A Little Mention

Think Tank.jpg
Think Tank

Ron Nessen, in his column in the Washington Post, had a short write up on my trip earlier this year to Iraq: “Think Tank Town.”

8 Responses to “A Little Mention”

  1. Tom G. Palmer

    I believe that it’s a water tank in the western U.S. But the jist of your comment is well taken. After a gigantic error of intelligence and an unjustified decision to go to war, let’s not raise a finger to try to help dissidents and heretics from being persecuted. Let’s not try to explain freedom of the press, private property, the rule of law, and toleration. Let’s hope that the system collapses into complete tyranny. We’ll all feel a lot better about ourselves that way.

  2. Let’s praise the Ayatollah “Model of Restraint” Sistani, his fellow theocrats, and their wonderful “system” instead. Let’s go to Iraq to “advise” the corrupt and viciously authoritarian government. Let’s attack anyone who says “Out Now.” Let’s try to “explain” “toleration” to mullahs who want to take us back to the 12th century. And let’s wait until the war spreads to Syria and Iran before we go “extremist” and “discredit” the antiwar movement by calling for withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. If the “system” collapses, why is that anyone’e fault but the people who set it up to begin with? Go make another speech before the “constitutionalists” of Iraq, and see how much good it does you, you self righteous pompous fool.

  3. Wow, Althea, that’s quite a reply. Do you really believe that it is a bad thing to explain to people why strictly limited government and individual rights, as you suggest in your second sentence?

    Do you also really believe that since it was the U.S. government that immorally, foolishly, and unnecessarily initiated this war & occupation, this absolves the terrorists who murder innocent civilians, as you suggest in your sixth sentence?

    I suspect that the object in the photo is neither a prison nor a water tank, but a home for libertarians who disengage from reality in order to protect their imagined purity.

  4. “Do you also really believe that since it was the U.S. government that immorally, foolishly, and unnecessarily initiated this war & occupation, this absolves the terrorists who murder innocent civilians, as you suggest in your sixth sentence?”

    I agree the insurgents killing innocent civilians are committing murder which there is no legal absolution. However, the unfortunate reality is that American & British grunts and leaders can rightfully be accused of the same in some instances of collateral damage. Other cases of collateral damage could be considered the lesser crime of manslaughter. They [US & Britain] cannot stop insurgents, guerillas, and terrorists, but they can stop their own involvement in this crime against the Iraqis. If there is any hope for freedom in Iraq, it must begin (however ugly it may be in the short run) with the end of the occupation.

    The ultimate reality is that this war is lost and it is impossible for our military to establish a peaceful, viable democracy in this country. Facing this reality properly is much more likely to yield positive results for Iraq in the long run than through maintaining the occupation.

    I’m willing to make a bet ($20 Simon v. Ehrlich style) that the US military will leave with their tail between their legs and will have not established a viable free and independent Iraqi democracy with in ten years from now.

    I want to point out that I am not hoping that this would happen. Believe me, I would love to see an anarchocapitalist paradise throughout the world, that doesn’t mean I think it is likely. Just the same, while I would prefer a free and democratic Iraq with a true respect for life, liberty, property (I’d prefer the whole world would have this); I think it is impossible for the US military to give it to them.

  5. I don’t know if you are familiar with any of Volney’s works (best known is “Ruins of Empires”), many of which are strongly libertarian in content, but there were several that were written in arabic. He was a world traveler and multi-lingual.

    I don’t believe that most have been reprinted, but it might be worth looking into his arabic writings for availability in Iraq and other arabic countries.

    Just a thought.
    Just Ken

  6. Casey: I certainly won’t take your bet, and agree with you on nearly all of your points.

    I actually favor withdrawal, and on a timely basis.

    But I understand and am sympathetic to the argument that now that we’ve stirred up the hornet’s nest, we have some responsibility to try to fix things before abandoning our mess. I doubt we can do much of a job of it, but an instant withdrawal would make things worse for Iraqis, and, in the longer run, ourselves.

    I gather that while they don’t admit it, Bush & co.’s current strategy is to get out once they’ve established a semblance of a functioning Iraqi state. That state will either be largely Shiite, allied with Iraq; or else will be a fragmented Balkanized mess of warring Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis.

    So into that mess goes Tom Palmer, with his ‘pompously foolish’ suggestion that everyone involved wake up and begin respecting individual rights. You would have to be pompouas and a fool to think this approach could have any effect…but I’ll take such pompous foolishness over any alternative I can think of.

  7. Casey,

    The military may or may not be able to “bring” democracy to Iraq. But that uncertainty is one of the reasons that Tom goes to Iraq and does the things he does there. In other words, Tom is working toward building strong institutions–homegrown, Iraqi institutions–that will aid in the establishment of a respect for the rule of law, property, and limited government in the Iraqi consciousness.

    For better or worse, the U.S. military is in Iraq, and will be there for quite some time longer. That is a reality. Given that reality, the question becomes, how can we best maximize the chances for liberty to flourish there, and minimize the chances that Iraq falls back into tyranny (secular or religious)? Some people apparently believe that the best way to do that is to champion the deaths of U.S. troops, to apologize for the slaughter of innocent people by “insurgents” (rather than “terrorists”), and to hold a general disdain for anything American.

    Tom’s take, if I’m not mistaken, is to take this opportunity–and he opposed the war from the beginning, recall–to teach as much about the value of libertarian institutions to people who matter in Iraqi politics, and to help those people build a robust civil society from the ground up. If he and others are successful, it won’t be “the U.S. military” who ultimately secured democracy for Iraq, but Iraqis themselves.

    Whether one believes this strategy will work in the long-term is obviously a subject of reasonable debate. But during that debate, we should bear in mind that Tom takes these trips at considerable risk to his personal safety, and even if one does not believe that he will be successful, his enthusiasm and his efforts ought to be applauded by anyone who claims to value human freedom.