Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 429, August 5, 2007

Frying Pans/Fires


Libertarians and Iraq
by Daniel G. Jennings

Credit The Libertarian Enterprise

What does the Iraq War mean to Libertarians and how should they respond to it and think about it?

That's a difficult question and one to which there are no easy answers. The easiest response is to say "the Iraq War is wrong because it is unconstitutional and violates the sovereignty of a nation state." That is a simplistic answer that ignores reality and the present course that history seems to be taking.

What is happening in Iraq is the inevitable march of history, the decline of the nation state and states in general and the collapse of socialist and Marxist economies. Let's face it the Iraqi nation was in decline long before the first GI set foot over there, the American invasion only hastened the inevitable. Saddam's arrogance and stupidity had undermined the Iraqi nation beyond repair if US forces hadn't invaded Iraq would have simply fallen apart when Saddam died or was hit with some crisis.

The Iraqi dictatorship like all totalitarian and authoritarian states will collapse whether American forces are there or not. That is what history teaches us in the last forty years we've seen the collapse of numerous dictatorships Franco's Spain, Pinochet's Chile, the Admirals' Argentina, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yugoslavia, Salazar's Portugal, Somoza's Nicaragua and Mao's Chinese Utopia to name just a few. We've also seen the collapse of the lesser kinds of authoritarian states, the Social Democracies in India and Western Europe, the Welfare State in Britain and the New Deal/Great Society in the United States.

What we see in Iraq is historical development the Iraqi nation state is being replaced by newer entities which are more responsive to modern political, economic and technological realities. This is happening all over the world even in the United States but in most places it is occurring peacefully. In Iraq it is occurring violently largely because those who profited from the state don't want to see their cash cow killed so they'll fight for it. In other words a lot of bullies who used to use weapons and uniforms to steal from their fellow citizens don't want to go to work.

Indeed the American intervention in Iraq can be seen as an effort to protect the nation state and restore it. The US is trying to recreate the Iraqi Nation State (which was a fiction manufactured by British Imperialists) in order to demonstrate the power and efficiency of the nation state to the world. A similar effort (largely undertaken by Europeans) is underway in Afghanistan and is also doomed to failure. The American elite in the form of neoconservatives who have spent their lives profiting from the nation state are afraid that the nation state will disappear so they are trying to justify its existence like their Iraqi brethren because they're too old to go to work.

The military industrial complex is heavily invested in this effort because large scale armies, air forces and fleets designed to fight enemy nation states are obsolete in today's world so they are trying to justify their existence. Note that the army designed to fight and beat the Red Army and the Vietcong is useless in Iraq. The fleet designed to beat the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Air Force designed to blow Das Luftwaffe out of the sky are of even less use.

Libertarians should welcome the Iraq War because anything that weakens and discredits the state helps our cause. The excesses, weakness and failure of government are on display for all to see in Iraq. Socialism and fascism (Saddam was a fascist his state was a cheap imitation of the Third Reich) have failed miserably in Iraq and Islamic theocracy will fail there as well. The only place the Iraqi people and the people of the Middle East can turn will be to embrace libertarianism or even watered down libertarianism in the form of a market based dictatorship like that in China.

The Iraq War is also weakening the American state by showing how ineffective our government and the thinking behind it is. Big government is failing and failing miserably in Iraq and we should welcome that. The reason Democrats and self-proclaimed "moderate" Republicans want to pull out of Iraq is that they're scared the continuation of this mess will further discredit government.

The decline of the nation state is also a good thing, the nation state has a long and bloody history of war and oppression. It was born in blood in the French Revolution and since then as slaughtered millions and enslaved millions more. The atrocities of Communism and Nazism were made possible by the nation state and the great slaughters of World War I and World War II and lesser conflicts were made possible by the total mobilization of resources by national government. The decline of the nation state will mean less war and oppression in the world.

So what does the future hold and how should libertarians respond? Well we still have interests in Iraq and enemies over there (the Koran thumping fools who have decided that the only good American is a dead American). Indeed we should be very worried the Islamic statists and socialists will need a scapegoat for the failure of their states and their socialist economies and America is the perfect scapegoat (this is already happening in Iran). Some of them will undoubtedly conclude the solution to their problem is the destruction of America the source of those horrible ideas about freedom.

Well Libertarians can offer answers creative out of the box thinking like Ron Paul's proposal for Letters of Marquee and entrepreneurial warfare. That is turn the war over to private companies that can adapt quickly and effectively and aren't constrained by bureaucracy, politics, media scrutiny or public opinion. Or to local groups in the Middle East such as private militias and local individuals. For example private covert operators who don't have to fight the war on drugs could make deals with Opium Growers in Afghanistan and get Bin Laden and other Al Qaeada fanatics (one of the reasons we've failed in Afghanistan is that our forces have antagonized the local people by trying to eradicate the one cash crop they can grow: opium) . Locally hired mercenaries would be familiar with the local culture and languages in ways Americans wouldn't.

These groups could aid our friends in Iraq without getting US servicemen killed and not waste our tax money in the process because they would operate in exchange for cut of the oil profits. They would also be free to ignore the sorry farce that is the Iraqi government and cooperate with those who have the real power. Such efforts would also put the US in an excellent position to deal with future Iraq type situations which could develop in countries as diverse as France, Cuba and Mexico in the very near future.

Of course, Americans won't be open to such radical thinking until the complete failure of the nation building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. So maybe this war is a good thing for libertarians.


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