Clarification from an Anarcho-Hawk

In an earlier post (now corrected), I stated that Tim Starr is “a San Francisco Libertarian Party member who is a self-proclaimed anarcho-hawk who advocates the elimination of government, except that as long as government exists, it should focus on wiping out radical islamists around the world.”

Tim Starr has written to me to correct and clarify his positions. In fairness, I have corrected the original post and post his email to me here:


1) I am not and never have been an SFLP member (I live in Berkeley), although I went to many of their meetings in the mid-1990s and belonged to the California and National LP for several years. I let my membership lapse due to dissatisfaction with the campaigns of LP Presidential candidate Harry Browne in 1996 and 2000. At the time, my concerns about him had nothing to do with foreign policy, although I have disagreed strongly with his foreign policy statements since 9/11/01.

2) I do not advocate “wiping out radical islamists around the world.” That criterion is both too broad and too narrow. It is too broad because there is no need to wipe out “radical Islamists” so long as they confine themselves to peaceful persuasion and other forms of consensual action. It is too narrow because there are other threats to American lives, such as North Korea’s nuclear program.

3) My position is not that the US government ought to pursue the foreign policy goals I think correct “as long as it exists.” My position is that it ought to pursue those foreign policy goals as long as there is no better non-governmental alternative. In the absence of such an alternative, the US government must protect us from being mass-murdered by Islamo-fascist terrorists.

Propaganda Snobs

Brendan O’Neill sends along this essay, in which he argues against the tendency of antiwar folks to blame the war on gullible masses taken in by potent propaganda. I’ve probably been guilty of this at times, and I agree with much of what he says, especially this:

Of course propaganda can be persuasive, sometimes even decisive, for individuals making up their minds over whether to support a war, a political party, or whatever. But the influence of propaganda is determined by the broader political climate and by the general level of public debate. In a healthy, critical climate, it is likely that Bush and Blair would have received even more ridicule for their Iraqi propaganda. But at a time when serious political debate is hard to find, our leaders can offer dodgy dossiers and half-cocked claims as if they were good coin. In short, it is often the weakness of the opposition that allows leaders to take their chances with paltry propaganda.

Liberals and the left must shoulder their fair share of the responsibility for the degraded discussion over Iraq and for the opinion polls that suggest a majority of Americans and Britons supported the war. If those who are anti-war spent less time wringing their hands over Big Bad Bush and the fickle people, and more time developing a coherent case against war, then maybe we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now. Surely the pro-war lobby is best challenged by being shouted at, rather than shouted about.

I would simply add that ignorance is different from stupidity, and though, yes, we should try our best to ameliorate that ignorance, its sheer depth can be astounding. What does one say, what can one say, to the kick-ass jingo (even one with gobs of raw intelligence) who cannot locate the countries he/she wants bombed? How much can one do in a 1,000-word essay to change that person’s mind? Won’t he/she be much more likely to accept Pentagon/Fox music videos that reinforce his/her gut beliefs? I’ve had friends and family members–ones who can find the countries they want annihilated– compliment me on my work, tell me how it made them think, then go right back to gushing over George Bush and Bill O’Reilly. Sometimes tossing one’s hands up and laughing is the only option.

Obnoxious (and Reasonable) Hawks

Didn’t mean to leave out my conservative and liberal/leftist/progressive readers with this post on “libertarian” hawks. Feel free to send me your thoughts on the most obnoxious and the most reasonable hawks of your political stripe. My nominees:

Obnoxious conservative hawk: Oh, God, where to begin? I’ll take David Frum, for whom quotation marks are always in order when the term conservative is used.

Reasonable conservative hawk: It says a lot that George Will is the best choice available, largely for writing this:

To govern is to choose, almost always on the basis of very imperfect information. But preemption presupposes the ability to know things — to know about threats with a degree of certainty not requisite for decisions less momentous than those for waging war.

Some say the war was justified even if WMD are not found nor their destruction explained, because the world is “better off” without Saddam Hussein. Of course it is better off. But unless one is prepared to postulate a U.S. right, perhaps even a duty, to militarily dismantle any tyranny — on to Burma? — it is unacceptable to argue that Hussein’s mass graves and torture chambers suffice as retrospective justifications for preemptive war. Americans seem sanguine about the failure — so far — to validate the war’s premise about the threat posed by Hussein’s WMD, but a long-term failure would unravel much of this president’s policy and rhetoric.

Obnoxious liberal/leftist/progressive hawk: Christopher Hitchens. Is there any debate?

Reasonable liberal/leftist/progressive hawk: Hitch again, for as Peter Hitchens pointed out,

For at least the last century war has been the herald and handmaid of socialism and state control. It is the excuse for censorship, organized lying, regulation and taxation. It is paradise for the busybody and the nark.

In other words, it’s perfectly reasonable for an ex-Commie like Chris Hitchens to have supported this war.

David Horowitz, Crybaby

Untitled Document

David Horowitz is such a big crybaby. I posted a review of his new book, Left Illusions, on Amazon, and he’s wailing that it’s all a result of “left-wing sabotage.” Here’s Horowitz:

“When my new book Left Illusions came out I prepared myself for the inevitable sabotage the political left and its fellow-travelers would attempt in order to discourage readers. So when Amazon posted a character assassination by Justin Raimondo in its section reserved for reviews I was not surprised.”

In other words: Wahhhh! Wahhhh! In his book, Radical Son, from which excerpts are printed in this latest compilation, Horowitz red-baits his own parents, who were members of the Communist Party, and says they deserved to be fired from their jobs as teachers for being “traitors.” In his non-rebuttal, Horowitz denies all – but anyone who has read Radical Son, or his latest, can easily see that I’m right.

“I have never been able to quite pinpoint the psychological disorder from which Raimondo so evidently suffers. Why would a man who has a well-trafficked website even think to post to this obscure section of the web simply to discourage people from buying someone else’s book. Why would he spend the time? A google search of Raimondo’s site, brings up more than 250 personal attacks on me, so that is probably a sufficient explanation. His ‘review’ is titled ‘Nobody Likes A Stool Pigeon’ and accuses me of ‘turning in’ my parents as Communists. Of course as Raimondo and anyone else who has read Radical Son knows, both my parents died before the book was written (I described both deaths in the book itself).”

Anyone who points out the hypocrisy and hysteria behind his politics is crazed, according to Horowitz – this is so typical of the neoconservative mind, which cannot even imagine honest disagreement. Every attack on his politics is, according to him, a “personal attack.” More crybaby stuff. I don’t know where he gets “more than 250” – it’s about 50, not counting duplications, and all of them are old. This also includes an article by him on our website, and very brief mentions of his name. So what? Why is this relentless self-promoter complaining about that? And Amazon.com is not exactly an “obscure section of the web,” but we’ll let that pass.

Why would anyone bother with Horowitz? That’s a better question, the answer to which is: why not? Sure, he’s a schmuck, but over a month is far too long to go without an attack on me originating in Frontpage, Horowitz’s website. It used to be that every week, at least, there would be a new attempt to prove that I’m a fascist left-wing sympathizer of the Mikado – and then, suddenly, nothing, nada, zilch! What’s up with that? I knew – I just knew – this would get a rise out of him. And it did. (Bwahahahahahaha!)

Horowitz can dish it out, but he sure as heck can’t take it. Grow up, David, and stop yer whinin’. There’s nothing worse than a crybaby – you big sissy.

Our Favorite Liberventionists

Eric’s entry on Tim Starr got me to thinking: Who is the most obnoxious “libertarian” hawk? The most reasonable? On the latter question I’m taking a cue from Alan Bock’s thoughtful comments of last Tuesday and attempting a little holiday civility. I guess I’ll nominate Ronald Bailey for most reasonable; his pro-war arguments don’t impress me, but at least he isn’t a full-time Bush hack.

For most obnoxious… where to begin? I’ll go ahead and nominate Glenn Reynolds, Virginia Postrel, and Neal Boortz— but those are pretty obvious, no? E-mail with seconds and other nominations. Include a link, if possible, and a short explanation for your choice.