When Thatcher Got Testy With Reagan — Over Grenada

Maggie Thatcher may have been a staunch Cold Warrior, but she wasn’t too  thrilled about Ronald Reagan’s invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada, where ultra-leftists  had assassinated  the pro-Cuban leader, Maurice Bishop. After all, Grenada, in spite of its leftist government, was still a member of the British Commonwealth,  and Maggie hadn’t been let in the loop. Check out  Ishaan Tharoor’s piece in the Washington Post on the subject: go here for a transcript of  the Reagan-Thatcher phone conversation (wherein the Gipper apologizes).

 

Happy Birthday, Ron Paul

Ron Paul is 79 today

Libertarians owe him a great debt, one which can never be repaid. Without him, it’s more than likely that our movement would’ve either gone off the rails, succumbing to opportunism of the worst sort, or else slipped into obscurity, never to be seen or heard from again. Thanks to him,  neither of those dreadful scenarios occurred.

What happened instead was the almost miraculous growth and development of libertarianism into a viable national movement, with “mainstream” media forced to sit up and take notice. Now we are told we may be approaching the “libertarian moment” — by the New York Times, no less! — and 90 percent of the credit (maybe more!) goes to Ron  and the movement he inspired.

But it wasn’t easy. Three presidential campaigns, one under the Libertarian Party banner and two in the GOP primaries, with him travelling all over the country non-stop — a heroic effort for a man of his years. And he looks fabulous: I should only look that good at 79!

His career limns the upward trajectory of the rising libertarian movement, spanning the years when libertarians were totally unknown to the general public — I recall hearing, after telling someone that I was a libertarian, “I didn’t know the librarians had their own party!” — to our present Libertarian Moment. Without him, we may have reached it, eventually — but surely not as soon. And I know many of my readers will agree with me when I say it has come not a moment too soon.

To readers of this web site who may not be libertarians — and there are many — what’s important about Ron and the movement he spawned is the awareness he has brought to the public of the dangers inherent in our interventionist foreign policy. He has stood like a rock, even in the darkest days of the post-9/11 era, when even the staunchest peace advocates hesitated to raise their voices and the War Party was on the march. He stood up to the bully Rudy Giuliani, the has-been NY mayor and failed GOP presidential candidate, who was riding high at the time: he stood firm even as the know-nothings booed him and he told the truth about the gross stupidity and immorality of a foreign policy that has reaped such a whirlwind in the years since that moment. He stood up to the smears  of the War Party — and they’re still attacking him. Yet his stature, far from being diminished, only grows. At the age of 79, he is still speaking truth to power.

I have to tell a little story about Ron that underscores his sterling personal qualities as well as his ideological virtues. In my fiery youth, not even Ron Paul was radical enough for my tastes and I remember penning (yes, it was so long ago that we had pens in those days!) an article attacking him for “selling out.” It was a long diatribe, which was published in a long-defunct journal of which I was the editor. Not long after, I was surprised to receive a letter from him which was as gracious as can be, pointing out that “I don’t believe we are as far apart as you believe” and warmly inviting me to visit with him when I came to Washington. I published the letter in our paper, and came across it the other day as I was going through my old files.

Personally and politically, the man is a saint.

One last thing: I’ve been a Ron Paul-watcher for many years, and what I’ve seen of his long career is unusual in the sense that most people get more conservative as they get older: Ron, on the other hand, only got more radical. Radicalism is often thought of as the exclusive province of youth but in Ron’s case just the opposite pattern occurred. Through some alchemy of spirit, he’s just gotten younger over the years — which is perhaps part of the reason why he has inspired a vital and growing youth movement that has no equivalent on the left or the right.  Thanks in large part to Ron, the future of the libertarian movement is bright indeed — and how can you thank a man for fulfilling the dreams of your youth? You can’t, really — you can only try.

Call Congress: Stop the New US Invasion of Iraq

President Obama’s announcement that the US is sending 300 "advisors" back to Iraq to stave off the rising Sunni insurgency was couched in assurances that "American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq" – but who really believes that?

This President has absolutely no qualms about engaging in systematic deception if it serves his purposes. Indeed, his version of the numbers is in itself a blatant lie: in reality, we are sending 625 military personnel into Iraq, including the 325 Marines sent to guard the now-imperiled US Embassy — and that’s just what they’re announcing publicly. God knows what the real numbers are.

Furthermore, the President told us "we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it." This will presumably come in the form of air strikes, but the vague wording gives Obama lots of leeway.

Americans have had it up to here with Iraq, and want no part of another war in the Middle East. We did it when Obama announced he was going to bomb Syria: the War Party was taken aback by the sheer spontaneous power of the protest. Many thousands called their congressional representatives and made it crystal clear that they opposed any new war in the region, whether it be on "humanitarian" or "strategic" grounds.

The American people said "Enough!"– "Basta!" – and it’s time for them to do so again, in no uncertain terms. We here at Antiwar.com are asking our readers and supporters to call Congress and tell them under no circumstances should we send even a single soldier to Iraq. Not one penny, not one GI! And please don’t tell me it’s useless because they won’t listen – they did last time, as politician after politician, inundated with calls from angry constituents, backed away from supporting the supposedly imminent bombing of Syria.

We can win – it just requires action on your part. Go here to find the contact information for your representative in the House: go here to find out

The Munk Debate: Worlds in Collision

The much-touted debate on NSA spying sponsored by Canada’s Aurea Foundation between Michael Hayden and Alan Dershowitz on one side and Glenn Greenwald and Alexis Ohanian had few surprises — except for the surprise appearance of Edward Snowden in a video made for the occasion. In it, Snowden explains the power and scope of the National Security Agency: Hayden and Dershowitz spent the rest of the hour and a half or so denying that the pervasive surveillance described by Snowden and Greenwald even exists.

It was a case of worlds in collision – the truth presented by Greenwald/Ohanian and the outright lies of Hayden and Dershowitz. The latter never laid a glove on Greenwald, in spite of their tortured attempts to do so, while Glenn got Hayden good when he attributed Hayden’s contention that we might have stopped the 9/11 attacks if the NSA had its programs in place at the time: Hayden, Glenn averred, was merely covering up his own ineptitude on 9/11, when he was in charge at Ft. Meade. If a cartoonish “Ka-POW!” appeared over Hayden’s head at that point I wouldn’t have been surprised. Another Haydenism: “’Collect is all’ doesn’t mean collect it all!” That provoked a few startled laughs.

The debate cannot even be called a debate because the two sides simply were not talking about the same subject. Hayden-Dershowitz refused to discuss the actually existing NSA spying programs. Dershowitz, instead, insisted on taking what he called a “middle position,” which would involve “some rights violations” in the name of the “greater good.” Hayden, for his part, completely denied that the NSA’s surveillance system was violating anyone’s rights.

“Trust me,” said Hayden – and the audience laughed.

Why Criticize Your Own Government — and leave out others?

This is the answer to the question posed in the title:

“My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that: namely, I can do something about it. So even if the US was responsible for 2% of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2% I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.

— Noam Chomsky, cited by Glenn Greenwald