Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Aeon J. Skoble
“Flew is quite right in insisting that the natural universe must constitute the starting point of our inquiry, and he is correct in pointing out that the burden of proof falls solely on the theist. But Flew is wrong, or at least misleading, when he grants to theism the theoretical possibility of gaining a foothold by dislodging naturalism through argumentation. There is no such possibility in principle.
“Naturalism has the priority over supernaturalism, not because it is the more economical of two explanations [as Flew has argued], but because it is the only framework in which explanation is possible. . . . Naturalism is the only context in which the concept of explanation has meaning.
“Once the theist removes himself from the framework of natural causality and the general principles or ‘laws’ by which man comprehends the universe, he forfeits his epistemological right to the concept of explanation and precludes the possibility of explaining anything.”
Aeon J. Skoble
David T. Beito
What Is ISI?
Recently ISI celebrated what it chooses to call its fiftieth anniversary. Although the website provides a brief history and cites the Georgist and individualist Frank Chodorov as its founder, it fails to point out that he founded the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists and that it was only many years after his death that this organization became the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
In a 1956 letter to National Review, Chodorov stated:"As for me, I will punch anyone who calls me a conservative in the nose. I am a radical." Cited in Charles H. Hamilton, ed., Fugitive Essays: Selected Writings of Frank Chodorov (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1980), p. 29.
Judging by the speakers at the fiftieth anniversary gala, one might think ISI was now an affiliate of the Republican Party. See George H. Nash's, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, since 1945 (New York: Basic Books, 1976; updated edition, Wilmington, Delaware: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1996) for a history of ISI. I also recommend Murray N. Rothbard's"Frank Chodorov: Individualist" reprinted here.
In America property owners in Oregon are fighting back at the Growth Management bureaucrats who, getting rid of notions of strict liability, attempted to control land use — the fundamental basis of the old Feudalism. If there is a need to allocate land in Oregon, it has been to force the federal and state government to disgorge some of the 55% of the land which they control there.
Florida, where several academics were in the vanguard of the development of Growth Management nationally, is in a similar situation. The irony is that Florida Trend magazine, a leading business journal, has recently selected one of these, Prof. Lance DeHaven-Smith of FSU, as one of the State's precious academic assets.
In China also, the city government bureaucrats are in the process of taking land from the farmers. New York Times
I generally like Don Rumsfeld as a matter of style, although not policy. I like the way he conducts himself in press conferences. I remember one time when the invasion of Iraq had first started, and a correspondent asked him, "Where are you headed next?" Rumsfeld proceeded to berate the reporter so viciously ("I cannot believe you asked me that question! Do you honestly expect me to answer it? To tell the enemy what we're going to do next?!?") it was hysterical.
If you have any interest in hearing him get as good as he gives, go here. It's probably as close to uncomfortable as I've heard him. A good chuckle.
Oh, and boy can I relate to these guys.
David T. Beito
Is Max Borders’ name real, or is it a pseudonym? Is it the name given to him at birth, as Ma and Pa Sense gave to me, or does it suggest something more?
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
2. How You Doin'?
3. Osama This!
4. You Talkin' to Me?
5. @#*! Me? ... @#*! YOU!!!
Max Borders announced his temporary retirement from blogging today, returning the title of "coolest name in the blogsphere" to L&P's Aeon Skoble.
Matthew Yglesias hits 'em where it hurts here:
it's worth noting how far we've gone toward lowering the goalposts for "success" in Iraq. If you'd said before the war that over a year (and 1,000 U.S. fatalities) after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. forces would still be taking large numbers of casualties in an effort to create a government dominated by Shiite fundamentalists that has little capacity to exercise control over broad swathes of Iraqi territory you would have been labled a major-league pessimist about the venture. Now that's the hope of the optimists. It's probably right to think that that's a better outcome than any of the feasible alternatives and, indeed, that if we'd lowered our goalposts sooner we'd actually be in a better position right now. Nevertheless, it's a startling climbdown from the happy promises that were made before the war was undertaken.
This, I think, is just about right. I remember saying in the middle of last year that if we could put in a Hosni Mubarak, that would be a profound success. I was, of course, roundly criticized by neocon true believers who thought that the seeds of liberal democracy were sprouting.
In my view, though, it's heartening that the goals of so many are being lowered. I'm hearing whispers that the evildoers from the State Department on the ground in Iraq are working to prop up a less-tyrannous-than-Saddam strongman, much to the chagrin of their boss, Ambassador Negroponte, and the neocon ideologues. The strongman idea, of course, serves U.S. interests, if they are defined as "something other than total anarchy in a country of 25 million Muslims who now really hate America" or the alternative, "indefinite occupation."
The murmurs from Rumsfeld and Abizaid (both links reg. req'd.) seem to indicate that we now want out. Which, of course, is good, as well. The only worry is where the troops leaving Iraq may be headed. According to Abizaid:
"I think as we learn more and more from what we've uncovered in the Fallujah pocket, it will take us to places that were quite unexpected," he said, adding that he meant places outside of Iraq.
While I'm not optimistic about the Bush foreign policy in a second term, I think it's likely to either get worse or get better, not stay the same. We'll see, I suppose.
Cross-posted back home.
Hinzman's lawyer is making an interesting argument."Canada has not granted refugee status to American citizens in the past, but Hinzman's supporters are counting on a precedent in international law to help the American. Gerry Cordon, a Hinzman supporter, says a soldier who refused to fight in Saddam Hussein's army in the invasion of Kuwait, successfully sought refugee status. To help his client, Hinzman's lawyer plans to present evidence of a systematic pattern of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, including attacks on civilian population centers, and the torture and murder of prisoners, at Monday's hearing." The new line of argument came after"the Crown...succeeded in having Hinzman's principal argument -- that the Iraq war was illegal -- ruled irrelevant." Three days have been set aside for the hearing, with a decision due in January. I expect the request to be denied but I also expect a lengthy appeal process...and that might be more successful.
Hinzman's prospects have been both harmed and helped by his status as a deserter rather than a draft dodger. There is not the same precedent in refugee law or public sympathy for deserters -- after all, they did volunteer for the service they are now fleeing. On the other hand, he could face a stiff prison sentence -- up to and including the death penalty -- if returned to the States and that punishment may be viewed as"persecution" -- in short, as a reason for asylum. For this reason, if for no other, the U.S. is likely to give Canada assurances that a lesser punishment will be inflicted.
For more commentary, please see McBlog
I’m a research assistant in Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, though in no way whatever (at all!) do my views necessarily reflect the views of anyone else at Cato. I’m a research assistant – I do what I’m told. My main project at present is assisting Ted Galen Carpenter with research on his upcoming book, The Coming War with China over Taiwan: Inevitable or Avoidable?
I graduated from American University with a bachelor’s in International Studies in 2001, and I am currently preparing to apply for a joint M.A./Ph.D. program. For all readers who happen to be noninterventionist philanthropists, I am also pursuing funding opportunities for said degree. My research interests are, in no particular order, the theoretical underpinnings of the war on terrorism, U.S. foreign policy in Central Asia, and I have an esoteric interest in the conflict in Transnistria.
First substantive post forthcoming.
I've been thinking a bit lately about where the war on terrorism is heading. As things stand now, I suspect that we're going to start drawing down troops in Iraq rather soon after the elections, and that our extremely dangerousfixation on fighting the drug war in Afghanistan could well push that country back into a state that presents a threat to U.S. national security. U.S. policy toward Iran remains non-existent, and I think that quite soon we may discover that they have a nuclear deterrent. I do not buy the administration's bluster about "not tolerating" a nuclear Iran, and I think that in fact we will find that it is not particularly difficult to tolerate.
My primary concern is the safety of our country. How safe are we? Is another attack imminent?
There seem to be two major schools of thought among experts. Some, like Michael Scheuer and Peter Bergen, among others, continue to emphasize OBL the man, and al Qaeda the organization. Scheuer recently noted that he thought the fatwa from a Saudi cleric authorizing OBL to use nuclear weapons against civilian targets in the U.S. should be causing loud alarm bells to go off. Bergen believes that taking out OBL and Zawahiri would be meaningful blows against a cohesive organization that continues to pose a dire threat to America.
The other school of thought holds that we have grossly overestimated the enemy, and that the dramatic transformation undertaken in the United States in response to the terror of 9/11 was an overreaction. Examples of this school of thought can be found here and here. This viewpoint is characterized by the belief that, to the extent it ever was, al Qaeda is no longer a coherent organization, even in the sense of being a “franchise” operation. Rather, it is an ideology that is inspiring and activating Muslims and Arabs to rise up against America and its foreign policy. Al Qaeda has given rise to small, loosely affiliated groups in various countries, and a jihadi culture that can be found on the internet, in chat rooms and online journals frequented by fellow believers.
I am not sure which school to side with, or whether the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. I find it extremely difficult to believe that either the war in Iraq or the incredible expertise of the TSA have prevented catastrophe. I know that Gene Healy has wondered whether there really are legions of nutballs who are genuinely willing and able to come over here and drive planes into buildings. I for one find this somewhat hard to believe; aren’t there at least a few? Like a hundred? If there were ten teams of ten guys each, doesn’t it stand to reason that they could still get through our defenses?
But they haven’t. And why would they wait? I’m beginning to wonder whether both schools of thought on al Qaeda are partly right. Perhaps al Qaeda in the sense of being a large corporate structure doesn’t exist anymore. But perhaps there is a tiny core of individuals, previously unknown to the U.S. intelligence community, who are waiting to get off a big, spectacular attack. Though I think an actual nuclear attack is unlikely, it’s not entirely difficult to imagine, say, a dirty bomb attack or a crude anthrax attack. And though such an attack would probably not even yield casualties on the scale of 9/11, can you imagine the response by the government? Can you imagine the headlines and the photographs of people vomiting in emergency rooms? Can you imagine how the Red States would respond? After the last attack, we invaded one country linked to it and one country unlinked to it. What would the government do in such a scenario?
I’m not sure, but I imagine it wouldn’t be the right thing. I’ll have more on this line of thinking later, but I’d certainly appreciate input if anyone has thoughts. I’m not wedded to any particular theory, but it’s troubling either way.