August 9, 1999


The news is not good. Take for example what happened at the Valdosta airport, in southern Georgia. A man boarded a flight for Atlanta that was going on to Istanbul, having paid for his ticket in cash. Shortly thereafter, the plane was stormed by an FBI "anti-terrorism" squad: the feds burst into the plane, hurtling down the aisles with weapons drawn, and converged on six passengers like guided missiles searching out Serbian civilians.


These unfortunates were pulled off the plane and detained for questioning. An FBI "command post" was set up at the airport, and a horde of bomb-sniffing dogs was unleashed. Flights were canceled, delayed, and aborted, as passengers scattered hither and yon. Everyone on board was questioned and asked, among other things, what they did for a living. Five of the six detainees, including a child, were released after questioning. The other one, whose identity was withheld for days, was held for nearly a week. What heinous crime did our Mystery Man commit? According to FBI spokeswoman Celestine Armstead, the feds were suspicious due to a "preponderance of circumstances." He paid in cash – a no-no in the federal "anti-terrorist" guidelines authored by Al Gore, that automatically "profiles" the paying customer as a potential "terrorist." What else? Our unfortunate sojourner was traveling alone, another suspicious no-no, and was initially described in various news accounts as "a white male" – and isn't that, alone, enough to seal his fate in Al Gore's America?


But what about the other five people dragged off the plane, in handcuffs, by feds run amok? Their great crime appears to be that they were seen talking and laughing with the Mystery Man before boarding. The feds say this led them to believe that they were acquainted with the suspect, which "led us to believe there was some sort of
connection." In Al Gore's America, if you are even seen talking to someone who paid cash for an airplane ticket, you are in big trouble.


The federal authorities – their syntactic grace equaled only by their credibility – claimed they launched the assault on the Delta flight because of a "potential threat to national security of a terrorism nature." Four hours later, these same officials announced that they were satisfied the man they led off in handcuffs was not a terrorist. "We have not been able to associate this individual at this time with any terrorist organization," said FBI special agent Thomas Bush. Does this mean that the Mystery Man was released? Of course not. The FBI said that he would be held "until all law enforcement issues have been resolved." Huh? He was not charged with any crime, aside from overstaying his visa by less than a month. If that is a federal crime meriting a SWAT-team assault on a plane filled with unsuspecting and terrorized passengers, then what about the millions of undocumented aliens pouring into this country every year? Why don't they merit a military campaign of equal ferocity? And why, if the Mystery Man was not a terrorist, was he not released immediately and allowed to return to his own country?


And yet, this question seems far too narrow to encompass the whole of our concerns. In the face of the Valdosta airport incident, one has to ask: do we even want to live in an America where this is possible? If jackbooted thugs can haul me off an airplane at their discretion, and hold me indefinitely for the high crime of paying for an airline ticket in cash, is life in these United States even worth living? My answer: no, no, a thousand time no.


A footnote to this story: The Mystery Man, finally revealed to be a Turk named Hakan Caglar, was eventually released by the FBI – but detained again, this time by Turkish authorities, upon his arrival in Istanbul. FBI spokeswoman, the ineffable Celestine Armstead, was not in the least bit moved to apologize to the other terrified passengers, or Mr. Caglar, who languishes in a Turkish jail on unspecified charges. Steadfastly refusing to say what crime Caglar committed or was thought to have committed, she said: "We're not embarrassed at all. We stand firmly behind what we did.'' Just like they did at Waco and Ruby Ridge.


A society where this can happen is not worth preserving or protecting, not against terrorism or even against foreign invasion. The Valdosta story was first reported last week: since then, there has not even been any follow-up in the media, let alone a national outcry by the people. In a healthy society – in America, at any rate- a government that tried to pull this would be overthrown overnight. In better times, the feds would at least think twice before they pulled such a stunt. That there has been nary a ripple of protest is a sad indicator of just how much the American people have degenerated along with their old Republic. Dog-like in their naivete and their notoriously short attention spans, Americans today are a servile lot looking for a master. They fear the terrorist retribution of their Empire's many enemies, but tolerate and even encourage the terrorism of their own government – even if it is directed against themselves.


What can be the fate of such a people – except slavery? And they deserve it. Am I being unduly harsh? Then consider another news item, this time about the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is marketing tiny silver replicas of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. You can wear them as, I kid you not, earrings, or use them on your desktop as nifty ornaments. In the earring department, you have your choice of either the "Little Boy" or the "Fat Man" model, depending on what kind of a fashion statement in favor of mass murder you want to make – discreet, in the case of the "Little Boy," or big, bold, and brassy, in the case of the "Fat Man"?


Do we have to even ask which one the big, bold, and brassy Madeleine Albright will favor? (Not to mention some of her male colleagues in the State Department, some of whom we hear are quite partial to piercings.)


But it wasn't Madeleine's idea to market the offensive earrings – it was the Museum store manager, one Tony Sparks, an ordinary kind of guy, not out to make an ideological point. While he is quoted as saying that "the shop advances the argument that the bombings saved the lives of U.S. troops as well as pointing out the immorality of war," his is not a serious ethical or historical argument: Hirohito sued for peace long before Truman unleashed nuclear hellfire on Japanese civilians – and what kind of moral calculus balances millions of Japanese against thousands of American lives?


But aside from these rather obvious points, Sparks' rationale sounds more like an afterthought: the earrings, it turns out, were big sellers. The supply was sold-out almost as soon as it was offered: rather than making any kind of statement, Sparks was just out to make a quick buck. The sheer thoughtlessness of what is undoubtedly one of the most vulgar, truly barbaric acts ever committed by modern man, is astonishing. It is almost as if human beings had reverted to wearing animal skins and hopping around on all fours, adorning their bodies with the bones of their enemies.


Think of it: this was not an intentional offense to the Japanese or any other people, but just a thoughtless reflex, a kind of mindless barbarity that characterizes the savage mind. And that, my friend, is the ugly truth: we are fast becoming a nation of savages, who exterminate millions and then mock the dead. Our children are shooting one another in the schoolyards, while we stand astride the globe taking potshots seemingly at random. It is as if an international serial killer were loose in the world, deranged and capable of lashing out in any direction – Iraq, Kosovo, Russia, China, any of these could be the next victim of the Global Slasher. Armed and dangerous, this ruthless criminal has some especially memorable distinguishing characteristics, and a distinctive modus operandi: he likes to talk about "human rights" before he kills his victim, like a killer speaks of love just as he strangles his human prey with his "caresses." He should be fairly easy to identify, as he always wears those telltale earrings. (Yeah, you guessed right, none of those "Little Boys" for him – he's a "Fat Man" all the way.) But, unfortunately, if and when you get that close, it's already too late . . .


Alright, so the preceding is a bit on the pessimistic side: and I did leave a few things out, such as the fact that the National Atomic Museum abruptly withdrew the infamous earrings. The decision, announced this past Friday, to pull the earrings came on the 54th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. No apology for this singularly tacky incident was reported, only a rather ambivalent and grudging observation on the part of museum director Jim Walther: "The foundation [that operates the museum] just decided since it's a sensitive day and there's so much concern, it just wasn't worth the bad feelings." As a gesture that might have saved the museum – and the nation – from acute embarrassment, the withdrawal was futile, in light of the news that the earrings were sold out by Friday morning. America, a nation of ghouls, that thrills to celebrity funerals and delights in the symbols of mass death – is this what the land of Founders has come to?


There is no question that the American people have been corrupted – whether by wealth, power, or some intoxicating and debilitating combination of both, is properly the subject of an entire column, or perhaps a book. For our purposes here, however, it must suffice to say that we know the nature and direction of the national trend, and to ask: is it reversible? I say yes! A people grown decadent and even depraved can experience a moral reawakening: a drunk can be sobered up, and rehabilitated, even if he is drunk on power. A national twelve-step program, when it comes to meddling in the affairs of other nations, would be a start toward sanity. Instead of bombing aspirin factories in the Sudan, starving Iraqi children by the hundred-thousands, and then acting surprised when "crazed" terrorists strike back with the only weapon at their disposal, perhaps then we can leave the rest of the world in peace, and, in this eminently sensible achievable manner, begin a real fight against terrorism. But is it possible? I have often quoted the great prophet of the Old Right, Garet Garrett, who wrote that "we have passed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire." Once nearly erased, can that boundary be redrawn and restored to its original position?


I am optimistic because very few people actually benefit from militarism. In economic terms, the only direct beneficiaries are the armaments industry. While the profits of war and militarism are "privatized," the costs are always socialized, not only in terms of tax dollars but also in new limits on individual freedom, including economic freedom. In the brave new world of the New World Order, cash transactions are suspect, and airline regulations mandate "profiling" methods that give a green light to government terrorism. War is not the product of free capitalism, but its deadliest enemy: it is, as Randolph Bourne put it, "the health of the State" – and a plague on the cause of liberty.


The price of war is high, but in certain very specific and strictly limited cases, it is one worth paying. If the Founders of this nation had been pacifists, we would still be subjects of the British Crown. For libertarians, however, the only just war is defensive: for example, a war would be just if it were fought against an invading army. Such an invasion is not at all farfetched; Indeed, it is already happening under the color of law: American immigration law, that is, which has opened the floodgates to an invasion from the Third World that is fast changing the demographic – and political – character of the nation. If that isn't an invasion, then what is? US tanks are patrolling the streets of Kosovo, when they should be guarding our porous border with Mexico. Such a bizarre policy, seen from the perspective of a ruling elite that despises the idea of national sovereignty, begins to make a twisted kind of sense.


I am an optimist because such policies are so obviously evil that they are bound to provoke opposition, sustained and furious. No matter how decadent and complacent Americans may be, there will always be a significant minority that refuses to knuckle under, a saving Remnant that remembers and works to restore our old Republic even as we enter the age of Empire. Imperial America is not necessarily doomed, at least not until the fading memories of the last republican – and I definitely mean that in a lower-case sense! – are erased from the public record and the collective consciousness of the voting public.


A people can be redeemed the same way they were corrupted: through patient propagandizing and a long-range plan to win the battle for public opinion. What is needed is a movement: not a single website, or a single demonstration, or a single campaign to do this or that, but an explicitly ideological movement actively organizing to bring about a free society. The War Party is opposed, quite naturally, by the Party of Peace: but this party is, of necessity, a mere synonym for what is really the Party of Liberty.


While serves the entire antiwar movement as a resource, we have always come to this task from an unabashedly libertarian perspective, an orientation we rarely miss the opportunity to underscore. That is why I am so thrilled by the merger of into the Center for Libertarian Studies (CLS). It is a marriage that had to be, an ideal partnership that will greatly benefit both parties. Twenty-five years after its founding, almost to the day, an institution that started out at the cutting edge of libertarianism is continuing that tradition right up to the present day. And not only that, but CLS is taking its activism to new levels, stepping into the Information Age with the same boldness that characterizes every phase of its long and distinguished history.


Inspired by the radical libertarian thought of the late Murray N. Rothbard, the scholars and activists who gathered 'round the banner of CLS in the early days produced what amounted to the founding theoretical documents of the then-nascent libertarian movements. These are archived in the files of the oldest and longest-running academic libertarian publication, the venerable Journal of Libertarian Studies. We aim to put this treasure trove online, right on up to the present issue. Not only that, but we intend to make the works of Murray N. Rothbard, especially the out-of-print and hard to find items, available on the recently created CLS website. This site, as they say, is under construction: it may take us a while to get every scintillating word of the prolific Rothbard's political journalism posted, and the sheer monumentalism of the task would offput any normal person or group of persons. But once you read even what relatively small fraction of his total output we manage to post on the site in the next few months, you will understand why we have to do it. The value of such a resource to the future of our movement is incalculable, as I am sure you will agree after a small sampling of what Rothbard has to offer. Keep checking the CLS site: you are in for the intellectual adventure of a lifetime!


CLS has been around almost since the beginning, and its longevity is proof that, as a movement, it is here to stay. Libertarianism is our intellectual heritage, and that of many of the great peace activists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Which is not to say that crimes – for the most most part, intellectual crimes – have not been committed in its name. Everyone from ex-Governor William Weld to newly-elected Governor Jesse Ventura have claimed, or been awarded by a clueless media, the libertarian mantle. But libertarianism, like Americanism, has a long and glorious heritage that cannot be indefinitely hidden. Thanks to CLS, that heritage is being rediscovered: the movement may have taken a few wrong turns, in the past, but it is not unredeemable.


Like the American political culture of which it is a part, which reduces everything to some mindless formula, libertarianism has been reduced, in recent years, to a series of cultural bromides and catchphrases. "Fiscally conservative and socially tolerant," this "new" libertarianism, or "neo"-libertarianism (God help us), conveniently leaves out of its facile formulations the key principle of opposition to war and imperialism. Hidden behind a smokescreen of vacuous phrasemongering, and increasingly abandoned, the core principles of libertarian doctrine have been revised and denatured in order to make them more "positive." "Why do you libertarians have to be against everything?" How often do we hear that odious remark, uttered by our supposed "friends," "allies," and other alleged sympathizers? In a world in which "everything" is the government, this is a question that has to be answered emphatically, unequivocally, and often: because in a world of murderous thieving States, "everything" is wrong, inverted both morally and in every other way.


The we-are-the-world-we-are-the-children sentimentality that today passes for libertarianism is a cultural concoction so syrupy and sickly sweet that, as Ayn Rand once said in a different context, "a fly would not die for it – or in it"! The astringent brand of libertarianism traditionally upheld by Rothbard and his heirs should prove bracing for the libertarian movement, and interested observers, and precisely what the doctor ordered.


Aside from expanding into the online world, the merger will make possible a whole series of new projects, including some exciting new publishing projects, more conferences – repeating the success of our last antiwar Left-&-Right conference – and the discovery and nurturing of libertarian scholars, with special attention to the development of a libertarian youth movement. Our movement has no future separate and distinct from the future of the libertarian youth, a field of operations that has been woefully neglected in recent times. Naturally, has been especially concerned with – and relatively successful at – this particular project, but we have just begun to make inroads into this vitally important problem. We need to train the leaders, scholars, journalists, and activists of tomorrow – today!


But we can't do any of it without you. Yes, you – our hardcore supporters, who have stuck with us, thus far, through thick and thin. You know who you are. You've been coming to this site, perhaps logging on to this very column, quite regularly for some time now. You like what you read, in large part, and you even find it enjoyable. If you want it to not only continue, but expand, then now is the time to act. Contributions to, as a division of the Center for Libertarian Studies, are now fully tax-deductible. We've already had a lot of bad news lately, but this is a bit of good news that can really make a difference – if you make it so.


The movements to restore American liberties and build a more peaceful world are really two indissoluble aspects of the same phenomenon: that is the real significance of the organizational changes at We will carry on just the same, covering the world of international events and discussing and analyzing the question of war and peace – only better!


The changes you see on this site, starting today, are visual and stylistic: this is the work of the fabulous Garris brothers, our Webmaster Eric Garris and his brother Malcolm, a talented web artist. has been streamlined and slicked up, but it will never be watered down in terms of content. We are getting better – and bolder – by the day. Stick with us – or come back – and find out just how good we can get. We promise you won't be sorry. You may not always agree, but rest assured that you will always be challenged and interested. And what more can you ask from a website?

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, "China and the New Cold War"

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).


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