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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Criminal War against Iraq

I haven't read the book yet, but I recommend this review of Robert Draper's How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq by James North at Mondoweiss.

Indisputably, George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, based on lies and cooked "intelligence," was the worst, most consequential foreign-policy move by an American president in recent history. The Middle East, the United States, and the rest of the world will suffer its effects for many years to come. This is not just a work of history, based on 300 interviews. North writes:

The Iraq tragedy is relevant today. On September 14, Donald Trump made up a new threat from Iran, and tweeted: “Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met by an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!” Trump sounds unhinged—until you recall that just this January, he provocatively ordered the assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani—and got little resistance from either the mainstream U.S. press or the foreign policy establishment. Cowardly group-think didn’t end with Iraq.


Stephen F. Cohen: A Rare Voice of Sanity Gone

One of the saddest pieces of news is the death of Stephen F. Cohen at age 81. Cohen, who taught at Princeton and NYU, was an eminent scholar of the history and politics of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. He spent his last years warning against the years-long bipartisan effort to prosecute a new cold war against Russia, with special attention to what has unfortunately come to be known as Russiagate, the groundless allegation, debunked by only a few heroic thinkers, that Trump is an agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who--fiction has it--is Stalin-reincarnate intent on reconstituting the Soviet Empire. (Putin has also been called, absurdly, a "new Hitler.")

Cohen's last book was War with Russia?, in which he warned that the new cold war could easily turn hot and even nuclear, thanks to Russiagate and U.S. imperial policy in Ukraine and Syria. His analysis is impeccable--not to mention frightening. “I think this is the most dangerous moment in American-Russian relations, at least since the Cuban missile crisis,” Cohen said.

I won't go into detail about Cohen's final intellectual battle because the indispensable Caitlin Johnstone has done the job admirably. I'll close with her words: "In a world that is increasingly confusing and awash with propaganda, Cohen’s death is a blow to humanity’s desperate quest for clarity and understanding." And, I would add, peace.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Appearance on "Don't Tread on Anyone"

 Keith Knight interviewed me for his video/podcast "Don't Treat Anyone." Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Trump and Netanyahu's Plan B

Trump and Netanyahu first tried to bribe the Palestinians into capitulating to the Israeli imposition. But the two men failed. So now they are executing Plan B: bribing the Arab states’ rulers to give up even the pretense of championing the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel. In that, the two are succeeding.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Crisis in Civil Rights

My old friend Bill Evers and the Independent Institute have assembled a useful reader's guide to the civil-rights issues of our time: race, police brutality, anti-Semitism, and poverty. Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

On the Tom Woods Show

Tom Woods and I discuss libertarian fundamentals as presented in What Social Animals Owe to Each Other on his internet program. Listen here.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Complying with Mandates

It's utterly conceivable that the government might mandate that we do (or not do) what we already ought (or ought not) to do, seeing as how social animals owe things to each other. In such cases, refusing to engage (or abstaining from engaging) in the mandated (or forbidden) behavior because the government has mandated (or forbidden) it is just wrong, edgy individualist rationalizations notwithstanding. Needless to say, I should have started this post with "Needless to say...."

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

The Choice We Don''t Face

Despite what some people suggest, our choice today is not between black lives and private property. Quite the contrary: respect for black lives logically entails respect for all persons, their possessions, and their peaceful projects. The first property right is self-ownership: one's property in oneself. (The abolitionists called slave traders and owners man-stealers. Get it?) Do the rioters not know that black people also own shops and other businesses? Or are those owners considered acceptable casualties in the struggle? And have those owners been asked to consent to that demeaning status?

Further, no one has spelled out the practical connection between rioting and looting on the one hand and the achievement of respect for black people by the police on the other. Far from an obvious connection, the disconnect is clear. If society faces a choice between civil unrest and Hobbes's Leviathan, I have no doubt which one most people, including most black people, will choose. That situation will hardly usher in a blissful time of respect for black people's or anyone else's lives by the police.