with some supplemental considerations, it identifies in the abstract what constitutes aggression, victimhood, and self-defense. But the philosophy can’t identify the aggressor and victim in particular cases; relevant empirical information is required.
Read TGIF here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mission Creep in Iraq

There are several reasons not to intervene militarily in another country’s conflict, even modestly. One is the potential for mission creep.
We already could detect the signs of mission creep in Iraq. Now, with the stepped-up U.S. airstrikes after the Islamic State’s horrific execution of American reporter Jim Foley, the signs are clearer than ever.
Read it here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

TGIF: American Liberty during World War I

There’s always plenty for libertarians to complain about in our troubled world, but in many respects, things could be much worse. I’m thinking particularly of how the U.S. government punished dissent before, during, and even after America’s participation in World War I. Although it will be a few years before we observe the centenary of Woodrow Wilson’s idiotic decision in 1917 to plunge the country into the Great War, this seems like as good a time as any to review his administration’s, Congress’s, and the courts’ shameful conduct.
TGIF is here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

She's Wrong Again

Unsurprisingly, Hillary is wrong: "Don’t do stupid stuff’ is an organizing principle -- for government.

Mental-Health Gnomes

The sad death of Robin Williams has brought out the usual mental-health gnomes. Here's a summary of their message:

Phase 1: Bad brain chemistry
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Suicide.

If only life were that simple. Persons are more than the sum of their parts.

Out of Iraq, Etc.!

Nearly a century ago, after four bloody years of World War I, British colonialists created the state of Iraq, complete with their hand-picked monarch. Britain and France were authorized — or, more precisely, authorized themselves — to create states in the Arab world, despite the prior British promise of independence in return for the Arabs’ revolt against the Ottoman Turks, which helped the Allied powers defeat the Central powers. And so European countries drew lines in the sand without much regard for the societies they were constructing from disparate sectarian, tribal, and ethnic populations....
History alone does not tell us what, if anything, outside powers should do now; there’s no going back in time. But we can say that without foreign interference, even a violent evolution of the region might have been far less violent than it has been during the last century. At least, the violent factions would not be seeking revenge against Americans.
It's all here.

Friday, August 08, 2014

TGIF: The 100th Anniversary of the Great State Crime

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the four-year bloody nightmare that claimed 16 million lives — 7 million of them noncombatants — and wounded over 20 million people.
That would have been bad enough, but the conflict was merely Act One in a much bigger war. The “peace” settlement vindictively branded Germany uniquely culpable and imposed border adjustments that made Act Two a virtual certainty. The so-called Second World War, which began after the 21-year intermission from 1918 to 1939, claimed at least 60 million lives, at least 19 million of which were noncombatants.
Read TGIF here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Real Days of Infamy



Today is the 69th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, one of President Harry Truman's acts of mass murder against Japan in August 1945. Some 90,000-166,000 individuals were killed. The anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing (39,000-80,000 human beings killed) is August 9. (It has come to my attention that the U.S. military bombed Tokyo on Aug. 14--after destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki and after Emperor Hirohito expressed his readiness to surrender.)

There isn't much to be said about those unspeakable atrocities against civilians that hasn't been said many times before. The U.S. government never needed atomic bombs to commit mass murder. Its "conventional" weapons have been potent enough. (See the earlier firebombing of Tokyo.) Nor did it need the bombs to persuade Japan to surrender; the Japanese government had been suing for peace. The U.S. government may not have used atomic weapons since 1945, but it has not yet given up mass murder as a political/military tactic. Presidents and presidential candidates are still expected to say that, with respect to nuclear weapons, "no options are off the table."

Mario Rizzo has pointed out that Americans were upset by the murder of 3,000 people on 9/11 yet seem not to be bothered that "their" government murdered hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians in two days. Conservatives, ironically, were among the earliest critics of Truman's acts of mass murder.

As Harry Truman once said, "I don't give 'em hell. I just drop A-bombs on their cities and they think it's hell." (Okay, he didn't really say that, but he might as well have.)

Rad Geek People's Daily has a poignant post here. Rad says: "As far as I am aware, the atomic bombing of the Hiroshima city center, which deliberately targeted a civilian center and killed over half of the people living in the city, remains the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of the world."

Other things to read: Anthony Gregory’s “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, andthe US Terror State,”  David Henderson’s “Remembering Hiroshima,” and G.E.M. Anscombe's "Mr. Truman's Decree."

Finally, if you read nothing else on this subject, read Ralph Raico's article here.

[A version of this post appeared previously.]

The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba

When I saw the headline about the U.S. government and Cuba in my newspaper the other day, I thought I’d awoken in 1961. It was a Twilight Zone moment for sure: “U.S. program aimed to stir dissent in Cuba.” I expected Rod Serling to welcome me to “another dimension.”
But it was 2014. The AP news report said President Barack Obama and presumably then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton had plotted to incite a popular uprising — to “gin up opposition” — against the Cuban government by sending in young Latin Americans masquerading as tourists and health workers.
Read it here.

Friday, August 01, 2014

TGIF: I Can't Help If I'm a Libertarian

It’s not easy being a libertarian. I am not looking for sympathy when I say that. I just mean to point out that rejecting the conventional wisdom on virtually (do I really need this adverb?) every political question, current and historical, can be wearying. Life could be so much simpler if it were otherwise. No doubt about that. I really don’t like conflict, especially when it can quickly turn personal, as it so often does. (I embrace the advice that one can disagree without being disagreeable.) But for a libertarian, disagreement with most people is not an option. We can’t help it.
It's all here.