War Is an Economic Policy, Senator McCain

This morning I received a request to sign an “Economists’ Statement in Support of John McCain’s Economic Plan.” The statement laid out his plans to prevent taxes from rising, to reduce some taxes, such as the corporate income tax, to support free trade agreements, and to restrain the growth of domestic government spending. Notice something missing? I did.

Here’s the answer I sent to the co-chair, economist James Carter:

There’s nothing in there I disagree with. [I later found a few things but I agreed with the vast majority.] The problem is that it leaves out a huge part of his economic policy that will make it virtually impossible to achieve what’s in the statement. That huge part is his policy on war–with Iraq and maybe with Iran. War is very expensive and is part of an economic policy. So by signing the statement, I would be helping Senator McCain maintain the fiction that there’s no connection between war and economic policy. I’m unwilling to do that.

DC Freedom Rally Today

A couple hundred Ron Paul supporters gathered in front of the Capitol today to hear speakers organized by the Granny Warriors.

I stopped by mid afternoon. I was told by one attendee that “Ron Paul came by and spoke around 11:15. Unfortunately, the sound system was not yet working at that point.” He said he had heard Congressman Paul might return and speak again later today.

Here are some pics – (Full size versions are available at my Flickr page here)

<img src=’http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3167/2417392868_381a585e15.jpg’ alt=” class=’alignnone’ /

UPDATE 4 17 08: Some commentors have suggested that I grossly undercounted the number of attendees. I note that the front page of the http://www.dailypaul.com website continues to highlight the photo I took of the rally.(The photo is used without permission or clear attribution). This photo and other photos posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bovard/ indicate the crowd size.

Cheney Debunked Again (a year ago)

Dick Cheney is a liar. A lousy one. He is again threatening that “al Qaeda in Iraq” (which he would have you believe is interchangeable with the “al Qaeda in Waziristan” he let escape in 2001) will take over the fertile crescent if U.S. forces withdraw. In this version, they will make so much money from control over the oil that they will somehow be a threat to us or something…

Well, last summer when Rudy Giuliani tried to pretend that al Qaeda was motivated to attack the United States due to freedom for women and to paint Rep. Ron Paul M.D. as some sort of terrorist sympathizer for stating the plain truth in the War Party’s house about Osama’s tactic of provoking a full scale invasion of Afghanistan (Iraq was a bonus) in order to bleed our empire dry and force our combat troops off of what they consider to be holy land, the Arabian peninsula – and out of the Muslim world at large – I decided to see what the experts had to say.

I came up with Ron Paul’s Reading List for the Farsighted: Interviews for Antiwar Radio with Robert A. Pape, Michael Scheuer, Chalmers Johnson, Philip Giraldi and Ray McGovern. They said Ron Paul was right and that Rudy Giuliani was ridiculous.

In particular, they addressed the fact that Osama bin Laden has every reason to be pleased that the U.S. occupies Iraq and that “al Qaeda in Iraq” (which did not exist until more than a year and a half after the invasion) was only tolerated to the degree they were while helping to fight the occupation.

(Now that the U.S. has temporarily bribed the “Sunni insurgency,” whom they’ve renamed the “Concerned Local Citizens” or “Sons of Iraq,” to stop fighting Americans and instead help fight al Qaeda, they have actually put many of the al Qaeda men on the payroll as well, according to Patrick Cockburn who told me that he saw this with his own eyes.)

Anyway, last May I asked Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism officer in the CIA and columnist for Antiwar.com, whether the War Party was right in pointing to a threat of an al Qaeda takeover of Iraq in the event of U.S. withdrawal, he answered:

“No. I think the reality is that if the United States leaves it will be a very bad thing for al Qaeda because the Sunnis don’t particularly want them around and would get rid of them.”

“There have already been reports that the Sunnis are already kind of tired of them because when they stage a major provocation or attack, it’s the local Sunni population that has to take the grief when the U.S. Army descends. … It’s a marriage of convenience with al Qaeda insofar as it’s a marriage at all. So I think it would be fallacious to assume – In fact, let me [say it] stronger than that: I think it would be ridiculous to assume that al Qaeda could establish some kind of serious presence in Iraq similar to what it did in Afghanistan because the dynamic is completely different.”

If Dick Cheney’s militia can’t take over the place, how are we supposed to believe that a ragtag group of Egyptians, Lybians and Saudis can?

(I first debunked this nonsense for Antiwar.com back in 2005.)

Thanks to Anders, A UK blogger and Stress regular, who created this short Youtube to help drive the point home.

To Raimondo and Barr: Legalize It!

Justin is completely right to criticize Bob Barr for failing to adhere to libertarian, non-interventionist foreign policy principles concerning Latin America. But for the sake of clarification for our readers, I must take issue with something Justin said regarding the war on drugs. Justin writes,

“I’m even mildly enthusiastic about his opposition to legalizing ‘hard’ drugs, such as methamphetamine (this will doubtless prove his undoing over at Reason magazine).”

He often has a valid criticism of some libertarians who seemingly care much more about the drug issue than the war issue. It is indeed true that foreign policy sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves, compared to many domestic questions. I think Justin’s comments were made as an “in your face” challenge to them, not really as a declaration of support for the war on drugs.

I must make it clear that libertarianism as a philosophy is opposed to the war on drugs, including laws against methamphetamine and other “hard drugs.” This is not a lifestyle question, but a question of government power, liberty, property rights and humanity. Libertarians believe it is wrong to put people in prison for using or selling drugs. People have a right to do what they wish to their own bodies, even if their decisions are sometimes immoral and self-destructive. The war on drugs, including “hard drugs,” has caused a massive expansion of domestic police state power. Just because it’s not as bad as what happens during foreign war doesn’t means it’s not important. Being less destructive than all-out war should be considered a rather low standard for libertarians.

Furthermore, Barr isn’t even as bad on this issue, at least on the federal level, as Justin somewhat implies. Barr believes the federal government should butt out of domestic drug policy. Barr’s critics on the drug war are more concerned about his apparent willingness to use military force and foreign aid to protect America from drugs. This is a drug policy deviation as well as a foreign policy deviation, and Justin should be especially sensitive to the latter. This is also a lesson for libertarians that compromising too much on one issue can lead to problems on others, which is one reason war is the health of the state.

How Many McVeighs Will This War Create?

The crimes of war don’t stop on the battlefield. Here is an account of how fighting in the first Iraq war changed Timothy McVeigh:

McVeigh was assigned as a Bradley gunner, and his Army buddies report that he was “just thrilled” when he blew up his first Iraqi vehicle. McVeigh’s friend Kerry Kling reports, “He said when they were invading Iraq he saw an Iraqi soldier coming out of a bunker and that when the first round hit his head, it exploded. He was proud of that one shot. It was over eleven hundred meters, and shooting a guy in the head from that distance is impressive.” McVeigh’s mother reported that he was “totally changed” by his experience in the war, and that when he came home, “It was like he traded one Army for another.” Or, it might be added, it was like he failed to respect the carefully nurtured differentiation between “heroic” and “terrorist” violence (Lee Griffith, The War on Terrorism and the Terror of God, Eerdmans, 2002, pp. 150-151).

How Many McVeighs Will This Iraq War Create?