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A Commie is a Commie is a Commie

This year we are likely to see a regime change in Bagdad and if we’re very lucky in Pyongyang. Brussels would be taking optimisim perhaps a bit far!

It occurs to me that this is an area in which libertarians who are sceptical of the public relations exercise known as the “Saddam’s the worst thing since Hitler” can agree with the libertarian interventionists. It also shows up the fundamental dishonesty of the leftist “peace” campaigners.

Talking to a “peace” protestor a couple of weeks ago I was informed of the following alleged facts:

  1. that Iraq was a client of the US and armed by the Reagan and Bush senior presidencies.
  2. that the people of Iraq would bear the brunt of any US led military intervention.
  3. that the sanctions against Iraq were killing hundreds of children every day;
  4. that the US was only interested in manipulating the oil price, though I’m clear whether it is supposed to go up or down.
  5. that the “peace” protestors are against any war and in no way endorsing the Iraqi regime (which remains nameless).

Contrast the claims with the attitudes of the same people about the regimes of general Pinochet in Chile and the apartheid regime in South Africa.

  1. The left claimed that both were US client states, so why didn’t the peace protestors defend those regimes from proposed US sanctions? Obviously the “client state” claim is irrelevant or untrue.
  2. If the people are going to suffer most from military action, how come they don’t defend the German people who suffered from a terrible invasion in 1945: Soviet troops were ordered to rape every German woman they could find in Berlin. The “peace” protestors are not normally known for minimising the trauma of multiple rapes on women and children.
  3. How come the South African children who presumably suffered from the leftist inspired sanctions against South Africa weren’t worth defending? Perhaps they were meant to suffer and become useful puppets in a Soviet war of liberation.
  4. So where were these “peace” protestors when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982, or when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, or Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1980 (admittedly they must have been confused by this one)?

Funny how it’s only the regimes that support socialism (preferably of a racialist tendency) or anti-modern theocracy that are deemed worthy of “peace” protestor support.

A Commie is a Commie is a Commie. There are grounds for opposing war, but the Communist Dictator Defence League isn’t one of them.

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12 comments to A Commie is a Commie is a Commie

  • cydonia

    ‘Fraid to say that I think we libertarians may not be entirely free of double standards on this one. Let’s face it:

    1. The libertarian criteria of self-defence (however defined) is not met in relation to Iraq. The evidence of WMD is very weak and the evidence that Hussein supported Al Quaida is virtually non-existent. The reality is that he is a nasty little local dictator who, no doubt, has local ambitions. So what? There are dozens like him all round the world.

    2 Any war entails massive expenditure and an increase in Government power and reach, which (I hope) we all agree are Very Bad Things.

    Yet many Libertarians seem, in good faith, to be gung ho for this particular war. What am I missing here? (now taking cover and waiting for the brickbats ….)

  • Walter E. Wallis

    We are already at war. The way out is either to lose or to win. Win’s better.

  • I think it’s just a matter of different definitions–libertarian doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing in every country. A libertarian in the UK seems more like a conservative in the US. There are similarities between (US) libertarians and conservatives, but there are also some major differences.

  • T. J. Madison

    Yes some of the leftists are idiots. This doesn’t change the “facts on the ground.”

    The problem isn’t that Mr. Hussein has to go — he does. The problem is, is the US military the weapon to use for this?

    I find it odd that people who constantly complain about the intrusiveness, inefficiency, stupidity, and general bureaucratic rottenness of the government assume that the same government will effectively “liberate” a population that doesn’t get to vote or make campaign contributions. The USG and UKG are much less accountable to the Iraqis than they are to their own civilians, who they shaft rountinely.

    My claim is that based on past performance, expecting the USG to deliver more liberty through aggressive intervention (rather than defense of the homeland and legitimate allies) is unrealistic. We can attempt to use USG/NATO to enhance liberty outside the defense perimeter, but the cost in liberty for doing so is likely to be so high that we’ll have trouble “breaking even.”

    I could be proven wrong this time. The USG could conceivably clean up Iraq sufficiently to compensate for the blood spiled during the invasion. (It’s unlikely it could easily make up for the casualties caused by the stupid blockade anytime soon.) It’s also possible that the USG could be modified so as to make it a much more effective tool for world liberty, making a global American Empire desirable. I don’t see either of these things happening soon, though.

    What we need are better tools for bringing liberty to places like Iraq, Afganistan, and China.

  • “Libertarian interventionist” seems rather an odd term to me. Can someone who favours a pre-emptive military intervention in a foreign country really be called a libertarian?

    Although it is quite true that left wing opponents of military action against Iraq are often guilty of hypocrisy, there is a perfectly legitimate — and non-hypocritical — liberal case against war.

    In brief, this might question the right of our rulers to appropriate our wealth for use in this way without our consent, the magnitude of the alleged threat, and the ethics of a pre-emptive war, which can hardly fail to inflict substantial human loss.

    There is also little doubt that any conflict will be used as an excuse to extend state power and stifle internal opposition — hardly obvious goals for a libertarian.

  • Mark West: “Libertarian interventionist” seems rather an odd term to me. Can someone who favours a pre-emptive military intervention in a foreign country really be called a libertarian?

    This addresses the core of my disagreement with people who think the “Libertarian interventionism” one tends to read advocated on Samizdata.net is not “libertarian” at all.

    Many who criticise our views see the world from within a very statist nation-based meta-context… but what care I for ‘foreign countries’ or any ‘country’? I do not want to see ‘countries’ liberated, I was to see people liberated.

    I do not regard a large proportion of what the British and American states do as legitimate, so it would be fair to say I do not regard pretty much anything the Iraqi state does as legitimate. I care nothing for nation-states, I care only for the liberty of individuals. Why should it matter to me more or less if an American or Briton is free than an Iraqi or North Korean?

    As a matter of practicality of course it may be easier (and certainly safer) to struggle for liberty in Britain or the USA, but so what? As I helped fund the damn military, I would like to see some value for my money… and killing Saddam Hussein would be great value for my money. If there was a meaningful non-state way of me helping to crush tyranny in places like Iraq, I would argue rather less for my stolen tax money being used to bomb tyrants, but until that is the case, expect to see more advocacy of the neo-libertarian hawk position here on Samizdata.net

  • Jacob

    “What we need are better tools for bringing liberty to places like Iraq, Afganistan, and China.”

    Bringing liberty to all people of the world is a lofty and moral goal, but not very practical. Remember: social engineering is not possible. Liberty evolves in some societies as a result of hundreds of years of developement and struggle. We cannot impose liberty or create overnight liberal institutions, in countries where such things never existed. We cannot control the evolution of human societies.

    Moral but unpractical – this should not be an impediment for libertarians who are much more interested in the moral part than in the practical one(of course – we hope they ore not contradictory).

    There is, however, a practical thing we can do (or can advocate) – and that is – destroy or kill tyrants. That can definitely be done, by military means.
    A relatively liberal or free regime may evolve in places like Afghanistan or post Saddam Iraq – or it may fail to evolve, giving rise to a new tyrant – we cannot very well control that. But, in killing some tyrant every now and then – we contribute (possibly) to the promotion of freedom.

    In selecting the tyrant to kill from among the great assortment available it is perfectly correct to consider such additional issues as oil, WMD, terrorist links, record of past aggresions, etc.

  • I am interested to see that my earlier comments have raised more than one ripple.

    But as someone who does not believe in the legitimacy of the state, it would be rather odd for me to advocate it as an agent of liberation.

    As an aside, I wonder what the interventionists would say if the Chinese government decided to liberate the British people from their oppressors.

    Although there would no doubt be a number of pragmatic objections, it might prove rather hard to formulate an ethical basis for resistance.

  • Paul Marks

    I once watched a film (sadly I can not remember the title) in which some representatives of organised crime “the Commission” in Chicago were sent out to (I think) Kansas to find out what was going on with an organised crime group there.

    The behaviour of the local organised crime group disgusted them (I will not bother with the details – they were vile), and the representatives of the Commission killed off the other organised crime group.

    If people insist on seeing the government in Washington D.C. as just a group of criminals please remember that criminals are not equally bad – and if the “D.C. gang” choose to kill a worse gang of criminals (whatever their links in the past) this should not be a matter of protest for libertarians.

    As for the endlessly repeated claim about “arming Iraq” I have little doubt that some U.S. technology may have been used for military purposes by the “Arab Renaissance Socialist Party” regime in Iraq and Washington may well have know of this (if the tech was being used against hoards of Islamic fanatics during the Iraq-Iran war was Washington supposed to be upset?), but the vast majority of weaponry in Iraq came from the Eastern Bloc.

  • Eva Mewa

    “Muslims are clones, burn them all, in the process it will add some variety to life.”

  • Eva Mewa

    “Muslims are clones, burn them all, in the process it will add some variety to life.”

  • Eva Mewa

    “Muslims are clones, burn them all, in the process it will add some variety to life.”