Who are the protectionists in Africa?

Rwanda, a country that thankfully avoided “humanitarian” military intervention by Western powers during a nasty killing spree in the 90s, is leading the charge on free trade in Africa. Of the 54 countries on the African continent, 44 have signed the agreement, but the traditional economic giants of the continent – Nigeria and South Africa – have not. Surprisingly, Botswana, an example often cited by economists as an African success story, has not signed it either.

CNBC reports on why Nigeria has so far refused to join the agreement, citing a consultant who specializes in global trade:

There is a general sentiment among (labor unions and industry bodies) that Nigeria’s export capacity in non-oil sectors isn’t sufficiently robust yet to expose itself to external competition.

Unions and “buy local” capitalists: The scourge of prosperity and progress worldwide, but also not much of a surprise.

What will be interesting to see is where this bold experiment leads. How can 44 countries with poor institutions come together to form a free trade pact? I am hoping this will lead to more states in Africa. My logic goes something like this: stronger economic ties will hasten the demise of current African states’ superficial institutions, while allowing informal institutions to flourish. Because these informal institutions are better at solving coordination problems, they’ll eventually be recognized as states. Here’s how I put it back in 2012:

A better way of looking at it, and one that I have pointed out before, is to look at Europe realize that it shares roughly the same amount  of polities as does Africa (50-ish) despite being four times smaller. I bring up the comparison with Europe because in the Old World things like ethnicity still have a strong hold on how individuals identify themselves with their various social spheres. Rather than the 50-ish number of  polities in Africa that we have today, a better way of solving Africa’s problems would be to let the polities currently in place dissolve into 400 polities. Or 500. Then, I think, Africans would know peace and prosperity.

I’d add, today, that this would only be possible if the links built by this free trade pact endure. Economic integration is vital to the dissolution of Africa’s despotic states. (h/t Barry)

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Why Dr Delacroix, I am flattered. Usually only Leftists change the subject when they are stumped. This argument must hold a special place in your heart.

As I said in a response you may have missed, our discussion is probably useful. At its heart lie the issues of credibility and criticality.

Fair enough.

Congressman Paul; volunteered in a debate that the armed forces spent “30″ billions on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Um, I guess it’s up to me to let you know that you gave yourself an extra ten billion to work with here. Awwwkkward! You originally stated that Ron Paul used $20 billion, not $30 billion. It is of little concern to me that you fudged this number, though, because I know you are a dinosaur rather than a cheater. Your new criteria, once it is restored to the original $20 billion, states that air conditioning and all of the costs associated with it in both Iraq and Afghanistan account for around five percent of the 2010 budget.

That’s absurd? Really? Have you ever heard of the United States Postal Service? What about the Department of Housing and Urban Development? How about Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac? Five percent.

I note that if the US armed forces spend 6 or 7 % [or even 5%!!!] of the money I give them for military operations on air conditioning, they might have some explaining to do. That fact in itself sure wouldn’t be an argument for pulling out of either country.

You are absolutely right about that. Now, did Ron Paul use the air conditioning numbers to argue that our troops should come home, or did he use them to argue that Washington’s spending is totally out of control?

The reason I think you are desperate, Dr Delacroix, is that you are focused on such an irrelevant statement. I mean, for Christ’s sake, I Googled “Ron Paul air conditioning statement” and got a few right-wing webpages screaming that Ron Paul wanted to stop letting troops have air conditioning. Notice that they didn’t actually argue about the number Paul cited. You are quite possibly the only person on the planet who is fixated on this number.

Accusing libertarians of being dogmatic because they will vote for Ron Paul is disingenuous, too. All one has to do is go over to the ‘comments’ section of Reason magazine’s webpage to find out all sorts of opinions on Ron Paul’s policies. I suspect I know why you accuse libertarians of being dogmatic, and I will get back to this shortly.

But first, I want to make it crystal-clear that you are free to vote for whomever you like. You can vote for the guy who thinks that ObamaCare has been great for Massachusetts. You can vote for the guy who thinks the Taliban will be a part of Libya’s next government. You can vote for the guy who thinks that the earth was created six thousand years ago. Or you can vote for the guy who thinks that a national energy plan would reduce the world’s supply of oil coming from the Middle East.

Secondly, I want to make it crystal-clear that I don’t agree with everything Ron Paul says or does. I think criticism is a good thing. Instead of making an ass out of yourself by hooting and hollering about an air conditioning number he cited, though, I think it would be more constructive to talk about his opposition to NAFTA as being “managed trade.” Or his calls to eliminate birthright citizenship from the constitution. Or the racist newsletters that circulated through the South under his name in the 1990′s. Perhaps these things are enough for you not to vote for him. I hope you will be happy with one of the alternatives that the GOP offers.

But let us speak no more of intellectual dishonesty. Nor should we speak anymore of Ron Paul’s confidence in himself and his dogmatism. Allow me to illustrate this in a not-so-nice-but-illuminating-nevertheless kind of way. You said:

Your rebuttal of my answer to the constitutional issue about who can start a war makes no sense. If two joint resolutions of Congress embodied in two public laws are not constitutional measures, I don’t know what is and I am not equipped to pursue the topic.

*sniff* *sniff*

I smell something…

*sniff* *sniff* *sniff*

I. *sniff* Smell. *sniff* BULLSHIT!

I am not quite ready to make you bleed yet. I do not want to make you bleed, but your dogmatic insistence that we fight every fight around the world and your intellectual dishonesty (or cowardice) concerning the constitutionality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are too dangerous to let pass. But first:

Congressman Paul’s carelessness in this matter he chose to discuss however is enough of a reason to mistrust his judgment. And, of course,there is always the option of saying quickly,” I misspoke in the heat of the discussion.” This kind of admission usually endears candidates to the general public doing them more good than harm. However, Paul has no doubt. I suspect he has no doubts about anything.

Yours is probably the most articulate criticism I have heard yet regarding Ron Paul’s political positions, so it merits a good, thoughtful response. Keep in mind your newfound ignorance regarding The Rule of Law and your incessant calls for an active – no matter what! – overseas presence when I present my case. Also, keep in mind that you and your readers are free to vote for the guy who wants to implement a national energy plan to reduce the world’s supply of oil from the Middle East.

The idea that Paul knows everything about anything is one that sure does look a lot like dogmatism at first glance. But Ron Paul will be the first to claim that he does not know everything. That’s why he insists that everything go through the Constitutional process – including overseas activities. That is to say, Ron Paul’s idea of dogmatism is to adhere to The Rule of Law. Imagine that!

If you can provide me some examples of him suggesting otherwise, or that he knows better than everybody else and is therefore qualified to flaunt The Rule of Law, then by all means provide it here. Otherwise, I think it would now be a good idea to focus back on the calls made by you to go to war in Rwanda, or the Balkans, or Iraq, or North Korea, or Venezuela at the first sign of trouble.

I want to take us back to issue of dogmatism and intellectual dishonesty really quickly. In a previous reply you stated the following:

On moral responsibility, I chose Rwanda of an extreme case where it would have been easy to intervene productively at little cost or risk. That’s what this country did we respect to the beginning genocide of Kosovars against a much more powerful and sophisticated oppressor.

Your words speak for themselves on the Rwanda genocide.

Your moral indignation towards those of us who would leave the problems of others to themselves may be understandable, but first I have to ask you a quick question (this will be the second time I have done so): which side of the Rwandan war should we have intervened on behalf of? I think it would be pertinent to remember that you are answering the question against the backdrop of a conversation that is centered around dogmatism and intellectual dishonesty. And please, remember that this is a conversation that is also trying to gauge the level humility that each of us has when it comes to recognizing the sheer ignorance that each of us has on any number of issues.

Or would you just simply send our troops to Rwanda with no clear-cut goals, except to stop the fighting between the Hutus and the Tutsis? I think that a demand from libertarians for our politicians to adhere to the Rule of Law hardly qualifies as dogmatic. I think that a demand from hawks for our politicians to do more overseas regardless of the Rule of Law does qualify as dogmatic. Thus to the hawk, the libertarian is dogmatic because he demands that the hawk adhere to the Rule of Law. I can see how you have become confused on the issue now.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

What price for imperial peace?

Is it the case that you endorse and confirm the statement Ron Paul made voluntarily, on his own that he armed forces spend $20 billion a year on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan?

Dude, this is the most absurd subject to be talking about. You’re splitting hairs. You’re getting desperate! However, if I must, I endorse his claim. I cannot confirm it because I do not think I have the resources to do so. If I do have the resources to do so, I do not have the skills necessary to do so. Let’s put this in yet another perspective, since you won’t take a former Brigadier General/West Point graduate/logistician’s rough estimate seriously.

The Department of Defense’s 2010 base budget was almost $664 billion. The former Brigadier General said that $20 billion is spent on air conditioning (he included raw fuel, transport, and security in his estimate). My calculator is telling me, then, that the total amount of money spent on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes about three percent of the DoD’s annual budget (if we are to take the former Brigadier General’s estimates seriously). Given that we have been occupying a state that is located in one of the hottest areas of the world, I do not think that this is such an absurd estimate. However, if you able to provide me with some official figures then I will retract my endorsement of this statement and condemn Ron Paul to a demagogic hell.

About Gingrich’s alleged misstatements, I don’t know what you mean. Please, stop treating as obvious what others may not have seen, heard of, or noticed or may not exist at all.

I confess that I have not watched any of the debates. I go to school all day and work all night. There is no rest for the wicked! Since you want some sort of proof that Newt Gingrich is an ignoramus, I will refer you to his campaign page on foreign policy – oops! I mean national security – for an example. Number 5 on his list of things to do is “implement an American Energy Plan to reduce the world’s dependence on oil from dangerous and unstable countries, especially in the Middle East.” Got that Dr Delacroix? Implement an American energy plan to reduce the world’s dependence on oil from blah blah blah. I am deliberately choosing to bypass the absurdities associated with his calls for “energy independence,” of course.

Just for your readers’ sake, I think it would be a good idea to contrast this with Ron Paul’s official statement on dangerous and unstable sources of oil. First of all, I had to go to the “Energy” page, not the “National Defense” page, to find out about his thoughts on foreign sources of oil.
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There was nothing at all said about foreign sources of oil. Not a goddamn word, Dr Delacroix. Yet you slander him as an isolationist.

However, they take us a long way from your original statement on the illegality, the unconstitutional character of these wars.

I’m going to ask you for a third time (not that I’m keeping track or anything): what part of “only Congress can declare war” don’t you understand?!

Perhaps a different angle can be used to illustrate my point on this issue: the Department of Education was created by an act of Congress, so does that make it constitutional? It’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question (unless you’re a Leftist, of course).

On moral responsibility, I chose Rwanda of an extreme case where it would have been easy to intervene productively at little cost or risk. That’s what this country did we respect to the beginning genocide of Kosovars against a much more powerful and sophisticated oppressor.

Your words speak for themselves on the Rwanda genocide.

Your comparison between the mess in the Balkans and the mess in the African Great Lakes region is, like your comparison between the U.S. and Libya, superficial at best.

I’ll keep this brief. The Balkans are in Europe and neighbor a sizable number of allied states, and we picked sides (losing Russia in the process) before we started bombing.

may be willing to concede that non-intervention is an immoral doctrine if you can answer me this simple question: which side of the Rwandan war should we have picked?

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Again, the soup is too rich. I am going to let most of what you say stand except two things:

1 Is it the case that you endorse and confirm the statement Ron Paul made voluntarily, on his own that he armed forces spend $20 billion a year on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan? I ask because it’s a measure of Ron Paul’s seriousness and of his followers, with respect to simple facts.

In this connection: It’s clear that Herman Cain knows little about anything outside the country. I don’t doubt Congressman Paul knows much more. About Gingrich’s alleged misstatements, I don’t know what you mean. Please, stop treating as obvious what others may not have seen, heard of, or noticed or may not exist at all.

2 Your sophisticated musings about what constitutes the right to wage war may well be worth considering. You make good arguments that they are worth it. However, they take us a long way from your original statement on the illegality, the unconstitutional character of these wars. At the time, you sound as if you were parroting the left-wing yahoos on the topic.

On moral responsibility, I chose Rwanda of an extreme case where it would have been easy to intervene productively at little cost or risk. That’s what this country did we respect to the beginning genocide of Kosovars against a much more powerful and sophisticated oppressor.

Your words speak for themselves on the Rwanda genocide.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Now I got you right where I want you. Let’s start with your assertion that you are not anti-Muslim. I wholly agree with you, and reading back on our first exchange (Peace At All Costs…) it is clear to me that you were making exactly the points that you mention above. Here is what you said:

Jihadism does not mean “re-conquest” of what was once Muslim but conquest or domination of the whole world. (See the Hamas Charter on this blog). The only acceptable outcomes are conversion or living as dhimmis, second class citizens, for Christians and Jews. Pagans – that would include Santa Cruz Buddhists, as well as Hindus – can be slaughtered freely or reduced to slavery under Islamic law. In fact, any Muslims man can seize any “pagan” and make him or her a slave. Female slaves are called “concubines.”The Muslims scriptures thus clearly condone rape. The rational Muslims I know will say, “ That was a long time ago. We would not do it now.” In the meantime, the permission to act in this manner remains on the book. It can be invoked at any time and is. I don’t know for sure but I would bet that there is not a single fatwa condemning any of these outrageous acts.

I can see now that you were really attacking the notion of Political Correctness that is so prevalent in the minds of most young people these days. I don’t care what everybody else says, you are a very, very good teacher.

Moving on, let’s go over the case of Rwanda really quickly, so that misunderstandings over the doctrine of nonintervention can be cleared up. You said:

The most useful thing you did recently to help this cause is to affirm clearly that we, as a nation, have no responsibility toward the victims of mass massacres in which we could intervene at little cost and at little risk to ourselves. I refer to Rwanda, of course and not to Iraq where there was always much risk.

We have radically different moral compasses. There is an impassable gulf there.

This is not really an instance of morality. The horrors of massacres and genocide make me sick to my stomach to think about, but that by itself is no reason to send a military into an area that is suffering.

We have to think things through. For example, should we have intervened in Rwanda on behalf of the Hutus or the Tutsis? That in itself presents a great problem. You may reply with an emphatic “who cares, they are all slaughtering each other!“, of course, but then this begs the question as to what our military should do upon arrival. Showing up to a state, no matter how divided, uninvited and with the intent to make everybody play nice together doesn’t sound like my idea of a solid plan to prevent violence and bring about democracy.

On top of this, how would the rest of the region perceive this “humanitarian mission” undertaken by the West? Is it not true that most of the states in Rwanda’s region of the world are governed by former guerrilla leaders who won their power under the guise of anti-imperialism? You will no doubt respond with another “who cares, they are slaughtering each other, and if we can take a few dictators with us, then it’s all the more reason to do it!” Yet now we have created a situation that involves not just the failures of one post-colonial state, but we have drawn in regional players to boot. Instead of a civil war with minimal interference from neighbors, we have a regional problem and one that gives those ex-guerrillas more reasons to justify their brutal regimes.

In essence, instead of a small intervention with little or no costs, what we would probably get is a protracted regional war in which the republic’s safety is in no danger at all. And just think about the image of the United States around the world in a situation like this. I’m sure other states would be very understanding of our position that we are only using our military there to bring about peace, even as all-out war descends across the entire region and it becomes apparent that Washington never really had a plan in the first place, save to prevent genocide among the Hutus and Tutsis without taking sides.

I hate Ron Paul! I hate Ron Paul! I hate Ron Paul!

Ron Paul was using this statement by a former Brigadier General in regards to the air conditioning costs. Is a highly-ranked logistician and West Point graduate’s rough estimate not good enough for you? I’d be willing to condemn Ron Paul as a demagogue if you could provide me with some exact budget numbers from the DoD. Otherwise, I see no reason not to believe a former General’s lamentations regarding Washington’s profligate spending on our “nation-building” exercises.

This argument is also absurd when we remember that Ron Paul said this during a live televised debate. Even if this number turns out to be false – and we have absolutely no reason or evidence to suggest that it is – such a statement should be pretty well-ignored when we consider some of the whoppers that the other candidates have come up with. I am thinking specifically of your pets Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.

The Constitution vs. “Congressional authority”

This is what I mean by tinkering with words. I thought it was something that only liberals do, but apparently I am wrong.

All name-calling and poo-pooing aside, I think that something important is at stake here: namely The Rule of Law. If we continue to let elites define the letter of the law as they go, then we will continue to see our liberties slip from our grasp.

Article 1 Section 8 of the constitution clearly, explicitly, and plainly states that “The Congress shall have the Power To […] declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”

We already know what letters of marque and reprisal means because you have mocked David Theroux for it in the recent past. Yet, if you think about it, turning bin Laden over to bounty hunters seems like a mighty smart thing to do after ten years of hindsight. Perhaps Mr. Theroux is just a cowardly pacifist, but then again maybe he is concerned that Washington’s policies abroad are eroding The Rule of Law.

The Joint Resolution did indeed give the President the authority to wage war against the perpetrators of 9/11. Ooops. Here we are ten years later, and Osama bin Laden is dead. He was killed in Pakistan. Our military is now working with al-Qaeda (in Afghanistan), and that’s actually a generous way of putting it.

More “congressional authorization”: The Use of Military Force Against Iraq. Ooops. Here I think it would be pertinent to ask “what does ‘military force’ mean?” Evidently it meant removing a dictator from power within 3 weeks, and then implementing policies meant to transform Iraq into a multi-party democracy in the middle of the Islamic world. Eight years later, we are still there, and 700,000 innocent people have been murdered in the ensuing chaos caused by “congressional authority”.

I guess I’ll ask the question again: what part of “only Congress can declare war” don’t you understand?

Declaring war gives a nation and its policymakers a clear-cut goal. It eliminates the ambiguities associated with “congressional authorization” for something or other regarding foreign affairs. Declaring war is a precise and serious way of telling citizens and enemies alike that all options to come to an understanding have been exhausted. Declaring war is the most honest and straightforward way of dealing with hostile polities in the diplomatic arena, and as such, it is the most fitting way for a republic composed of free citizens to go about engaging in international squabbles.

It also eliminates the loopholes created by congressional authorization techniques, techniques that have been used for centuries by power-hungry tyrants to get around The Rule of Law.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Like shooting fish in a barrel…

I think that’s not the Libertarian position. The party’s position instead is to wait until we are attacked, as in Pearl Harbor, to engage in active defense on the basis of a military establishment much smaller than the current one. Please, correct me on these specific points if my perception is wrong.

To be honest, I have no idea what the LP’s position on foreign policy is. I don’t think it worth my time to even look it up either. I don’t know why you keep conflating libertarians with an irrelevant political party, either. It probably helps your position to look better, I suppose, but most libertarians vote and participate within the two parties that are dominant today. Just look at yourself. I know I do.

This particular aspect of your argument is disturbing though:

The party’s position instead is to wait until we are attacked, as in Pearl Harbor, to engage in active defense on the basis of a military establishment much smaller than the current one.

First of all, the United States didn’t “wait around” for Japan to attack us at Pearl Harbor. Nobody saw it coming, including, I am sure, a large number of Japanese policymakers and elites. The assumption that the U.S. was innocent in the whole affair is disingenuous as well. Did Roosevelt not impose an oil embargo on Japan? Is that not, essentially, an act of war? If we remember our Bastiat, then we must surely realize that when goods stop crossing borders, armies will.

I think it is also a mistake to confuse Japan – an industrialized imperial power – with the likes of North Korea and Iran. I have already addressed this in a number of other arguments, so I don’t think it is worth repeating here. Free men have nothing to fear from toothless despots. It is our own government that we must be wary of, first and foremost.

Drumming up fear and suspicion of far-away despots has never had a place at the table of Liberty. It is not hard to see why.

You refer mysteriously to the constitutional limits of military actions. I think both the Iraq war and the Afghanistan wars are constitutional. I think, the help to Libyan is borderline.

What part of “only Congress can declare war” don’t you understand? Tinkering with words is something only liberals do, I have found.

Speaking of bleeding hearts, my answer to your strange question regarding Rwanda is a wholehearted and resounding “yes“.

The people who took part in those massacres were all or mostly adults. That means that they are capable of making decisions for themselves. Paternalism is another idea that has no place at the table of Liberty. The people responsible for the massacres in Rwanda were the Rwandans. If we stretch this, we can even pin some of the blame on European imperialism. But to the bleeding heart liberal, living safely and comfortably in the United States, the Rwandan massacres were all our fault! We didn’t do anything about it!

95% of all terrorist acts in the world in the past twenty years have been committed by people who call themselves Muslims and most often, in the name of Islam.

It would be nice if you could provide some statistics to back up this rather mendacious claim. What about Columbia? Sri Lanka? What about the fact that most terrorist acts committed by Muslims kill other Muslims?

The rest of your argument I can mostly agree with. Except, of course, for the part where you have celebrated the successes of removing dictators from Iraq and Libya. Although I usually don’t have any problem wading in to a fight to help out a friend, I think I would be better to let you stand on your own for this one. Libya and Iraq are successes of American bombing campaigns and “nation-building” exercises. Yeah, sure, Dr Delacroix, and fairies sometimes fly out of my butt when I fart.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

I am flattered, Brandon and I am sure I don’t deserve all this attention. I did not merit these detailed rebuttals and your rebuttals don’t deserve that much either. Sorry if this sounds dismissive b, it’s not my attention but your arguments seem to proceed from some debating class that I have not taken. He are your words:

It is not enough for you to have an adequate defense force that protects the territory and integrity of the Republic.

I think that’s not the Libertarian position. The party’s position instead is to wait until we are attacked, as in Pearl Harbor, to engage in active defense on the basis of a military establishment much smaller than the current one. Please, correct me on these specific points if my perception is wrong. Please, don’t run all around the chicken corral!

You charge me with saying that “we must bomb, maim, and bully other peoples in the name of peace as well.” Of course, it’s a caricature but it hides an important truth. We have different perceptions of recent events. Here it is in a capsule: The Iraqi liberation war did not do as well as it should have; it went much worse, in fact. Yet, knowing what I know now, if I had to make the decision I would do it again. The Libyan operation went as well as one could expect. As I wrote on my blog, it’s an Obama success.

You refer mysteriously to the constitutional limits of military actions. I think both the Iraq war and the Afghanistan wars are constitutional. I think, the help to Libyan is borderline.

I can’t take your otherwise thoughtful critique seriously because of all that you leave out of my clearly expressed position. I want to try one last time to elicit your response one something that is important to my military posture. I assume that you and I could easily agree that the US had no vital interest in Rwanda at the time of the genocide.

Was it fine to let thousands of Rwandan massacre hundreds of thousands of their fellow-citizens with machetes and bricks?

It seems to me that the first answer has to be a “yes” or a “no.”

One more thing, Brandon: I don’t know where in my writing you see anything resembling anti-Muslim statements. What I have done repeatedly is:

  1. denounced the hypocrisy of American Muslim organizations;
  2. deplored the blindness, the confusion of ordinary Muslims;
  3. attacked the mendacity of political correctness in this country, all with respect to the following simple fact: 95% of all terrorist acts in the world in the past twenty years have been committed by people who call themselves Muslims and most often, in the name of Islam.

I mean by “terrorism” violent acts directed deliberately against civilians.

Just to be superfluously declarative: I don’t think Muslims are evil; I think they are in massive denial. There are Muslim commentators who say exactly the same. There are too few and they are not heard much.

Systematic Evil and our Insensitivity to Evil

Conservative circles are celebrating a new, fairly courageous movie about fanatical, primitive Islamist Iran, “The Stoning of Soraya M.” It’s after the true story of the public execution by stoning of a young mother accused of adultery in a backward Iranian village. The movie sounds well made, affecting, but the story is a cop-out.

It turns out the young woman was framed. She was not guilty of adultery but the victim of machination by her evil husband and weak officials. No commentator or critic I have read has asked what are to me obvious questions:

First, I want to know what is the fate in backward areas of Iran of women who are correctly convicted of adultery. Is Iran a society where the penalty for a woman who has sex with a man not her husband is an especially barbarous form of capital punishment?

Second, I want to know whether or not the same could happen in Tehran or in some other of Iran’s major cities. Even the most civilized societies experience occasional barbarous acts in their backward areas. The question is this: Is the Islamic Republic an uncivilized society?

Third, I want to know how the kind of Islamic law that prevails in Iran defines adultery. I ask, because several years ago, in Muslim Nigeria, a young woman was sentenced to death by stoning for becoming pregnant after divorcing her husband. (Her sentence was eventually commuted and the rest of the world lost track of her.)  Continue reading

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Humanitarian War and the Omnipotent Expert

I have made an effort in my blogging escapades to continually point out the underlying reasons for military intervention in poorer (often former colonial) states. Two things that have stood out to me are (1) the condescending display of arrogance on the part of the interventionist in regards to both differing arguments and the people involved in a conflict and (2) the high levels of confidence that these advocates have in their ability to predict the future based, presumably, on past experiences.

If you haven’t made the connection yet, these two characteristics are often exuded in Leftist intellectual circles, in Leftist popular culture, and in the Leftist’s moral compass.

Oftentimes, when I come across an advocate for humanitarian war (the doublespeak alone is enough to make me wonder), I am presented with the example of the mass slaughter of civilians in Rwanda during the ongoing conflict there in 1994. The gist of the argument seems to be two-fold: (1) that the West was hypocritical in its treatment of Rwanda and (2) that the West could have prevented, or at least, stunted, the horrific massacre of over half a million people in three months time. Continue reading

Foreign Policy and Human Ignorance: The Attack on Non-Intervention

I have recently been having more than a few back-and-forth debates with my old sparring partner Jacques Delacroix concerning matters of foreign policy.  The most recent debate has produced a number of great insights and opportunities to further enhance an understanding of foreign affairs.

Against the backdrop of this lively and hopefully continuing debate is the recognition that both of us are extremely ignorant human beingsand that we know far too little about anything to be in a position to command or direct institutions that are not based upon mutual consent and agreement.  The one institution – government – that is widely regarded to be necessary for the use of coercion should have its monopoly on force widely distributed throughout various avenues of power and severely restricted by the use of legal precedent.  This small paragraph essentially sums up the foundation of both libertarian and conservative thought in the United States, and as you read through this essay (or any other writings believed to expound upon conservative or libertarian ideals) I would highly recommend remembering this small but important fact.

Indeed, if I had to pinpoint the exact locus of difference between a Leftist and a conservative/libertarian, it would be this fundamentally opposite view of man that each camp harbors.  Seldom have I met a Leftist  Continue reading

Rebellion in Homs

As we speak, the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad is slaughtering his people.  Assad is the son of one of the most notorious dictators of the modern Middle East, Hafez al-Assad, and, like his father, is a member of the socialist Ba’ath Party.  It worth mentioning that Saddam Hussein’s ruling party was also a socialist Ba’ath Party, though I don’t know how closely connected the Iraqi and Syrian parties were.  I just know both parties are Arab nationalist and socialist in nature.

One of our co-bloggers, Jacques Delacroix, has been an outspoken proponent of bombing the Assad regime in the name of democracy lately, and he has not shied away from proclaiming the Iraq War a success, or condemning libertarians (you read that right) to hypocrisy for U.S. refusal to bomb Rwanda during the 1990’s.  He is also a proud supporter of the military occupation of the Balkans by NATO troops and the subsequent partition of Serbia into a plethora of different narco-states, and has not hesitated to heap praise upon President Obama for the recent bombing campaign that led to the removal of Muammar Ghaddafi from power in Libya.

I have addressed Professor Delacroix’s arguments for Libyan intervention here (there is a long dialogue between he and I in the ‘comments’ section).  I have addressed his arguments for bombing Rwanda and occupying the Balkans here (again, there is another long dialogue in the ‘comments’ section).  I have addressed his claims of Iraqi democracy here (it’s in the middle of the dialogue) and recent events in Iraq have, of course, borne out my argument.

I would like to draw attention now to his most recent idea for helping out the rebellion in Syria, and specifically in the city of Homs, close to where Bashar’s father murdered 20,000 in 1982 in the city of Hamah.  This is not embarrass Delacroix or to start a fight, but rather to initiate a dialogue and see where it takes us.  I had to ask him what his plans for Syria would be, since interventionists are infamous for being beholden to their hearts rather than their heads.  From his other blog: Continue reading