Guest Editorial Smith On Libertarians

Guest Editorial: Smith on Libertarians and Iraq

Jan Smith of Ohio Wesleyan University writes:

‘ Thanks for today’s link to Justin Raimondo’s webpage. It is fascinating to see a libertarian blaming Israel for the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. For the libertarians themselves, or more precisely, the private elites they represent, has had far more influence than Israel on the administration’s foreign policy.

Who could possibly be so inept as to strengthen the Islamic Republic of Iran with money borrowed from China?

Ineptitude of that magnitude rarely occurs by accident. Almost always, it is motivated ineptitude. The Bush administration desired to satisfy two elites at once, the private or business elite and the public or national-security elite. So it convinced itself that it could seize control of Iraq on the cheap and then just sit back and watch while the whole Middle East became pliant and pacific.

Justin Raimondo can tell you what it takes to satisfy the private elites. Or G.K. Chesterton: “The poor sometimes object to bad government. The rich always object to being governed at all.” In sharp contrast, the public elites are satisfied by a larger and more expensive American presence throughout the world, overwhelming power of all sorts, from the Pentagon to State to USAID.

The Bush administration tried to satisfy them both. When it could not do so, it spurned the public elites. Many leading members of the public elites in both parties opposed the war, for they did not want to risk their principal goal, which is to be the world’s imam and policeman. Forced to accept the war, they opposed Rumsfeld’s rinky-dink occupation force.

But the administration consistently has deferred to the private elites. Everyone knows the administration now regrets the war and would love to get out of Iraq. But observe the administration does not regret the (regressive) tax cuts, or the manifold cuts in domestic spending, or the lavish gift to the pharmaceutical corporations in the guise of free prescription drugs. The private elites respond with polite applause, cuing the libertarians to roar like carnivores in the jungle.

Israel is a small player in all of this. But what about the libertarians? They are angry that the government is spending “their money” in Iraq. And they are powerful: if Bush were succeeded by another new-fangled Republican, the US likely would abandon Iraq in a matter of months, come what may.

Consider historical precedents for the political ascendance of an empire’s private elites: Spain under Charles V, for example, or Russia under Nicholas II. Want many Iraqs, one after another until this century’s empire crumbles into dust? Become a libertarian. ‘