Four years ago, Americans who found the approaches of perpetual war and a Big Brother surveillance state to be undesirable, unnecessary or counterproductive means of bringing justice to the 9/11 mass murderers were accused of not facing reality. Treating 9/11 as a crime, we were told, would never nab the villains. Only by unleashing the dogs of war, by going on the offensive, and by shifting the"balance" from liberty toward security could America destroy the enemy, neutralize the immediate threat, and ensure our freedom and safety. Well, let us consider what has happened in the last four years.
But I believe the correct position is that of course torture is uncivilized, and even worse is killing innocent civilians. All wars in the modern era are" criminal." Practically all bombings are war crimes. They are acts of mass murder, and if one has a conditional defense of knowingly killing non-aggressors, then surely there must be an equally valid conditional defense for abusing captive criminals.
O'Reilly is accused of finding a defense of torture. He responds that those who favor war (including him) have found a defense of killing innocent women and children. I contend that once you can find a way to defend war crimes like the nuking of Hiroshima or even lesser acts of mass killing of civilians, you can find a way to defend anything using identical logic.
Here are my earlier thoughts on Stewart's shameful flip-flop on Truman, and see the insightful Justin Raimondo and this article by Dennis Perrin at the Huffington Post.
In actuality, the mainstream conservatives and mainstream liberals tend to have a very similar view of American history: The history of progress, largely carried out by the central state. Lincoln and FDR, the New Deal and the World Wars, the Civil Rights era and even Cold War and proudly championed by both the center left and center right.
In his inaugural address, for example, Obama talked up the soldiers who"fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn." While it is true that he says"that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions," he seems to believe those missiles and tanks are important, which would explain why he's increasing"defense" spending and expanding the war.
Obama is proud of the statist version of American history, as are most conservatives and mainstream liberals. The antidote is in thoughtful revisionism. A good introduction to looking at American history differently is Ivan Eland's new book, Recarving Rushmore.
Memo for Anthony Gregory:
I received your email which I believe you refer to the"Winds Code" story which I read in the New York Times on Sunday, December 7, 2008, based on a news release of the National Security Agency written by NSA" court historians."
The story is NOT news. The"Winds Code" was introduced in the Congressional Investigation of 1945-46 in an attempt by Congress to divert attention from American success in solving the Japanese naval codes prior to Pearl Harbor. American newspapers and radio networks carried the story in November 1945.
The"winds code" was issued by the Japanese Foreign Office, not the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Foreign Office, certain the Allied nations would cut off communications, planned to use hidden word phrases in their world-wide news broadcasts aimed at Japanese Embassies and Consulates world-wide. Example"East wind Rain" in the weather report during the short wave news broadcast meant war with America; East wind North meant war with Russia. Ralph T. Briggs, a U.S. Naval intercept operator at Station"M", Cheltenham, Maryland, intercepted the"Winds Code" broadcast on December 4, 1941, numbered the report and sent it to headquarters in Washington, D.C. The numbered report of Briggs is missing from U.S. Navy files.
While the Foreign Office report certainly revealed Japanese war intentions, the Japanese Navy also used a hidden war phrase: Niitaka Yama Nobore 1208, which translated meant"Climb Mt. Niitaka on December 8, 1941" (Tokyo time). This radio message originated by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Imperial Navy and was intercepted by Station"H" in Hawaii. Yamamoto transmitted the Niitaka message on December 2, 1941, in the hidden word phrase, according to testimony during the Congressional Investigation 1945-46. RADM Edwin Layton, who was Admiral Kimmel's intelligence officer said the message was received in Hawaii in the hidden word system.
The Imperial Japanese Army also had a hidden word phrase. I have not seen the message, but it reportedly was"The Black Kite will fly on December 8, 1941."
Best regards, Bob Stinnett.
See here for more on Pearl Harbor revisionism.
"'Young Americans failed, but so did the elderly,' said Bunting."'Men and women, rich and poor, liberals and conservatives, Republican and Democratic, white, black, yellow and brown – all were united in their inability to master the basic features of America's constitutional form of government.'"
But this surprised even me:
"Seventy-nine (79) percent of elected officeholders did not know that the Bill of Rights expressly forbids the government establishment of an official religion."
It's a good thing we have a democratic system, where ignorant voters can vote for even more ignorant officials.
Writes Manuel Lora:"Ah, but there's also this; they won't give up: 'The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression. The Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks by $330 billion to $620 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. The Term Auction Facility, the Fed's emergency loan program, will expand by $300 billion to $450 billion. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan are among the participating authorities.'"
And then there's more praise for Bush: Barr says,"The Bush administration deserves credit for having done much to disable al Qaeda as an effective terrorist organization." What? Al Qaeda is bigger and badder than ever, thanks to the war on terror. As the CIA's former Bin Laden Unit chief Michael Scheuer has argued consistently, both wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan – have played into Osama's hands and empowered al Qaeda. Seven years after 9/11, libertarians should not continue the mistake made by many in endorsing any aspect of the war on terror. Any credit to Bush is too much credit.
This is really amazing. The same campaign that was willing to praise Jesse Helms, Al Gore and now George Bush, a campaign that has flip-flopped on global warming, gay marriage, the drug war and other issues, is now attacking the most popular libertarian activist movement in modern history, and attacking Ron Paul the person for caring more about himself than spreading the message of freedom – perhaps the most bizarre accusation one could make.
When Barr first got the nomination, I predicted he would not break 700,000 votes, despite hysterically optimistic estimates of millions of votes. Now, I would be somewhat surprised if he got more votes than Michael Badnarik.
But it's funny to argue that"Libertarians may agree with Greens on the need for a foreign policy based on nonaggression, but it is for very different reasons." I never understood this argument. There are a THOUSAND good reasons to oppose war. Libertarians should embrace every single one. Indeed, contra this LP rhetoric, the LP has long been focusing on too narrow a reason to oppose war: because it is unconstitutional, or because it's a waste of money. The biggest reason for a libertarian to support"a foreign policy based on nonaggression" is because, under libertarianism, aggression is per se evil. And on this issue, many Greens are at least as good as many libertarians. In fact, the LP has long tried to be somewhat neutral on war, since it's been seen as a debatable issue among libertarians. Well, if we libertarians can disagree with each other over mass murder, I don't see what a little domestic socialism is between friends.
After all, the LP is now the party of"the principle of individual sovereignty, limited government and lower taxation." With such a broad, watered down"philosophy," many leftists would fit right in: Most leftists I know think government is too unlimited and taxes are too high. Believing in lower taxes is not enough, and neither is believing that it's time to come home from Iraq. Real libertarianism is anti-tax, anti-war and anti-state, across the board, and yet ecumenical enough to work with fellow travelers on important issues. It seems the Libertarian Party, in trying to broaden its appeal by watering down its own dedication to the non-aggression principle, has actually alienated itself and marginalized its outreach. I would suggest the LP become less sectarian when it comes to working with people and become more principled in its own internal devotion to philosophy. Now it's sort of floundering with the worst of both worlds.
Here's Glenn Greenwald on Obama's wholesale reversal on his campaign promise to oppose the FISA bill (so long as it had telecom immunity):
Obama's vote in favor of cloture, in particular, cemented the complete betrayal of the commitment he made back in October when seeking the Democratic nomination. Back then, Obama's spokesman -- in response to demands for a clear statement of Obama's views on the spying controversy after he had previously given a vague and noncommittal statement -- issued this emphatic vow:"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."
But the bill today does include retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. Nonetheless, Obama voted for cloture on the bill -- the exact opposition of supporting a filibuster -- and then voted for the bill itself. A more complete abandonment of an unambiguous campaign promise is difficult of imagine.
For more on the Democrats and FISA, see my recent Op-Ed,"The Democrats Betray the Fourth Amendment," and my piece two years ago predicting this betrayal,"Will the Democrats Save our Civil Liberties?"
In"FISA and the PATRIOT Act Are the Abuse," I criticized the very notion that the statutory law that Bush found necessary to circumvent is itself enough to protect our privacy. I discussed how such surveillance programs have been directed against benign political and partisan enemies of the state in"FBI, Please Protect Us from Terrorists and the ACLU."
As with government control generally, the power of the state to prevent or regulate immigration is grounded in the doctrine of collectivism. When governments build walls or fences around politically-defined boundaries, they are doing what all other property owners do: staking out their claims to everything contained within. It’s just an extension of the earlier ritual of explorers planting flags on the shores of newly-discovered lands and claiming them for one monarch or another. From China’s"great wall," to Hadrian’s wall, to the Berlin wall, to current efforts to install a fence across the Mexican-American border, governments have built barriers that restrain both their own people and those seeking entry. The principle that allows this to occur is that the state enjoys some collective ownership interest that differs from – and is in conflict with – individual property claims. The state, through no other principle than the coercive force that defines it, is able to transform itself from an agency of protection into a principal interest to be protected!