- good piece of American sociology by Jeffrey Friedman (h/t Alberto Mingardi)
- Daniel Larison on the devastation in Puerto Rico
- Don Boudreaux has the best take I’ve read or heard on the Trump-pro athlete fiasco, and remember when conservatives blasted Obama for sticking his nose where it didn’t belong when cops killed a black kid in Baltimore?
- Chris Dillow explains Leftist confusion about Brexit
- smart Leftists talking about smart things (penguins, of course!)
- Generals and Political Interventions in American History
- “they neglect to take account of the experiences of postcolonial states that form the vast majority of members of the international system. “
- The U.S. Hasn’t ‘Pulled Back’ from the Middle East At All
- No special sharia rules in American courts for Muslims’ wrongful-death recovery
- Is Gary Johnson a True Libertarian? American libertarianism has a purge problem
- Identity politics and the perils of zero-sum thinking
- China’s Legalist Revival
- Does Europe need a new Warsaw Pact?
- Daniel Larison (PhD in Russian History) on Trump’s foreign policy speech
- The Anti-Trumplodytes
- Why Popular Sovereignty requires the due process of law
- The text is here (he gave it at the Center for the National Interest, an old Nixon project)
- Maggie Haberman gives a us a glimpse of how the Beltway views it
- Zach Beauchamp gives us a taste of how the wonky Left views it
- The libertarian view is served up by Conor Friedersdorf
- Daniel Larison, PhD historian, reps the conservative view
I already know what the neoconservatives are going to say. Same goes with those on the socialist Left. I think everybody knows what they are going to say and that, in a nutshell, explains why the neoconservatives are becoming as marginal in contemporary debates as the socialists.
- Ukraine and BRICS from historian Daniel Larison at The American Conservative
- The Sympathy Problem: Is Germany a Country of Russia Apologists? By Ralf Neukirch at Spiegel Online
- You Don’t Know the Best Way to Deal with Russia from economist Bryan Caplan over at EconLog
- The Right to Self-Determination in International Law and Practice by political scientist Jason Sorens (PhD, Yale) over at the PileusBlog
Creative destruction ain’t just a place for the marketplace, baby! The National Interest has an article out by Mark Donig on “The Twilight of Sykes-Picot.” It’s a great piece that basically acknowledges the end of an era (European imperialism and cartographic arrogance), and what this will mean for the United States.
Sykes-Picot is an agreement between France and Great Britain that divided the Ottoman Empire up between the two after World War I (the article goes into a bit more detail if you’re interested). Russia was also a part of the negotiations for carving up Europe’s sick man, but after the Bolsheviks seized power all imperial pretenses associated with the West were abandoned in Moscow. European cartographers abandoned the Ottoman approach (learned over centuries of trial and error) to governing territories in the Levant and instead carved up the region as they saw fit. The end result was, of course, a number of states that could only be held together by a strong man. Today, these post-colonial states are collapsing and in their place are a greater number of pseudo-states.
In many of these pseudo-states, Islamists run the show. Donig, an international law student, is worried that if states like Syria and Iraq collapse, the chemical and biological weapons stockpiled in secret locations will fall into the wrong hands. Donig’s suggestion is that the US pay very close attention to what is happening in the Levant, but I think he is much too pessimistic.
The US should embrace political disintegration in Levant wholeheartedly. Doing so would mean recognizing sovereignty of nasty-looking regimes. Yet is would also end the power struggles for the “center” in Sykes-Picot states, which would in turn end the reign of strong men in the region for good (for a concise explanation on why strong men emerge in post-colonial states, see “Imperialism: The Illogical Nature of Humanitarian Wars“).
Were the US to embrace decentralization in the Levant, it would be wise for Washington to play an active role implementing trade agreements both between the new states as well as with Washington. The separatist movements in Scotland and Catalonia illustrate my garbled point well. Scots and Catalonians don’t want independence without membership into the international trading confederation known as the EU, and membership in an international confederation requires relinquishing some sovereignty (Daniel Larison inadvertently makes this point here; people on both the Left and Right who point to evils of EU rarely acknowledge that many states and regions would love to be a part of this confederation, warts and all, and that they stake their very separatist claims on such a membership).
Trade agreements would play an integral role in making or breaking these new states within their newly decentralized region (see Becker or yours truly on the importance of trade in politically fragmented regions). Once recognizing sovereignty of new states, the US would gain some much-needed trust from the peoples of these new states, and then Washington could use that influence to push for more economic integration (between the new states and with the new states) while at the same time recognizing the reality of political fragmentation in the region.
At any rate, full-on American diplomacy in this area is a must, especially given the TNI report’s account of possible chemical weapons stockpiles. This is something the US could work with Russia on, thus building a measure of trust which could, in turn, be used to work with Moscow elsewhere (especially in Europe). It still surprises me that dovish policymakers in Washington and Moscow have not yet used their respective government’s mutual enemy (Islamism) to build much-needed bridges between the two countries.
The short answer is ‘no’, but first, Justin Raimondo writes:
The EU is a failed socialist experiment that exists to fund a huge (and hugely arrogant) bureaucracy and impose a bloodless ideological abstraction over and above the authentic nationalisms it seems to subsume. It is deeply authoritarian in that it provides no mechanism for member states to withdraw, and its super-centralist model is a prescription for tyranny if ever there was one. When a referendum is held on EU membership, and the results aren’t to the pro-EU side’s liking, the election is simply ignored and the Eurocrats mount yet another campaign until the “right” result is achieved.
I thought I’d highlight this paragraph for a couple of reasons:
1. It explains the tensions inherent in the EU from a nationalist viewpoint (as opposed to the internationalist view most often espoused on this blog), and the tensions between defining the place of centralized and decentralized power in a society. Although Raimondo’s hyperbole might cause some of us to blush, I think it actually adds to the depth of the nationalist argument as it better captures the sentiments of these factions. That is to say, I think the nationalists in this debate are a bit more boorish than the internationalists and as such Raimondo exemplifies their arguments despite being an American.
2. It shows why facts are important and in the long run much more valuable. Socialism, by definition, is the state ownership of the means of production. Is there anything about the EU that suggests it wants to “nationalize” industry? Anything at all? Of course not, which is why you often find populists – even of the “libertarian” kind – to be hyperbolic, arbitrary and vague in their arguments (for a better treatment of populism, see this old piece here at NOL). In the long run getting these definitions right is important. Slandering a faction or an organization you don’t like as ‘socialist’ (or ‘bourgeois’) may earn you a couple of brownie points from the peanut gallery, but you are very likely to steadily lose influence in the arena of ideas by peddling such drivel.
The EU is a confederation of states (much like the pre-Civil War US) and entry and exit are entirely voluntary. The EU, more than any other institution save for perhaps the US military, is responsible for the unencumbered peace throughout Western Europe since the end of World War 2. To suggest that the EU is somehow ‘socialist’ not only confuses younger, more susceptible readers but it also weakens one’s own arguments. If, for example, Raimondo is going to label the EU as ‘socialist’ when it clearly is not, what should I think about his arguments when he labels Israel as ‘fascist’ or Russia as a ‘defender of national sovereignty’?
Foreign policy is an important component of libertarianism, and if we continually allow our arguments to be defined by populist organizations like Raimondo’s antiwar.com then I fear libertarians will continue to be (rightly) ignored in the more traditional venues of foreign policy discussion.
- Ezra Klein in the Washington Post
- Ed Krayewski in Reason
- John Allen Gay writing in the National Interest
- Daniel Larison in the American Conservative
- Stephen Walt has a great piece in Foreign Policy
- Angelo Codevilla on the Liberty Law blog
My own reaction is “great!”
This is fantastic news for everybody, including the Israelis. If the Israelis were smart, they’d jump on the opportunity and start forging ties with the Iranians again. Saudi Arabia, the state Israel is nudging closer and closer to, is the real terrorist factory in the Middle East and I don’t see how Israeli long-term interests would benefit from an alliance with the most vicious regime in the Arab world.
With that being said, I don’t know too many details about the deal. I know Tehran promised not to build a bomb (yeah right), but will sanctions end? If so, how soon?
To me sanctions are the most important issue here. Tehran getting a nuclear bomb is understandable given her neighborhood, so it’s not really a big deal when it gets the bomb. However, if sanctions are still around when Iran gets the bomb then you can bet Tehran is going to be much more bellicose than it is, and the people of Iran will give the regime the legitimacy it needs to wield its newfound power.
No, I’m not talking about the Bruins choking in Pasadena earlier tonight. I’m talking about the Ukrainian government’s decision to balk at the latest Western offer for integration.
Well, at least I think it’s bad. The New York Times has all the relevant information on what happened between Kiev and the West. According to the Grey Lady, Kiev either balked at an IMF offer or had its arm twisted by Moscow. Both scenarios seem plausible, but I’d like to dig a bit deeper.
Ukrainians have been hit hard by this global recession, and last year they elected a government that is much more pro-Russia than it is pro-West. Unfortunately, I think the economy is only a small fragment of what ails the people in the post-colonial, post-socialist state of Ukraine (some people have started labeling “post-” states as “developmentalist” states; I like it but I’m not sure readers would). First of all, here are some relevant maps:
Notice a pattern? Yeah, me too. Basically, Ukraine is split along ethnic lines between Russians and Ukrainians and instead of recognizing this fact and focusing on property rights reforms first and foremost, the Ukrainians have decided to try their hand at democracy (on the inability of democracy to solve political problems in multi-ethnic states, see Ludwig von Mises’s Nation, State and Economy 72-84).
The conflation of democracy with property rights as freedom has been the single biggest mistake of all societies in the post-war world. From Ghana to Indonesia to Iraq to India to Ukraine, elites have focused their efforts on implementing democracy rather than property rights, and the inevitable, unfortunate results (“dictatorship and poverty”) continue to frustrate me. I’m sure the people who actually have to live under these conditions don’t like it much either.
Wouldn’t it be better if the current Ukrainian state split into (at least) two independent states? I ask because it seems to me that having (at least) two different states will cut the number of losers in half (losers of elections in “post-” societies truly are losers; it’s nothing like having to “live under” Obama or Bush) and make the new, smaller governments more accountable and more accessible to the people.
The other aspect of Kiev’s rejection of Western integration that troubles my mind is that of the attitudes towards liberalization of Ukrainian society that many people obviously harbor.
- Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians overwhelmingly support more integration with the West. There are demonstrations (and I use this term loosely; riots may soon start) against the government’s decision to balk at the West going on right now.
- And Russian-speaking Ukrainians (being Ukrainian can be either an ethnic thing or political thing [“citizenship”], which just goes to show you how stupid anything other than individualism is, but I digress) overwhelmingly support Moscow.
Yet it seems to me that both sides take the “pro-” and “anti-” stances that they do more out of spite for the other side than out of an understanding of what liberalization actually entails (I base this hunch on my watching of the recent elections here in the US). It’s also not clear to me that a pro-Western tilt would actually lead to more liberalization.
It may be easy for the Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians to integrate and work with the West, but I think the Russian-speaking Ukrainians have good cause to look upon pro-Western deals with suspicion. After all, the Russian speakers are the richest faction in Ukraine, and freer trade with the West would seriously undermine their political power (why do you think Russian-speaking Ukrainians have all the good jobs?).
Perhaps Evgeniy can enlighten us on the Russian perspective.
If Evgeniy doesn’t have the time you could just read Daniel Larison’s thoughts on the matter (Dr Larison is a historian with a PhD from the University of Chicago who specializes in the Slavic world).
- The Egyptian Coup and Political Islam: Daniel Larison takes neoconservative David Brooks to task for supporting the coup and explains why the coup will only empower Islamism. Highly recommended.
- In which countries is ‘crude libertarianism’ most and least true? Tyler Cowen dared to ask the question, but it is his ‘comments’ section (which I am extremely jealous of) that is truly worth reading through. Grab a cup of coffee.
- This is why I love Murray Rothbard.
- Lies, Slander and Corey Robin. Philosopher Kevin Vallier explains, in depth, the Leftist penchant for dishonesty. Imagine if an associate professor (a young professor without tenure) with a libertarian or a conservative bent wrote something about Rawls or Keynes that was as fact-free and fallacious as the piece Robin wrote about Hayek. Don’t condemn. Don’t get angry. Just imagine.
- I’ve been listening to a lot of Sonic Youth lately (you can Google ’em yourself!).
Debt: the first 500 pages. An economist from Australia reviews David Graeber.
At Last, Some Bright Spots in Indian Country (if you can’t view it, just copy and past the title and Google it).
Borderlines. A blog about maps.
Over at The Week, Dr. Daniel Larison brings up the situation of a state called Libya. One year ago the West led a bombing campaign that ousted the brutal dictator Moammar Ghaddafi. A problem or two arose though:
The internal disorder and regional instability that the West’s assault created were foreseen by many critics. And yet, Western governments made no meaningful efforts to prepare for them. No one planned to stabilize Libya once Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown, and the National Transitional Council (NTC) rejected the idea of an outside stabilization force […]
The NTC Larison speaks of is, of course, the entity that the West has blessed with steering the Libyan state’s course to democratic paradise. Think here of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. It gets worse too: Continue reading
Isolationist screeds in the United States are extremely rare these days, which, in my opinion, makes those who promote this noble doctrine to be individuals of exceptional character. I am a regular reader of the blog Eunomia (authored by Dr. Daniel Larison), which explicates isolationist critiques of current foreign policy (among other things), and I always enjoy what Dr. Larison has to say.
I also happen to find it rather odd that I am often slandered by my sparring partners on both the Left and the Right as being an isolationist, for one reason or another. I wouldn’t particularly mind being called such, except for the fact that, for reasons I hope to clarify shortly, my positions are hardly in line with those of the paleoconservative isolationists that I have grown to admire (if not disagree with more often than not).
The libertarian philosophy is one of individualism, internationalism, free trade, and the rule of law. My sparring partners often accuse of me of being an isolationist because of my opposition to wars and “nation-building” abroad, yet this opposition does not stem from a prejudice of robust international diplomacy. Rather, the war-weariness of libertarianism stems from the fact that war brings misery for the individual, it shatters international consensuses, it disrupts free trade, and it enables governments to ride roughshod over the rule of law in the name of security and of a centrally-planned war effort. Continue reading
Daniel Larison and Jason Sorens have alerted me to the most recent updates on Libya’s situation. In case you are wondering, it is not good. In fact, things look a lot worse than they did under Ghaddafi. From the BBC:
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay meanwhile raised concerns about detainees being held by revolutionary forces, saying there were some 8,500 prisoners in about 60 centres.
“The majority of detainees are accused of being Gaddafi loyalists and include a large number of sub-saharan, African nationals,” she said.
“The lack of oversight by the central authority creates an environment conducive to torture and ill treatment.”
No good can come from this. Libya is an artificial state created by European colonialists, and the Libyan factions that managed to dupe the West into doing their dirty work for them will now be competing for the power structure left by the Ghaddafi regime.
Indeed, not to brag or boast or anything, but in a dialogue with co-blogger Jacques Delacroix I correctly predicted what would happen in post-Ghaddafi Libya:
I still think we’ll see bloodbaths because most naive factions see centralized power as THE way to achieve stability. The not-so-naive factions also see centralized power as an attractive option. As long as everyone is competing for power at the center of these states, we’ll continue to see bloodshed and instability. I have yet to see anything, unfortunately, to suggest otherwise. The mass graves may stop for a time, but without a game plan that involves smaller states and more trade/less aid, they’ll be back. No matter how many times we bomb a dictator from his palace.
Instead of trying to rebuild the Libyan state, as the UN human rights chief suggests (why am I not surprised?), the West should try to work with Russia and China and other North African polities to try and carve Libya up into smaller states that are loosely affiliated politically but tightly connected economically.
Now, being right all the time is one thing, but getting people to think more clearly is quite another.