Join Kelley B. Vlahos for Antiwar Panel at Students for Liberty Philadelphia Regional Conference

Kelley B. Vlahos along with military veterans Daniel Lakemacher and Students for Liberty’s Peter Neiger will be appearing at an Antiwar Break Out Session at the 2011 Students for Liberty Philadelphia Regional Conference. The conference will be held Saturday, October 8th. Register here.

Vlahos is a contributing editor for The American Conservative magazine, a Washington correspondent for the DC-based homeland security magazine, Homeland Security Today, a long-time political writer for, and weekly columnist for

Don’t Like the Drugs, but the War Must Cease

We’ve been devoting more coverage to the War on Drugs lately, so it’s worth noting when a politician says anything about it other than “full speed ahead.” It’s especially worth noting when a presidential candidate says “I fear the War on Drugs a lot more than I fear the drugs themselves” on a wildly popular TV show:


It’s true that he did not pledge to undo “America’s history of state-enforced slavery, apartheid, and sexism” and return all “land stolen from indigenous people” — which you can be sure the Obama administration is working on right this minute, with Marty Peretz’s blessing — but he might be onto something.

Anarchists for Giuliani Celebrate 3 Years of Non-Rule by President Rudy

Monday night’s debate reminds me of an insightful analysis from the last campaign. Randy Barnett, Georgetown University law professor and anarchist, wrote the following in The Wall Street Journal in July 2007:

While the number of Americans who self-identify as “libertarian” remains small, a substantial proportion agree with the core stances of limited constitutional government in both the economic and social spheres — what is sometimes called “economic conservatism” and “social liberalism.” But if they watched the Republican presidential debate on May 15, many Americans might resist the libertarian label, because they now identify it with strident opposition to the war in Iraq, and perhaps even to the war against Islamic jihadists.

During that debate, the riveting exchange between Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul about whether American foreign policy provoked the 9/11 attack raised the visibility of both candidates. When Mr. Paul, a libertarian, said that the 9/11 attack happened “because we’ve been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years,” Mr. Giuliani’s retort — that this was the first time he had heard that “we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq . . . and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11” — sparked a spontaneous ovation from the audience. It was an electrifying moment that allowed one to imagine Mr. Giuliani as a forceful, articulate president.

This turned up in a Google image search for Randy Barnett. It's not the Randy I'm talking about, but it seems appropriate.

Four years later, we’re still imagining the utopia that could have been if America’s mayor had picked up only 1,191 more delegates. Well, don’t despair, pro-war anarchists. There’s always Rick Santorum.

I praised Barnett’s political acumen here. The Wall Street Journal seems to have misplaced Barnett’s masterpiece, but thanks to the evil Paultards, you can read the whole thing here.

Why Are People Grudgeful?

Timothy P. Carney weighs in on the “Cato purge”:

[Brink] Lindsey will be portrayed as a martyr, excommunicated for his heresies from the Right’s dogma. In this role, he joins neoconservative writer David Frum, who was driven from the American Enterprise Institute after praising Obamacare.

Lindsey and Frum followed parallel paths. In 2002 and 2003, Lindsey – contra most libertarians – prominently beat the drums for invading Iraq. Meanwhile, Frum played the conservatives’ Robespierre, trying to purge from the Right those who opposed the invasion, whom he slurred as “unpatriotic conservatives.”

Lindsey, when he admitted in 2006 that invading Iraq was a mistake, still billed himself as “extremely controversial” and open-minded in the face of dogma. Frum, today, basks in the Left’s praise as an independent thinker. But Lindsey and Frum, in backing Bush’s invasion then and supporting Obama now, were the opposite of dissidents: They consistently supported those in power who were fighting for more power.

This pattern doesn’t make Lindsey or Frum sycophants, but it undermines their claim to be dissidents.


The reason I keep banging on about Iraq War supporters – including the “born-again doves” – is simple: The road out of militarism and empire runs through the ruins of the Washington establishment that got us here.

First, there must be some penalty for supporting wars of aggression, even in a non-governmental role. I don’t mean a legal penalty, obviously, but shaming, shunning, boycotting, and the like. But everywhere you look, the very people who sold the Iraq War have not only not paid for their bloodthirsty idiocy, they’ve often been promoted. Second, as long as even “reformed” warmongers hold positions of influence, there’s always the danger of relapse. Clearly, the personality defects that contribute to the endorsement of monstrosities don’t go away quickly, if ever. For example, here’s one ex-Bushbot-turned-Obamaton sticking it to the White House’s critics:

Personally, I’m not satisfied with the job they [Obama & co.] are doing (unemployment is horrible, they’ve spent too much time negotiating with Republicans, the drone wars, the civil liberties issues, Lloyd Blankfein is still a free man, etc.), and think there have been some real failings and some real let-downs. But I will belly crawl over broken glass while someone pours lemon juice and rubbing alcohol on me to vote for the Democrats in November.

Note how drone wars and civil liberties fall behind “negotiating with Republicans” on this list of sins. To paraphrase Mick Jagger, could you use a lemon-squeezer, dude? I volunteer.

I could go on – there are so many targets – but instead, I’ll leave you with a thought experiment. Imagine that the invasion of Iraq had succeeded on the war supporters’ own terms, and the U.S. had crushed all armed resistance within a few months and set up some plausibly “pro-American” Potemkin democracy that didn’t need a foreign army to defend it from the citizenry (this requires a lot of imagination, I know). Let’s assume that the U.S. military had accomplished this by really taking the gloves off, as many war supporters urged in the days when the occupation began to implode. Thus, in our counterfactual, the Iraqi civilian casualty count is roughly the same as the actual count today, anti-American sentiment is inflamed throughout the Muslim world, and Iran is the unquestioned dominant regional power, all for a preventive war against a fabricated threat. Do you think that our born-again doves – much less the dead-enders who still think the war was a good idea – would have had any moral or even practical second thoughts? Or do you think they’d be doing a sack dance in the peaceniks’ faces and demanding the destruction of the next country on their list?

UPDATE: I think this sort of amends-making is a wonderful idea, but I suggest it for people who have abetted acts of mass destruction. How many prosthetic limbs could the Brinkster buy with his disposable income? Shoot, Andrew Sullivan could probably fund half a dozen orphanages across Iraq if he cut his personal expenditures back to bare subsistence levels. Let’s make this happen!


Binge and Purge

In another one of those Washington insider stories every Serious Person is required to care about, Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson, two noted “liberaltarians,” have allegedly been “purged” from the Cato Institute (that’s Dave Weigel’s theory, anyway, so take it for what it’s worth). Wilkinson is good on matters of war and peace (see “Bradley Manning’s Guilt — and Ours,” which we highlighted last week), so too bad about him.

Brink Lindsey, on the other hand… ugh. He should have been sacked back when he was using his trade policy position to agitate for dropping freedom bombs on Iraqis. In his response to the purge story, Daniel McCarthy links to this 2002 Joseph Stromberg piece. As you read Stromberg’s take on Lindsey, keep in mind which one of the two was marginal at the time and which one is walking into yet another cozy think-tank sinecure today.

Weigel vs. WikiLeaks

On his Twitter feed Monday, Dave Weigel, journalist, posted the following (emphasis mine):

The WikiLeaks Afghan dump is depressing. Very tired of our effort there being subjected to this kind of crap.

When Glenn Greenwald pressed Weigel to clarify what “kind of crap” he meant, Weigel answered:

I mean the disclosing in a way that hurts us. It’s not like we’ve been prevented from knowing things are going poorly.

This caused a minor stir among Weigel’s Twitter followers, with one responding:

You prefer being lied to? You really *have* crossed over to the dark side…

To which Weigel replied:

I support the war and agree to disagree with a lot of people on this.

Greenwald continued to prod Weigel for clarification, but Weigel ignored the questions, huffing, “I don’t ‘debate’ on Twitter. If it’s important I take it to email. This is a wretched medium for debate.” Meanwhile, some members of #teamweigel began tweeting their disapproval, distaste, and even shock.

I can’t imagine why.

Dave Weigel supported the invasion of Iraq, and he continued to ridicule and slander war opponents until the precise moment that it was no longer professionally advantageous for him to do so. He is a shape-shifting seeker of the Inner Ring who has already been called a liar twice by his former bosses. Here’s Matt Welch of Reason on Weigel’s suggestion that he was let go from that magazine for being too mavericky (a recurrent form of self-gratification for Weigel):

To the extent that this gives the impression that Dave’s job was in any way tied to him voting for Obama, I need to shout from the rooftops that this is emphatically not the case. If it were, Ronald Bailey would no longer be our Science Correspondent and Tim Cavanaugh would not be our back-of-the-book columnist. …

There were multiple factors at play in the Weigel/Reason separation, none of them having to do with voting records, and many (though not all) pointing to what Dave alludes to in his post: What he wanted to write about, and what we needed him to write about, were two different things. …

Another clarification, especially for people unfamiliar with Reason: There is, to put it mildly, zero professional sanction at this magazine for being “a little less favorable to Republicans,” or being “pro-gay marriage and pro-open borders.”

And here’s Nick Gillespie:

In his public mea culpa (which like all examples of the genre is long on mea and short on culpa), former Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel suggested his long journey upwards began with his being fired from Reason magazine.

Full disclosure: I was editor in chief of Reason from 2000 to 2008 and hired Dave, who was eventually let go by my successor, Matt Welch. Dave suggests that the separation came about because he had strayed too far off what we sometime call the “libtard” reservation. …

As Matt Welch has written, Dave certainly didn’t earn any supervisory ire by voting for Obama-Biden or even for being from Delaware (though this latter condition has never been a clear plus for anyone except maybe George Thorogood and Cesar Romney). Similarly, the implication that Reason would be bothered by a staffer’s attacks on Republicans or support for gay marriage and open borders makes about as much sense and holds as much value as fiat currency.

Actually, while Maverick Dave was with Reason, he made some pathetically strenuous efforts to ingratiate himself with the herd (another recurrent theme in Weigel’s career). In Reason‘s 2008 presidential election survey, Weigel gave the following answer to the final question:

5. Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? Lyndon Baines Johnson. While his children watch.

Leaving aside the warped question and the demented reply – Weigel and his pal Spencer Ackerman seem to have studied rhetoric at the Mel Gibson Finishing School – do you think for a minute that Weigel would say such a thing (or anything negative at all) about the father of Medicare and Medicaid in his new gig as an MSNBC commentator? More recently, in an odd act of self-defense, Weigel actually admitted that he wrote things he didn’t believe on Journolist in order to “suck up to the liberals.” And that was for a tiny, exclusive audience that was supposedly organized to allow “extremely smart people” to say what they really thought! What ulterior considerations inform Weigel’s reporting and analysis for us dumb yokels drooling over our Hungry-Man dinners in front of the tube?

Anyway, now Weigel’s “supporting” “our” war in Afghanistan, the It War of the militant center that employs him, and people are surprised? Please.

P.S. I’ll go ahead and write the rebuttal for Dave and his clique. Yes, I’m a loser nobody who blogs for the objectively pro-fascist I only wrote this because I envy Dave’s sweet job at the Washington Post (oops!), his large circle of friends, and the cool, emotionally mature professionalism he demonstrated in Boogiegate. Did I leave out anything? Oh, right. Yada yada yada anti-Semite. (Hey, you said it, Adolf!) When you get through with me, maybe you can respond to Welch and Gillespie.

P.P.S. For more on the Weigel-Journolist fiasco, if you’re not sick to death of it already, I strongly recommend two posts by Arthur Silber: 1, 2.