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He looks so lonely

Glenn Reynolds also links to an item on John Kerry’s trip to visit the troops in Iraq. It seems his presence has not been well received. I particularly like the photo of him breakfasting alone whilst the troops chatter away at other tables.

Just could not happen to a nicer guy, eh wot?

41 comments to He looks so lonely

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so Dale.

    I hated the lie John Kerry told about the “joke” – it was clearly not about President Bush.

    “If you do not get an education you will get stuck in Iraq” can hardly apply to someone with qualifications from both Yale and Harvard.

    Senator Kerry was assuming that the only people who joined the army and went to Iraq were those who could not get any other job – due to a lack of education.

    It is the sort of thing that “liberals” say all the time – Senator Kerry just got caught saying it and then tried to lie his way out.

  • Perry E. Metzger

    If George Bush had not become President, three thousand or so soldiers who did nothing worse than foolishly believing in their leaders would be alive today, and tens of thousands of them would not be permanently crippled, and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis would be alive.

    I realize some Samizdata contributors, unaccountably, are willing to believe that the state can manage to fix a foreign country by force when it can’t manage to keep roads in decent repair, but I’m not a person who suffers from this sort of cognitive dissonance. The same state that can’t plan the local economy can’t plan a foreign economy, either. The same state that can’t keep crime down at home is not going to magically do better overseas.

    I’m no fan of John Kerry, but at least he was not the man who sent so many honest soldiers to their deaths in the furtherance of the idea of central planning. He was not the man who claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that were not there. He was not the man who so completely bungled the management of an occupied country, either.

    Shame on any person who calls themselves “libertarian” and supports the Bush administration. Shame on any person who believes in free markets and fiscal responsibility and supports a protectionist administration that has spent money like a pack of drunken sailors in a whorehouse. Shame on any person who claims they support liberal western values and supports an administration run by narrow minded theocrats who would like nothing more than to ban the teaching of evolution in schools. Shame on any person who claims that they would like to help the Iraqi people and who supports the mismanagement this pack of incompetents has sent them.

  • Dale Amon

    A very good example of argument by applying a package deal. It does so happen that I have wished to see Saddam dead for a very long time. The fact that Mr. Bush has been the one to bring that about is simply one positive stroke amongst others which are rather negative.

    As to WMD, did anyone honestly not believe he had them prior to 2000? Does anyone believe that had the Axis of Weasel’s succeeded and the Northern and Southern Watch been discontinued that he would not have them now?

    I await his end at the end of a good stout rope with a certain glee and intend upon toasting his demise with a good pint of Guinness.

    So whether someone ‘decides’ I am not libertarian and too impure for some imagined godhead… well, frankly I don’t give a damn.

  • and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis would be alive.

    And living under a mass murderous tyranny… talk about cognitive dissonance. Moreover supporting the ouster of Saddam does not therefore require you to support Bush or Blair on any other issue, so that conflation exists entirely in your head. Opposing something they do which is correct just because most of what they do is incorrect is a mark of fanaticism, not rationality.

    I do not expect the US or UK governments to plan the Iraqi (or US or UK) economies, I would just rather my tax money got spent on overthrowing dictators than got spent at home fucking up the society I live in (which at least did not have anything like Saddam and his psycho sons to worry about). The one real use and justification I see for states is dropping bombs on the obvious bad guys (and certainly not running economies).

  • Perry E. Metzger

    Dale: You claim that “everyone” thought that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. I stated, in public, before the war, that I thought that the US would find no WMDs in Iraq. I stated that based on the fact that UN inspectors who appeared to be expert on the subject did not believe that there were any there. Furthermore, the internal reports of the Central Intelligence Agency appear to have been much less certain about Saddam’s weapons than the White House was. The re-writing of history since then has been amusing. We have been told “everyone” thought there were weapons, and “anyone” would have made the same mistake.

    Perry de Haviland: Shame on you. Yes, those hundreds of thousands of dead people would have been alive in a pitiless tyranny, but none the less they would have been alive. With life there is always hope — at the very least there is always the chance of slipping over the border to somewhere else. Now, they are dead. Will you honestly tell me they are better off dead than they would be living in a tyranny?

    Yes, in an ideal world, with the aid of a magic wand, the state could simply bloodlessly wish away foreign tyrants, to the benefit of all. However, in the world of magic, the state could also wish into existence functioning public housing, national health care, microintervention into business, etc.

    We do not live in the world of magic. We live in the real world. We must not examine the results of pubic policy based on our intent, but on the basis of results. Sure, the world’s statists all intend great things with protectionism, central planning, labor regulation, etc. — but we do not commend their proposals for their intent, rather we condemn their proposals for their results. Similarly, a rational person does not examine the intent of the Iraq war. The intent was just fine. We must examine based on the results.

    There is never so bad a situation that state intervention cannot make it worse. Iraq started as a tyranny run by a murderous thug. One would have imagined that nothing could have made that worse, but the legions of planners have shown us that our imaginations were defective — in a few short years, we turned one of the most repressed nations in the world into such an abatoir, into such an unrelenting orgy of death, that even the rule of a murderous dictator looks good by comparison.

    I am not surprised that many people who have not studied the state do not understand this. Many people do not understand that the state’s incompetence is not an accident but rather the result of inexorable economic pressures. However, to people such as the contributors to Samizdata, people who supposedly understand public choice economic theory, such confusion of intent with what is achievable in the real world, such confusion of desire and results, is inexcusable. Shame on all of you.

    You claim, Perry, that this was not about supporting the administration, but clearly the original posting taking delight in John Kerry’s humiliation was quite sympathetic to the current crew. Why else mention the activities of a (currently) minor Senator? I do not love John Kerry. The man would have been a horrible president — but instead we got a president who was even worse. I’ll take awful over even more awful if that’s all the choice I have. To quote a famous former member of the administration who I had dinner with a few months ago, the administration “has dug the hole so deep, we won’t be seeing sunlight again in our lifetimes”. We will be paying for this stupidity for decades to come.

  • ResidentAlien

    Drunken sailors usually spend their own money in whorehouses. This makes them superior to governments, who spend somebody else’s.

  • Dale Amon

    Hmmm.. In case you never noticed, this particular moron recently made insulting remarks about those who volunteer for the military. He is also the one who during Vietnam called his fellow soldiers war criminals and gave forth his hate speech in Congressional testimony. Then he later tried to put him self across as a ‘war hero’, hoping everyone had forgotten his fortuneately recorded public statements.

    I loath the man and, like John McCain (McCain-Feingold), would vote for him to be a cesspool cleaner because I feel that is where people like that belong.

    I would have voted for a guy with red horns and a forked tail before I’d have voted for Kerry, and I will vote for just about anyone the Democrats throw up (with a few exceptions like Kerry, Feingold, and a few other horses asses) in which case I will work harder than ever on just getting off the planet.

    As to WMD… oh, come on now. I was posting about those in other forums going back to the 80’s. Saddam would do absolutely anything to win and to crush opposition and above all to stay in power.

    By the same logic I suppose the Vietnamese should have left the Cambodians alone with the Khmer Rouge; or Europe with the Germans… or perhaps Russia is better off today for the fact that no-one succeeded in offing Stalin and his hell on Earth.

    Some people just need a killin’, and there are an awful lot of them in the Middle East right now.

    I’ll leave this to our commentariat… it is getting towards midnight here.

  • Gabriel

    Various figures were thrown around for the amount of Iraqis dying as a direct consequence od sanctions – somtimes they hit about 1,000,000. I suspect these figures are probably inflated, but no more so than Perry’s “hundreds of thousands”.
    Bearing this in mind the three course of action were
    1) Continue with the sanctions regime
    2) Scrap sanctions and allow Saddam to do what he will (the French option).
    3) Military action.

    I maintain that anyone who advocates (1) is too wicked to be worthy of arguing with (stand up Madeline) so I will asumme that you advocated (2). There was a time when this policy was in place – during this period Saddam invaded two seperate countries and used WMD against his own citizenry. I see no reason to believe that history would not have repeated itself. Remember who were the heirs to the throne (first time tragedy second time farce and tragedy methinks).

    There is, of course, a myth maintained by fools that Saddam’s tyranny was, unlike the current state of affairs, “stable”. In actual fact there were major rebellions fairly regularly, but because CNN didn’t report them they, and the subsequent repressions, are thought not to exist.

    Nor was Saddam’s tyranny a run of the mill autocracy, it was an insane totalitarian excresence straight out of the gutter of European 19th century thought. It did not kill like a Pinochet, Henry VIII or William I, but like a Mao. Like all totalitarianisms it was uniquely debilitating to the human spirit, an enemy of everything humane and good. Now it’s gone and someday hopefully so will North Korea and that obsene, grotesque, absurd nightmare can be forgotten.

    Nevertheless, somehow supposed “libertarians” think that people murdered and oppressed by the [Iraqi] state are not people in the same way as those killed by [Iraqi and foreign] terrorists; that the fake certainty of Fascism is superior to the danger of liberty; that to live on your knees is better than to die on your feet. Shame on you, actually, and fuck you too.

    (In any case anyone who believes that imperial invention can never work at all evidently has never stopped reading Rothbard books long enough to pick up a brief history of the British Empire (or almost any other empire). Ideology trumps fact every single time.)

  • Perry E. Metzger


    I believe John Kerry’s comment that he was directing his comments against George Bush and slipped. Bush got horrible grades at Yale, and Kerry is a leaden speaker, so I am inclined to believe him. Either way, though, it matters little, because his “joke” is sadly the truth — far too many of our kids do badly in school and then end up in the military.

    As for calling some of his fellow soldiers in Vietnam war criminals, some of them were war criminals if you didn’t notice, or did you think My Lai was just an innocent misunderstanding? By the way, I will point out similar atrocities have, according to our own military prosecutors, happened in Iraq.

    You claim you would vote for Satan before John Kerry. That’s an interesting concept. Presumably you would then support, say, Saddam Hussein before John Kerry, given that one would generally believe that Satan is worse than Saddam Hussein?

    As for “some people need killing”, well, I can’t say that I’m a supporter of the petty dictators of the world. Clearly the world is better off without them. One must ask, however, whether the cure of intervention is generally better than the disease.

    Lets assume your premise is right and these people “need killing”. Will bureaucrats, the same people who run such successes as the New York City Subway, the US Postal Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, etc., be the people with whom to entrust this critical task? Once again, you make the naive assumption that just because a goal is desirable that it can be accomplished by the intervention of the state. You conflate your desire to have something happen with the assumption that it will be done correctly. It is not enough to wish and wave a wand — it is necessary to accomplish these tasks in the real world with a government of real live bureaucrats, not a government of hyperintelligent angels from heaven.

    It also seems that the West has, more often than not, supported petty dictators all over the world when it has suited our current idea of “Realpolitik” — everyone from Mobutu Sese Seko to Saparmurat Niyazov and, believe it or not, Saddam Hussein. Yes, we supported Hussein for many, many years in the name of making the world better. The very interventionist foreign policy you propose created the Saddam Hussein problem in the first place. We saw him as a way of playing the Great Game against Iran, so we backed him. We also trained a certain Osama bin Laden in a proxy war we fought in Afghanistan. The real life bureaucrats, given license to intervene, did some things that were, in retrospect, very, very bad.

    Before proposing to give them further license to do this sort of thing again, you must ask yourself, will they do what you want with the power you delegate them, or what they want?

    I think that if we really want to make the world a better place, we should export ideas, not badly conceived wars. Free markets, free trade, free societies and non-interventionist foreign policies will do better for the people of the west, and in the end for the people of the third world, than our incompetent ham-handed attempts at “reform from abroad”.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Kerry and Bush’s GPAs at Yale similar

    The idea that Kerry was trying to refer to Bush with his remark is idiotic.

  • the very interventionist foreign policy you propose created the Saddam Hussein problem in the first place

    The notion that the USA or UK ‘created’ Saddam Hussain is preposterous. All the MIGs, Mirages and Kalashnikovs are a dead give away that the bulk of his external support came from elsewhere. Yet even if it was true, removing him from power does not thereby become ‘wrong’ and leaving him in power over people in Iraq ‘right’. Oh and the ‘hundreds of thousands’ killed is really for the credulous.

  • Lexington Green

    I hope one of the cooks in the mess hall spat in Kerry’s food.

  • And living under a mass murderous tyranny…

    Fortunately we solved that problem by killing them. Give them liberty or give them death!

    Kerry absolutely was referring to Bush. The irony is that Kerry couldn’t construct an insult about another man’s intelligence that couldn’t be turned against him. Generally, if you’re going to insult another man’s intelligence, you should do so in a way that doesn’t make you look like an idiot.

    The shame of it all is that it is well past time to start insulting the troops. Signing up to kill for a criminal enterprise makes you a piece of shit.

    – Josh

  • It’s nice to see that the name-calling has reached samizdata.

    Personally, I won’t be calling the troops anything, but I will be saying `thank you’.
    Defence is one of the few tasks we have to get the state to organise. In my opinion, the war in Iraq was entered into as an act of defence, so calling soldiers `people who sign up for a criminal enterprise’ sounds a mite inappropriate to me.

  • Jacob

    “we turned one of the most repressed nations in the world into such an abatoir”

    Who is this “we” ?? Is the US turning Iraq into an “abatoir” ?? Is the Bush to blame if the crazy and murderous sunis and shia enjoy muredring each other wholesale ? Is Bush murdering people ???

    I tried very hard, but can’t abstain from some name calling: this statement is cheap and idiotic demagoguery.

  • I hope one of the cooks in the mess hall spat in Kerry’s food

  • Perry E. Metzger

    Perry de Havilland claims we did not create Saddam Hussein. Since he is an intelligent man, I presume that he holds this belief because he has not studied the situation.

    Hussein became President of Iraq in 1979. Soon thereafter, the United States saw an opportunity to use him as a proxy in our efforts against Iran. Mr. de Havilland is perhaps unfamiliar with the famous photograph of Mr. Hussein greeting the personal emissary of Ronald Reagan, to whit, Donald Rumsfeld. I post a link to the photograph here:


    The article along with that photograph details, in meticulous detail, US aid to Saddam Hussein’s government during the Iran-Iraq war, during which the US was officially neutral but in practice was backing Iraq.

    A libertarian should not be particularly surprised to learn of such things. Governments have a habit of making a hash of the things that they intervene in. This is hardly the only case — see everything from old age pensions to transportation to the drug war to the “help” we provide foreign countries which most often results in greater rather than lesser involvement of said governments in their local economies.

    Given all the things governments do so badly, why should either our backing of various third world dictators or our later botched attempts to remove them come as a shock?

    When one is a child, one believes in magic, but as an adult, one learns that just because something is fervently desired does not make it possible. Libertarians, above all, understand that just because one would like a government program to help the poor or fix a foreign country does not mean that it will work — desires must not be conflated with likely results.

    A libertarian opposes government old age pensions not because he hates old people but precisely because he would like to see them do as well as possible. A libertarian opposes catastrophes like the current war in Iraq not out of a love for men like Saddam Hussein, but because of a deep skepticism about the ability of any government program to achieve its stated ends.

  • Jacob

    “A libertarian opposes catastrophes like the current war in Iraq not out of a love for men like Saddam Hussein,”

    but out of total indifference to the fate of other people, and a naive belief that if you leave them alone they will leave you alone too.

  • Perry E. Metzger

    Jacob, clearly that was not what I was saying or implying. You owe me and the readers an apology. Dialog does not consist of insults, snide remarks and putting words into the mouths of your opponents. It consists of reasoned argument. Please be civilized.

  • Jacob

    Lets see – you consider the removal of Saddam Husein and the freeing of the Iraqi people from tyranny a worthy endeavour?

    You opposed the current war only beacuse of it’s imperfect implementation ? Only beacuse you knew for certain in advance that it will not work out ? Only beacause, being clairvoyant, you know it will not succeed ?

    Was the Korean war (1950-1593) a worthy endeavour ? Is the current result (a big, free and prosperous South Korea) a good thing ? Weren’t almost 40,000 Americans and some 2.5 million Koreans killed in that war ? Wasn’t it messy ? Was it a botched war ? A terrible “abatoir” ?? A government failure ? And wasn’t South Korea a military dictatorship for some 40 years before it became a democracy ?

    My point is, your passionate opposition to the Iraq war makes no sense on your claimed (only) argument of skepticism of government action. While we are all skeptics of government’s ability to run pesion plans, the alternative in international conflicts is either government action or nothig, and nothing isn’t always best or acceptable. There is no free market solution to the Saddam menace. There is only hiding the head in sand and claiming post factum that there was no menace.

    You say I owe you an apology for stating: “total indifference to the fate of other people”. Ok. I apologize. You didn’t say that.

    But, please explain to us what you proposed to do about the plight of the oppressed Iraqis under Saddam, and the plight of his neighbours, who were attacked by him in two bloody, unprovoked wars. Because – doing nothing looks pretty much like indifference….

  • TPS

    The shame of it all is that it is well past time to start insulting the troops. Signing up to kill for a criminal enterprise makes you a piece of shit.

    And making anonymous internet insults make you what, Josh?

    Go find a tavern full of soldiers somewhere and make your feelings known!

  • Perry E. Metzger


    Yes, I think that, in principle, it would be wonderful to remove all the world’s tyrants and allow people to live in freedom. I also think it would be wonderful to wave a magic wand and have the world free of disease. If someone were to come to me tomorrow and propose that the way to cure disease is to have governments run all healthcare worldwide, I would oppose them, not because I love disease, but because the proposed cure has no chance whatsoever of making the world better.

    I didn’t oppose the war because of some psychic intuition that it would fail. I opposed it both because it was absolutely clear in advance that such exercises, if they ever succeed, succeed by pure accident, and because the proper role of the governments of the US and UK (if they have one at all) is to run the police and the courts and protect the borders. The reason we tolerate taxation is that, supposedly, the proceeds are spent on services that cannot be achieved any other way. It is thus always an unhappy surprise to discover that your government has taken thousands of dollars from every man, woman and child in the country and used it in a scheme to help the people of a different country entirely.

    You ask if the Korean war was a good or a bad thing. Perhaps it was a good thing for some South Koreans. Was it a good thing for the US troops who were drafted — enslaved, in effect — and then killed in the effort? I’m far from sure. Was it a good thing for the US children who’s families had thousands of dollars taken from them in taxes to pay for this war and who thus could not afford college? I’m far from sure. Did the war immediately produce a free country? No, in fact, as South Korea was effectively a dictatorship for decades, and it is far from clear that this was a necessary result.

    You claim that “nothing isn’t always best or acceptable”. Fair enough. However, let me remind you of the oath doctors take, which begins with the pledge, first and foremost, to do no harm. Have a look at the adventures the US has engaged in. To hurt the Iranians, we helped Saddam Hussein. Then, to get Saddam Hussein, we allied with various new sketchy characters. To stop the Soviets in Afghanistan, we funded people like Ossama bin Laden. Then, to get rid of his buddies, we bribed the dictators of nearby oppressive regimes, some of which are quite bad folks indeed.

    It is all fine and well to suppose that our diplomats are skilled players of the great game, but like the old woman who swallowed the frog to catch the fly and swallowed the cat to catch the frog, we seem, more often than not, to create our own next problem every time we set out to solve something.

    You mention two bloody unprovoked wars by Saddam Hussein. I will point out, yet again, that the war against Iran was one that the west actively, if quietly, supported. You can’t easily claim that our hands are clean in this matter. We created the monster that we were then “forced” to remove.

    The simplest possible way to have helped the poor people suffering in Iraq under Saddam Hussein would have been not to provide him with support in the 1980s in the first place. Having foolishly done that, the second obvious thing to have done would have been for the US to open its borders to Iraqis wishing to flee from Saddam Hussein’s regime — after all, the US is largely empty land, and we have plenty of space for people who want to live in peace and freedom to settle in. The Iraqi borders are hard to defend, so it would have been fairly easy for millions of people to escape if they wished. Believe it or not, we could also have done much for the people of all the world’s impoverished countries by eliminating our barriers against foreign trade and our foolish internal regulations that hold back business — the thing that makes repressive regimes possible is poverty and ignorance, and the larger the global economy grows, the harder it will be for dictators to survive.

    Generally speaking, I don’t see how you can put out fires with gasoline. The victors crippled the German economy at the end of the First World War (what was the point of that orgy of bloodletting again?), and then we saw the rise of Naziism. We then got in bed with Stalin to fight Hitler, although Stalin was scarcely better, and we saw half of Europe enslaved for fifty years afterwards. We keep finding ourselves inexorably setting ourselves up for the next horror by trying to “fix” the last horror. All of this, of course, is done with the best of intentions. All of it, though, seems to keep resulting in blowback.

    Perhaps we should, in fact, just stop. We could open our borders to refugees, open our borders to goods, remove our internal barriers to wealth creation, and adopt a neutral stance in foreign policy. Perhaps some horrors will then happen that could otherwise be averted, but I suspect there will also be many horrors averted that would otherwise have been created.

    Did Cromwell foresee his antics in Ireland resulting in bombings in the London financial district hundreds of years later? Probably not. We have a long and rich history of creating trouble for ourselves by seeking out involvement in the troubles of unhappy people far from our borders, and that this trouble often continues to bother us for decades or even centuries.

    Just as the libertarian must show the discipline not to give in to the knee-jerk impulse to “do something” about the economy, similar restraint is almost always called for in foreign affairs. Before we give in to the impulse to bleed the patient or dose him with mercury salts, screaming “something must be done, some action must be better than no action at all”, perhaps we should think about the unintended consequences of our charity, and find safer ways to follow through with our impulse to action over inaction.

  • Jacob

    “it would be wonderful to remove all the world’s tyrants”
    Indeed. And if it is impossible to remove all, that doesn’t mean we should never remove a selected few…
    Same with disease. Not being able to cure all doesn’t mean we should abstain from curing those we can, even if the cure is expensive, and not guaranteed to succeed, and the patient liable to die later from another disease.

    “the proper role of the governments…. is to … protect the borders”.
    That sometimes entails preemptive strikes abroad.

    “We created the monster that we were then “forced” to remove.”
    False; “we” didn’t create Saddam, neither did the US and UK encourage him to attack Iran. He did it being a crazy megalomaniac. The “west” reckoned it wasn’t in their interest to have the more powerful Iranians swallow Iraq with it’s oil, so, when Iran went after Saddam (i.e. did not content themselves with repulsing the invasion), the west helped Saddam (a little) to survive as the least of two evils. That was correct on the part of the “west”.

    “The simplest possible way to have helped the poor people suffering in Iraq under Saddam Hussein would have been not to provide him with support in the 1980s in the first place.”
    Yeah… so they could enjoy the wonderful regime of the mad muhllas….(that is: those who would be spared from the massacre, which means – few sunnys).

    “The victors crippled the German economy at the end of the First World War … and then we saw the rise of Nazism.”
    So you see… all is the west’s fault, those nasty nazis, Saddam, the imperialist west created them all…. I heard that somewhere… that’s commie propaganda, all crap.

    perhaps we should think about the unintended consequences of our charity, and find safer ways to follow through with our impulse to action over inaction.

    What you are saying is: “never do anything, because of unintended consequences”. You cannot seriously recommend such a stance. Sometimes action is imperative, to protect citizens from crime, or foreign aggression, to save sick persons.
    The claim that anything done is wrong – on principle – is absurd.

    “and find safer ways to follow through with our impulse to action over inaction”
    Of course. I’m for safer ways, they are the best, no doubt. What was the safest way in Iraq ? Doing nothing ? I don’t think so. Preaching for “safer ways” doesn’t prove your point.

  • Bruce

    Oh, no! Not the photo of Rumsfeld with Saddam! Run away! Run away!

    There’s also a photo of similar vintage of Chirac doing a grip and grin with Saddam, and so what in either case.

    Meanwhile, the only detailed study of Who Armed Saddam was conducted by the Stockholm International Peace Rsearch Institute, which is not as far as I know a neocon front. You can view this at


    Short version: between 1970 and 2004, the USSR and its follow-on autocracy supplied Saddy with 59.6 percent of his weaponry. Our gallant allies in France were second, with 12.4 percent; and China was third, with 11.05 percent.

    America, interestingly, rated ninth, at 0.47 percent, and even more interestingly, behind number 8, Denmark, which supplied 0.52 percent.

    But don’t listen to me; I’m Karl Rove in disguise.

  • Rone Aone

    As a libertarian I would like to know, how much the George W. Bush administration along with the US oil barons have profited from oil prices having soared over the past several years as a result of their wreaking havoc in the Middle East.
    When it comes to real big money, real Big Government thinks and acts in terms of Real Politic.
    All this hullabaloo about WMD and Saddam the Tyrant, and Global war on Terror in effect amounts to sheer propaganda aimed at diverting the public from the bottom line of the story.
    Which is, as it has always been in America, yes, Business. As usual.

  • WIL Cruz

    Rone Aone

    Funny thing about your post is this , if the US was really interested in Iraq’s oil , they could have done it in two ways . 1) Capture the Iraqi oilfields and leave have the US military create a safe corridor for the oil to reach the tankers waiting at the Persian Gulf on it’s way to the US and leave the rest of Iraq with the exception of Kurdistan to Saddam or 2) Do what Kofi Annan , France , Russia and others did , get bribed by Saddam by means of millions of dollars or by oil profits.it’s easier and cheaper than occupying the whole of Iraq .

    And oh btw , the majority of oil that are imported to the US comes from Mexico , Canada and Venezuela . The rest comes from the Middle East and from their own oilfields in Texas and Alaska.

  • Gabriel

    real Big Government thinks and acts in terms of Real Politic.
    All this hullabaloo about WMD and Saddam the Tyrant

    Look closely at the first and last words of this segment. Should this not, in itself, inspire some sort of reflection from the Rothbardites? Or to put it another way, if the FDA is, unalloyed evil, what exactly does that make Ba’athism?

  • Gabriel

    Meanwhile, it should be noted that while westerners proceed with a 100 year project to insert the whole of Christendom into their collective navel, Ethiopians are doing what we should be doing and reminding us what balls look like.
    Why they can take out the trash without having a pseudo-moral spazzattack and none of us, not even the Israelis any more, can is a real puzzler. I wonder whether Sallassie ever imagined his nation would one day humiliate the entire west in the space of a few days.

  • Hahaha… the Rumsfeld/Saddam picture! Are you sure we (the US/UK) created Saddam and not…


    … the Vatican?

    That the US backed Iraq over Iran therefore means we ‘created’ Saddam is like saying because we back Stalin over Hitler, we create Hitler. Only a goof like, say, Rothbard might say something like that.

  • andrew duffin

    Is that an American military facility that Mr. Kerry is sitting in?

    If so, how nice to see our flag displayed so prominently.

    Thank you Yanks!

  • Nick M

    Well, obviously, the “Stop The War” crowd’s “It’s all about oil!” is utter bollocks. You can buy a hell of a lot of oil for the 300+ billion dollars Iraq has so far cost. But then many of these people are of the opinion that Bush (The Most Evil Man Ever(TM) ) flattened much of lower Manhatten as a pretext for occupying a flea-bitten nation of goat-fuckers (with bugger all oil, BTW)…

    Perry is right about the “Saddam is our fault” crowd. I wonder what the logic behind this argument against the Iraq war is? If it were true (which it isn’t) surely we’d be just putting things aright?

    Problem is – these folk only have a passing acquaintance with logic and have sacrificed all rationality on the altar of rabid, Pilgeresque Anti-Americanism.

    On the subject of WMDs. Stuff like Sarin and VX are 1940s technology. Any even vaguely developed country with a chemical industry could knock the stuff up very easily. The real issue was not whether friend Saddam had warehouses full of the stuff but whether he had the desire to make and use such weapons. Perhaps we should ask the Kurds about that one?

    Gabriel: You’re right about the Ethiopeans. Despite all the furious Islamic rhetoric the IC simply buggered-off out of Mogadishu when they saw the Ethiopeans come into view. Perhaps the Ethiopeans can sort out the appalling situation in Darfur as well? Anyway, well done Ethiopea!

  • Michiganny

    Perry Metzger, thank you for the thoughtful posts. And thank you for trying to keep this discussion on target: Kerry’s viewpoint of the armed forces.

    Here is something worth stating: Kerry was right. The best and the brightest do not join the military these days in America. How do I know? Well, I graduated from US Army Airborne School, Class 25-95 (week and year) while a cadet in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Michigan. Here were some findings:

    1. The University of Michigan has tens of thousands of students. It is extremely competitive. It commissioned under ten students every year into the US Army while I was there. This is in spite of the fact that almost everybody at the university could get most or all tuition paid by Uncle Sam on a ROTC scholarship without trying too hard. The army is considered so dead-end that elites would much prefer to go into debt for years than to be one of its officers.

    2. The Vietnam-era sergeant who drove my cab to Fort Benning from the airport had been convicted in his youth of stealing a car and the judge had given him the choice to join the army or go to jail, he said. I remember thinking this was just bullshit, even though he had interesting tips on hot-wiring cars using tin foil. Come to find out, it wasn’t just him. Astonishing to this Yankee boy, it is not uncommon to be offered the choice of donating a few years to the military instead of prison, south of the Mason-Dixon line. Perhaps that is why this theme has been an army marching tune for generations. Remember, 1995 was peacetime. I was somewhat less astonished than I was 11 years ago to read that, just like in the Vietnam era, would-be jailbirds are now wearing army green in huge numbers, as are high-school dropouts.

    3. I attended a tiny high school. We had 21 members on the varsity football team in my last year. If you joined and worked, you played. A lot.

    Without doubt, becoming a paratrooper was no where near as tough as summer football practice had been two years before. And the same holds comparing it to the university rowing team I joined a few months after graduating with my jump wings.

    4. The soldiers at jump school, who came mostly directly from boot camp, were able to put up with endless military discipline. But that has a flip side. Nobody did shit unless an instructor screamed it at them. The vast majority would never be able to complete a degree at any university. Self-motivation was clearly not even understood, let alone present.

    My deep apologies this is not some martial ode. These were, however, reasons why I changed my mind about being an infantry officer.

    And remember, to Paul Marks and the rest, John Kerry is a combat veteran. Not some armchair pussy or Texas Air National Guardsman. Anybody wounded in combat is allowed to speak his mind about war, in my book, regardless of what I have learned about the US Army.

    Funny how most of the combat veterans who have spoken to me about combat are a lot closer to Siegfried Sassoon than Cheney, Rumsfeld, McNamara, Bush, and Co. But I suppose you would just call my future brother-in-law a damn “liberal” for decrying the war. He will be heading out for his second Iraq tour in the Marine Corps soon. And something tells me he would gladly give his spot to you but for the asking. How about it, you freedom fighters?

  • I was in the military longer than most of the commenters here have been alive and sorry Michiganny, if your future brother-in-law would rather not be going to Iraq, perhaps he should not have taken up the profession of arms. When you take the shilling, you do not get to choose where you end up.

    My son-in-law is in Iraq (also for the second time… back in March most likely) and he takes the view that this sort of thing is exactly why he joined. It is not that he is exactly enjoying the experience of being shot at but rather he is keen to do what he trained.

    As it happens my father, who wore a paler shade of blue than me but ended up an infantryman, was also in Iraq… in 1941.

  • Pa Annoyed


    Oh, dear, oh deary me. The “chickenhawk argument” flies once more. You ought to be ashamed!

    Let’s see now – the best and brightest don’t join the forces (which category presumably excludes Mr Kerry, all those combat veterans you cite in your last paragraph, and, of course, you?) for much the same reason that the best and brightest don’t work in banking: because the number of top jobs requiring such an education is relatively small and therefore the opportunities few and far between. On the other hand, 98% of military enlistees have at least a high school graduation, compared to the national average of 88%. Over 49% of officers have advanced or professional degrees, over 39% have master’s degrees, 8.5% have professional degrees, and 1.3% have doctorates. (Compared to 52%, 27%, 9%, and 3% national averages.) Granted, the military employs relatively few rocket scientists, but the implication that they should, or the assumption that they are not because the military is undesirable employment, are entirely unfounded. There is no evidence or logical argument here, merely innuendo.

    That the University of Michigan enrols so few in the miltary is, I feel, less a reflection on the military than on the University of Michigan, and not a complimentary one. (I have heard rumours that barking moonbats have infiltrated American universities and indoctrinate students with a visceral hatred of the ROTC and other politically incorrect institutions, but couldn’t really say whether they were true, or were the reason in this case. An alternative hypothesis, though?)

    As for the idea that some recruits choose the army over jail, I am astonished. You are evidently unaware of army regulation 601-210 (4-8b) “Applicant who, as a condition for any civil conviction or adverse disposition or any other reason through a civil or criminal court, is ordered or subjected to a sentence that implies or imposes enlistment into the Armed Forces of the United States is not eligible for enlistment…” The Air Force and Marines have similar regulations, and while the Navy oddly don’t have a regulation explicitly forbidding it, Navy recruiters also say they won’t accept them. About 2 minutes with Google allowed me to discover this – how is it that after several months of basic training you were unaware? And how is it that you are here offering your “expertise” on the military, and somehow didn’t think to check that you were advising us correctly? Does the army know you are going round the internet giving people this sort of career advice?

    I am fascinated to hear that becoming a paratrooper was less tough than college football, even more so by the news that nobody there was self-motivated. Very interesting! Seriously, go tell them all about your military experience over at Blackfive and then accept their invitation for an old paratroopers’ reunion beer. I’m sure they’ll give you a special “John Kerry” military hero welcome!

  • Michiganny

    Old Jack Tar,

    I do not have any kind of defense of people who join up and hate the military. I also have no defense for the warmongering civilians so frequent in modern America. They are both acting against their conscience.

    But the Marine I now know, who was, to pick a mild euphemism, a troubled youth with no prospects when he joined up, would go to jail if he refused to go back. That is, of course, why they have made it a crime to refuse to fight. Not everybody is keen to use their training in pointless conflict. And he has been scoffing at every newscast he’s seen since returning stateside. Nobody he served with believes Iraqis are trainable in a way to match the political rhetoric. Nobody he served with cared less about the Iraqi people. They were likely threats which made them possible targets. Period.

    But these people advocating this and that military adventure, who are clearly not military people, I disdain completely. By all means, they should be headed over there post haste to share in the martial glory. Too old? By all means, send your children. Don’t let them tool around like the Bush girls in South America. Get them over there.

    But they almost never do any of this. They want people like you and yours to go and get PTSD or come home in a rubber bag. Then they insult the rest of us who disagree with them. We are leftists/liberals/communists/traitors/intellectuals. Why I have been accused on this very website of being one of those “Daily Kos types.” I somehow doubt it was written by a squaddie who had just bayoneted a Qaeda operative deep within Waziristan. It was by some clown watching the change of seasons in England.

    As far as the military stuff goes, I have plenty of relatives who were in various wars. Almost to a man, they were conscripts who would have been better off as draft dodgers.

    Winston Churchill once commented that Britain was paying “8 millions” per year to perch atop the volcanic eruption that was Baghdad. Little has changed since then. How many generations of Westerners need to relearn today’s and yesterday’s lesson that Iraq is conquerable but ungovernable?

  • Pa Annoyed

    How can you tell which ones are military people from their comments here? I’m genuinely interested in how you do it.

    Your second paragraph (of the 11:03 comment) does contain some interesting points. I don’t think I agree with them, and know of any number of military bloggers who don’t either, but it does at least make sense.

    But what is it with this idea that you have to be a serving member of the armed forces to comment on the merits of military action? I don’t understand the logic.

    There’s something in there about “martial glory”, but that doesn’t feature in any pro-war arguments I’ve ever seen. The arguments are usually on legal grounds, to maintain international peace and security, moral (to rescue the tormented Iraqis), strategic (rogue states, especially with WMD capability, being an ever escalating threat), or, (in moonbat territory now,) economic (as in war for oil). Nobody I know says we should do it for the “glory”.

    Are you suggesting that people who are in favour of war hold soldiers’ lives in contempt, regard them as expendable, or do not value the cost? While I cannot be certain that those are their true feelings, most I’ve seen are extremely deferential; many pay respectful tributes and write memorials, or do charity work to support the injured. The only people I ever see holding them in contempt are the anti-war types, who say they are poor, uneducated criminals, doing Bush’s evil will on hapless innocent foreigners.

    Are you saying one should only propose anyone taking a risk one is prepared to take oneself? Does this apply to emergency rescue services, people receiving medical treatment, miners, policemen, sewerage engineers, and other dangerous or unpleasant activities? Should I not be allowed to say that cancer patients receiving chemotherapy is a good thing unless I am prepared to undergo it myself? Should I not be allowed to suggest shifting national energy production to coal power unless I fully intend to dig it out of the ground personally? And does the fact that few of our university elite become coal miners have any bearing on the merits of the coal industry, energy policy, or the respect due our miners?

    What do you mean by people “sending their children”? What exactly are you suggesting should happen? The US military is a volunteer force; the children should make their own minds up, based on their own convictions. Certainly you could question the principles of someone who objected to their children going – but do you have any examples? Or any evidence-based reason to think such a parent would not be proud?

    Do you instead mean that civilians do not understand the consequences of war, or what is involved, and therefore their judgement that the price is worth it is not valid? That argument does have some merit (although civilians can have a good idea of the consequences), but of course the same argument applies to any other topic outside a person’s experience or expertise (as discussed above), and by the same reasoning one would also have to know what it was like to live under a genocidal dictatorship and be tortured to judge that it wasn’t worth it. It is usual to make allowance for the perspective of the speaker in considering their argument, and not to do so just in the case of a civilian favouring war is inconsistent.

    I can think of other even less likely options, but all of them seem to me to have gaping logical flaws. In the interests of brevity, I will therefore ask. What is your actual logic in making the chickenhawk argument? Why does being a civilian invalidate any argument made for military intervention? And under what circumstances can such arguments ever be made?

  • Winger

    If all this is so annoying to your superior self, why do you come here? To prove what a stud you are? To who? Whom? – hey, I never graduated from no college, boy, like you. Since we’re bragging I did, however, play football at a large high school but, curiously, didn’t find jump school anything to scoff at.

    This thread was about military people thinking JF Kerry is a dickhead. You say Kerry is a combat veteran? I say he’s the real chickenhawk. As soon as he was assigned somewhere that didn’t involve intimidating honest fishermen in boats way off-shore, he fabricated enough wounds to skate out as soon as possible. He never spent the night in hospital. How bad could they have been?

    He did get a medal for shooting an unarmed kid in the back while Kerry himself was violating his unit’s SOP but he had the nerve to call me a war criminal. I was one of those supposed dumbasses who came up from the ranks to officer level. I didn’t need a degree. Night ambushes in the Central Highlands didn’t have shit to do history in the Middle Ages, accounting or pi r square. It’s your problem if you suspect you wasted your time at university, don’t try to place it on others.

    Kerry’s a piss-ant. It was all about him and his post-war political career. He was pretty gung-ho until he found that didn’t play and switched to the other side. Yeah, he’s real impressive.

    So maybe you should work out your self-esteem problems before you engage your intellect.

    Hey, Perry E. Look up the word “concise” in the dictionary.

  • Time to take down this post I’d say, considering its inaccuracy.

  • Michiganny

    It is always a pleasure to read Pa Annoyed. And thought provoking. However, when you ask:

    Are you suggesting that people who are in favour of war hold soldiers’ lives in contempt, regard them as expendable, or do not value the cost?

    Yes. What would you think of a society that risks your life on vague politics (WMD, Gulf of Tonkin, whatever your example), but then throws you a parade?

    You also ask,

    Are you saying one should only propose anyone taking a risk one is prepared to take oneself?

    Yes. What kind of man sends others to do a job he is too good for? History books would call that guy a leader. I have a much different viewpoint of someone who advocates someone else’s kid to get killed. And I’ll ask it again: Where are the children of the Americans who beat their chests so proudly about our Iraq adventure? I met the mother of a West Pointer this spring who was scared to death about where her son was going. Pride did not seem to enter into it.

    I certainly think civilians know the price of war. I think those who advocate war but don’t go are rats. And I think that when America’s leadership tells us the best thing we can do in the face of war is cut taxes, we are being manipulated by people of almost unimaginable cynicism.

    Winger, the reason why I wrote my first post was not because I hold myself superior. I have two reasons. The first is that I used what I had experienced because I distrust theory over experience. It is also because my experience led me to find out that the wizard behind the curtain is a much different creature than what is presented as the Great Oz, to borrow a phrase. Believe me, I don’t think playing high school football is the apex of physical achievement. That is actually why I used it. I’m a regular guy with regular experiences who was surprised that supposed hot-stuff military training was not.

    And by all means ridicule learning history. Perhaps you would not have found yourself taking fire in South East Asia if you had learned the lesson that governments lie to get people into war, and that foreign wars are often just instruments of domestic politics. It is called the Prince, by Machiavelli. If everybody read it by the age of 18, there would be a lot fewer people signing up for the service.

    Remember, this website is not billed as a homeland for Right-wingers and Ultra-Republicans. It is billed as a place for those with a “critically rational individualist perspective.” That suits me just fine. Where do you get off disdaining learning and thinking on Samizdata?

  • Gabriel

    Michiganny, among the people for whom’s death Saddam recently received the death penalty, was a pregnant women who was murdered by having her legs bound together whilst in labour.

    Instead of piling on paragraph after paragraph of trite guff perhaps you should explain why you think this man should still be in power.