Liberty and Power

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  • KENNETH POLLACK TAKES ANOTHER LOOK

    by Arthur Silber

    As most people know, Kenneth Pollack's book The Threatening Storm was very influential in making and strengthening the case for war with Iraq. In that light, a few excerpts from Pollack's lengthy new article about the failures of our intelligence prior to the Iraq invasion are worth noting. First, this one about the area where Pollack does explicitly blame the administration for its behavior:


  • YOU DON'T SAY

    by Franklin Harris

    Saddam Ouster Planned Early '01?:"The Bush Administration began making plans for an invasion of Iraq, including the use of American troops, within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001 -- not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks, as has been previously reported. That's what former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says in his first interview about his time as a White House insider. O

  • THE REVOLVING DOOR -- CHAPTER 13,468,439

    by Arthur Silber

    It's always useful to have someone working for you who's well-connected: One of President Bush's advisers is leaving to become Ford Motor Co.'s chief lobbyist in Washington, the auto company said Friday.

    Ziad Ojakli, 36, has been working for the White House since January 2001. Most recently, he was a principal deputy for legislative affairs, serving as a liaison between Bush and the U.S. Senate. He


  • LIBERTARIAN INTERVENTIONISM PART IV: SKEPTICISM ABOUT POWER

    by Gene Healy

    [Note: this is the last in a four-part series arguing that libertarian interventionism is an oxymoron. For earlier posts, look immediately below]

    Even if one believes that it’s moral to spill American blood and (forcibly extracted) American treasure to destroy evil regimes that do not threaten us, killing many of their innocent subjects in the process, one cannot embrace war-for-liberation without abandoning the libertarian’s skepticism about power. Libertarian interventioni


  • LIBERTARIAN INTERVENTIONISM PART III: THE NONAGRESSION AXIOM

    by Gene Healy

    Attacking regimes that don’t threaten us violates the libertarian prescription against the nondefensive use of force. I don’t mean to anthropomorphize states—to suggest that in the absence of a threat, attacking Iraq violates Iraq’s “rights.” “Iraq” is not a person and has no natural rights. But launching an assault against Iraq does violate individual rights on a massive scale. War--even modern war with laser-guided bombs and airdropped care

  • LIBERTARIAN INTERVENTIONISM PART II: THE LOCKEAN BARGAIN

    by Gene Healy

    For libertarians, the first question of political philosophy is, why have a state at all? Can a coercive monopoly be justified, and if so, how? Non-anarchist libertarians usually follow Locke, Nozick, and the Declaration of Independence—answering that governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Legitimate government, the argument goes, is a protective association founded on a social contract.

    In the American context, you can i


  • LIBERTARIAN INTERVENTIONISM: WILL IT LIBERATE?

    by Gene Healy

    Franklin Harris's recent post "Dictatress of the World" reminds me that I've been meaning to post an article I wrote a while back on the subject of libertarian interventionism. The article was for Liberty magazine which, sadly, doesn't have much of a web presence. But I'll put it up here, broken up into four medium-sized chunks. Here's the intro:

    Despite the cliché, September 11th didn’t “change everything”; it did,


  • BARBARA TUCHMAN TOLD YOU SO, AND IN GREAT DETAIL

    by Arthur Silber

    And here I bet some people thought I was full of it when I posted excerpts from Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly and her examination of the Vietnam disaster, and pointed to the similarities to the Iraq adventure in terms of the operative underlying principles. (And more Tuchman excerpts can be found here.)

    Well, Ms. Tuchman is more than


  • IMAGINE IT, MR. O'NEILL

    by Arthur Silber

    In reading Drudge's latest Paul O'Neill"breaking scandal" report, I was most struck by the final line: "I can't imagine that I am going to be attacked for telling the truth."I find it hard to believe that a grown man -- and especially one who has spent as much time in politics as O'Neill has -- could actually believe this. I suspect he doesn't, in fact -- and that he only hopes he won't"be attacked for te


  • WILLIAMS HAS MORE EXPLAINING TO DO

    by Arthur Silber

    I see that Keith Halderman has noted Walter Williams' correction of an error Williams made in a recent column, about the Merv Grazinski"urban legend."

    I have commented on Williams' remarks myself -- but as I go on to note, Williams made a much more serious, and much more offensive, mistake in the same earlier column. Williams relied on bogus statistics with regard


  • RIGHTS OF EX-FELONS

    by Steven Horwitz

    Just a quick response to David's post from earlier: isn't the denial of rights to ex-felons a good example of a punishment approach to law-breaking as opposed to a restitution approach? If one sees the legal system as inflicting punishment, then refusing to allow ex-felons to vote or own guns might make sense. However, if one thinks in terms of restitution, then someone who has paid their debt, either literally or in time served, has made full resti

  • GAYS, LESBIANS, AND LIBERTARIANISM

    by Steven Horwitz

    A conversation on a Usenet group brought up an observation I've noted about the classical liberal/libertarian movement that has persisted over the course of the now more than 20 years I've been involved. There are, and have been, a goodly number of prominent gay men in both the academic and policy sides of the movement for many, many years, and the Libertarian Party has had a gay rights plank and gay men involved for many years as well. And in the more recent past, there's been a flourishing


  • I AM IN GOOD COMPANY

    by Keith Halderman

    Back on December 2nd I had to apologize for previously posting the bogus Stella Awards, including the urban legend of Merv Grazinski, in this space and I still consider myself to have let the Blog down. But, after reading Thursday’s Washington Times I do not feel quite so bad anymore. It seems one of my hero’s Walter Williams made the same mistake and he too had to admit a lack of due diligence. In his column he points out that

  • BREEDING A CULTURE OF FEAR AND DEPENDENCE

    by Arthur Silber

    I just posted an essay about the Bush administration's cultivation of fear and dependence, by means of both their language and their actions. Here is the conclusion:

    But this ongoing" crisis" atmosphere provides many benefits to the administration. As the Spiked article points out, it gets the administration off the hook of blame: we can't say they didn't warn us, even if they didn't do so in any meaningful way. It makes people more likely to believe that those in the administrati


  • NIGHTMARE IN MONTGOMERY

    by David T. Beito

    Last September, nearly 70 percent of Alabama’s voters rejected a proposed 1.2 billion dollar tax increase. Did this end the matter? Of course not. Supporters of higher taxes have been even more persistent than Freddy and Jason. A group of them has asked a federal judge to require the legislature to throw out the property tax system and replace it with a system which, of course, will raise taxes.

    According to the


  • Protecting the Administrative Rear-End

    by Charles W. Nuckolls

    University administrators do not react to criticism with argument and reason -- generally because they have none -- but with further deployment of administrative rules. You've heard of the"fog of war." This is the fog of officialdom, the pernicious off-spring of early 20th century progressivism and, ironically, the means once intended to protect us from the arbitrary exercise of power.

    Case in point: David Beito and I have criticized the University of Alabama for failing to address, and


  • DICTATRESS OF THE WORLD

    by Franklin Harris

    Sean T. Collins continues to be puzzled by libertarian anti-interventionism, writing in his blog: ... I think the American military should be used to depose tyrants and promote constitutional democracy. There's obviously got to be a priority structure, since we don't have the means or the manpower to fight the entire Axis of Evil plus the AoE Junior Auxilliary simultaneously, but generally speaking Gulf War I

  • NO SMOKING GUN

    by Chris Matthew Sciabarra

    Peter Jennings reported on ABC"World News Tonight" that Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged today that he has seen"no smoking gun or concrete evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda. Last February, Mr. Powell told the United Nations that Iraq was harboring terrorists with ties to Osama Bin Laden and warned of a sinister nexus between Iraq and the terrorist network."

    So, let's see: A 400-member mili

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