November 1, 2014

Egypt in flames: A perfect metaphor for U.S. foreign policy

TAMPA, August 19, 2013 – At least 64 more people died in Egypt Friday as fighting erupted between Muslim Brotherhood-led supporters of ousted president Mohmmad Morsi and armed civilians who oppose them. Police officers were among those killed, some possibly fighting out of uniform with vigilante forces. The Brotherhood has called for daily protests “until the coup ends,” meaning that the democratically-elected Morsi is returned to power. With chances of that close to zero, there is no clear pathway to an end to the carnage.

Egypt is in flames. It is a perfect metaphor for U.S. foreign policy.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Obama has state of the delusion speech shovel ready

TAMPA, February 12, 2013 — Pundits are already atwitter over tonight’s annual exercise in political posturing. The question many are asking is whether Obama will stay on the attack against his Republican opponents or attempt to use the speech to identify areas where he can work with them.

The real question is whether the president will make a single remark that bears any resemblance to reality.

The State of the Union address (SOU) has always been little more than a nationally televised stump speech. As all presidents believe that anything happening anywhere in the country is a direct result of their policies, none have ever wanted to paint a less than rosy picture about the supposed “state of the union.” After all, if it’s in a bad state, it must be their fault.

However, with the U.S. now in full-fledged collapse, the speeches have become so detached from reality that they should be called “state of the delusion” addresses.

The speech is interminably long, but let’s look ahead to the main areas it will cover and try to separate fantasy from reality.

The president will remind us that he inherited an economy in shambles, which is true. He will hope that listeners draw the inference that his predecessor was wholly at fault for this, but that isn’t close to true. Every president since at least Teddy Roosevelt contributed to the problem, with the largest contributions coming from Democrats.

It will really turn bizarre when Obama starts talking about “the recovery” that’s underway. We’ll be told that while we’re not out of the woods and there is still “a lot of work to do (i.e., more government meddling to accomplish),” new jobs are being created, new industries are flourishing and things are generally looking up.

In reality, the United States is in a depression, just like the one in the 1930’s, and it’s being prolonged for all of the same reasons. The official numbers say that unemployment has been hovering around 8 percent, but that’s only because they’ve changed the way unemployment is measured. If they measured it the same way that they did in the 1930’s, unemployment would be the same as it was in the 1930’s.

As an aside, there isn’t any substantive economic distinction between “recession” and “depression.” Politicians just decided to stop calling them depressions to con the public. After a while, they started believing their own bovine waste products.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

U.S. Foreign Policy: 100 Years of Failure

TAMPA, November 19, 2012 — An Iraqi diplomat has called upon other Arab oil producers to “use oil as a weapon” against the United States. Fox News reports this as if it should come as a surprise.

“The shocking statement from a democratic government in power only after the U.S. and allies ousted murderous dictator Saddam Hussein in a costly and bloody war laid bare the Middle Eastern nation’s true allegiance,” reports Fox.

The detachment from reality exhibited by news organizations like Fox and Americans in general is stunning. Americans actually believe that Iraqis should be grateful that the United States invaded their country, destroyed their infrastructure, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and made homeless refugees of millions more.

They also believe that after deposing a relatively westernized dictator and putting the Shia majority in power, the resulting government would not seek to retaliate against U.S. support for Israel.

This is by no means an isolated incident. It is a recurring theme. Contrary to official myth, U.S. foreign policy has been a failure for the past 100 years, virtually without exception.

We’re constantly told that the United States has a “special role” in the world, due to its status as sole superpower and the role it has played over the past century “defending freedom.” This is pure delusion.

A small percentage of Americans are vaguely aware that Osama bin Laden did not create Al Qaeda (Arabic for “the base”). It was started in Pakistan by Sheik Abdullah Azzam with CIA support. According to veteran reporter Eric Margolis,

“I know this because I interviewed Azzam numerous times at al-Qaida HQ in Peshawar while covering the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Azzam set up al-Qaida, which means “the base” in Arabic, to help CIA and Saudi-financed Arab volunteers going to fight in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. In those days, the west hailed them as “freedom fighters,” writes Margolis.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Election 2012: Was Obama the lesser of two evils?

TAMPA, November 8, 2012 – “We’re all socialists now.”

If all of the pre-election hype about the presidential election being a choice between socialism and capitalism was true, then that statement must be true.

I doubt most Americans believe it.

In fact, Obama is no more a socialist than Romney is a capitalist. Obama has not called for state ownership of the means of production. Romney has not called for a laissez faire economy. Absent the rhetoric, they would both be most accurately described as European social democrats.

For libertarians, the choice between them was “heads the government wins, tails libertarians lose.” It is generally assumed that libertarians would consider Romney the “lesser of two evils.” I don’t think that’s true.

Romney’s rhetoric employed buzz words that both libertarians and conservatives respond to, like “free markets,” “small government” and “less taxes.” Obama’s rhetoric employed universally recognized code words for wealth redistribution like “fairness,” “fair share” and “investment.”

However, when you strip all of that away, the policy platforms of the two men were virtually identical.

Obama wants to raise taxes on the wealthy to help balance the federal budget. Romney does not disagree. Romney stated – over and over again in the first debate – that his plan to lower the income tax rates while simultaneously “closing loopholes” (translation: eliminate deductions) was aimed at getting the wealthy to pay more while giving small business and the middle class a tax break.

When Obama says it, he’s a socialist. When Romney says it, crickets.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Can Ron Paul supporters accept Gary Johnson?

TAMPA, May 15, 2012 — Ron Paul’s announcement today that he will “no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted” may finally have some of his supporters considering the possibility that he will not be the Republican Party’s nominee. That may be overly pessimistic considering that Paul also stated that he will continue to pursue his delegate strategy, which has been far more successful than his quest for a primary win.

However, even the most ardent supporter may find it prudent to have a “Plan B,” especially in states where the rules on write-in candidates are onerous. There is one man who believes he’s wide open in the Plan B end zone. He’s former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson.

Johnson secured the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president at its national convention last Saturday in Las Vegas, winning over 70% of the delegate votes.

Johnson supports Ron Paul, but doesn’t think Paul will win the Republican nomination. He wants Ron Paul supporters to know that he represents an opportunity to vote for a lot of the things they believe in.

“Ron Paul has always been about a message and so have I and it’s the same message. It’s about liberty and it’s about freedom, first and foremost, and when Dr. Paul’s candidacy comes to an end, there’s a viable alternative and I don’t think it’s a handicapped choice. I think it’s reloading. There’s no concession.”

So, do Paul supporters have to compromise to vote for Johnson?

Continue at Communities @Washington Times.com…

God is a non-interventionist

As technology has advanced and the world has “grown smaller,” it has become increasingly evident that little miracles don’t really happen. By “little miracles,” I mean people levitating, disappearing, parting seas, or making the sun stop in the sky. If they did occur, we’d be watching them on You Tube. But they don’t. That’s a good thing, because it leaves us less distracted from the real miracles: that we are here, that we live in a universe governed by natural laws that explain the world around us and that we have been blessed with reason to discover those laws.

In addition to the natural, physical laws that cause the planets to rotate around their stars and the plants to photosynthesize sunlight, there are also natural, moral laws. Like the physical laws, we are able to discover these by reason. First, we gather facts that we can observe directly with our senses. We then use reason to draw conclusions from those facts.

One observation we have made is that all human beings are created equal. No, they aren’t all the same color, height, shape, or sex. They don’t all run as fast or play the piano as well. There is a wonderful diversity to human life in that no two human beings are exactly alike. Yet, there is nothing so different about any one human being that gives him any innate right to exercise authority over another. In that respect, we are all truly equal.

From that observation, we can draw the conclusion that comprises the most basic, fundamental moral law of nature. As John Locke put it,

““The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…”

Reason also leads us to the conclusions that life is good, that whatever promotes life is good, and that whomever or whatever created life, the world around us and the natural laws that govern it must also be good. Some people explain the miracle from a purely scientific point of view. We are here simply because certain materials interacted with others and started a chain reaction. Where those materials came from they do not know. Others insist that it is the work of not only a sentient being, but a loving God.

However, the latter group has always faced a philosophical dilemma. How could a loving God allow terrible things to happen to innocent people? How could he allow atrocities committed by humans, such as those by Stalin, Hitler, or Pol Pot? How could he allow natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis to kill thousands of innocent people, when he has the power to prevent them?

The only answer most of us are ever given is “It’s a mystery.” Indeed it is, but that isn’t very satisfying. We’ve been endowed by this creator with a natural curiosity about the nature of our existence. This compels us to ask “Why?” While no one can give a definitive answer, I’d like to suggest one that fits the facts. God is a non-interventionist.

What does that mean? It means that God does not override his own natural laws in order to prevent some of their consequences. Imagine if he did? At any given time, a good percentage of the nearly 7 billion people who inhabit this planet are asking him to violate the most fundamental natural law of cause and effect. Were he to grant even a small percentage of those requests, we would live in a chaotic world that would be impossible to understand or predict. One could not even know for sure that the next step would take one forward instead of backward. No human progress would be possible.

Similarly, God does not override the decisions of men, even if it would save lives or prevent suffering. That was the whole point of the Genesis story, wasn’t it? While Adam and Eve were in the garden, they did not know the difference between good and evil. There was no suffering, but no real joy either. God did not want robots that did his will merely because he programmed them to do it. He wanted sentient beings that would choose to do his will. In order to choose to do his will, they had to have the ability to choose not to. That has never changed.

So, God has the power to prevent suffering, but chooses not to because to override man’s free will or the immutable laws of nature would be worse. He has already provided everything necessary for human beings to live in peace, happiness and prosperity.  We need only use our reason to discover the natural laws, to continue to understand them better, and to follow them.

The United States is right now the most powerful nation on earth. Whether that will be true in fifty years, we do not know. However, today its government has the power to intervene in the affairs of almost any other nation. Often, there is the temptation to use this awesome power to intervene between a dictator and his people or between an aggressor nation and an ally. When have the consequences of intervention ever been better than those of non-intervention would have been? Never.

Yet, we continue to intervene in a most ungodly way, with those who claim to be most devoted to God exhorting us most vociferously. When will we ever learn?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Non-Aggression Is Not Pacifism (Libertarians Hit Back)

Heading into “Super Tuesday,” many conservatives lament that they do not like any of the remaining Republican candidates for president. Romney is too moderate, Gingrich too much a “Washington insider,” and Santorum both an insider and a guaranteed loser against Obama thanks to his willingness to bare his soul about some of his more outlandish socially conservative views.

That leaves Ron Paul, who would seem to be the ideal conservative candidate. Paul’s Plan to Restore America actually cuts $1 trillion from the federal budget in his first year as president, including eliminating the Department of Education that Ronald Reagan promised to abolish.

Paul is the only candidate that actually disagrees with President Obama in principle on “spreading the wealth around.” Paul doesn’t just nibble a few pennies away from financially insignificant welfare programs. He actually has a funded plan to let young people opt out of Medicare and Social Security. This is really a plan to responsibly end these programs. Government-mandated programs only survive because people are forced to participate. If conservatives really do oppose socialism, they should agree with Paul on this. Where do they think Social Security got its name?

For a large group of conservatives, they are with Paul right up until he explains his foreign policy. Suddenly, not only does the courtship end, they stop taking calls and change their phone numbers. That’s unfortunate because most conservatives make this decision upon a completely distorted view of Paul’s foreign policy.

All of Ron Paul’s policy decisions are based upon the same underlying principle: the libertarian principle of non-aggression. As he stated during my own interview with him last year (about the 7:30 mark here), “That’s the moral principle. The legislative principle is really in the Constitution.” Based upon this principle, the government is never allowed to initiate force against the innocent. That means that it cannot redistribute wealth, it cannot stop you from harming yourself with drugs or other vices, and it cannot start a war with another nation.

This is not some new age idea from the early libertarian movement of the 1970’s. This is the foundation of the founders’ philosophy of government. Thomas Jefferson made it explicit when he said, “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”[1]

Jefferson’s first order of business upon reaching the White House was to cut military spending dramatically. His goal was a military establishment adequate to defend the nation but inadequate to the imperial designs of Federalists like Alexander Hamilton. However, when the Pasha of Tripoli declared war upon the United States, Jefferson did not hesitate to send in the Marines for a quick and decisive win.

The confusion starts when Paul’s policies are described as “dovish” or “soft” on Iran or other supposedly belligerent nations. People unfamiliar with libertarian ideas may honestly misunderstand them. Others deliberately distort them. Let there be no confusion. Non-aggression is not pacifism. Libertarians hit back.

Indeed, Paul has said that if the people really do want to go to war, then he would ask the Congress for a declaration of war. He rarely gets time to explain why this is important. The declaration of war involves a debate about whether a state of war already exists. That’s why it’s so important. The declaration of war power doesn’t authorize Congress to start a war. It allows them to direct the president to end it. Check the language of every declaration of war that Congress has ever made. They all support this interpretation.

Active duty military seem to understand this implicitly, which is why they overwhelmingly support Ron Paul. They are ready to risk their lives for their country, but only when their country is truly in danger. Why don’t most conservative voters agree with them? They decorate their vehicles with stickers saying “Support Our Troops” but do not support the candidate that the troops want to be president.

It is no accident that the United States has never really won a war since Congress stopped declaring them. Instead, we send our troops into some far-off land for decades at a time with no clear definition of victory. Their hands are tied with confusing rules of engagement that keep them from winning and prolong the war. This is good for those who profit from war but bad for the troops who risk or lose their lives.

None of this happens in a Ron Paul presidency. Instead, war is far less likely to come at all, which is a good thing. If it is forced upon us, Ron Paul will have it properly declared by the Congress and then will fight it to win. Make no mistake. Of all of the Republican candidates for president, only Ron Paul will win the next war.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 


[1] Jefferson, Thomas Letter to Francis Walker Gilmer June 7, 1816 from The Works of Thomas Jefferson edited by Paul Leicester Ford G.P. Putnam’s Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1905  pg. 533-34

Earth to Rick Santorum: Libertarians Founded the United States

Andrew Napolitano recently showed a clip in which Rick Santorum explained his views on libertarianism. His comments are also instructive in understanding his animosity (politically) towards Ron Paul. Santorum said:

“One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a Libertarianish right. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world. There is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.”

As David Boaz pointed out in the interview with Napolitano, Santorum seems to oppose a basic American principle- the right to the pursuit of happiness. I agree with him on this, but there is something even more fundamental here than that. It has to do with the conservative philosophy itself. One of the statements that Santorum makes is true. “That is not how traditional conservatives view the world.”

There is a great disconnect between average Americans who refer to themselves as “conservatives” and the small group of politicians and politically-connected businessman who call themselves likewise. The members of the former group believe in the founding principles of the United States, including the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They believe that these rights are endowed by their Creator. In other words, they preexist the government. They are not created by the government. It is the government’s one and only job to protect those rights and when the government fails to protect them and instead violates them, it is the duty of the people to alter or abolish the government.

These inalienable rights are also referred to as “natural rights,” meaning that man possesses them even in the state of nature (the state without government). For Jefferson, whose philosophy was inspired by Locke, the reason that men formed governments was to protect these rights better than they could be protected otherwise.

Locke viewed man as capable of both good and evil. For Locke, man’s natural state was a state of reason, which meant that he respected the rights of other men and observed the natural law of non-aggression. “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”

For Locke and his philosophical heir Jefferson, this natural law of non-aggression was the basis of government power. By prohibiting aggression by one person or group against another, the government would preserve the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. Importantly, repelling aggression was also the limit of government power, for when the government exercised power for any other reason it was committing aggression itself and invading the rights it was meant to protect.

That this was Jefferson’s guiding political principle is clear from his many statements to that effect. In his first inaugural, he argued for,

“…a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”

In a letter to Francis Walker Gilmer in 1816, he wrote, “Our legislators are not sufficiently apprised of the rightful limits of their powers; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”

Even on religious freedom, Jefferson based his position on the non-aggression principle. ““The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

The non-aggression principle defines liberty itself as Jefferson understood it. For him, as well as for the likeminded libertarians that led the secession from Great Britain, the word “liberty” as used in the Declaration of Independence had a specific definition. It meant the right to do what one pleases as long as one does not invade the life, liberty, or property of another human being. In other words, each individual was beyond the reach of government power so long as he committed no aggression against anyone else.

These are not conservative ideas. They are libertarian ideas. While Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and the others who espoused this theory may not have called themselves by that name, the basic tenets of their philosophy were the same. Today, the non-aggression axiom remains the fundamental basis for libertarian theory. Ron Paul bases his positions on it, as he said (about the 3:30 mark) when running for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988.

Just as this non-aggression principle serves as the foundation and limit of government power between individuals within society, it is the foundation and limit of government power with respect to other nations. As all nations exist in a state of nature with each other, the natural law of non-aggression is the only one that governs them. As I’ve stated before, the non-aggression principle is the basis for the Declaration of War Power. The purpose of that power is for Congress to debate whether or not the nation in question has actually committed aggression against the United States. If it has, then a state of war exists and military action is justified. If it hasn’t, there is no state of war, no declaration, and no military action is justified. The use of military force in the absence of a state of war (previous aggression by another nation) violates the natural law.

The conservative philosophy rejects all of these ideas. There were conservatives in the 18th century just as there are today and their philosophy hasn’t fundamentally changed, either. The writer that most modern conservatives trace their philosophical ideas to was Edmund Burke. He has this to say about inalienable rights.

“Government is not made in virtue of natural rights, which may and do exist in total independence of it, and exist in much greater clearness and in a much greater degree of abstract perfection; but their abstract perfection is their practical defect. By having a right to everything they want everything. Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that these wants should be provided for by this wisdom. Among these wants is to be reckoned the want, out of civil society, of a sufficient restraint upon their passions. Society requires not only that the passions of individuals should be subjected, but that even in the mass and body, as well as in the individuals, the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted, their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection. This can only be done by a power out of themselves, and not, in the exercise of its function, subject to that will and to those passions which it is its office to bridle and subdue. In this sense the restraints on men, as well as their liberties, are to be reckoned among their rights. But as the liberties and the restrictions vary with times and circumstances and admit to infinite modifications, they cannot be settled upon any abstract rule; and nothing is so foolish as to discuss them upon that principle.”

While modern conservatives like Russell Kirk have pointed to Burke as their philosophical inspiration, one can clearly see that Burke is here merely restating ideas from the true father of modern conservatism, Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes asserted that in the state of nature man had “a right to everything,” even a right to one another’s bodies. Hobbes asserted, as Burke implies here, that man’s passions would always overcome his reason and because of this the state of nature was a state of war of “everyone against everyone.” For Hobbes, as for true conservatives today, man has to give up his natural rights upon entering society and accept those privileges to liberty and property that the government grants him.

For Hobbes, not only did man give up his natural rights upon entering society, but he also had to grant the “sovereign” absolute and undivided power. This was necessary in order to completely dominate man’s natural impulses, which would always lead him to harm his neighbor if they were not checked. This power must literally keep each individual “in awe,” to make him fearful of committing any unlawful act. To secure this absolute power, the sovereign needed control over the economy, which he consolidated through a privileged, wealthy elite. He also needed control over education and even the religious beliefs of the people. No individual could ever be allowed to follow the dictates of his own will, as it would inevitably lead him to harm his neighbor or the commonwealth in general.

On foreign policy, Hobbes also viewed all nations as existing in a state of nature. However, since he viewed the state of nature as equivalent to the state of war, he viewed all nations not under control of the sovereign as de facto enemies. In reading Leviathan, one can almost hear George W. Bush’s famous remark, “You are either with us or with the terrorists.” This is why conservatives support the deployment of troops all over the world. Like Hobbes, they believe that we are in constant danger from any nation that we are not completely dominating with the threat of force.

The reason that conservatism seeks to “conserve” the status quo is because its adherents do not believe that natural rights are inalienable. Upon entering society, man has to give up all of his natural rights, so the only rights that man has in society are those he has been given by government in the past. Thus, if you get rid of the past, you get rid of the rights. While the status quo might not be optimal, the conservative believes that to get rid of the status quo means returning to the awful state of nature, and necessitates reconstructing man’s rights – via government – all over again. Conservatives are always fearful that rights can be lost and never regained – as opposed to libertarians who believe that rights are inalienable.

The conservative tradition in America does not trace back to Thomas Jefferson or the Declaration of Independence. Its tenets are completely incompatible with the basic libertarian philosophy that informed Jefferson and that document. The conservative tradition in America traces back to Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists, who were the conservatives of their day. Hamilton sought to preserve the status quo, which was a central government with absolute power, along with its mercantilist economic system. The only change he sought was that the system be run by Americans rather than the British.

Hamilton was a Hobbesian on every issue, which is why he clashed so stridently with Jefferson. Hamilton also believed that the power of the federal government had to be absolute. Otherwise, the separate states would be in the state of nature with each other and inevitably at war. He often spoke of the “want of power in Congress” leading to the states “being at each other’s throats.” Economically, he wanted a central bank, high protectionist tariffs to enrich domestic manufacturer’s at taxpayer expense, and “internal improvements,” which meant the government using taxpayer money to build what we would today call “infrastructure.” While all of these policies were anti-free market, they served the agenda of securing the loyalty of a wealthy elite to the government. Hamilton went so far as to call the national debt “a national blessing” for the same reason. On foreign policy, Hamilton was an unqualified militarist who sought to lead an army in conquering an American empire, starting with the Western Hemisphere possessions of Spain.

He felt justified in all of these invasions of individual rights and violations of non-aggresion because he believed that what he called “national greatness” (today conservatives call it “American Exceptionalism”) trumped the rights of individuals. For Hamilton, as for conservatives throughout human history, the individual lived to serve the commonwealth, as opposed to the libertarian belief that the commonwealth only existed to serve the individual.

This conservative tradition can be traced throughout American history from the Federalists to the Whigs to the Republican Pary. The Republican Party was born as the party of big government, centralized power, and a mercantilist economy. Ironically, all that history remembers of the Republican Party at its birth in the 1850′s is its opposition to slavery – its one libertarian position – while ignoring its Hobbesian conservatism on all other matters. However, with slavery abolished, the Republican Party retained the rest of its philosophy through the next century and right up to the present day. One can hear it rehashed in any 2012 Republican presidential primary debate.

Today, conservative American voters wonder why the Republican politicians that they elect never seem to make the government smaller or less intrusive. They refer to elected Republicans who consistently grow the size and power of the government as “RINOS” (Republicans In Name Only). They believe these politicians are not “true conservatives,” because while they may belong to the Republican Party, they do not adhere to the principles of an underlying conservative philosophy that they imagine to exist. They are wrong. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, George Bush, and the rest of the establishment Republicans are the true conservatives. The American voters identifying themselves as conservatives are really libertarians  – they just don’t know it yet.

Go to any Tea Party rally. This is where you will supposedly find “radical conservatives,” but you won’t find them carrying any signs quoting Alexander Hamilton. You won’t find speakers extolling the virtues of government spending on infrastructure. Instead, you see signs quoting Thomas Jefferson and speakers mocking the many “bridges to nowhere” that have resulted from attempting to put Hamilton’s conservative ideas into practice.

The one inconsistency is the Tea Party’s support of the U.S. government’s military empire. This false note in the otherwise libertarian movement is the result of cultural confusion. These conservatives don’t yet realize that they aren’t really conservatives. They are libertarians, and the warfare state is inconsistent with the rest of their philosophy. They support it because they have been told all of their lives that it is the conservative position, which it is. However, limited government, inalienable rights, free markets, and individual liberty are not.

Contrary to Rick Santorum’s assertion that no society based upon radical individualism has ever succeeded, the libertarian, radically individualist principles upon which the United States was founded were precisely why it succeeded so spectacularly. It was libertarianism that made America different from any society before or since – what made it the “shining city on the hill” as Santorum calls it. It was the collectivist conservative philosophy that helped bring it down – with a lot of help from a third philosophical movement called Progressivism. Neither more conservatism nor more progressivism – nor any combination of the two – can solve the problems that America faces today. If Americans want to see liberty and prosperity restored in the United States, then restoring libertarianism is their only hope.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Ron Paul Is Dangerous? Americans Must Start Thinking for Themselves

American politics in the 21st century is about soundbytes, image, and spin. That’s the only way for candidates to try to reach 300 million people in the time that they will likely be in front of them on any given day. For some candidates, the soundbyte is the length and breadth of their views on the issue. For others, that is not necessarily true. In any case, the issues that they speak to are issues of substance and there is no way to form an opinion about them unless you think them through.  That might seem like stating the obvious, but here’s the rub: almost no one is thinking about issues that could profoundly affect all of us for the rest of our lives.

What most Americans are doing is repeating the soundbytes and buzz words that they hear from talking heads as if they were indisputable fact. Maybe some of them are. Maybe some are not. What is crucial is that every individual think about them critically. That means challenging the veracity of those statements and determining for yourself if they stand up to the most vigorous intellectual attack that you can mount against them.

Ron Paul’s opponents use soundbytes to discredit him and Ron Paul does likewise. He has accused Newt Gingrich of “serial hypocrisy” and accused all of his opponents collectively of being “shitzus” on cutting spending. No one should accept those allegations as true without looking into the evidence for and against them and determining for himself whether or not they are true. Part of that process must be the intellectual exercise of taking the position that they are not true and saying to Ron Paul, “Prove it. Newt Gingrich is not a hypocrite just because you said he was in a 30-second TV ad. Where is your proof? I’ll consider it and get back to you.”

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine as we prepared for a class that we take together. He asked me who I was supporting for the Republican nomination and I said that I was supporting Ron Paul. He immediately smiled and said that Ron Paul was too “crazy” for him. Not one to go on the attack just because someone disagrees with me, I calmly replied, “I hear that a lot. Which of his policies do you think are too crazy?”

I was not surprised by the blank stare that I received in response. That was followed by some stammering and searching for an answer. He finally said that it was Ron Paul’s stance on regulations. I asked, “Which regulatory issues do you disagree with him on?” More of the same stammering and searching and finally the answer was “Well, I haven’t caught up on the issues this time around yet, but I remember hearing him talk about a regulation a while back. I can’t remember which one.”

Out of the tens of thousands of pages of federal regulation, he had heard Ron Paul’s views on one of them and had concluded that he was crazy. Not misinformed. Not wrong. Not even very, very wrong. Crazy. Does that sound like a reasonable conclusion to you?

Let’s be honest. This gentleman just made up the whole “stance on regulations” answer to cover for the fact that he had no answer. He had no idea why he thought Ron Paul was crazy. He had heard it on television in a five second soundbyte, had accepted it as true without even four seconds of critical thought, and was now repeating it to other people who for the most part will do likewise.

However, the “Ron Paul is crazy” narrative is losing its effectiveness. It is getting harder and harder for his opponents to make that charge stick. After predicting the stock market crash of 1987 four years in advance and predicting the housing market collapse five years in advance, Ron Paul has emerged as the only candidate who is not crazy by Albert Einstein’s definition (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result).

So Paul’s opponents need a new buzz word. I’m sure you’ve heard it. Ron Paul is now “dangerous.” Not wrong. Not very, very wrong. Not even “crazy” anymore. Now he’s dangerous. That’s an extraordinary claim. I can’t say that I remember it ever being used against another politician. I don’t remember any politician being called “dangerous” during the Cold War, when the Russians had 40,000 nuclear weapons pointed at every major American city. But that is the word that Paul’s opponents use to describe him now. One should immediately wonder why.

Of course you have heard this word repeated by every journalist and talking head as if it were true just because some enterprising young campaign staffer put it out as a talking point. That is fine. That is how the game is played. What is important is that you don’t immediately believe it just because you heard it on television, even if you heard it from a lot of people. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. You have to at least challenge the claim before you decide.

The new “dangerous” tag is based upon the argument that Ron Paul will not preemptively bomb or invade Iran to try to stop them from developing a nuclear weapon. His political opponents (including the other Republicans and Barack Obama) uniformly state that “We cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”  The establishment candidates also assert that Iran will have a nuclear weapon as early as a year from now. That means that whatever the U.S. government is going to do about it must happen now.

Q. What exactly is the danger of electing this man? A. He will “allow” Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Q. What can the United States do to stop another nation from developing a nuclear weapon? A. Bomb or invade them immediately and destroy their capacity to build it.

Q. What if Ron Paul was president and Iran did develop a nuclear weapon? What would happen next?

Here is where most people completely shut down and stop thinking. The standard answer is that Iran will “wipe Israel off the map” or, even more irrationally, that they will “take out an American city.” Now, I know why Ron Paul’s political opponents say those things and we’ll get to that in a minute. What I’m concerned with is this: How could any rational, average American believe them?

Let’s say that Iran does indeed develop a nuclear weapon by January 2013. They would still be decades away from an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. However, they may be able to use it against Israel. What happens next?

Nuclear weapons are a terrible thing. I think that most people wish that they didn’t exist. I know I do. But let’s acknowledge reality. Iran could not “wipe Israel off the map” (something Ahmadinejad NEVER EVEN SAID, by the way) with one nuclear weapon. They could kill a lot of people. On the other hand, Israel has 200-300 nuclear weapons. They could wipe Iran off the map and would do so the minute that Iran launched their missile. Every square inch of Iran would be incinerated before Iran’s nuclear missile ever reached Israel, if it got there at all. That is a fact that no reasonable person could dispute. That’s without even broaching the subject of what would happen to Iran if they showed any sign of aggression toward the United States. Think about it. To say that Iran is a danger to Israel or the United States is crazy.

That raises another question. If it indeed is crazy that Iran could ever threaten either the United States or Israel, why would so many politicians and talking heads be saying it? Could it possibly be that these politicians have something to gain if the United States goes to war with Iran?

Is it possible that politicians, supported by military contractors and financial institutions that together make trillions of dollars on these wars at your expense are saying this because they want to keep making more money? Or is it more likely that even though these people will “just happen” to profit immensely from a war with Iran, that they are both sincere and correct that Iran with one nuclear bomb is a threat to Israel and the United States, that between them have tens of thousands?

Ron Paul has argued that the war rhetoric today about Iran is identical to the war rhetoric about Iraq in 2002-2003. Is he right? Aren’t the same people who told us that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” telling us the same thing now about Iran? Aren’t all of the same elements of the argument about Iraq present in the arguments for war with Iran? They are evil. They want to destroy Israel. They are developing weapons of mass destruction. There is even the same time limit. ”They may have one as early as a year from now.” That’s just what they told us about Saddam Hussein. There is no time to think it over. Within a year there will be a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv, possibly New York City. Haven’t we heard all of this before? Isn’t it insane to accept the same claims from the same people without question?

Conversely, isn’t Ron Paul telling us the same thing that he told us about Iraq? Exactly why should we believe the people that lied to us or at least were dead wrong about Iraq and dismiss the one man that told us the truth and was dead right about Iraq? How long will we go on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Isn’t that crazy?

Dangerous. That’s what you are going to keep hearing about Ron Paul. There is no reasonable argument to be made that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is dangerous. This is an act of desperation by people that are deathly afraid that Ron Paul is going to put them out of business (not just the war-making business, but a trillion dollars of other government waste that he’ll end in his first year as well).

They aren’t appealing to your reason. They are appealing to your emotions. They are trying to strike an irrational fear in you that will cause you to reject Ron Paul, support one of their candidates, and support another unnecessary war that they will profit from at your expense. Again. Just like Iraq. However, there is one thing that you can do to avoid being fooled again.

Think about it.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

What If Iran…

As another “holiday” weekend draws to a close, Americans have again been bombarded with exhortations to thank the U.S. military establishment for their supposed freedom. This theme pervades all aspects of American culture. Uniformed military personnel are granted privileges on airlines, discounts at restaurants, hotels, and other business establishments. This past summer, I attended my daughter’s dance recital at the Tampa Performing Arts Center. At the midpoint of the performance, men in uniform were rolled out onto the stage and a long tribute follwed, including patriotic-sounding music and a special dance routine, with a pair of army boots spotlighted at the front of the stage. The militarization of American culture is inescapable. That no one seems to recognize the similarity between this cultural worship of the military and the same by another militarized society of not so long ago is truly horrifying.

It may not be fashionable to say so, but I am sick and tired of being told to thank the military. The idea that thanks is owed grows out of the inability of most Americans to recognize simple cause and effect relationships. As I’ve said before, Americans seem to be unwilling to ask themselves the most basic questions about precisely how U.S. wars have made them freer. What are the specific results that the U.S. military has either achieved or prevented in the past 70 years that have led to this supposed increase in freedom? How would we be less free if the U.S. government did not fight one or more of those wars? While I have dealt with this at length before, let me summarize briefly:

1. U.S. citizens are not freer because the U.S. military invaded Korea.

2. U.S. citizens are not freer because the U.S. military invaded Viet Nam.

3. U.S. citizens are not freer because the U.S. military invaded Grenada (does anyone really take this one seriously?).

4. U.S. citizens are not freer because the U.S. military invaded Somalia.

5. U.S. citizens are not freer because the U.S. military invaded Kuwait.

6. U.S. citizens are not freer because the U.S. military invaded Iraq.

7. U.S. citizens are not freer because the U.S. military invaded Afghanistan.

Now, I know that these statements are at odds with conventional wisdom and will be regarded as unpatriotic by conservatives and even most liberals. However, after completing the required ad hominem attack upon the author, I challenge anyone who disagrees to refute these statements logically, providing a reasonable argument that there is some cause-effect relationship between the cited wars and the relative freedom of U.S. citizens. It will be particularly difficult to make the argument in the case of Viet Nam, where the objective (to prevent North Viet Nam from taking over South Viet Nam) was not achieved. U.S. citizens should have been less free as a result. Were they? How?

Cause and effect. It is the first and most basic natural law of the universe. It is the first concept that human beings must master before they can begin to undertsand the world around them. This understanding is imperative when performing the simplest task, like crossing the street. An inability to understand the cause and effect relationships between drivers and pedestrians can get you killed. The danger is exponentially greater when considering spending hundreds of billions of dollars to send hundreds of thousands of armed men to some far-off land.

The so-called debate on Iran provides yet another example of the inability of most Americans to recognize cause and effect relationships. Assuming that the Iranian government is attempting to build a nuclear weapon, the government-media complex has presented a narrow range of options from which Americans are expected to choose, with all others off the table. They are 1. Bomb or invade Iran now, before they get a nuclear weapon or 2. Impose economic sanctions (i.e., a military blockade/act of war) and bomb or invade them later. All of this is predicated upon the assumption that Iran will immediately use this nuclear weapon the minute they build it. While even the most hawkish conservatives would probably concede that there is not much chance that Iran will develop an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. anytime soon, they cite the possibility that Iran may use this weapon against Israel.

This is where Americans don’t seem to be able to call upon the most basic critical thinking skills. Let’s assume that the hawks are correct. Iran develops a nuclear weapon. Let’s assume that one sunny morning, they decide to fire it. What would happen next?

Israel has approximately 300 nuclear weapons in its arsenal and the most well-trained and equipped military establishment in the Middle East. Do the math. The idea that Iran would preemptively nuke Israel, resulting in its complete destruction, is preposterous. Yet, most American citizens either refuse or are incapable of engaging in this simple analysis and instead give their tacit or enthusiastic support to whatever destructive foreign policy  decisions their leaders make.

There is the argument that Iran is led by a government that is not reasonable and therefore would not consider its inevitable destruction before attacking Israel with a nuclear weapon. Of course, “not reasonable” is a label that would fit any government like an old pair of shoes , but is Iran’s government less reasonable than any other? Let’s consider a few facts.

Iran has not invaded another country in over 200 years. The last overt aggressive action that the Iranian government has taken against another nation is the taking of hostages from the U.S. embassy in 1979 (the Iran-Iraq War was a defensive one for Iran). If asked why the Iranians did this, I’m sure most politicians would respond with the “they hate us for our freedom” mantra. Unfortunately, most Americans are willing to believe that the leaders of foreign nations have the same motivations as the villains in comic books.

Assuming that the hostages were taken because the Iranians “hate us for our freedom,” a few questions should immediately spring to mind. Why did they not take hostages from the German Embassy, or the French Embassy, or the Dutch Embassy? Were those countries so much less free than the United States that the Iranians would not have similar hatred toward them? Americans are asked to swallow this nonsense without question and ignore the Iranians’ stated reason for the kidnapping: the U.S.-led overthrow of the democratically-elected Iranian government and subsequent installation and decades-long support of the brutal Shah.

U.S. taxpayers are now being asked to once again abandon cause-effect reasoning in order to support the next steps on the path to war with Iran. They are asked to assume that somehow the results of a military conflict with Iran would be different from the results of the military conflicts in Iraq and Afganistan. After 10 years and trillions of dollars, not to mention lost American and civilian lives, absolutely nothing has been accomplished by either of those wars. Neither has America been rendered freer as a result of them. On the contrary, Americans now live in what any lucid person would describe as an Orwellian police state, complete with electronic surveillance, warrantless searches and seizures, and summary execution of U.S. citizens - without trial or even indictment – at the order of an American dictator. These have been the results of the “War on Terror.” No sane person should expect anything but more of the same if it is expanded further.

Ron Paul was far too polite in responding to the “What if Iran…” question. It is time for Americans to stop worshipping their military establishment and start thinking critically about these issues. Whether they develop a nuclear weapon or not (which is their right as much as any sovereign nation’s), Iran is never going to initiate war with it. What is certain is that if the U.S. government is allowed to lead its country into another destructive war, Americans will be less free, further in debt, and more hated around the world than they are now. The last ten years should be all the proof we need.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

© Thomas Mullen 2011