Sunday, March 30, 2014

Once Is Chance, Twice is Coincidence, Third Time Is a Pattern

I need some help.  Bringing this difficulty to a head is the recent action in the Ukraine by Russia; this is the event behind the second and third episode. 

Once: the first episode was due to a post I wrote regarding World War II and Wilson’s actions during the First World War that helped to move Europe toward the second.

This post received, by far, the most comments of any post I have written.  I had an extended dialogue with who I believe to be (as the comments were by “Anonymous”) one individual.  He had no problem criticizing me for my lack of understanding about the war from an Eastern European perspective – which at the time was certainly true and today is still somewhat so.  The tone was often derogatory; at the same time, I learned quite a bit from the exchange. So, to the extent I felt the conversation was somewhat productive, I continued.

However, I stopped replying after the following comment – after first recognizing that I might have enlightened him a bit regarding Roosevelt’s actions:

Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Also let me ad[d]ress this literary crown jewel:

BM: "What would happen? I envision, in the end, two spent countries, neither capable of doing any significant harm to western states – who, in the meantime, armed themselves sufficiently."

Are you in a habit of telling Jews that "Holocaust was not a big deal".  Because that statement actually would be more accurate. Where do you think WWII happen? Connecticut? The North Pole? That statement is so out there that here you go: Some relevant WWII jokes for you

Q: Do you know what is the title of the chapter on "western front" In Russian textbooks?
A: The bombing of civilians.

Q: Why did Americans drop the atomic bombs on Japan?
A: Because after 3 years of bombing Germany they finally realized they can't hit sh*t with normal bombs.

Q: Where are western casualties of WWII listed in the comparison table?
A: Under "statistical error".

I could go on. Sorry for the burn but you were sooo asking for it :D

A simple premise – the US had no business getting involved in European wars, and even France and England could have minimized if not avoided the harm of a European war if they just stayed out and / or didn’t instigate matters in the first place.  This is where I came from in the subject post and in much of my writing to date on the subject. 

Since then, certainly I have looked into other perspectives, including from a Russian – Suvorov.  While my understanding of the roots of the war as well as the events during the war continues to increase, I have read nothing to change my view that the west, and especially the US, should have just stayed out.  With or without the US involvement, life for those in central and eastern Europe was going to be intolerable, if not deadly.

In any case, this was almost a year ago.

Twice: Recently, in a conversation about the situation in Ukraine with someone well-versed in Russian history and perspective, a similar comment came to light.  Not similar, like obnoxious, but similar like sentiment.  To paraphrase, the comments from individuals like Ron Paul and posts at LRC are seen as horrendous by people living in the Ukraine.  Putin is being painted as a saint.

Now I have not read such comments – I see criticism of US actions, but not praise of Putin or his actions.  Some issues of relativism (which I will further expand upon shortly), but not praise. 

Am I blind to this because of my western perspective?  Or are the critics blind to this because of their Eastern European perspective?

Third: In the comments section of a Paul Craig Roberts post at The Daily Bell, I read the following by “vanyam”:

My first question.. how much is Russia Today supporting sites like PCR , Lew Rockwell (which both run on shoestring budgets by the way) who are both stumping for Russian domination in Ukraine…

Before spouting all this pro Moscow propaganda of their own, perhaps these guys need to stop and realize that they are throwing Ukraine under a bus "blindly" as they attack the West's agenda for control.

Again, I don’t see this; what I see is condemnation of US involvement.  The commenter vanyam seems to recognize the distinction:

Before you throw Ukraine under the bus, place your disgust over US hegemony where it belongs.. in America.

This is what I read when I read PCR or posts at LRC.  I don’t see this as the same as approval of Russian actions (although some statements can be read in relative terms – for example, Russia has more interest in Ukraine than does the US.  This is, it seems, undeniably true – to the extent one can speak of national interests). 

What am I missing?


  1. "What am I missing?" The strength of neo-con belief in the necessity of American hegemony, and the corollary of Russian evil. It is no different than Christians believing in the goodness of God, and the evil of Satan. Thought is automatic, comment follows nearly as solidly, only action is less likely, mainly due to our habitual ease. Compartmentalization of perspective is normal. When strengthened by generations long propaganda, it could not be otherwise.

    1. taxes, I must not have explained myself well. The point of view is from individuals from Central and Eastern Europe. They have a strong negative reaction when someone from the west suggests that the west should stay out of eastern European affairs.

      So negative that one equates me to a Jew hater, and another finds Ron Paul's non-interventionist comments abhorrent.

      This is what I don't get. Why?

  2. Sounds like fear to me. Can't say that I blame them. The giant evil that was the Soviet Union is a living memory. Whatever anyone thinks of Putin, he was KGB.

  3. This may or may not help to answer your question:

    A Polish man finds a genie in a bottle, one decades-old joke goes. The genie offers him three wishes.

    The Pole says, “I want the Chinese to invade Poland and then go back to China.”

    So it happens.

    For his next wish, the Pole also asks for the Chinese to invade Poland and then go home.

    So it happens.

    For his third wish, the Pole again asks for the Chinese to invade Poland and go home.

    “I gave you three wishes,” the genie cries. “Why did you ask for the Chinese to invade Poland and then go home three times?”

    “Because they had to march across Russia six times.”



    1. Abu, nice to hear from you.

      The message I gather - both from your wonderfully illustrative story and the comment from taxes - is that the objection is not a principled one but a pragmatic one, perhaps even emotional.

      I can accept this, and in the shoes of those living in Eastern Europe it is completely understandable.

      However, given the nature of those such as Ron Paul, against whom such criticism is leveled, it would not be possible or appropriate for him to use this as justification for US involvement.

      It is as if they are saying - we welcome Ron Paul, we welcome a non-interventionist US foreign policy; just not this time.

    2. We should spend less. (but times are bad, we can't now) (but times are good, we don't need to now)
      It cannot be logical, because war between us and Russia would be on their doorstep. They are the most likely to be ruined.
      When will Eastern Europeans stop worrying about Russia? Hopefully never, because that would mean that there are no longer any Eastern Europeans, and or no Russia.
      When will I stop fearing the fedgov., and the plutocrats?
      Just as soon as I die.

  4. "It is as if they are saying - we welcome Ron Paul, we welcome a non-interventionist US foreign policy; just not this time."


    Agreed. And entirely motivated by emotion. Not facts, principles or pragmatism, imho.

    Indeed, if one cares to take an unbiased look at the history of Russia and it's neighbors, one will find that Putin is the least autocratic and trigger-happy leader to rule over Russia. Ever.

    On the other hand, however, (or should I say "on a higher level") the entire episode feels like plain old globalist scare tactics, and Putin seems to be just another member of the functional elite - taking orders from the power elite, in my view.

    By the way, Zbigniew Brzezinski is from Poland, too. He'd ask the genie 10 times, if he could.


  5. BM,
    American libertarians like you have LRC in such high steem, for good (past) reason, that you have difficulty to perceive the clearly unprincipled, biased stance of LRC on several matters. I'm Spanish, and a usual reader of LRC and the Mises Institute for more than a decade and I'm grateful for their help in my libertarian becoming. However, the last 3-4 years of LRC, for me, are marked by deep disappointment, mainly becayse LRC's proclaimed anti-state stance is subordinate to anti-US imperialism stance.

    Facts are interpreted differently depending on the country affected. Civil unrest in countries under US hegemony is considered a good sign of people uprising against state power. Civil unrest in countries in the orbit of rival powers is the product of CIA manipulation. Or is totally ignored.

    See, for instance, this blog entry by Daniel McAdams celebrating Hugo Chávez victory in 2012:

    McAdams celebrates the victory of a tyrant and tries to justify his joy saying that anti-US imperialism trumps the denounce of the suffering of the Venezuelan people under his antiliberty policies. The version of that blog entry that you can read now, by the way, has been heavily edited to soften the pro-Chávez message. I clearly remember McAdams being very disrespectful toward Capriles voters (they were fools or something like that for voting against the KGB-supported despot attacking their liberty and well being instead of considering their sacrosanct duty of opposing US imperialism and CIA-supported candidates), but that part has been erased. I remember because I immediately wrote an e-mail to Lew Rockwell about another unprincipled opinon in one of his blog entries that day of 2012, but was so surprised by McAdams antilibertarian and offensive message that I also included this note about McAdams' blog entry:

    "I'm thinking of Daniel McAdams celbration of Chavez victory in Venezuela. The suffering of Venezuelan people under the boot of this tyrant doesn't matter? The only thing that matters to your writers and you is opposition to US imperialism? Do you need a modest donation on my part or did Moscow [the Kremlin would have been more precise] send enough money to fund your operations this month? Do you think that anti-politically savvy readers are going to swallow the each day more and more simplistic, biased and Manichean (blind)view on some international matters? Think about the people suffering. Don't send an army "to impose democracy". Just stick to principle when speaking about foreign people's liberty and their local overlords. US made oppression is not the only one to produce suffering. Some non-US humans resent oppression when delivered by non-US overlords, too. [...] I usually enjoyed Daniel McAdams coverage of Syria, but todady I don't trust his commentary as much as I did a week ago. The more I suffer myself the oppression and decivilization in my country, Spain, the more sensitive I am for the suffering of people in other countries [and no, this doesn`t mean sending the drones, the B-52 bombers and the marines]. If the US is a increasingly oppressive police state, why I don't sense that same reaction in you? [...] I hope this is enough for you to feel my skepticism [about unprincipled, biased LRC] growing and extending. Report to Gerald Celente. This might become a trend."


  6. (cont'd)

    Perhaps the trend you have perceived in other commenters, BM... Note that the edition of McAdams entry, specially the second paragraph, tries to respond to my objections. Moreover, since I sent this message to Lew, I've heard him sometimes saying "Putin is no saint, but..." in interviews. Back to McAdams entry, note that McAdams (or whoever edited the text) says that "we [non-interventionists] also understand the limits of our personal preferences and impulses". So "we have no moral right" to speak against a despot crimes (note that now, in the revised version of McAdams entry, the Venezuelan people and the Venezuelan state are not considered different entities: this is not what I learned reading Rothbard and LRC), just as we don't have the right to send the drones, the bombers and the marines (are words and bullets the same thing?). The problem for McAdams and the rest of "the directorate" is that I perfectly understand those limits they invoke in such misguided (if not deceitful) way: I'm not calling for military intervention. I'm calling for principled speaking against attacks on liberty and principled abstention from cheering attackers of liberty. Quite unbiased and principled, I think.

    Fast forward to 2014 and something is happening in Venezuela: civil unrest! As far as I know, you won't find videos like this at LRC (this one is in Spanish, it's about torture and murder of Venezuelan human beings by the Venezuelan government, as well as censorship of the opposition):

    According to LRC, we don't have a moral right to speak against censorship of the opposition and murder and torture of Venezuelan people by their government ("we don't have a moral right to tell the Venezuelans how to run their country", so the Venezuelan people and the Venezuelan gov should be the same entitity and... those deaths should be considered "suicides" then?). I guess this is the reason for the civil unrest in Venezuela being an nonexistent issue at LRC. But when Hugo Chávez won the 2012 elections Daniel McAdams felt he had the moral right and duty to say "¡Viva Chávez!" In my book, all this is clearly biased and unprincipled.

    Secession is a matter seen at LRC in a rather dogmatic and American-centric way. It has become an end by itself for them, instead of a means to an end. Crimea secedes and immediately joins Russia. Relatively small Ukraine gets smaller and big Russia becomes bigger. For LRC it doesn't matter, it seems. All that matters is that secession is always good, there is a secession trend growing in the world and Crimea seceded and we can score a point.


  7. (cont'd)

    LRC published an article by Paul Craig Roberts where the author justified Putin expansionism on the ground of defending Russian speaking people outside Russian borders against linguistic oppresion. The same kind of linguistic oppresion has been suffered by Spanish speaking people in Catalonia for decades now, but... will PCR or other LRC writers speak on their behalf? Or, on the contrary, will they celebrate the victory of the fascist Catalonian secession movement when it arrives? You know the answer, don't you?

    I recently saw a video showing Russian police violently thwarting a performance of Pussy Riot. For what I could see, it was in a public space. I dislike everything about Pussy Riot, but I "understand the limits of my personal preferences and impulses" and I comprehend that they have a right to free expression. Will you see that video at LRC? You know the answer, don't you?

    China and Japan enter in military build-up mode. LRC's stance? Japan, bad. China, don't worry, they are a historically peaceful nation. Same fact, different judgement.

    And so on.

    In sum, the anti-state principle is not systematically and impartially applied at LRC. It is subordinate to anti-US imperialism. The anti-state stance is adopted when the country is under control of the US empire because it goes against it, but it is abandoned when dealing with attacks on liberty outside the US empire and inside the dominions of other imperial powers opposed to the US empire because then, the anti-state stance would go against the prevailing anti-US imperialism main stance. This is more than non-interventionism...

    I like your blog very much, by the way. Greetings,

    1. Jubal

      This is wonderful. Forgive my delay in responding, as I have read it (all three posts) several times, and will continue to do so until I internalize it (at least as much as is possible in this manner).

      My background is one that I thought would make me sensitive to such issues; while I am certain this is relatively true, perhaps not as absolutely true as I would like. For this, I will continue to read again your comments.

      Finally, while reading your comments, I try thinking through application toward target audience as relates a site like LRC. This poses many challenges, but perhaps also opportunities.

      For example, what about multiple, foreign-based country-specific "LRCs," each more sensitive to the local issues - perhaps similar in model to the multiple international "Mises" sites?

      In any case, again, thank you for taking the time to post this.

      Also, thank you for reading my blog - I am pleased that you enjoy it.

    2. Jubal wrote: "In sum, the anti-state principle is not systematically and impartially applied at LRC. It is subordinate to anti-US imperialism. The anti-state stance is adopted when the country is under control of the US empire because it goes against it, but it is abandoned when dealing with attacks on liberty outside the US empire and inside the dominions of other imperial powers opposed to the US empire because then, the anti-state stance would go against the prevailing anti-US imperialism main stance. This is more than non-interventionism... "


      Well, yes. However, here's Laurence Vance @ LRC:

      "Putin may be a liar, he may have evil intentions, he may be a closet communist, he may have blood on his hands, he may be guilty of crimes against humanity, he may be a statist, he may be untrustworthy, he may be a despicable human being, but the U.S. has neither the duty nor the credibility to criticize anything that Putin does in or to any country. And as Ron Paul said: “Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?” I would then ask: “Why do libertarians care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?”



  8. I have to agree with Jubal. But it is easy to see why the Americans at LRC are more concerned with the American tyranny that is so obviously developing, and so obviously attempting to transition from world hegemon, to world wide plutocratic socialist sovereign, than with other governments of whatever persuasion.

    1. taxes, your point is what I was alluding to regarding the consideration of target audiences.


  9. You're welcome but I'm saying that regardless of any thoughts about audience, they are themselves mostly American, so their perspective cannot help but be American. Also, this is where the power is, however long that lasts, and however it is used.

  10. I add, as a continuation of this dialogue, the following post from Justin Raimondo, in which he takes on this issue directly:

    "In short, some aggressors are more aggressive than others: indeed, there is one in particular that tops the list. Some libertarians are quite uncomfortable with these difficult yet irrefutable truths.

    "What these "both sides are equally bad" libertarians and fellow-travelers are loath to admit is a simple fact of reality, underscored by the history of the world since September 11, 2001, and well before that, and it is this: the US government is the biggest, most consistent and deadliest aggressor the world has ever known. Washington – not Moscow, or Beijing, or god help us Caracas – is the main danger to peace and liberty in the world."

  11. Very well said BM. Had to laugh at your use of "fellow-travelers" though. Both sides might be equally bad, if they were equal in power, greed and imagination.

    1. taxes, the words are written by Justin Raimondo.

  12. That's even funnier. But even he can't keep up with all of the countries we are messing with, since most of the ammo we've expended in wars recently is just money and lies.

  13. Bionic: I worked with a Slovak fellow in the Middle East 20-25 years ago who explained the attitude of East European(and German) residents from his childhood learning. Some time ago America was looked upon with awe and I believe there is probably still some lingering, if unknowing, respect. Whenever a Russian, Romanian, Ukrainian, etc event was in the news he would say comically "Zey komm from zee East. Vee must always be ready. Zey vill komm from zee East."

    Perhaps just an understandable historic attitude. US imperialism is newer than that of Genghis, Attila or Stalin and the effects haven't generally included the slaughter and pillaging of villages, though they might be economically just as bad. Just a thought.
    Doug in Indiana

    1. Thank you for this; I am certain that the history - even within the lifetime of many still living individuals - plays a strong part in this.