- Why does government do stuff? Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias
- Indian removal Claudio Saunt, Aeon
- Migrants, Muslims, and other non-people Namit Arora, Baffler
- Immigration will be another casualty of coronavirus Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg
As I write (10/22/19) the pause or cease-fire in Northern Syria is more or less holding. No one has a clear idea of what will follow it. We will know today or tomorrow, in all likelihood.
On October 12th 2019, Pres. Trump suddenly removed a handful of American forces in northern Syria that had served as a tripwire against invasion. The handful also had the capacity to call in air strikes, a reasonable form of dissuasion.
Within hours began an invasion of Kurdish areas of Syria by the second largest army in Europe, and the third in the Middle East. Ethnic cleansing was its main express purpose. Pres Erdogan of Turkey vowed to empty a strip of territory along its northern border to settle in what he described as Syrian (Arab) refugees. This means expelling under threat of force towns, villages, and houses that had been occupied by Kurds from living memory and longer. This means installing on that strip of territories unrelated people with no history there, no housing, no services, and no way to make a living. Erdogan’s plan is to secure his southern border by installing there a permanent giant refugee camp.
Mr Trump declared that he had taken this drastic measure in fulfillment of his (three-year old) campaign promise to remove troops from the region. To my knowledge, he did not explain why it was necessary to remove this tiny number of American military personnel at that very moment, or in such haste.
Myself, most Democrats, and a large number of Republican office holders object strongly to the decision. Most important for me is the simplistic idea that
There is, however, a second group of anthropologists, WW Newcomb, Oscar Lewis, Frank Secoy, and more recently Symmes Oliver, who have found this explanation of intertribal warfare unconvincing. These scholars, making much more thorough use of historical sources than is common among anthropologists, have examined warfare in light of economic and technological change. They have presented intertribal warfare as dynamic, changing over time; wars were not interminable contests with traditional enemies, but real struggles in which defeat was often catastrophic. Tribes fought largely for the potential economic and social benefits to be derived from furs, slaves, better hunting grounds, and horses. According to these scholars, plains tribes went to war because their survival as a people depended on securing and defending essential resources.
This is from Richard White, a historian at Stanford University. Here is a link.
- Srebrenica and Demagogues Keith Doubt, Berfrois
- Habermas and pimps: the world of the day and the world of the night Branko Milanovic, globalinequality
- Why didn’t the Crusades succeed? (Aleppo is not a Syrian city) Harry Munt, History Today
- The awkwardness of remembering the Romanovs Bruce Clark, Erasmus
- Revisiting Bosnia Elliot Short, War is Boring
- Liberals and conservatives are wrong on guns Rick Weber, NOL
- Why doesn’t economics progress? Arnold Kling, askblog
- The Balance of the Federation: Canada 1870 to 2016 Livio di Matteo, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative
I deplore Columbus Day. It it a state-sponsored celebration of state-sponsored genocide. I argue that it needs to be abolished because Columbus was a bad man with bad motives.
However, there are a number of talking points, put forth by the Left, that are simply wrong and need to be debunked before we can have an honest discussion about why Columbus was such a bad guy.
The conquests of New Spain and Brazil undertaken by Spain and Portugal were state-sponsored, while the slow, eventual westward push by other European peoples were only indirectly sponsored by states (through corporate charters and the like) until the mid-nineteenth century (a time frame of over four centuries). This state sponsorship can largely explain why Latin America is the red-headed stepchild of the West today.
I don’t buy the argument, put forth by Politically Correct Leftists, that the genocide of Native Americans was perpetrated solely by white men and their cunning and guile. This counter-narrative is just as dishonest as the traditional narrative proclaiming Columbus to be a great discoverer. It takes away the agency and the complexity of Native societies with one fell, condescending swoop.
As an example, consider yesterday’s (American) football game between the Cardinals and the Redskins in Phoenix. The owner of the Redskins, under fire for keeping the name ‘Redskins’, invited the current, democratically-elected President of the Navajo nation to watch the game with him and his family. The President and his wife obliged, and wore Redskins gear to accentuate their support for the Redskins owner.
The couple did this while hundreds of anti-Redskins protesters stood outside the stadium with signs and slogans. Native fans brandished signs inside the stadium declaring their support for the Redskins name.
Many appointed Native leaders simply sold their people out to Europeans. Many more thought assimilation between their culture and the Europeans’ would be the better option going forward. Many Native factions actively slaughtered other factions for money, land, or other goods and services.
I often wonder if traditionalists don’t see what Leftists are doing when they deliberately display such a proud ignorance of historical facts. It’s as if traditionalists relish the role of bad guy in society when they play into the dishonest hands of Leftist so-called reformers.
At any rate, here is economist Bryan Caplan on Columbus Day, and here is philosopher Irfan Khawaja. Both are worth reading. Both are libertarian, to one degree or another, and both pieces move well beyond the usual garbage that passes for debate in this country.
Hope y’all like the new layout of the blog. Take a few minutes to get comfortable. Take off your coat, your shoes and your troubles. Now have a glass of red wine and a look around.
- IRS specifically targets conservative Tea Party groups; So the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein naturally defends the IRS for not doing more: Listen to the fascists sing
- Ken White has an update on the man who made the anti-Islamic film “The Innocence of Muslims”
- Dear life (gun control and gun violence). Again and again: gun violence has been declining for about two decades now.
- The Crushing of Middle Eastern Christianity
- A Brutal Peace: the Postwar Expulsion of the Germans
- Barack the buck-passer. A laudatory account of Obama’s foreign policy that I largely agree with.
Dr. Ivan Eland has a great op-ed on what the US needs to do in regards to the situation in Syria, but what I found even more pertinent were his criticisms of US hypocrisy overseas:
The United States sometimes likes to stay above the fray while secretly fueling conflicts indirectly and accusing rival countries of stoking the conflict by supporting the bad guys. For example, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently accused the Russians of providing offensive weapons to the Assad regime. The Pentagon immediately started backpedaling by saying that attack helicopters being sent from Russia to Syria were not new but were probably old ones being repaired. The Russians then stated that the only arms contracts they had with Syria were for defensive weapons, such as air defenses. The American media of course gave a pass to the deceptive pronouncement by Clinton.
Bashar al-Assad is a brutal ruler who has so far killed more than 10,000 civilians in his own country. And the United States may be generally correct in criticizing Russian support for him. But even that is hypocritical, because the U.S. has supported governments that killed far more people—for example, in the 1980s, the U.S.-backed government of El Salvador killed 65,000 of its own people, many execution-style.
Also, the United States has directly killed more innocents than Assad ever has. In Vietnam, U.S. carpet bombing and other types of attacks killed millions of civilians and rivaled the wanton Nazi destruction in the Balkans during World War II. In the Korean War, the United States targeted dams in North Korea to flood cropland, thus inducing starvation among the people in order to hamper the North Korean war effort.
Conservatives often like to pretend that they favor limited government, but their blind support for US policies overseas highlights their true desires. Conservatives and liberals alike hide behind libertarian rhetoric when it is politically necessary (like when the other party is in the White House). This is because the American public is broadly libertarian and doesn’t like being told what to do, so why can’t somebody like former Governor Gary Johnson – who represents the best of both the Left and the Right – gain more traction in the national political process? Continue reading