Actions Have Reactions?! Nonsense! Witchcraft!

Today’s nugget of conventional wisdom comes from liberal hawk George Packer:

In this election, the isolationist candidate is the Texas congressman Ron Paul. He frequently attacks the core rationale of Bush’s foreign policy, and receives enthusiastic applause for doing so, which indicates that Republican views about the war in Iraq might be more heterodox than the leading candidates and their strategists assume. But his brand of anti-interventionism reduces the Republican debate to hawks versus cranks. “They attack us because we’ve been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for ten years,” Paul said at a debate in South Carolina. “I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it.”

Packer, who worked so hard to get us into Iraq that he cannot bear the thought of leaving, begins the very next paragraph as follows: “The room for genuine discussion in the Republican field is so limited…” Yes, it’s a shame that there are such narrow limits on our foreign policy discourse. How did we ever reach this sorry pass?


26 thoughts on “Actions Have Reactions?! Nonsense! Witchcraft!”

  1. And I am sure that Packer and his family have a long history of military service and have seen plenty of front line action?

    Go get a real job George.

  2. Go to the Drudge page and read about Buchanan’s new book (as he says, Developing…) Entitled: ‘END OF AMERICA’ Maybe an old/new candidate will enter the fray…or maybe his opining re:neocons will…

  3. I have long been an advocate of the premis, If it is so important to attack another country send your own children first.

    Mr Bush why are your children not in Iraq? Mr Cheney your daughter is still of Military age! That also goes for the Hawks in the Democrats as well. Hillary you have a daughter as well!

  4. It strikes me as unfair to send the offspring of politicians who support a war to fight, as they may express positions on the subject contrary to their parents’. Unfortunately, I can think of no suitable surrogate for this sort of thing, so it may be the only way to elicit restraint from the power elite.

  5. Lion,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. In the medical institution where I work, we have a rule that the first volunteers for any clinical trial should be the members of the investigating team (if they qualify , of course!). I think the same should apply to questionable wars.
    George Kurian

  6. How ’bout sending the children of the psychopath ministers and theologians who have made millions of dollars selling the theology which necessitates and justifies such conflicts in the first place?

    In most cases, they are following in their fathers’ footsteps, fleecing gullible tens of millions of people of additional hundreds of millions of dollars with such theology.

    Michael Cecil

  7. Kenneth on 2007-11-25 22:07:48

    “It strikes me as unfair to send the offspring of politicians who support a war ~ ”

    seems a fair point. One could extrapolate from that to suggest that conscription is equally unjust. I have noticed a number of comments over past months suggesting ‘a draft’ would bring the neocons to their senses. Yeah sure.

    Aside from the fact it would not work — there’s a reason the Selective Sevice Act of 1940 and later revisions was labelled ‘selective’.

    The main problem with any ploys of this kind is turning other people into pawns to achieve a goal. And I rather imagine those who make such suggestions never faced the draft themselves.

  8. The three options, according to George Packer are:

    1) war;



    3) war.

    Isn't democracy great? You get to decide things. But, of course, there is a certain "logic" to Packer's view, a method to his madness.

    When you have the largest military establishment in the history of mankind, what are you going to choose? This is a no brainer. Do you choose peace or war? As Madeleine Albright noted, when you put so much money and resources into military power, it would be a waste not to use it. It would not make economic sense. After you make your bed, you should lie in it.

    Also, we have to keep in mind that this obsession with military power and the use of force did not start with the George Dubya administration. This is how this country was built. This is how the territory was seized from the Native Americans and how slave labor from Africa was exploited. It was all by means of the gun. We took Texas, California, and Arizona by military force from Mexico. We took Puerto Rico and Guam from Spain after we fought a "splendid little war" in 1898. World War I was a war to prtect American loans and financial interests which were threatened by a possible German victory or peace settlement. Yes, Americans would fight when economic interests so dictated. World War II showed what you could gain by military force. The Cold War showed that military force was all-important. Everything else was secondary.

    This is the guiding paradigm in US foreign policy and it has been for centuries, that only force matters. In the final analysis, military force decides.

    George Washington was the first "terrorist". He killed many and many British subjects. If he lost the war, he would surely have been hung for high treason and for mass murder. He was what we call a "terrorist" today. But using military force to "win" the secessionist war with Britain changed all that. Force does matter. War can be a good thing.

    This is the "logic" of US foreign policy. Everything is geared around this premise. No one has ever challenged it or disproved it. Ron Paul has attacked it. But that is about it. No one has ever even put a tiny dent into this paradigm of war as the ultimate God, the ultimate arbiter of all things. And until that happens, this will remain the overriding US foreign policy paradigm.

    1. Excellent post Mr. Savich.

      This basic and basest of human instincts that might makes right has been the guiding principle of American evolution and is its fundamental ethos. It was eloquently articulated by La Fontaine in his fable “Le Loup et L’Agneau: la loi du plus fort est toujours la meilleure”.

      It is as old as empires from time immemorial. It is to Julius Caesar’s eternal credit that when he took stock of the abhorrent and ruthless conditions he imposed upon those he brutally conquered that he had at least a conscience to reflect: Vae Victis or woe to the vanquished. President Ulysses S Grant was another warrior with a conscience who was convinced that the Civil War was divine retribution for the brutal aggression against Mexico and its emasculation for no other justification other than the US was the more powerful and might makes right.

  9. George Packer is just another “liberal” hawk whose delusions about the goodness of Israel and the goodness of fighting wars for Israel are probably sincere.

    People like this are the reason that the “frontrunner” Dem candidates had to fall all over themselves trying to outdo each other in hateful talk against Iran at last January’s Herzliya “security” conference in Israel. If they hadn’t, they sure as hell wouldn’t have kept the corporate media’s “frontrunner” label.

    This is why the “opposition party” fails to oppose these wars, even though Democratic voters are overwhelmingly against these wars. Any Democrat who flatly opposes them – and especially any who mentions the role of Israel in ginning them up – gets marginalized — either shut out of debates, or included but ignored, except for the occasional UFO question.

  10. all media figures are statists because they make their living writing about government expenditures. More and more I think being a libertarian is being anti media

    1. Yeah, libertarians should withhold criticism occasionally, or even give undeserved praise, just so they don’t seem so anti-media, which is really just a kooky quirk of their kooky philosophy.

  11. Instead of pointing a finger at the Honorable Paul and calling him a crank, Packer should point that finger and call tham name at himself. Indeed, many citizens of the USA have concluded that all power comes at the point of a gun.

  12. Libertarianism has lost its way. The philosophy of John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek, and scores of others throughout time eternal, is being undermined. The Libertarian Defense Caucus seeks to return the philosophy of liberty back to the principles that have appealed to libertarians for centuries.

    The Caucus adheres to the sacred tenants of classical liberalism; individualism, individual rights, spontaneous order, the rule of law, limited government, free markets, natural law, and the natural harmony of interests.

    The Caucus holds that these principles of liberty are in harmony with the principle of a strong, robust, and dynamic armed forces. A strong volunteer armed forces being necessary to confront and defeat the threats to liberty presented by the global war on terrorism. Military action is always a policy of last resort. The Caucus holds that the policy of last resort should be the province of the United States government in defending the American people.

    The Libertarian Defense Caucus believes that a global war on terrorism exists. Furthermore, the Caucus holds that the war on terrorism should be executed through diplomatic, economic, and only when absolutely necessary and proper, military means.

    The Libertarian Defense Caucus seeks to reach out to like-minded individuals, societies, and nations in advancing the great cause of liberty. The Caucus holds that strengthening our alliances with democratic allies, and promoting political and economic freedom and reforms is necessary when in the vital and direct interest of United States, and her security.

    The Libertarian Defense Caucus holds that only through preserving and protecting our security, our prosperity, and our cherished principles, can we advance the great cause of liberty and rightfully declare ourselves,


    The Libertarian Defense Caucus is the guardian of limited governance and liberty, wherever She finds herself under threat. The Libertarian Defense Caucus welcomes individuals who share these vital values. This Statement of Principles is a broad declaration of the core beliefs the members of the Caucus hold.

    The Caucus does not endorse, nor align itself, with any one litmus test, doctrine, interest group or political party. The Libertarian Defense Caucus does not officially endorse political candidates or political parties. Individuals within the Caucus will of course express their own strongly held beliefs and endorsements within the Caucus of a particular political candidate or political party. These opinions of individual Caucus members are not to be seen as representative of the Libertarian Defense Caucus entire. It is the expressed desire of the Libertarian Defense Caucus to reach across political boundaries in the greater cause of liberty.

    We are not going away. We are proud to call ourselves libertarians and stand as the guardians of liberty whenever she is threatened. The Caucus will work with all libertarins, but will not compromise our strongly held convictions. The Caucus will push for a policy of neutrality in regards to the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq in The Libertarian Party platform. We have the members and the resources to advance our principles in this instance, and in other pursuits that The Caucus will undertake.
    To the anti-war Libertarians we declare that we are friends with you in peace,enemies in this struggle to take back libertarianism. The Caucus stands united and resolute.

    Yours In Liberty,
    The Libertarian Defense Caucus.

    Eric Dondero, Chairman, Johnny Ringo, Vice-Chairman, Mike Dunn, Founder, Active Members: Ryan Christiano (NJ),Bob Hunt (DC), Mike Griffin (MD), Patrick J. Conlon (GA), Michael Horowitz (FL), Andre Traversa (IL), Richard Freedman (NY), Adam Bernay (CA), Tim & Jeannie Starr (CA), Bruce Cohen (CA), Kevin Bjornson (CA), Darlene Brinks, (CA), Mark F. Murphy, Douglas Arthur Tuma, and those members who do not wish to have their names published.

    The Official Website of The Libertarian Defense Caucus.

  13. Carl Savich:

    When you have the largest military establishment in the history of mankind, what are you going to choose? This is a no brainer. Do you choose peace or war? As Madeleine Albright noted, when you put so much money and resources into military power, it would be a waste not to use it. It would not make economic sense. After you make your bed, you should lie in it.

    Pardon my pedantry, but I think this is a slight simplification, not to mention an example of the sunk cost fallacy. I would argue that it has more to do with the fact that war, or the threat thereof, produces an outcome more favourable to American interests, and that causality runs the other way: America invests so much in its military because it can outspend any of its rivals and incur substantial political and, ultimately, economic benefits by doing so.

    This is the “logic” of US foreign policy. Everything is geared around this premise. No one has ever challenged it or disproved it. Ron Paul has attacked it. But that is about it. No one has ever even put a tiny dent into this paradigm of war as the ultimate God, the ultimate arbiter of all things. And until that happens, this will remain the overriding US foreign policy paradigm.

    A keen observation, and a thought that I’d been harbouring for some time. As it happens, you do have figures like Chomsky and Lew Rockwell challenging the moral premises of this insane, martially-oriented “logic”, but I presume you’re referring to the various talking heads, politicians, media personalities, and other highly visible public personages, in which case the consensus on this broadest of broad issues is near unanimous. I suspect when the American economy finally implodes under the weight of its own contradictions the pundits will still be claiming we didn’t use enough force to attain our ends. To listen to them, you’d never guess the “guiding paradigm” as you put it is fundamentally misguided.

    1. American Economy will never implode. Our treasury establishment has found the philosopher’s wool in the principle of “borrow all you can, all the time, more than you need to, from anybody and everybody but never have intention of paying back” so all the feckless lenders will be forever hostages to the strong dollar,never daring to take actions that might undermine us or our military power. And if any other country tries to use our secret and emulate us, we will smash it to bits long before it builds up any kind of deficits that might begin to match ours. Our Social Security and Medicare pots are not scraping the bottoms any time soon, they are bottomless and will always be full because the stupid Japanese, Koreans, Chinese and Arabs are so anxious to be gracious to the mighty Uncle Sam.
      And as Lynn Cheney is said to have warned Prince Walid of Saudi Arabia, “Don’t even think about cutting back on your oil production and slowing down buying our debt instruments because if you do, our courts stand ready to award your entire dollar assets to the victims of September 11”

  14. Closing military bases that serve no purpose other than provocation is not isolationism. If this were the case almost all countries would be considered isolationist. We live in a time of global trade and the time of useless bases that are of no real military value to us which only drain our economy has passed. To increase global trade is far from isolationism. More debt from bases and wars which China will reap the benefits from will not help to cut taxes. Revunue American entrepreneurs need to build global trade and help America stand taller as partners in the global economy. RP 2008.

  15. America is militaristic, no-one can argue against that. But I certainly disagree with the conceit that we are using force to get that which is good for America. For the last generation, we have used force exclusively against Islamic countries – Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, etc. Everything else – North Korea, emerging China, chaotic Africa, an annoyed Russia, and a South America, increasingly hostile to American control, have not triggered any militaristic response from America. So why are the little Islamic countries so fear inspiring while rest of the World is of so little interest to us.
    Simple, our foreign policy has an agenda – a Zionist one.

    1. Dear Richard vajs,

      Indeed the US has visited untold violence on Islamic countries in order to create a new geopolitical reality in the Middle East and Central Asia. Unfortunately for those countries, they happen to sit on vast natural resources or the route to and from those resources. But please, not by any means can Islamic countries claim a monopoly on US militaristic brutality.

      Ask the Wampanoag or Massachusetts native Americans who were handed smallpox blankets as gifts by the early settlers and whose populations were thus reduced by 80 to 90%. Such unimaginable cruelty was seen as quite in line with Judeo-Christian tradition and the idea of ‘promised lands’ for “chosen peoples”.

      And you can ask Mexico that was practically dismembered in the name of the Manifest Destiny of a “chosen people”. Then there was the Philippines, Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala. In post-WWII times, came the horrible bombings of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos killing millions. The brutal coups in Guatemala and Chile resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

      Now let me pose you a question. How many Islamic leaders back then protested American aggression against those peoples? How many millions of Arabs or Muslims took to the streets of their cities to protest the genocidal actions in Southeast Asia? As far as I know, only Gamal Abdel Nasser and Sukarno showed a modicum of solidarity with other third world countries. On the contrary, most of the Islamic world applauded anything America did, from Korea to Chile. Yet, as you well know, a lot of people from those victimized countries for which Islam showed no sympathies are steadfastly showing solidarity with Arab and or Islamic countries that are the new victims of the Pax Americana.

      I am curious, don’t fervent Muslims regret having participated so eagerly in the destruction of the Soviet Union? Was that not kind of dumb?

    1. Bosnia was done with a nod to the humanitarian gestures that were so neglected with Rwanda. A slight act of contrition, with none of the animus that we have shown to Muslims. Did anyone ever denounce the Serbians as crazed Serbofascists?

  16. Actually, yes, I remember hearing and reading about the alleged ingrained brutality of the Serbs, and I believe no less a warmongerer than Christopher Hitchens called Milosovich a fascist.

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