When U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday, he was outspoken in his criticism of Russia for bullying Ukraine, Syria for its brutality towards its own people, and terrorists of all political stripes for the death and destruction plaguing Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

But as the New York Times rightly pointed out, Obama made only a “fleeting” reference to Israel and Palestine in his 47-minute speech to the world body.

Nadia Hijab, executive director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, told IPS much of what Obama said about the “brutality” of the Assad regime in Syria and his criticism of “a world in which one nation’s borders can be redrawn by another” applies directly to Israel.

But he simply paid lip service to “the principle” that two states would make the region and the world more just without any indication of what the US might do – or stop doing, she added.

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The late Chalmers Johnson, the great analyst of the American empire, warned that if Americans didn’t give up the empire, they would come to live under it.

We’ve had many reasons to take his warning seriously; indeed, several important thinkers have furnished sound theoretical and empirical evidence for the proposition. Now come two scholars who advance our understanding of how an interventionist foreign policy eventually comes home. If libertarians needed further grounds for acknowledging that a distinctive libertarian foreign policy exists, here it is.

Christopher Coyne, an economics professor at George Mason University, and Abigail Hall, a Ph.D. candidate in economics there, have an important paper in the Fall 2014 issue of the Independent Review: “Perfecting Tyranny: Foreign Intervention as Experimentation in State Control.”

Their thesis is at once bold and well-defended: “Coercive government actions that target another country often act like a boomerang, turning around and knocking down freedoms and liberties in the ‘throwing’ nation.” This happens when the size and scope of government increases as a result of foreign intervention.

Advocates of foreign intervention – whether conservative or progressive – seem to believe that foreign and domestic policies can be isolated from each other and that illiberal methods used in foreign lands, such as bombing and military occupation, need not disturb domestic policy. In other words, freedom at home is consistent with empire abroad.

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Obama loves to preen as if he is spreading peace, freedom, and democracy with his bombs.  But there is no reason to presume that bombing Syria is not as idiotic as it appears.

Thus far, the Establishment media is largely playing a lapdog role. A Washington Post headline today proclaims: “Obama the reluctant warrior, cautiously selling a new fight.”  So we’re supposed to think the president is a victim of cruel necessity, or what?

A New York Times headline today announces: “In Airstrikes, U.S. Targets Militant Cell Said to Plot an Attack Against the West.”  “Said to” is the perfect term –  perhaps sufficient to alert non-braindead readers that something may be missing (i.e., evidence).

The Tom Toles cartoon to the left explains Obama’s policy far better than anything that has yet come out of the White House.

As usual, Congress has thus far utterly disgraced itself on this carnage.  Even though the vast majority of members have (unjustifiably) safe seats, they left town for vacations and maybe a little vote hustling.

When will Americans learn the actual rationales that drove Obama’s decision to bomb Syria?  Lord knows we have not yet learned many of the sordid details behind George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. And the Obama folks are as good at coverups as the Bush team. Unfortunately, the largely toothless Freedom of Information Act poses no threat to expose the war cabal. Leaks from inside sources are the best bet for the truth outing.  But even if that occurs, it may be far too late to curb the damage.

More at www.jimbovard.com    On Twitter @jimbovard

Antiwar.com founder Eric Garris spoke yesterday with Alan Colmes on Fox News Radio about the US attacks on Syria.

Check it out:

As the new war on ISIS widens, and the media war drums pick up the tempo, some nice breaks in the rhythm have been the few peeps made about the role of the U.S. and its allies (especially Saudi Arabia) in feeding the beast, by arming and training ISIS’s fellow travelers and prospective members in Syria.

Yet, this is no new phenomenon. Less-than-pious rulers (especially American presidents and decadent Saudi royals) have cynically harnessed radical Islam to fuel their worldly wars of conquest and dominance for centuries. And they have done so with the indispensable help of radical Islamic scholars, clerics, and preachers who formulate and communicate the doctrines that underpin that fanaticism.

This partnership is the most ancient variety of a more universal one: what Murray Rothbard called, “the State’s age-old alliance with the Court Intellectuals who weave the apologia for State rule.” Rothbard wrote:

“…since the early origins of the State, its rulers have always turned, as a necessary bolster to their rule, to an alliance with society’s class of intellectuals. (…) The alliance is based on a quid pro quo: on the one hand, the intellectuals spread among the masses the idea that the State and its rulers are wise, good, sometimes divine, and at the very least inevitable and better than any conceivable alternatives. In return for this panoply of ideology, the State incorporates the intellectuals as part of the ruling elite, granting them power, status, prestige, and material security.(…)

Before the modern era, particularly potent among the intellectual handmaidens of the State was the priestly caste, cementing the powerful and terrible alliance of warrior chief and medicine man, of Throne and Altar. The State “established” the Church and conferred upon it power, prestige, and wealth extracted from its subjects. In return, the Church anointed the State with divine sanction and inculcated this sanction into the populace.”

The ideological roots of ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the current wave of Islamic fanaticism in general can be traced back to the 18th century, to one particular, “terrible alliance of warrior chief and medicine man, of Throne and Altar,” that serves as a textbook illustration of the explosive power of this kind of partnership. Continue

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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