Archive for the ‘war’ Category

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize; "What For?" asks green group

October 9th, 2009 No comments

Pres. Obama has apparently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this morning “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” but there appears to be a few on the left who feel that the award is undeserved.

I copy below an interesting message that I just ran across in my Inbox from the group Green Change; the message – which looks like it could have been written by a libertarian group! (or Glenn Greenwald) – also appears on their webpage:

This morning, President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize “for
his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and
cooperation between peoples,” the Nobel Committee said.


Did Obama bring peace to Iraq?

No.  He continues to station 124,000 U.S. troops there, with tens of thousands deployed perhaps indefinitely.

Did he bring peace to Afghanistan?

No.  He has escalated the war there, and is part responsible for the scores of civilian deaths that have occurred there.  He has done this despite that most Americans now believe the Afghan war is “not worth fighting.”

Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel committee said in an
interview that “Obama has as president created a new climate in
international politics.” Has Obama done anything singular to stop the
worldwide crisis of climate change?

No.  He has spent little or no political capital on the climate crisis, and still refuses to publicly commit the U.S. to strong actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Jagland said that “The Nobel Committee has in particular looked at
Obama’s vision and work toward a world without atomic weapons.”  But on
this issue, Obama is merely implementing the ideas of the more
conservative foreign policy minds of our nation, including Henry Kissinger.

Did he beat the swords of the giant U.S. defense budget into plowshares of peace?

No.  In fact, he will soon approve the largest defense bill in our nation’s history

Has he brought home the troops scattered across the world stationed to maintain our empire?


Has he stopped our nation’s scandalous weapons trade?

No.  The U.S. has expanded its weapons trade.  We now supply 2/3rds of the world’s foreign armaments.

Did Obama sign the cluster munitions treaty to ban cluster bombs, because 98% of cluster bomb casualties are children?

No.  The U.S. has not signed the cluster munitions treaty.

Has Obama brought home the army of mercenaries we have stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan?

No.  He has expanded the ranks of these mercenaries to 250,000.

There are millions of people across our world who spend their blood
and sweat every day for peace — real peace.  Each and every one of
them deserves the Nobel Peace Prize far more than Barack Obama.


Gary Ruskin
Green Change

P.S. If you like our work, please help us reach our $25,000 fundraising goal by 12/31. Donate $15 or whatever you can today.


So why WAS Obama awarded the Peace Prize?  A cynic might wonder if it was given to put moral pressure on Obama not to become even more bellicose (towards Iran), and perhaps to encourage him to achieve more.

Categories: Glenn Greenwald, libertarian, Nobel, obama, peace, war Tags:

Doug Bandow urges Republicans to rebuild based on calls for a modest foreign foreign policy

November 28th, 2008 No comments

Doug, you were right on Iraq in 2003 and are right now, but haven’t you forgotten one little thing? 

What gives you any cause to believe that the stiff-necked neocons and others who fell for their war-mongering (the Christian right and other) will either admit their mistakes or be neutralized in the Republican party?

Categories: Doug Bandow, Iraq, neocons, republicans, war Tags:

Fein on Iraq: Obama should unilaterally limit Presidential discretion by rejecting the AUMF

November 26th, 2008 No comments

Good idea, Bruce, but do you really expect Obama to bite, and thereby drastically reduce his own discretion? 

Obama already has George W. Bush and Congress to blame for the war – what important advantage does he gain by claiming the AUMF was an unconstitutional delegation of authority to the President?  We all know that Presidents of all political stripes have traditionally looked for ways in which they could unilaterally use military force abroad in order to “wag the dog” at home and there by gain domestic political advantages.  It seems a bit much to expect Obama to unilaterally cut off the tail that he now has considerable discretion to wag.

I tend to agree with Fein’s arguments that the system has gone wrong; I just don’t think we can realistically expect a President to unilaterally offer up a check on his own power.  But if Obama proves me wrong, I’ll certainly rejoice.

Categories: AUMF, Bruce Fein, Congress, Iraq, obama, war Tags:

Ron Bailey/Reason: Gore’s proposal to generate all power carbon-free in 10 years requires trillion$ on nukes

July 30th, 2008 6 comments

On July 17, Al Gore challenged our nation to produce “100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly carbon-free sources within 10 years“.

Ron Bailey, science correspondent of Reason online, has examined whether Gore’s proposal is at all practically achievable.  Bailey reviews the main options mentioned by Gore (solar, wind and geothermal) and the chief option implied but unmentionable – nuclear power – and concludes that low ball estimates of the costs for realizing Gore’s target are on the scale of $1 trillion to $6 trillion, with nuclear being by far the cheapest.  Concludes Bailey:

Curiously, nowhere does the “N-word”—nuclear—appear in Gore’s speech. Currently, 104 nuclear power plants generate about 20 percent of America’s electricity. Once a nuclear plant is up and running, it is essentially carbon-free. Westinghouse claims that it can build a third generation 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant for around $1.4 billion. Assuming this estimate is right, all U.S. carbon-emitting electricity generation plants could be replaced with nuclear power at a cost of about $1.2 trillion by 2018.

“Of course there are those who will tell us this can’t be done,” warned Gore. I am not one of those people. I am sure it can be done. But before embarking on his “generational challenge to re-power America,” I would like the former vice-president to sketch out a few more details on how it’s going to be paid for and who’s going to be stuck with the bill.

These numbers – roughly on the scale of our out-of-pocket and committed costs for our Iraq and Afghanistan adventures (largely corporate welfare for the defense/logistics industry, good friends of Republicans) – help us get a bit of a handle on the opportunity costs of those wars, which have undermined rather than improved our security and jacked up oil costs.

Bailey also comments on the costs of shifting our automobile fleet to one that is powered by electricity.

Bailey’s piece is here: “Al Gore’s Curiously Cost-Free Plan to Re-Power America“. 


Jared Diamond: Those in stateless societies "enjoy" lives that are murderous and short

April 30th, 2008 2 comments

Jared Diamond has an interesting essay at the current issue of New Yorker, “Vengeance Is Ours“, that is worth considering.  

In the essay, Diamond not only describes the moral and political economy of cycles of personal and inter-tribal vengeance in one of the relatively stateless area of the Papua New Guinean Highlands – cycles of violence that very likely represent typical human dynamics throughout the course of our evolution –  but also, via a contrast with a family story regarding personal vengeance not taken, he presents various thoughts on:

• the evolution of the state,
• the mechanisms by which those who live in states repress and channel our latent tendencies towards violence, and
• the personal satisfactions of taking vengeance, and the personal costs incurred when the right to seek vengeance is surrendered to the state.

Diamond appears to assume the legitimacy of the state, and focusses in the latter part of his essay on the personal costs that each of us incurs by being forced to surrender our “thirst for vengeance” when we are injured or offended and to rely on an impersonal state for “justice”. 

This is interesting, but rather shallow, as it fails to discuss how our state-run justice systems themselves seem to be rather out of control, especially in the US.

Further, Diamond skates too quickly past important issues when he concludes that the evolution of states has been a good deal generally for those who find themselves in them.  Here are a few key quotes:

“State government is now so nearly universal around the globe that we forget how recent an innovation it is; the first states are thought to have arisen only about fifty-five hundred years ago, in the Fertile Crescent. Before there were states, Daniel’s method of resolving major disputes—either violently or by payment of compensation—was the worldwide norm. Papua New Guinea is not the only place where those traditional methods of dispute resolution still coexist uneasily with the methods of state government. For example, Daniel’s methods might seem quite familiar to members of urban gangs in America, and also to Somalis, Afghans, Kenyans, and peoples of other countries where tribal ties remain strong and state control weak. As I eventually came to realize, Daniel’s thirst for vengeance and his hostility to rival clans are really not so far from our own habits of mind as we might like to think.  …

Nearly all human societies today have given up the personal pursuit of justice in favor of impersonal systems operated by state governments—at least, on paper. Without state government, war between local groups is chronic; coöperation between local groups on projects bringing benefits to everyone—such as large-scale irrigation systems, free rights of travel, and long-distance trade—becomes much more difficult; and even the frequency of murder within a local group is higher. It’s true, of course, that twentieth-century state societies, having developed potent technologies of mass killing, have broken all historical records for violent deaths. But this is because they enjoy the advantage of having by far the largest populations of potential victims in human history; the actual percentage of the population that died violently was on the average higher in traditional pre-state societies than it was even in Poland during the Second World War or Cambodia under Pol Pot.

While I think Diamond’s observations here are largely fair, Diamond makes no effort to analyze the failings of modern states, and these failures are significant and cannot be ignored.  Neither, however, can the implications of Diamond’s observations for those who think we would be better off in stateless societies.  However, Diamond is primarily an ornithologist and anthropologist, so perhaps he can be forgiven for not examining more closely the problems of states in a rather short essay that is more concerned about cycles of violence and our modern repression of personal vengeance.

Further, Diamond’s essay only tangentially addresses, but is nonetheless seems a good jumping-off point for considering further, our evolved human nature and the heritage that such evolution has left us in terms of a cognitive system that is prone to suspicion of others, black and white views, self-justification and other characteristics that tended to reinforce our important tribal identities.  These are matters that I think affect each of us and are very much in evidence in the modern, “civilized” world – the world of impassioned disagreements between factions, racial divides, hostility towards “others” (those evil “Islamofascists,” gays, immigrants, liberals, envirofascists, etc.) and our fabulous ability to identify the mistakes and inconsistencies of others while ignoring our own.  As hjmaiere pointed out in a recent forum post (“Hermann Goering on Anthropogenic Global Warming” – naturally I disagreed with him in relevant parts), it is the powerful effects of our tribal nature that rent-seekers (and their political handlers) are so good at identifying and manipulating.

Hope from Democratic candidates on War? See "A Responsible Plan to End the War"

April 23rd, 2008 No comments

Democrats presently in Congress don’t seem to care too much about doing much to stand up to Pres. Bush on the war in Iraq, despite becoming the majority party on the back of a wave of voter revulsion over the war in November of 2006.

This lack of action has fuelled a wave of newer candidates among the Democrats – led by Marcy Burner in Washington State – who have made putting an end to the war a principal part of their campaign laid out a clearly stated  agenda to put an end to the US military role in Iraq as soon as possible.  The agenda, laid out in a declaration called “A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq”, has now been endorsed by 54 candidates for US House seats, 4 candidates for the US Senate – apparently all Democrats – along with:

  • Major General Paul Eaton (U.S. Army ret.), former Security Transition Commanding General, Iraq,
  • Brigadier General John Johns (U.S. Army ret.), specialist in counterinsurgency and nation-building,
  • Dr. Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration, and
  • Capt. Larry Seaquist (U.S. Navy ret.), former commander of the U.S.S. Iowa and former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning  The main page links to press coverage.

Christopher Hayes, the Washington editor of The Nation, summarized the Responsible Plan as follows:

Developed in collaboration with retired military officers and national security professionals, the plan attracted the support of fifteen additional Democratic Senate and House challengers in the first week after it was unveiled (see Unlike the withdrawal plans offered by both Democratic presidential candidates, the Responsible Plan opposes any residual forces as well as permanent military bases. It flatly states, “We must stop counter-productive military operations by U.S. occupation forces, and end our military presence in Iraq.” It looks toward restoring “Constitutional checks and balances and fix[ing] the ways in which our governmental, military, and civil institutions have failed us.”   

… it is an explicitly legislative road map, to be pursued by Congress with or without a President committed to withdrawal. Among other actions the plan calls for war funding to be brought into the normal budgetary process, as opposed to the ersatz emergency supplementals, which detach the cost of the war from the rest of the nation’s discretionary spending.

(emphasis added).

I am not a fan of Democrats in general, but I am strongly in favor of ending this ongoing and tremendously costly and destructive folly.  Those who prefer to vote Republican ought to consider pushing their preferred candidate to support the Responsible Plan and to make it part of a truly bipartisan agenda.

Categories: Democrats, Iraq, republicans, war Tags:

Harold Bloom: "The Fall of America"

January 18th, 2008 3 comments

There’s a short but good interview here of Harold Bloom, Yale literature professor and cultural critic (update: NOT to be confused with the long late Allan Bloom, author of Closing of the American Mind; my bad!):

Categories: Harold Bloom, state, war Tags:

Goering and Madison on War

December 10th, 2007 No comments

Having just stumbled across places where Lew Rockwell and others have done me the honor of posting three of my favorite quotes on war, I’d like to repeat those quotes here in the hope of increasing the likelihood that others might see them.

My favorite quotes on war are from Hermann Goering and James Madison:

Hermann Göring (dialog with interviewer Gustave Gilbert while the Nuremberg Trials were pending):

“‘Why, of course, the people don’t want war …. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.’

“‘There is one difference,’ I pointed out. ‘In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.’

“‘Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.'”

Gustave M. Gilbert, The Nuremberg Diary, 1947.


James Madison:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”
—James Madison, Constitutional Convention [June 29, 1787]

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be
dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War
is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and
armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the
many under the domination of the few.
In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both.  No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” 

–James Madison, from “Political Observations,” April 20, 1795 in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, Volume IV, page 491.

I first mentioned these on a Mises blog thread (in reaction to Lew Rockwell’s “Blood on Their Hands” piece,; he separately posted these quotes on his website (

Categories: demagoguery, goering, Madison, president, quotes, state, war Tags:

War-profiteering and "Parasitic Imperialism"

November 22nd, 2007 2 comments

I posted the following comment in response to a piece by Glenn Greenwald:


War-profiteering is simply more Treasury-raiding by elites – at our cost and our children’s.  An economics professor at Drake (Ismael Hossein-zadeh, an ethnic Kurd from Iran, by the way) has some interesting and relevant thoughts in a well-reviewed book that came out last year called “The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism”, His web page, with links to recent writings, is here:

In a recent article at Counterpunch,Parasitic Imperialism, Hossein-zadeh concludes (emphasis added):

“Although immoral, external military operations of past empires often proved profitable, and therefore justifiable on economic grounds. Military actions abroad usually brought economic benefits not only to the imperial ruling classes, but also (through “trickle-down” effects) to their citizens. Thus, for example, imperialism paid significant dividends to Britain, France, the Dutch, and other European powers of the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. As the imperial economic gains helped develop their economies, they also helped improve the living conditions of their working people and elevate the standards of living of their citizens.

“This pattern of economic gains flowing from imperial military operations, however, seems to have somewhat changed in the context of the recent U.S. imperial wars of choice, especially in the post-Cold War period. Moralities aside, U.S. military expeditions and operations of late are not justifiable even on economic grounds. Indeed, escalating U.S. military expansions and aggressions have become ever more wasteful, cost-inefficient, and burdensome to the overwhelming majority of its citizens.

“Therefore, recent imperial policies of the United States can be called parasitic imperialism because such policies of aggression are often prompted not so much by a desire to expand the empire’s wealth beyond the existing levels, as did the imperial powers of the past, but by a desire to appropriate the lion’s share of the existing wealth and treasure for the military establishment, especially for the war-profiteering Pentagon contractors. It can also be called dual imperialism because not only does it exploit the conquered and the occupied abroad but also the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens and their resources at home.

“Since imperial policies abroad are widely discussed by others, I will focus here on parasitic military imperialism at home, that is, on what might be called domestic or internal imperialism. Specifically, I will argue that parasitic imperialism (1) redistributes national income or resources in favor of the wealthy; (2) undermines the formation of public capital (both physical and human); (3) weakens national defenses against natural disasters; (4) accumulates national debt and threatens economic/financial stability; (5) spoils external or foreign markets for non-military U.S. transnational capital; (6) undermines civil liberties and democratic values; and (7) fosters a dependence on or addiction to military spending and, therefore, leads to an spiraling vicious circle of war and militarism.

The vast amounts flowing to huge defense contractors in all states is the chief reason that the Dems refuse to stand up to Bush, and politics in Washington has generally become simply a fight over the spoils of the federal budget and other government largess. Because the Dems are not that much different, they have a tough time pretending that they are more responsible. And as the media is itself owned by large conglomerates, they have little interest in rocking the boat by standing up to either politicians, the military establishment or the corporate or Israel lobby, but are content to feed Americans pap, and individual reporters of course have more to gain from sucking up to the power brokers than in offending them.

Increasingly, elites are running the country for their own selfish interests. Wars and the fear they stir up better allows elites to further squeeze and control all of us (via the PATRIOT Act, domestic spying, data mining, a “Real ID” and citizen chipping, etc.).

By the way, Hossein-zadeh also specifically analyzed these factors with respect to Iran last year: “Behind the plan to bomb Iran” (8/31/06),


Greenwald’s piece is here:; my initial posting is here:

Categories: Greenwald, parasitism, state, war Tags: