Remarkably Puerile, Even For Them: Stephen Kinsella & South Ossetia

This entry reveals the remarkably low intellectual depths that the Lew Rockwell Cult plumbs:

August 27, 2008

Taco on Russia v. Georgia v. S. Ossetia
Posted by Stephan Kinsella at August 27, 2008 08:50 PM
Re What About the Ossetians?: Cato’s piece on the Russia-Georgia-Ossetia crisis is a bit odd. First, as Sheldon Richman notes, “the Georgian military response to … the secessionist ambitions of the majority in South Ossetia … was the immediate cause of the current war”; but the Cato piece blames Russia (“The war was a spectacular provocation that had been long prepared and successfully executed by the Russian ‘siloviki'”), without so much as mentioning Georgia’s own complicity, or Georgia’s status as neocon stooge.

Further, as Richman notes, “Defenders of liberty … should … champion the cause of the brutalized Ossetians, who … demand independence from Georgia. … When President Bush says the ‘territorial integrity of Georgia’ must be respected and GOP presidential candidate John McCain declares, ‘Today we’re all Georgians,’ they are putting politics above justice.” He’s right: any libertarian ought to favor decentralization, secession, and independence. Yet, the Cato piece seems to bemoan the possibility that the breakaway regions may actually succeed in gaining independence–it’s a “loss” (“Under the new situation, the idea of legitimizing the de facto loss of South Ossetia and Abkhazia may gain traction in Georgian society.”)

Interestingly, the Cato piece is linked to approvingly on the smearblog of Cato’s vice president for international junketeering, hissy fitting, and slandering. And in the comments section, one of his fellow slimers apes the neocon line in opposing Ossetian independence in the name of the international law doctrine of “territorial integrity”. But the libertarian aspect of this doctrine is its prohibition of invasions of one nation by another. To the extent the principle is opposed to secession, it is unlibertarian.

Notice the sadly childish use of links. When it looks like it might be a link to someone critical of them, it goes instead to another sad and pathetic piece about legal issues facing someone who has, as far as I can tell, not in fact done anything to arouse their ire.

Stephen Kinsella’s Twisting of Words

The two serious links on it are to a blog post (which links to a longer essay) by Sheldon Richman that raises important issues and to an analysis by a Cato scholar with a great deal of knowledge of the issues and the powers involved; that analysis does not call for any kind of military response, but the sad Stephen Kinsella twists it into something it’s not by highlighting the reference to Georgia’s “loss” of territory…..which is, as a loss of territory, stripped down into “a loss.” Not much of a point, but Stephen Kinsella isn’t much of a thinker. (It’s also interesting that there are no mentions of the large number of other analyses of the conflict by Cato analysts. Instead it’s “the Cato piece”; whatever.)

The Lew Rockwell Cult’s Enthusiasm For The Confederacy

On the substantive issue, by all means support the right of people to secede from regimes they don’t wish to be ruled by. But it’s not at all so clear that they have a right to take with them others who don’t wish to secede, or who don’t want to be a part of their smaller state. That’s why issues of secession are not always easy, unless you simply don’t care about individual rights in the first place. For example, consider the enthusiasm of the Lew Rockwell Cult for the secession of the southern states, something done for the very explicit purpose of keeping the majority population of South Carolina in chains. (You see, they were slaves and not consulted on whether “the people” of South Carolina should secede from the US.) As the members of the majority population of slaves were not asked whether they wished to secede from South Carolina or from the slave masters who promoted secession, South Carolina’s secession was simply unjustifiable on moral grounds. (That is not the same as saying that everything that followed, including the unconstitutional and terrible acts of the Union and its armies, were justified. As Jeffrey Rogers Hummel has pointed out, the issues are quite separable.)

South Ossetia: A Complicated Question

I wish I always knew the right answers to such questions, but chasing out the largest ethnic group from Abkhazia, enduring foreign military occupation, engaging in systematic ethnic cleansing, and then insisting that the remaining population have the right to take the whole territory with them into “independence” (in reality, military occupation and domination by the large neighbor to the north) doesn’t strike me as obviously right. If South Ossetia can “secede,” can the Georgian-populated areas of South Ossetia (which were quite substantial until a few weeks ago, and were more so before the nasty ethnic cleansing touched off by a mixture of rabid local nationalism and external interventionism in the early 1990s) “secede” from South Ossetia? Not according to the Rockwell Cultists. Stephen Kinsella says someone or other (not me, and I’m not sure who, but he doesn’t have the courage to provide any actual link to any arguments) invoked “territorial integrity,” which Kinsella rejects….except when it he eagerly invokes it to support the Russian occupation and expulsion of the entire Georgian population from the Soviet-era territory of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast. In fact, territory does have a status in international law, and for good reasons. It’s a good idea for states (the U.S. state among them, as well as the Russian state) not to use force to step over those boundaries, as the results can be quite terrible. One handy way to limit the power of states to do harm is to limit their actions to within the territorial borders that characterize the Westphalian system of states. And so invoking “territorial integrity” means that states shouldn’t send in armies to carve up the territories of other states. Unless, of course, that state is Russia, led by the man the Lew Rockwell Cult seems to idolize. (Click here and search for “Putin.”)

The Closing of

Now the Lew Rockwell Cult doesn’t allow anyone to comment on their blogs. Fair enough. And they also don’t link to any sources that might contradict them. Fair enough. Since I’ll be flying to Ukraine tomorrow, I’ll not have any comments here, as the Cultists are gleeful about posting many remarks under different names (but with the same IP addresses). In the meantime, if you’re interested in the study of puerile psychology, check out the links they provide and see if they seem worthy of being taken seriously. (In case the post is later changed without notice, as they so often are by the “airbrushers” there, I did take a screen shot of the Stephen Kinsella post.)