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United Nation’s legitimacy and credibility

Phil Bradley shows us what a wonderful institution that carnival of thieves called the United Nations is

I can hardly turn on the TV without some talking head from the UN, one of its many agencies and adjuncts, or a European diplomat talking about the UN’s legitimacy or credibility. This is a recent phenomena and I am curious as to where the UN has acquired its supplies of legitimacy and credibility. Certainly not from its member states – many of whom can hardly keep the road to the airport open without help from French paratroopers. Nor does it get it from the work of its agencies, which while on paper are well intentioned, in practice are dens of corruption, incompetence and cronyism, relegated to ‘coordinating’ roles because they are incapable of doing any thing useful.

Perhaps it is from the UN’s work in intervening in crises and helping states achieve legitimate democratic government. OK, the UN did pull its troops out of Rwanda prior to perhaps a million people being massacred, failed to anything about Kosovo and left NATO to intervene, and appears to be making a complete mess of ‘helping’ East Timor transition to democracy. A state of affairs which even the UN’s senior person in East Timor admits to. Sorry, no signs of legitimacy and credibility here!

I must therefore conclude that United Nations has discovered a means of manufacturing these precious commodities. This is a major scientific breakthrough, a philosophers stone for the twenty-first century. The UN is keeping tight-lipped on the details of this breakthrough. So it’s not clear as to how much legitimacy and credibility they can manufacture. But think of implications if they can produce a large supply (doubtless it is expensive to produce, but then everything at the UN is vastly more expense than it should be). Clearly the UN and its member states constitute a major market for both products, but the potential is huge, especially for credibility which the recent war in Iraq has shown there is a world-wide shortage, notably in the news-rooms of CNN and the BBC, as well as in some European and Arab capitals.

And to think, I always thought the United Nations was a complete waste of time and money, filled with corrupt bureaucrats only interested in first-class air travel and their expense accounts. Shows how wrong you can be!

Phil Bradley

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26 comments to United Nation’s legitimacy and credibility

  • Unless their talk about credibility reveals fears the UN no longer has much.

    Like official denials, to be read the other way round.

  • Kevin

    Exactly, Mark. Their plaintive assertions of “legitimacy” and “credibility” are desperate attempts to somehow convince the US Gov’t and public that they still REALLY matter.

    Many have speculated about who the biggest losers in Operation Iraqi Freedom are. I would suggest in addition to Saddam, Iran, Syria, the PLO, France, and Russia, the UN has lost the most, perhaps more than others.

    Perhaps we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the idea of World Government.

  • steph

    Worse than that. It is an atempt to get the U.S. U.K. etc. to give them credibility which they don’t have. Sanction of the victim anyone?

  • Johan

    Their talk about legitimacy and credibility reminds me of the Iraqi Information Minister and his (hilarious and) absurd statements about the war.

    Not only did the UN want to prevent the Iraqis to enjoy a life without Saddam, they are now adobting the same kind of propaganda tactics; as far away from reality as possible, so far they might even believe their own lies.

  • Brian Micklethwait

    I watched a multiple talking head chat show on BBC 4 TV on Thursday evening. The man from France was a remarkable chap. I didn’t catch his name, but was it perchance Bertrand Maginot?

    It wasn’t so much what he said that was striking, although it was in more than one way. It was his manner.

    “The Americans are not going to like it. When they are wrong, we will simply tell them so.”

    The Americans certainly won’t like it, if that is how French spokesmen continue to talk.

    What Monsieur Maginot said was that they somehow seemed to imagine that they could reconstruct Iraq without the international legitimacy that only the UN and the “International Community”, lead, one gathered, by France, could supply. Nation building means international partnerships and international agreements and deals, and the Americans simply cannot command all that. They cannot command “legitimacy”. Only the international community can confer this.

    It is not, in the end, he implied, a quarrel about morals. It is a quarrel about facts, the facts of the relative strength of the France lead coalition and the American lead coalition. (Coalitions have a habit of overestimating themselves and of underestimating the opposing coalition.) The French genuinely believe that the Americans are deluding themselves. That was the feeling Monsieur Maginot gave off.

    And sooner or later, the Americans will be forced to realise it, to realise that they depend upon and need the “international community”. France, therefore, is threatening to go on strike. No UN resolutions of the sort the US now wants, and potentially the UN simply sitting on its hands everywhere.

    The irony is that this could result in America, in self defence, sallying forth into the world and creating its own alternative system of global governance, in the manner of a strike breaker creating an alternative system of production to the one immobilised by old the striking worforce. The very US “hegemony” that the French think they are trying to stop, they will instead go a long way to creating. (A bit like 9/11 all over again.)

    And what if the Americans succeed? – as we are all asking ourselves in recent postings and comments. (See also Perry’s piece on Thursday with the dog and the gun, and the many comments on that.) What if an “illegitimate” world just cries all the way to the bank? – leaving France as the only one in step, and broke?

    For all the reasons discussed here (and there) I think the Americans could break such a strike, indeed are already starting to.

    The ongoing mess in Africa will give the French a chance to show that the UN can do some good, but they may go on strike there as well! And if they do, the Americans (+ Brits?) may decide to break that strike also, and sort out Africa! Farfetched I know, but these are the sort of notions that may soon surface.

    Underlying all this, it seems to me, is the belief in France that the threat of Islamic fundamentalism has already been contained, and that the big conflict in the world now is not between all civilised nations and Islamofascist terrorism, but between the Continental European version of civilisation and the Anglosphere version.

    Successful coalitions always split, it seems to me. The only question is how. For the last few years the split has been between Islamic craziness and the West as a whole, both of whom thought they had just won the Cold War. If Islamism fades back into simply trying to get its economically creative act together, then inevitably other conflicts such as “France v. USA” will instead surface.

    A big Islamofascist bang in Paris might change all this, as would the Americans making a rapid success of nation building in Iraq (as elsewhere), as I think they probably will.

  • Jacob

    If the demise of the UN is the unintended consequence of war in Iraq we must start applauding unintended consequences instead of fearing them.

  • T. Hartin

    “I can hardly turn on the TV without some talking head from the UN, one of its many agencies and adjuncts, or a European diplomat talking about the UN’s legitimacy or credibility.”

    A sure sign that an organization (or a person) lacks credibility and legitimacy is when they start talking about how much credibility and legitimacy they have. If you have them, you don’t feel the need to talk about them.

    It’s like sincerity. As soon as you hear someone say how sincere they are, you know they are lying.

  • Larry

    Euphoria about the UN’s lack a credibility seems a bit premature. The Coalition invaded Iraq for 3 reasons. Iraq posed a threat to others, with its large army and WMD; Iraq had allied with Al Qeda.

    Deterence failed, only pre-empltive action could preserve the peace.

    The Iraq army appears MIA — did not fight, die, surrender, or perhaps even disband (400K soldiers marching home would be noticed).

    The WMD appear MIA. Bad: if they exist but remain loose someone will get them. Hamas? Islamic Jihad? Worse: if they do not appear, and much of the world conclude we lied.

    Deterence now seems effective. If Iraq would not use its army, WMD, and terrorist allies in self-defense — would they have used them aggressively?

    If we find no new evidence, we face the bitter dregs of admiting that France Was Right.

    To maintain our intellectual integrity — perhaps even to save our souls — we must consider the possibility that we were wrong.

  • Oh Larry, Larry, Larry… I for one could care less what fig leaf of justification was used to bring down Ba’athist Socialist tyranny in Iraq. If WMD were used to justify the smashing of a tyrant, fine, but the fact Saddam Hussain was a tyrant is enough justification for me. So it is hard to me to see how ‘we’ could have been ‘wrong’. If the allies do not find any WMD, should they round up as many Ba’athist survivors as possible, give them the keys to what is left of their government building and then tip-toe away after saying ‘Sorry’? I don’t think so.

  • enloop

    Fundamental to a belief in democracy is the notion that a government’s legitimacy is derived only from the election of that government by the governed.

    The UN is not a democratic institution. People who sit in the General Assembly are ambassadors appointed by governments, not elected representatives.

    The UN cannot evolve into a sort of global parliament, precisely because it represents governments, not people.

    More effective, I’ll suggest, would be a merger of the existing treaty alliances spawned in the aftermath of World War Two and in the Cold War: “Merge” NATO, SEATO, etc. into a global alliance of modern, democratic states.

  • Larry

    No Perry, liberation — esp. w/o invitation or 3rd parth authorization, is not enough.

    If I pretend to be a practical man, I’d point out that our actions have probably initiated the mother of all nuclear proliferation races. We’ve shown nucs as the only security for nations that wish to retain independent action vs. the USA.

    Worse, there is little precedent in international common law for the US to decide that the people of a nation need liberation. Even the US Consititution recognizes the Law of Nation’s as a valid authority (article 1, section 8).

    Shreding the Law of Nations brings us closer to the Hobbsean jungle. Our attempt to force what we consider social advancement on a foreign people — an experiment with dubious antecedients — has seriously damaged the work of centuries to build.

    Further, I believe the standing and authority of the USA, the major forced for global order today, have suffered a serious blow by the outcome of the Iraq invasion. Several of the reasons we gave have proved inaccurate; only the WMDs remain in question.

    If we find no WMD, we’re revealed before the world as liars and adventurers. Why believe us next time?

    Last, consider the effect of this on us. The USA is not like the USSR. We’re a moral state — by intent, if not always in practice. The reckless us of power acts like a drug, like all drugs destructive to the moral sense.

    Moral decay is no abstraction, it could be the difference between the 21C as the time of the American Republic — or the American Empire.

  • Larry: There is no such thing as a ‘moral state’. Individual people are moral being but states are just utilitarian collective groupings much like WalMart or Joe’s Burger Joint, just rather bigger. States are at their very best a necessary evil and so forgive me if what it says in the US Constitution interests me only very mildly and the ‘Law of Nations’ interests me even less.

    The ‘Law of Nations’ seeks to make the world safe for tax gatherers, whereby if you rape and murder and torture, just so long as you also control a government, well, that’s no one’s business but the people within the corporate fiction called a nation-state in question. Sorry, I don’t accept that.

    A nation-state is no more special than a company… a fictional entity which should not somehow be allowed to act as a vehicle for people to work to a scale of moral behaviours different to anyone else. If I see someone being robbed or raped, I will intervene and I do not need a state to give me permission to do so… it is just that states are sometimes better equipped to do so because of the resources they have appropriated.

    And who is this ‘us’ who is not going to be believed? To be honest, anyone who does not treat anything said by any state with a huge degree of skepticism is a fool indeed. When a spokesman for a state says something truthful, it is because a utilitarian calculation indicated it was in the state’s interests to do that. All states lie when it suit them. All of them. Every single one. So if the USA has lost credibility in your eyes, well, fine. It never had any to begin with in my eyes. If is suited Rumsfeld to tell the truth, then I am sure he would. If it suited him to lie, do you think he would not? The only difference between Rumsfeld and ‘Comical Ali’ was that the hapless Iraqi information minister could not see there was no point in telling tall tales and a carefully spun version of the truth might have better served his cause.

    I judge the ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ of what those amoral (at best) things called nation-states do by what they do, not by why they say they do it. The WMD issue is a canard to the extent they should not be a pre-requisite for acting against a grotesque tyranny. Sure, WMD in the hands of loonies is a wonderful but very utilitarian causus belli, but you are concerned with ‘morality’ as you claim, how about smashing tyranny as the best reason of all?

    If your ‘global order’ comes at the price of torture chambers and murder by sovereign states, then I say to hell with it… let us have global disorder for a while.

  • Phil Bradley

    Perry: I agree with you but would like to expand on one point that I feel is important.

    To be honest, anyone who does not treat anything said by any state with a huge degree of skepticism is a fool indeed. When a spokesman for a state says something truthful, it is because a utilitarian calculation indicated it was in the state’s interests to do that.

    The calculus extends to institutionalising telling the truth because institutionalized truth telling makes the state’s actions more efficient/effective – people act the way the government wants them to act because they believe the government (this is what I understand as credibility).

    The handling of the current SARS outbreak in China versus Singapore is good example of this. Not withstanding what you may think of the Singapore government, it clearly has credibility (I speak from first-hand experience. I live in Singapore). This credibility stems from the government telling the truth past and present (daily press conferences with apparently full disclosure of SARS cases and what people should do) and consequently people are acting appropriately.

  • Phil: For sure. More efficient states know that it only pays to lie when it can get away with it. This is not the result of morality however but just a utilitarian cost/benefit analysis.

    Yet there is always going to be a core of falsehood to any state which does lots of ‘stuff’. A complex modern state is vastly inefficient from a purely functional point of view regarding all but a small core of functions and pretty much every state in existence goes to great length to fudge this central fact.

    Similarly regarding the fact many social problems are actually caused by the state is something states just do not readily admit regardless of how obvious it is. Ending rent control for example, one of the dumbest ideas ever introduced in a modern economy, is AMAZING hard to do regardless of the copious evidence that it just causes the supply of housing to dry up.

    These self evident truths is something no state will just come out and face as the clear implication is that states simply should not be doing the great majority of the things they do. This is why privatization tends to be so bloody hard to pull off and when it is done, the state usually regulates the crap out of the privatized industry. That an institution incapable of efficiently running something it owns should think itself fit to regulate that thing when someone else owns it suggests, amongst other things, endemic collective self delusion from politicized people in nation-states.

    States are simply not ‘about’ truth and certainly not about ‘morality’, they are purely about force and who gets to direct its use.

  • Phil Bradley

    Larry: Further, I believe the standing and authority of the USA, the major forced for global order today, …

    There is an embedded premise here. Namely global order is an absolute good.

    I would dispute this and argue that Western democracies are a mixture of order and disorder. Order = stability and disorder = instability. Disorder and instability are necessary for change – technological change, economic growth and that ephemeral thing called progress.

    Western democracies have spent hundreds of years trying to find the right balance between stability/order and instability/disorder, and this is still ongoing.

    The divide between the USA and continental Europe is in large part a difference over how much and what kind of disorder is needed in the world and arguably this is the big Right/Left divide. Not withstanding its’ rhetoric, the Left wants more order whereas the Right wants less order. This is a reflection of their world-views – the Right being optimists think change will be (overall) for the better, while the Left are pessimists thinking change is generally for the worse.

    BTW one of my major problem with the UN is that it seems a vehicle for order/stability regardless of the consequencies. What is needed is more disorder (of the right kind) in international relations.

  • Phil Bradley

    Perry: States are simply not ‘about’ truth and certainly not about ‘morality’, they are purely about force and who gets to direct its use.

    States are mixture of coercion (force) and cooperation. We generally refer to states that are generally more cooperative than coercive as democracies.

    IMO the general imperative is to make societies more cooperative and less coercive. I am not so naive to think that democratic states are not coercive. Of course they are!

    I’m a relativist! Things are not good or bad, they are merely better or worse (in a utilitarian rather than a moral sense). And sure, states do lots of things that have worse consequencies than doing nothing, and rent control (or any kind of regulation to control market prices) is DUMB. But I would humbly point out that rent control is very popular. When I lived in Toronto in a rent-controlled apartment, it was always a consistently high profile political issue. Its a case where we collectively decide we want something that is in fact a bad idea. You can decide the state itself is to blame and to a degree it is – states exist to control (and it pervades the mindsets of bureaucrats). OTOH I think the media is in large part at fault also, by not explaining these idiocies to people. But in democracies, we get what we ask for or at least what we acquise to (more-or-less) and the fault, at root, is ours for not educating ourselves and others.

  • All a democracy does is moderate the process by which the coercive powers of the state are doled out and to whom… that does not in any way make it more ‘cooperative’. Civil society can be cooperative but states of any kind are completely about force. How is a democratically sanctified law with which I profoundly disagree any more ‘cooperative’ that one imposed by a Junta? Within living memory black people were segregated in the USA and these laws were quite as ‘democratic’ as anything passed today. All systems send the boys-in-blue around if you decline to play ball with political edicts and democracy is no different.

    For this and other reasons, the notion that freedom and democracy are somehow inseparable strikes me as bizarre. Yes, rent control is indeed popular… as are many types of proxy theft which, in a democratic system, tends to replace direct theft as the preferred means of taking other people’s money.

    Once the very idea of politicization (which is to say using the state’s power to compel actions on your behalf) replaces notions of civil society (using custom, severalty, exchange, affinity and dis-affinity) as the preeminent means of interaction, no system can be said to be defined by cooperation any more. In modern western countries, there are powerful socioeconomic currents moving in both directions.

  • Liberty Belle

    T Hartin – Agreed! It’s like people who tell you they have a wonderful sense of humour – or say things like, “I’m completely mad, I am.” One’s heart plummets.

  • Phil Bradley

    Perry: All a democracy does is moderate the process by which the coercive powers of the state are doled out and to whom… that does not in any way make it more ‘cooperative’.

    I think a part of the issue here is what we mean by ‘cooperative’. By cooperative I do not mean a nominally peer group getting together to perform some function like buying groceries. What I mean is the extent to which individuals cooperate with the state and its agencies (rather than having to be coerced).

    An example: A few years ago I spent maybe 15 minutes eating ice cream with my family on the side of a lake in Australia. During this time a man drowned in front of us. While the drowning occured, I and as far as I am aware nobody else knew it was occuring. The boys-in blue as you term them arrived and wanted statements.

    I spent perhaps an hour giving a statement with the expectation that I could be called to testify at the inquest. The first was a minor hassle (who wants to talk about someone dying in front of them while they are on vacation) and the second a major hassle as this was hundreds of miles from where I lived.

    The reason I did it and rationalized it this way at the time was – the state has its processes, and not withstanding what I think about the process or the purpose of the process, I as a citizen (and because I am citizen) am personally better off by cooperating with processes I deem, at least on the surface, reasonable.

    This was a utilitarian calculation and the tragedy of the commons is certainly an issue – most others at the scene left, but I felt this was an opportunity in a small way for me to contribute to a civil and cooperative society.

  • Phil: The fact is very little of the interaction between people and the state is ‘cooperative’. When you actually analyze it, the interaction is nearly always mandatory either directly by an imposition or because the state uses force to prevent alternative providers of many of its functions.

    The fact people ‘cooperate’ does not change the fact that there is usually a force backed obligation to do so somewhere down the line. Similarly, the state does thing which people ‘cooperate’ with and thus are seen to be the enabler or a key service. Yet in so many instances, they prevent others from carrying out those functions in the first place (such as education in many places, roads, central banking, policing, firefighting etc etc).

    In most places with a long coastline, a paramilitary coastguard will carry out maritime search and rescue functions and people will point to this as a key role for the state. Yet in Britain the RNLI, which fulfills that function, is not just manned by volunteers, it is 100% funded by donations and is not an adjunct of the state at all. It is a charity.. which also give lie to the ‘tragedy of commons’ argument that ‘proves’ things like the Royal National Lifeboat Institution cannot possibly exist because of free riders.

    All it takes is for there to be a functioning civil society free of the deadening and jealous hand of the state and so many of the ‘essential’ roles of the state will get fulfilled by charities or commercial enterprises. That is what cooperative means.

  • Larry

    Do we have a bit of bi-polar disorder on this site?

    The first set of posts enthusiastically gushes over a pre-emptive US-GB attack, raw State force exercised in defiance of the multi-lateral institutions that the US & GB have spent generations to build, for explicit reasons that so far appear false.

    Pointing out the possible adverse effects of this action, including increased nuclear proliferation and diminished reputation of the US, brings forth a shower of theory about the role of the State.

    Suddenly you again become Libertarains. Ayn Rand, meet Carrie. (the multiple personality girl).

    War. Peace. Reputation. Honor. Respect. Hate. These might provide a better basis on which to discuss the outcomes of the Iraq war.

    The easy enthusiasm for the Iraq war by so many on this site suggests that we’re closer to Empire than I thought. I see bistros patronized by well-dressed, highly educated Libertarians. Over coffee we discuss abstract theory and the latest military strikes by our Legions. Totally disconnected, for what responsibility have we for the doings of the Empire?

    We cheer, excited by victories, comforted that we neither trust or believe our leaders, and that the present order has no basis in proper political theory.

    We’ll be ideal citizens. Our rulers will read Samizdata with much the same pleasure as Rome read Paul’s Romans 12 on Submission to the Authorities.

    No, liberation of one nation is not adequate justification if it teaches our rulers that military adventurism — without a shred of prior justificaton — brings great political benefits. Esp. not with such high potential costs.

    Clinton bombed others to distract us from moments of high personal political danger. Successfully.

    Now Bush invades Iraq for what so far appear as equally specious reasons. Apparently successfully.

    What’s next?

  • Larry

    BTW, I see no rebuttal to my assertion that — so far — the French pre-war reasoning appears correct.

    Libertarians should, I think, have some resprect for objective truth and clear reasoning.

    Amid all the French-bashing on Samizdata, perhaps we need a moment of reflection. Perhaps repentence for things written that now seem unjustified.

  • Far from it, Larry… we have always taken this line. We are stuck with nation-states at the moment, some being far worse than others. If the less dreadful ones crush the more dreadful ones, then I find it hard to see than as a bad thing.

    As for:

    No, liberation of one nation is not adequate justification if it teaches our rulers that military adventurism — without a shred of prior justificaton — brings great political benefits. Esp. not with such high potential costs.

    Why stop with one nation? If North Korea and Zimbabwe and Burma are next, I will not complain. Perhaps even the big prize China one day. This process also has the happy side effect of de-legitimizing the ‘sanctity’ and ‘super-moral’ nature of nation-states in the process. Excellent.

    And the ‘prior justification’ is the tyrannical nature of the regime. I am sorry but why is mass murder and widespread use of torture not ‘prior justification’ enough?

    The US and UK hardly need to be taught military adventurism brings great political benefits, they have known this for centuries. Of course it brings benefits, provided it is successful. Leaders have known this since… well… I doubt the Assyrians had failed to notice that particular insight. To paraphrase that sage of Carmel, Clint Eastwood: There’s nuthin wrong with killin’, its just a matter of who is gettin’ killed.

    Yes, I am happy to see tyrants and those who serve them smashed…the worse ones in far off lands first and then maybe once the low hanging fruit is all gone, start working down the branches a bit closer to civilization’s trunk.

    Hopefully there may indeed come a time when we can say “regime change begins at home”.

  • Larry

    Perry,

    Form reading this site I have developed great respect for your knowledge, reasoning, and insight.

    While retaining all of the above, your previous post terrified me. If somelike like yourself — a libertarian to boot — believes such things, I must mark down the odds of our Republic’s survival.

    Do you believe a Republic capable of such an expansionist military policy? Consider the requirements. An acquisitive State to finance these wars, with strong police powers to resist the inevitable backlash (from both domestic & global opponents), the focus on foreign adventures rather than domestic welfare, etc, etc.

    I believe your support of this war support our transition from flawed Republic to glorious Empire.

    As for the points above, that our leaders have always lied, that they’ve always engaged in some military opportunism — these are matters of degree.

    We allow these things to grow only at our peril. At some point they grow to dominate, to break down the social contract.

    Also, this discussion assumes that the consequences will prove beneficial, for Iraq and us. This I doubt. The unintended consequences have not yet begun, although the growing Shiite opposition foreshadows what we can expect.

    Shame and humiliation do not create a basis for a good relationship between Iraq and US/GB. They learn about our motives from our unpreparedness for the chaos that always follows the fall of a regime. Our unconcern about the resulting riots, burning shows what they can expect from us in the future.

  • Arjuna

    Larry, the French acted the same way after they were liberated. Score settling, looting, and mayhem are typical after dictatorships fall (and when Chicago wins the championship). As far republic vs empire, there have always been “manifest destiny” memes. This is not an example of that. There will be no colonization, no mass transfer of people, or imposition of government. I actually do think the shia will revolt, and this whole thing might go down the tubes. But even with that worse case scenario, an exceptionally dangerous dictator (and a formidable adversary) was overthrown easily. Will there be negative consquences to this adventure? sure. Whatever comes next will be better than before.

    One last thought, If I have to run across the Brooklyn Bridge again because my government wants to be loved rather than feared, then my government had better fear me (meaning I will vote them out).

  • MLD

    One of the ‘neocon’ arguments about the war in Iraq is that, in addition to a democratic domino effect (which is a huge, huge gamble as I think we all realize, and maybe not tenable), the US could begin to think about bringing troops home from places like Saudi Arabia, Germany and even South Korea. Kind of the opposite of empire, really. And the reputation of the US has been enhanced in the way that matters to this administration- if you target Americans, kill Americans, threaten our security, then you will pay. I realize that many very bright and thoughtful people did not think that Iraq provided the kind of threat that necessitated war- but this ‘military misadventure’ had nothing to do with Manifest destiny or Empire. It had everything to do with perceptions of security. The liberation aspect was a bonus. I’m not sure I buy all those arguments, but I believe that was the ultimate ‘justification’ of many of the so-called hawks of the administration.

    And the thing I’m still confused about in regards to what I call isolationist libertarians: what is the place of the state and the goverment in a world where weapons exist which can annihilate entire populations? I don’t know, don’t have an answer, just wondering since I am entirely new to this libertarianism thing and am continually fascinated by the arguments that take place on this site. Thanks to you all! I am learning a lot.