With the United States on the verge of another war in the Middle East – or is it merely the continuation of a decades-long war? – we libertarians need to reacquaint ourselves with our intellectual heritage of peace, antimilitarism, and anti-imperialism. This rich heritage is too often overlooked and frequently not appreciated at all. That is tragic. Libertarianism, to say the least, is deeply skeptical of state power. Of course, then, it follows that libertarianism must be skeptical of the state’s power to make war – to kill and destroy in other lands. Along with its domestic police authority, this is the state’s most dangerous power. (In 1901 a libertarian, Frederic Passy, a friend of libertarian economist Gustave de Molinari, shared in the first Nobel Peace Prize.)

Herbert Spencer, the great English libertarian philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th century, eloquently expressed radical liberalism’s antipathy to war and militarism. His writings are full of warnings about the dangers of war and conquest. Young Spencer saw and cheered the rise of the industrial type of society, which was displacing what he called the militant type. The industrial type was founded on equal freedom, consent, and contract, the militant on hierarchy, command, and force. Yet he lived long enough to see a reversal, and his later writings lamented the ascendancy of the old militant traits. We have a good deal to learn from the much-maligned Spencer, who is inexplicably condemned as favoring the “law of the jungle.” This is so laughably opposite of the truth that one couldn’t be blamed for concluding that the calumny is the product of bad faith. As Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long writes,

The textbook summary is absurd, of course. Far from being a proponent of “might makes right,” Spencer wrote that the “desire to command is essentially a barbarous desire” because it “implies an appeal to force,” which is “inconsistent with the first law of morality” and “radically wrong.” While Spencer opposed tax-funded welfare programs, he strongly supported voluntary charity, and indeed devoted ten chapters of hisPrinciples of Ethicsto a discussion of the duty of “positive beneficence.”

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From the Minneapolis Peace Action Coalition:

Back to Iraq? We say NO!

Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014
4:00 – 5:00 pm
Lake Street and Hiawatha Ave
Minneapolis
For more information, call 612-275-2720 or 612-827-5364

Stop the U.S. War in Iraq
No U.S. War in Syria

Be part of a visible anti-war presence to speak out against a new chapter of U.S. war in Iraq and against U.S. military intervention in Syria. People need funds for jobs, housing and education, a peace economy, not new wars and interventions.

Initiated by Minnesota Peace Action Coalition.

Endorsed by: AFSCME Local 3800, Anti-War Committee, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Mayday Bookstore, Military Families Speak Out (Minnesota chapter), Minnesota Cuba Committee, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, St. Joan of Arc/WAMM Peacemakers, St. Paul Eastside Neighbors for Peace, Socialist Action, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Veterans for Peace, Welfare Rights Committee, Women Against Military Madness, Workers International League.

The protest announcement was covered today in the Minneapolis City Pages.

Since the cataclysmic events that took place on the morning of September 11th 2001, an extended series of consequences have unfolded with an alarming rapidity. Between vast escalations of military activity abroad, the passing of draconian laws, like the Patriot Act and the NDAA, the instituting of the Department of Homeland Security, and the ramping up of domestic spy programs through the NSA, 9/11 has served as a catalyst for a radical change in how America conducts itself both at home and around the world. In the weeks and months following the incident, the American people were bombarded with a veritable hurricane of bald-faced lies and assertions based on dubious "intelligence". Before they could begin to wrap their heads around the significance of the events taking place around them, their government had already set plans into motion to wage a decades-long military conflict in the Middle East, a conflict which rages at full force to this day. In fact, recent developments in Iraq regarding the Islamic State militant group, or ISIS, elevate the issue of the 2003 Iraq War to the highest importance.

Among the general populace, a widely-accepted narrative has developed which attempts to make sense of all that has happened since September 11th. Very broadly, the narrative contends that Islamic extremists have declared war on the United States, and this alone serves to explain and justify the long string of wars that have been waged in the name of the global "War on Terrorism" ever since. What’s most surprising about the public narrative is that it offers almost no explanation at all of how or why Iraq was, directly or indirectly, implicated in the 2001 terror attacks on New York and DC. At best, the public storyline suggests only a vague connection between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Any substantial explanation of this tie, however, has seemingly fallen away into the ethereal memory hole of American historical conscience.

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Bruce Fein and John Woo debated War and the Constitution at the National Press Club.

Consitutional lawyer Bruce Fein was senior policy advisor to the Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign. John Yoo was Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice and a Professor of Law at University of California-Berkeley.

You may also watch the video at CSPAN.

The story is nominally “embargoed” until Thursday morning, but the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is preparing to release letters from the State and Defense Departments detailing a $7.2 million waste on communications towers built in Afghanistan which nobody wanted or used.

The plan initially started in 2010 as an effort to enhance cell phone and TV broadcast reception in southern Afghanistan, and the initial limit set for the cost was $2 million. The plan was delayed when all the bids came in dramatically higher, and in August of 2011, the State Department cancelled the project. It was immediately uncancelled and they were eventually built in 2012 for $7.2 million.

By then, however, Afghan companies had already built a bunch of smaller, but perfectly servicable, towers and had no need for the US ones, which the State Department quickly dumped on the Pentagon as “surplus” equipment. The Pentagon didn’t really want them either, and complained about the costs of fuel to power the generators if the towers were ever used.

Not that they were. The six towers, four in Helmand, one in Kandahar, and one in Ghazni have effectively just sat there ever since, and the only time any of them “did” anything was in May, when a US helicopter careened into one and crashed, killing a NATO soldier and wounding three US soldiers.

In what may well be the single most tactless comments he’s made yet, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, in open testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he believed the parents of slain US hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff should feel more grateful to the Pentagon for its botched rescue attempt.

Dempsey declared the failed mission “the most complex, highest risk mission we’ve ever undertaken,” and that the attempt “should give the family some solace.”

Though Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had referred to the mission as a “flawless operation” in previous comments, the reality is that it was an unmitigated disaster from the word go, with US officials wandering around Antakya, Turkey, just across the border from the ISIS capital, asking random people if they knew where the hostages were being held.

By the time the military was ready to go in, ISIS knew they were coming and had plenty of time to relocate the hostages. When the ground troops got to the jail and found no one inside, they attacked some ISIS forces elsewhere in town, then set the jail on fire and left.