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I just wish Rod Liddle was less careless

On some, if not all issues, Rod Liddle is a man of sound views. He loathes the nanny state; he is unconvinced that we need to crack down on freedom of speech in order to avoid giving offence to religious groups. He is a patriot. In this week’s edition of the Spectator, where other authors rant away splendidly, Liddle rails against the six-month-old government ban on smoking in all public buildings, including privately owned ones (apart from private homes), such as pubs and restaurants. He makes a good case and some of his paragraphs are cheer-out-loud material:

Of course, one shouldn’t drop a policy simply because the pubs are having a rather hard time of it as a result. But in which case, don’t bother to pretend that they’re not, that actually there are queues all down the street consisting of shiny, happy people who wish nothing more than to drink in a new, healthy, smoke-free environment. Stop lying. Say, instead, that the smoke ban is putting pubs out of business but actually we couldn’t give a toss. Truth is, the government — and the health charities — are caught by their previous, gerrymandered poll findings which purported to suggest that the entire country was in favour of a complete ban on smoking everywhere, when — and again, do a quick vox pop if you doubt this — the reverse was true. People would like to see genuinely smoke-free areas of restaurants and pubs, for sure — but only chose a complete ban on smoking when the alternative on the poll sheet was ‘or would you like your testicles sawn off?’.

Or this:

Perhaps it is true, though, that because of the ban, I shall live for ever, for which many thanks, Dawn. But I doubt it; we will have recourse to one or another means of killing ourselves, such as driving a car (4,000 deaths per year), drinking more (40,000 deaths per year) or visiting a doctor (30,000 deaths per year through negligence or incompetence: never forget that figure. It exceeds the numbers killed through smoking-related illness. And it really, really hacks off the doctors).

But as always with Mr Liddle, the carelessness with which he chucks around numbers makes me wonder if any reader will want to get past his first paragraph:

I am still not sure what I hate the most about this government: its decision to invade Iraq and thus either effect or facilitate the murder of 500,000 Iraqis, or its decision to stop me from smoking in pubs and restaurants.

500,000 Iraqis? Is that correct? Liddle gives no source for this or attempts to do so later in the piece. Now Rod may be right to suggest that the overthrow of a power-mad, dangerous dictator was even worse than letting him stay in power (I occasionally wonder why a certain type of right-winger is so indulgent towards evil men like Saddam). But if he is going to make an argument with statistics as part of his core argument, it is probably not a great idea to kick off an argument with a massive figure based on, whatever.

Oh, in case anyone asks, I don’t smoke, except on National No Smoking Day.

70 comments to I just wish Rod Liddle was less careless

  • CountingCats

    I occasionally wonder why a certain type of right-winger is so indulgent towards evil men like Saddam

    I always thought Liddle, despite the soundness of his views on some matters, was something of a leftie. At least he had thar reputation when he was with the BBC.

  • Cynic

    I occasionally wonder why a certain type of right-winger is so indulgent towards evil men like Saddam

    You could also wonder why many right-wingers are/were indulgent towards the Shah of Iran, Augusto Pinochet, Suharto, General Franco, the Saudi and Kuwaiti monarchies, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, and Pervez Musharraf.

  • Kevyn Bodman

    The ‘smoking in pubs’ issue could have been solved simply by letting the landlords have any policy they wanted.
    The*maximum* action needed from the authorities would be the requirement for each pub to display a sign saying whether or not smoking was permmittted in the premises.
    Customers could then make an informed choice and go where they wanted.

    I don’t smoke, but would happily attend a smoke-in and hold a lit cigarrette. But I’d follow the lead set by Hillary’s husband on inhalation.

  • Surellin

    The half-million-dead figure for Iraq would seem to go back to the Lancet article claiming 655,000 dead on very dubious statistical grounds. Here’s an overview:
    http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/reliefresources/116066724942.htm

  • J

    Apologies for the possible thread hijack, but on the topic of smoking…

    I have never been a smoker, but the recent ban has made me think there must be something in it. Cigarettes are clearly vile, and cigars, their bigger cousins, are hardly better. But I suspect pipes might be an altogether different story. They smell nicer, don’t require ashtrays, don’t result in litter on the streets, and give you an excuse to fiddle and faff as much as required. There are however a bewildering array of pipes and accessories, not to mention hundreds of tobaccos.

    If there are any pipe smokers on Samizdata, could they provide me with pointers of how to get into this promising hobby?

  • RAB

    Midwesterner is your man J
    He has given up himself, but is well versed in the sensual art of packing and puffing.

  • Nick M

    Cynic,
    In at least two of the cases in the rogues gallery you list… Possibly because the alternatives: Allende and Khomeini were much, much worse.

    Franco… hmm. Dunno much about him but he would appear to have been a lot less of a bastard than the average fascist. God alone knows what would have happened in Spain if the Republicans had won. I really mean that. They were so factionalised that I’m guessing a second civil war between commies and anarchists or whatever.

    Zia-ul-Haq… Now there was a prize git and no mistake. He allowed the Islamists to build their madrassahs and kicked out the Christian mission schools didn’t he? You can only dance with the devil for so long until he wants to take you to his room…

    Musharref. God knows. I mean what do you do about a problem like Pakistan*? My guess is the State Department and what not treat it like Turkey, an impending theocracy kept in check by a strong military. Pakistan: damned any which way cause it’s either the army or the Red Mosque Posse in charge with nukes.

    The Oil-Ticks… Got me there Cynic. Unmitigated bastards of the first water. Corrupt, venal, Whabbist ass-clowns and I utterly fail to see what percentage any of us have in supporting them. They’ve danced with the devil nd then enthusiastically went to bed with him because he’s overlooking their personal peccadilloes – so far.

    Of course, you can say the same about the left cosying up to the likes of Charvez and Castro and even (at times) Comrade Kim and Mao.

    *The world’s only country who’s officially an acronym. Although Frequently Ran Away Now Cheese Eaters works as a backronym.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I always thought Liddle, despite the soundness of his views on some matters, was something of a leftie. At least he had thar reputation when he was with the BBC.

    He’s a lefty in only the vaguest sense, really; he makes snide remarks about supermarkets and the free market; he is also a bit of an immigrant-basher on the grounds of “they” are taking “our” jobs; he’s what I’d call a nationalist with some anarchic leanings.

    Cynic writes:

    You could also wonder why many right-wingers are/were indulgent towards the Shah of Iran, Augusto Pinochet, Suharto, General Franco, the Saudi and Kuwaiti monarchies, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, and Pervez Musharraf.

    They regarded these thugs as lesser evils given the likely alternatives. And of course they rarely visited these countries or lived there, so they took a rose-tinted view of the likes of Franco, etc, rather like the left were indulgent towards Castro.

  • Anomenat

    J,

    Pipe smoking is indeed an excellent hobby. Statistically, pipe smokers actually live longer than non-smokers. (Well, according to the single study on this topic of which I am aware.) If there’s anything to that claim at all, I suspect it’s because pipe smokers are generally sensible, relaxed people.

    I am not a fan of cigarettes, they smell foul and only the best and most expensive of them are palatable. Some cigars can be nice but neither can compete with a good pipe.

    More than you need to know can be found here: alt.smokers.pipe FAQ

  • Frederick Davies

    “They were so factionalised that I’m guessing a second civil war between commies and anarchists or whatever.”

    What do you mean “a second civil war”? Those idiots did start shooting at each other in Barcelona during the May 1937 riots (400+ dead); they did not wait for the “first” Civil War to conclude before trying to start another one.

  • It was nice to see a piece against the smoking ban. It is having a real economic impact on many pubs/clubs/bingo halls.

  • Nick M

    Frederick…

    Well I did hint that The Spanish Civil War was not my strongest historical suit. You don’t surprise me, though. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the Popular Front of Judea…

  • Johnathan Pearce

    mark, a friend of mine owns a bingo hall; takings are seriously down.

  • Sigivald

    He’s also playing fast and loose with his moral judgment.

    Even if we grant him, Lancet-style, 500,000 “excess deaths”, there’s the question of how they’re all “murder” – I could see calling the ones killed by enemy action murder, but it’s odd to blame the people trying to stop that, for it.

    I could even comprehend – though vehemently disagree with – calling those people killed by our side by mistake or accident “murdered”.

    But the number of people actually murdered by the Coalition forces is very small, and those responsible tend to end up doing hard labor in Leavenworth’s fine military prison (or the British equivalent).

    (Otherwise we’re left with the conundrum of why it was right to “effect or facilitate” the “murder” of all those Frenchmen in 1944.)

  • Paul Marks

    Yes it was “the Lancet” – i.e. it was George Soros, the man who funds these lying “studies”.

    Although we must not forget Peter Lewis, Marc Cuban and the rest of the super rich leftists (all in the tradition of Dr Hammer).

    As for Cynic.

    As normal – some of what you say is true and some is not, and all of it is too quick.

    The Shah was hopeless – he nationalized everything in sight and spent money as if the world was about to end. His regulations (price controls and the like) destroyed the support of merchants and shopkeepers – and his “land reform” (and the rest of the “White Revolution”) destroyed the traditional land owners.

    No doubt it was mostly on the advice of American and other Western advisers – but to call them “rightwingers” is demented.

  • Paul Marks

    The House of Saud.

    This Wahabbi group was helped to power by St John “Jack” Philby. Against the orders of London – who supported the Hashamites (the traditional rulers of Mecca and later Kings of Iraq and Jordan). Philby even went so far as to betray his hosts by giving details of their defences to the House of Saud.

    However “Jack” Philby was about as much a “rightwinger” as his son Kim Philby.

    He was a dedicated socialist (even after his conversion to Islam) and spent his last years in Lebanon (having been kicked out of Saudi Arabia on the grounds he was too disgusting even for the people he had helped bring to power) plotting against Britain and supporting Nasser.

    Yes I sometimes wonder why first “Jack” and then Kim were given senior positions in British intelligence – I suppose it all depended (in those days) on what school and university you went to. Although they both had (I am told) lots of personal charm.

  • Paul Marks

    Suharto – a ruler of three parts.

    Part one.

    The Communists in Indonesia plot (with the semi cooperation of the then ruler) to take over the country – they make no secret of the fact that will collectivise everything – i.e. that they will kill tens of millions (just like their pal Mao was doing in China at the time).

    The manage to kill a few Generals (and so on) but Suharto escapes and calls out the army.

    He also tells the ordinary people of the Communists plans for their farms, shops and so on.

    The army kills a lot of Communists – but the ordinary people kill far more (many thousands), mostly by cutting them to bits.

    Part Two.

    Suharto takes advantage of the departure of the Portugese from East Timor (the end of the Portugese Empire in Africa and Asia was hardly the work of “right wingers” Cynic) and the civil war in the area to take over the place.

    The Indonesian army and the the ordinary people who settle their kill and kill and kill and (well you get the picrture).

    The tolerance of all this is indeed quite disgusting – the old Dutch Imperial Power understood the local tendancy to “run amok” but I doubt people like President Ford were told about it.

    Part Three.

    Suharto gets interested in Islam.

    His father had been a strict Muslim but Suharto had always been quite tolerant in religious matters himself. This changes after he goes off to Mecca – although his new found religion does not prevent him stealing lots of money.

    Still overall he was so much of a statist as the previous President of Indonesia – Sukarno (who was real toss pot).

    Still Suhart in his last years did let the Saudis fund lots of religious schools and stuff in Indonesia.

  • Paul Marks

    Nick M.

    No it was not President Zia who closed down the Christian mission schools in Pakistan – it was Mr Bhutto.

    Although he did wait till after his own children had been educated by them.

    Sorry for taking up so much space – but Cynic does have a habit of tossing out stuff (names and so on) almost at random without bothering with an examination of stuff.

    Even now I have missed out Franco and so on.

    But I am bored of writing about all this.

  • Paul Marks

    Although I should point out that Saddam (and the Baath party in general) was socialist.

    What right wingers were indulgent towards him?

    Well I suppose people like me who suspected that if he went he might just be replaced by some other toss pot.

    Like all the rulers of Iraq since 1958.

    Not that it was perfect even before 1958 – for example the massacre of the Assyrian Christians in 1933.

  • Nick M

    Paul,
    Sorry for the Zia-ul-Huq misunderstanding.

    Wow! I never knew that about Jack Philby. That family really were a piece of work.

  • Johnathan

    Liddle is an entertaining writer with many sound views. You must excuse his occasional mishaps.

  • Diogenes

    It should be remembered that Rod Liddle is, to my knowledge, the only prominent BBC employee ever to be sacked for holding overtly left wing views.

    The BBC staffers must wet themselves with laughter when they read his work.

  • Cynic

    I think Pinochet would have pulled off his coup and Suharto would have gone on a killing spree even if America hadn’t supported them. Still, it seems highly distasteful that the CIA backed both of them. If they really had to be highly oppressive, it just seems to me that the US should at least not got involved. It just tarnishes America’s reputation. I’m not saying that the CIA should have acted on behalf of Allende or to overthrow Suharto, just that they should not have acted in favour of either. I know the communists were wicked, but I’d question whether it was wise supporting so many thugs merely because they were anti-communist. Supporting the Pakistanis in the 80s and the Afghan Mujiheeden would be other good examples. And the contras. Some people in the US saw them as ‘freedom fighters’. Obviously, the socialist regime in Nicaragua was bad, but come on. The contras were pretty much thugs. Good for killing communists, but hardly Nicaragua’s Thomas Jefferson’s. I don’t think it was worth selling arms to Iran to fund the Contras either.

    Saudis/Kuwaitis- I wasn’t talking about how the British government set up the monarchies up there (obviously not one of Britain’s finest achievements, it must be said). I was referring to how slavish recent US governments, including right-wing governments, have been to them. The First Gulf war for example was fought mostly on behalf of them for example. America have sold both a lot of weapons recently too. Bush recently begged the Saudis to increase oil output, yet they are talking about reducing oil output. So god knows what America really gets out of this slavish relationship. I’ve heard conservatives say to me that we couldn’t allow Saddam take over Kuwaiti and Saudi oil. Well, that would not have been ideal. But bear in mind that the Kuwaiti/Saudi oil industries are mostly state controlled. Should have we really gave a damn?

  • Cynic

    I think Pinochet would have pulled off his coup and Suharto would have gone on a killing spree even if America hadn’t supported them. Still, it seems highly distasteful that the CIA backed both of them. If they really had to be highly oppressive, it just seems to me that the US should at least not got involved. It just tarnishes America’s reputation. I’m not saying that the CIA should have acted on behalf of Allende or to overthrow Suharto, just that they should not have acted in favour of either. I know the communists were wicked, but I’d question whether it was wise supporting so many thugs merely because they were anti-communist. Supporting the Pakistanis in the 80s and the Afghan Mujiheeden would be other good examples. And the contras. Some people in the US saw them as ‘freedom fighters’. Obviously, the socialist regime in Nicaragua was bad, but come on. The contras were pretty much thugs. Good for killing communists, but hardly Nicaragua’s Thomas Jefferson’s. I don’t think it was wise selling arms to Iran to fund the Contras either.

    Saudis/Kuwaitis- I wasn’t talking about how the British government set up the monarchies up there (obviously not one of Britain’s finest achievements, it must be said). I was referring to how slavish recent US governments, including right-wing governments, have been to them. The First Gulf war for example was fought mostly on behalf of them for example. America have sold both a lot of weapons recently too. Bush recently begged the Saudis to increase oil output, yet they are talking about reducing oil output. So god knows what America really gets out of this slavish relationship. I’ve heard conservatives say to me that we couldn’t allow Saddam take over Kuwaiti and Saudi oil. Well, that would not have been ideal. But bear in mind that the Kuwaiti/Saudi oil industries are mostly state controlled. Should have we really have given a damn?

  • Paul Marks

    “I do not want to back such and such people because they are bad” (or words to that effect).

    For example, the Contras were not like Thomas Jefferson – errr no they were not slave owners and they did not take any Indian land.

    Still they were not wonderful – “the cement industry must remain under public ownership” and other crap was what I heard from high people in the F.D.N.

    As for the general policy of not backing bad people – well sure Cynic.

    Just like the film “The Candidate” you can be as moral as you like, indeed I will give you a written guarentee to that effect.

    You know what the two words written on that guarentee say.

    “You lose”.

  • Paul Marks

    The stuff about Thomas Jefferson was not a cheap shot.

    If you exclude the slave owners (like Jefferson, Washington, Patrick Henry, Geoge Mason,…..) and the drivers back of the Indians (such as the men who beat the American Tory troops at the Battle of Kings Mountain) there is not much left of the American independence movement.

    There are some nice people in the American movement for independence (Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, John Adams….) but not enough to win any war. The men who won at Kings Mountain had nothing fluffy about them (for example they killed prisoners when they had a mind to) – for example I would not be surprised to learn that their shaving straps were made of the same material that the shaving straps of Andrew Jackson’s men were made of a bit later in time.

    Just as there were nice fluffy people in China in the 1940′s – but enough to beat the Communists.

    When Chang went into Manchuria in 1946 he should have been supported – not stopped with threats of an aid cut off.

    “But Chang was a bad man who murdered people”.

    Yes, he was in politics.

    However, he was not the greatest mass murderer of all time – Mao.

  • Cynic

    The easiest way to have prevented China from going Communist would have been to let the Japs keep the goddamn fucking place. Simple as. The Japs, all in all, would have made a better job of it than the Chiang too. If you think it is fine supporting savages merely because they are anti-communist, I don’t see why you’d object to the Japs, especially since they were superior warriors to the Chinese nationalists, and there would have been no risk of turncoats going over to the commies.

    Another easy thing to have done would have been not to send weapons to Mao Zedong during the war. Or the USSR for that matter.

  • We should be grateful that there is such a creature as a recovering BBC staffer.

  • carol42

    On the last smoking night in Ireland Richard Littlejohn asked why there could not be smoking and non smoking pubs. He got an honest answer – the smoking pubs would take all the business. I still fail to see by what right any Government has to interfere in the running of a private business, especially private members clubs. That was not what was in their manifesto but, as usual, that counts for nothing.

  • James Waterton

    let the Japs keep the goddamn fucking place.

    Except that Japan only ever held patches of China, and would never have been able to digest it all – especially considering they were simultaneously attacking the USA and her allies, who would’ve inevitably defeated Japan in pretty much any scenario you care to mention. A defeated and weakened postwar Japan administering a landmass of the size and complexity of China is an impossibility. “Leaving China to the Japanese” is a preposterous historical counterfactual.

  • Freddy

    On Liddle and numbers :
    “… 30,000 deaths per year through [medical] negligence or incompetence …”

    Does anyone have any reliable source for this figure ?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The easiest way to have prevented China from going Communist would have been to let the Japs keep the goddamn fucking place. Simple as.

    “Simple as”. I think we have now more or less rumbled you, Cynic. You respect the use of brute power: you have gamely gone into bat for Vladimir Putin and now reckon that the “Japs” should have been able to keep hold of their ill-gotten gains in China, nicely overlooking such charming episodes like the Rape of Nanking. The next time I read any remark by you about the supposed evils of Bush’s overthrow of Saddam, I’ll bear your defence of that Japanese aggression in mind. At least isolationist libertarians oppose all forms of initiation of force; you seem to endorse a sort of “might is right” principle just as long as it does not involve neocons.

  • Cynic

    My point was that if you think beating communism justified supporting maniacs like Chiang, or the Contras, Suharto, or Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, then why the hell not then Imperial Japan?

    Talking of ill-gotten gains, the French control of Indochina was clearly an imperialist ill gotten gain, yet America ended up bankrolling the French in Indochina against the Vietnamese communists. If you have no problem with the French keeping their colonial ill gotten gains to keep out communism, then I fail to see why you would object to the Japs keeping hold of China in the name of keeping out Reds.

  • Cynic

    nicely overlooking such charming episodes like the Rape of Nanking

    Obviously that was horrendous. But the West sided with Stalinist Russia. Stalin was overall probably worse than Hitler, let alone the Japs. We conveniently overlooked Stalin’s massacres, gulags, annexations, and so on. We overlooked it to such an extent that we all thought of him as cuddly old Uncle Joe!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Talking of ill-gotten gains, the French control of Indochina was clearly an imperialist ill gotten gain, yet America ended up bankrolling the French in Indochina against the Vietnamese communists. If you have no problem with the French keeping their colonial ill gotten gains to keep out communism, then I fail to see why you would object to the Japs keeping hold of China in the name of keeping out Reds.

    Stop putting words in people’s mouths: a dishonest debating trick. I have said nothing about France and Indochina; for what it is worth, I oppose such things, just as I oppose invasion of other people’s countries without just cause. You ought to know, of course, that Japan conquered China out of a desire to grab Manchuria and its natural resources; it had precious little to do with some sort of red menace; that was a justification that defenders of Japan’s aggression came up with later.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    But the West sided with Stalinist Russia. Stalin was overall probably worse than Hitler, let alone the Japs

    Quite probably true; we can all play the “but we did or supported terrible things in the past” parlour game as a way to somehow demonstrate the wrongness of a policy now.

    Of course, some have argued that we should have sued for peace with Hitler and let him and Stalin fight it out; that does rather involve taking the view, borne out of hindsight, that all would have been for the best in the end. If only Churchill et al had the luxury of looking back.

  • Cynic

    it had precious little to do with some sort of red menace; that was a justification that defenders of Japan’s aggression came up with later.

    A bit like how making Iraq into a democracy came up as a justification after WMD were found to be non-existent?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Cynic, quite probably. Since I did not sign up to the “making Iraq into a democracy”, your point is, well besides the point. I supported – perhaps naively – the idea of removing SD because:
    a, he broke the 1991 ceasefire repeatedly;
    b, thwarted UN weapons inspectors for a decade or more, sowing understandable suspicion as to his motives;
    c, used chemical weapons vs the Kurds;
    d, had a weapons programme of indeterminate size and danger;
    e, Invaded Kuwait and Iran without any probable justification other than desire for conquest;
    f, sheltered terror groups and funded others (giving the lie to the nonsense about him being a “strictly secular” ruler).

    and finallly, because deposing a vicious tyrant is rarely a bad thing to do.

  • Jacob

    Since I did not sign up to the “making Iraq into a democracy”,

    You’d better sign up. It’s not a bad idea. Maybe impossible, like many ideals, but not wrong, not morally wrong, not morally bad.

    Some regime short of full liberal western democracy, but stable and more or less peaceful, not expansionist, and not supporting terrorism, like say the Turkish regime, might be acheivable, and is worth pursuing in Iraq, and everywhere, even if full liberalism is unrealistic.

    This goes also for the other examples of Cynic. Even if Franco, or Pinochet (for example) were not entirely “western, liberal democrats”, their regimes were far, FAR, better than the alternatives, and were worth supporting.

    Some libertarians have a tendency to go to ideological extremes, and declare that if something is not 100% right by libertarian, ideal, standards, then it is 100% wrong. In real life you only have grey levels. Some things, though not white, are less black than others.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Some libertarians have a tendency to go to ideological extremes, and declare that if something is not 100% right by libertarian, ideal, standards, then it is 100% wrong. In real life you only have grey levels. Some things, though not white, are less black than others.

    Yeah, I have this naive dislike of regimes that use torture, house arrest, and so on. It’s a sort of ingrained thing of mine.

  • Gabriel

    Cynic has really hit the gutter this time

    It’s time to stop acting like Lew Rockell type Liberarianism is some slightly embarrassing eccentricity and recognise it for what is is: a sick, evil ideology whose adherents will either have to end up abandoning whatever high minded motives got them into it in the first place or become sick and evil themselves. A bit like Bolshevism really, but with a bit more pathos.

  • Gabriel

    At least isolationist libertarians oppose all forms of initiation of force; you seem to endorse a sort of “might is right” principle just as long as it does not involve neocons.

    It’s hardly unprecedented. You should read Cobden’s early pamphlet Russia, or, indeed, Rothbard on “the greatest force for peace in the world”.
    Pacifists usually have a hard-on for the really bad guys and thats not just the pacifists on the Left.

  • Yeah, I have this naive dislike of regimes that use torture, house arrest, and so on. It’s a sort of ingrained thing of mine.

    Therefore you would prefer, practically, regimes that use even much more “torture, house arrest, and so on.”…

    We covered this debate a few weeks ago, when I lamented that some people don’t make distinctions between a softcore lefty nanny state that imposes house insulation regulations, and a totalitarian regime that kills people.

  • Gabriel,

    It’s time to stop acting like Lew Rockwell type Libertarianism is some slightly embarrassing eccentricity and recognize it for what is is: a sick, evil ideology

    I don’t think they are evil, just terribly ignorant.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Therefore you would prefer, practically, regimes that use even much more “torture, house arrest, and so on.”…

    Don’t be daft; I think it is neither extreme nor utopian to argue why we have to back dictatorships in order to prevent something even nastier; it is a mug”s game, frankly. with hindsight, one might argue that the citizens of Spain were “better off” under Franco than the alternatives, but that comes with a measure of hindsight.

  • Paul Marks

    So now Chang (first of mainland China and later of Taiwan till 1975) was no better than Imperial Japan in China.

    It is not that Cynic admires the Rape of Nanking or anything like that – it is just that he is a convinced Rothbardian.

    So any American intervention must BY DEFINITION be wrong – so one adjusts the facts to fit the theory.

    Opposing Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany MUST be wrong (because it is an intervention).

    Ditto opposing the Communists around the world after World War II.

  • Paul Marks

    As for WMD in Iraq:

    There had been plenty in the past – and Saddam intended their to be plenty again.

    Even assuming their were no WMD in Iraq on a particular day (rather than Saddam just sending gas shells and so on into Syria) it would be bit odd to wait to attack till AFTER Saddam built up his forces again.

    Remember sanctions were collapsing – “X hundred thousand people have died because of sanctions” (the same X hundred thousand who died again when the West went into Iraq), so the argument was that containment was breaking down.

    I still think there were ways to make containment hold.

    But then, as a convinced Rothbardian, you are not in favour of containment either are you Cynic.

    If Saddam had wanted to take over the whole of Arabia well that is O.K. – after all the governments have already nationalized the oil industry.

    Too harsh?

    Not at all – see Cynic’s previous comment.

  • Cynic

    Actually, I would have supported an American attack against Iraq in 1987, to avenge the USS Stark attack. As that was an unprovoked attack by Iraq on an American naval vessel , that seems to me to have been a far better justification for an em>American war against Iraq than to either restore the Kuwaiti monarchy and protect the Wahhabists in Saudi Arabia, or to go after phantom WMDs or uphold pathetic UN resolutions (who gives a fuck about the UN anyway? The UN should be abolished!). I fail to see how many conservatives, who are terrified of Iran, can ever have objected to Saddam Hussein invading Iran, and for them to justify the current war on the grounds that Hussein invaded a country we actually also see as enemies is completely bizarre.

    America though never went to war to avenge the Stark. America would go to war to restore the Kuwaiti monarchy to protect the good name of the scumbag bureaucrats of the United Nations, yet it would not do so to avenge its fallen sailors. The US government obviously valued one Kuwaiti monarch more than it did 37 of its own sailors.

    And before anybody notes, I think America was right to declare war on Japan over Pearl Harbour. My point over Japan and China merely was that Japanese occupation of East China, despite its brutalities, kept the Communists from getting near to power, and since the Nationalists were disorganised, corrupt, and incredibly stupid (and even had the West bankrolled the Nationalists after the war, they probably would have pissed the aid way the same way South Vietnam did), eliminating the Japanese presence in China eliminated the only really effective barrier against communism in China, bar sending Western troops. The latter would of course have left tens of thousands of Western troops dead and could have even caused a war in Europe involving the USSR.

  • Paul Marks

    I agree that the U.N. should be abolished.

    W.M.D.s – see previous comments.

    Japan only barrier against Communism in China – false.

    See the Manchurian offensive of 1946.

    On your previous comment about supporting the French against the Communists.

    To compare the French to Imperial Japan shows a lack of knowledge of the two empires.

    However, at the key time in 1954 the United States decided not to go in to support the French force was besieged. Not going in proved to be an error.

    Although, during World War II, American forces actually saved the life of Uncle Ho – and that was an even worse error.

    Considering he has been an agent of the comintern since the 1920′s.

    War over the Stark.

    That would have been an error.

    By the way what have you got against the Kuwatti monarchy?

    That government is friendly to the West.

    I think what you miss is the basic point that the world does not remain undesturbed if the West does not fight.

    It simply means that powers hostile to the West gain control over the world. For example, the Nazis and Imperal Japan in the 1940′s or the Communists after this time.

    The natural state of the world being conflict – if not formally declared war.

    And the main power of the West today is the United States.

    So if the United States does not fight the West, including the United States, loses.

    Of course even if you choose to ignore the rest of the World the United States was created by a series of wars.

    Against Britain (and that portion of Americans who remained loyal to the Crown) and against the Indian tribes. And against those States that wished to leave the Union.

    And, of course, against Mexico.

    Without many wars the United States would never have come into existance, and without at later war it would have ended.

    Of course the Mexicans have never accepted the results of the wars of 1836 (against Texas) and 1848 (against the United States) which is one of the reasons that many people are uncomfortable with hispanic immigration.

    It is not just disguised racialism.

  • Cynic

    If Saddam had wanted to take over the whole of Arabia well that is O.K. – after all the governments have already nationalized the oil industry.

    Many of those Gulf monarchies are pretty damn rich, and the idea that they couldn’t afford to build up proper armed forces to defend themselves from Iraq and now Iran seems laughable to me. They have gaudy entitlement states for fucks sake.

    I’m used to being called an anti-Semite on groundless reasons, but I would say that the US hardly helps Israel by propping up and selling arms to regimes that mostly don’t recognise Israel, and have been to war with Israel in the past.

  • Paul Marks

    The nations of Arabia (such as Saudi Arabia) would get arms whether the United States sold them or not. Although they lack the high populations to man great armies.

    Of course they also lack a certain military culture – but then one of the good things about the House of Saud is that it has fallen from its Wahabbi ideals and is rather corrupt.

    Sad to say that corruption is a good thing – but in this context softness and luxury are good things.

    And, of course, the main enemies of Israel are NOT armed by the United States.

    This includes Saddam – for all the B.S. in the media.

    As you know Saddam’s weapons were not American.

    On Israel – the “propping up” is out of date.

    The Israeli has been reformed in recent years.

  • Cynic

    By the way what have you got against the Kuwatti monarchy?

    That government is friendly to the West.

    So is Saudi Arabia. So is Pakistan. Whoopie!

    The Kuwaitis bankrolled Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war anyway. And the oil industry is state controlled. People are right to criticise how Russia’s government dominates its energy sector (although most of the countries Russia extorts over oil/gas have nationalised energy industries too). Nobody however criticises Kuwait or Saudi Arabia for having oil socialism. It can’t just be a coincidence that they are our SOBs.

  • Paul Marks

    That should have been “the Israeli economy has been reformed in recent years”.

    Off hand I can think of only one nation which is still inhabited by its origninal people without conquest.

    Iceland.

    True the Norse and Irish people who went there (the Irish at first as slaves) found a few Irish monks already there – but the land was almost all empty.

    And the (I think mistaken) judgment to invite the rule of the King of Norway (some centuries later) was a judgment of the Icelandic people.

    Then Iceland went to Denmark – again without conquest.

    So it is not true to say that Murry Rothbard’s ideas (for example that land is only justly owned if it was never taken by violence) do not apply anywhere – I think they apply in Iceland.

    And more recently than he might have thought – for example one does not have to go back to the old Icelandic Republic for some libertarian things.

    Only a century ago there were virtually no government schools in Iceland – yet almost everyone could read and write.

  • Paul Marks

    Before someone points it out, I know that Iceland was attacked from time to time – for example by Islamic raiders.

    But there is a difference between being attacked and conquest.

    Although it is true that Iceland has been protected by stronger nations.

    For example, in World War II by Britain and the United States.

  • Paul Marks

    Actually the position with Kuwait is rather better than with Pakistan and so on.

    It has always been so.

    Most ordinary people there (although not all) understand that they need the West.

    Back in 1962 the welcomed British troops to ward off another Iraqi threat.

    And if Iraqi did not exist there would be the threat of Iran – which is why they payed Saddam in the 1980′s.

    The Gulf countries had to ward off Iran somehow – and the British troops were pulled out of the area in the late 1960′s.

    “They should defend themselves”.

    They can not.

    If great powers do not protect them other powers will eat them up.

    That is true for most of the world.

    And the United States can not survive if all the world is in the hands of its enemies.

    “We will fight them when they invade the United States” just will not work.

    It may have worked when the British Empire acted as unofficial shield – but the British Empire does not exist anymore.

    Allow the world to fall into the hands of your enemies and you will find that the world includes you.

  • Cynic

    “They should defend themselves”.

    They can not.

    If great powers do not protect them other powers will eat them up.

    Why don’t the Gulf States pool their resources then, and form an Arab kind of Nato? If they have a manpower shortage, get more immigrants. They already have millions of them doing all the proper work in most of those countries anyway for fucks sake.

    War over the Stark.

    That would have been an error.

    So 37 US sailors dead less important than the #the Kuwaiti monarch having to flee his palaces?

  • Cynic

    It has always been so.

    Most ordinary people there (although not all) understand that they need the West.

    Really? (Link)

  • Cynic

    The NY Times ran this (Link)story the same year too.

    I quote (all emphasis mine):

    Muhammad al-Mulaifi, head of the information department at Kuwait’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, tried momentarily to suppress a smile, then broke into a broad grin when asked if he supported the terrorist attacks on the United States last year.

    ”I would be lying if said I wasn’t happy about the attack,” he said, sitting on the floor of his air-conditioned home office, a carpeted, cushioned oasis amid the harsh heat of this small, dry country. Mr. Mulaifi said that many Kuwaitis were delighted about what had happened to the United States and that he had attended parties held in celebration.

    ”Only then did we see America suffer for a few seconds what Muslims have been suffering for a long time,” he said.

    Would probably mean shit if this was just some bum, but that guy sounded pretty high up in the Kuwaiti bureaucracy. The guy probably wouldn’t have his job unless America had gone into Kuwait in 1991. Yet he sounded really grateful!

  • Johnathan,

    one might argue that the citizens of Spain were “better off” under Franco than the alternatives, but that comes with a measure of hindsight.

    In 1936 communism was not new and no enigma. In Russia they already murdered several million people, had gulags, nationalized everything, closed the borders, etc. It wasn’t hindsight even in 1936 to point to what Franco was saving the Spaniards from. And his regime was far from being the monstrous regime that the leftist press depicted.

  • Cynic,
    It seems you are unable to grasp, that, for example: though Kuwait’s is not a “nice” regime – those who wish to swallow Kuwait are even more “not nice”, and it is in America’s and the West’s interest to prevent that swallowing.
    Kuwait is protected not for it’s being “nice” but in order to keep the oil supply from being concentrated in few hands.
    Besides, Kuwait’s regime is better than that of most of it’s neighbors, and though it doesn’t live up to your lofty ideals, it is pretty good by local standards.

  • Cynic

    Well I really appreciate that British taxpayers money was spent to ‘liberate’ Kuwait so that Kuwaitis could hold their 9/11 celebration parties 10 years later.

    What a fucking WASTE.

  • At least isolationist libertarians oppose all forms of initiation of force; you seem to endorse a sort of “might is right” principle just as long as it does not involve neocons.

    It’s hardly unprecedented. You should read Cobden’s early pamphlet Russia, or, indeed, Rothbard on “the greatest force for peace in the world”. Pacifists usually have a hard-on for the really bad guys and thats not just the pacifists on the Left.
    Posted by Gabriel at February 1, 2008 02:23 PM

    Are we talking about pacifists or Libertarians? Although consistent pacifists would qualify as Libertarians (since we Libertarians oppose the initiation of force and pacifists oppose all use of force, which implies opposition to it’s initiation), there is a big difference.

    The continua is something like this:

    NeoCon:
    This guy says mean things, and I think someday he might buy a gun, so I’m going to kill him today, while he’s still unarmed. Then I’m going to move into his family’s house, and teach them to live the way they should live, and kill any of his relatives who object.

    Libertarian:
    If attacked, I will use deadly and overwhelming force to defend myself. I will not, however, turn my victory into an excuse to enter into the losing proposition of trying to civilize the guy’s family at great expense and with no possible gain to me. I’ll just kill him and go home.

    Pacifist:
    If attacked, I will die.

    These are very different philosophies. One is based on imposing your will on others, one is based on preventing others from imposing their will on you, and the third is based on …. uhhh …. a death wish?

    Of course, it’s not immoral per se which makes it in some ways better than the first option, but I prefer the second option … don’t look for trouble, but if it finds you, deal with it forcefully, and overwhelmingly and move on.

  • spidly

    That was Leonard Peikoff’s view after 9/11 – Nuke them all and be done with it….. I’m fairly certain he wanted preemptive nuking though (Iran, Iraq, etc…) whereas Rummy only wanted to use an assload of conventional weapons and move on

  • spidly

    Cynic, the “nonexistent WMD” thing just does not fly. They existed but were not found in the quantities expected, other banned weaponry was found, and Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear capability in the very reasonable expectation that sanctions would be lifted within a year or so. yes they were seeking yellowcake. Not that any of this got major coverage as the Bush Lied People Died meme was so prevalent that anything short of Tesla’s mythical planet killing superweapon found on the countdown would break it…..on the coundown very close to zero or it’d be “see, we had 20 minutes left! we rushed to war!”

  • Paul Marks

    Rich Paul.

    If you wait till your country is attacked you lose. The balance of power is a globel thing.

    Cynic.

    Good point about the 37% – I did not know it was that bad.

    Still an old family friend (long dead now) would not have been surprised.

    “You can be friends with a Arab for years, but you must remember he can turn on you at any time”.

    Cynical (no pun intended), but such is life.

    Are the lives of 37 sailors not more important than the balance of power.

    No they are less important.

    “You would not tell their loved ones that”.

    Yes I would.

  • Paul Marks

    An Arabian NAT0 – the idea of Cynic.

    There already is something like this – the Gulf Cooperation Council.

    Against a nation with the population of Iran it would not stand a chance.

    Although, I admit, there is also the point of the decadance of many (not all) Gulf monarchies.

    But I do not want the House of Saud (for example) to stop being luxury loving.

    The last thing I want is for them to return to their roots.

  • Gabriel

    I don’t think they are evil, just terribly ignorant.

    But when they are presented with information they have two choices:

    a) abandon their ideology in recognition that it leads to disastrous results

    b) stick to their idelogy and somehow try to justify said results.

    If they take option (b) they become evil.

  • Rich Paul.

    If you wait till your country is attacked you lose. The balance of power is a globel thing.

    So I’m curious. Should we have exercised our “right” to first strike against the Soviet Union as soon as WWII ended, or should we have waited for the Cuban Missile Crisis?

  • If you wait till your country is attacked you lose. The balance of power is a global thing.

    The quote above was corrected for spelling

    In WWII, we waited to be attacked. I think we won. That’s what American history books say, at least. Would you disagree?

    In the cold war, we waited to be attacked. I think we won. Would you disagree?

    In Vietnam, we did not wait to be attacked. I think we lost. Would you disagree?

    In Korea, we did not wait to be attacked. We stalemated. Even if, by some unknown criteria, we are said to have “won” the war, the bottom line is that Americans died, and all we gained was the “privilege” or providing military welfare to the Koreans for two generations now. So even if you want to call it a “win”, it was a net loss for the country. I think that’s called a Pyhrric victory.

    So please describe the data from which you have drawn the inference that “if you wait to be attacked you lose”. It seems somewhat more complex then that.

  • Paul Marks

    Rich Paul – you have discovered that I am a bad spelling and typist, how cziveu=e of you.

    Would I have supported allowing the Soviets to take over Eastern Europe after World War II (indeed giving them Prague – which they did not even get to first) – errrr no.

    Would I have supported allowing the Soviets to develop nukes – errrr no.

    One miscalculation in the Cold War and tens of millions of people would have been killed.

    “But surely you would not have supported nuking their bases” – if need be yes.

    It turned out alright not to do so – but that was not a risk that it was responsible to take. It meant the world living under a nuke threat for decades (and with China and Russia still in hostile hands there is still a danger – and danger that could have been avoided).

    As for China – Chang should have been supported in the 1946 Manchuria offensive, not threatened with an aid cut off.

    This would have saved more than 50 million lives – and prevented the C.P. of the People’s Republic of China buiding nukes for missiles pointed at a city near you (because there would not be a P.R.C.).

    “What is your data that allowing an enemy to take over the world undermines the defence of your own country” or words to that exzect.

    A stupid question.

    “How do you that allowing the enemy to attack first puts your side at massive disadvantage in a war”.

    Errr the vast majority (although not alll) the wars in human history.