Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Common Cause

There are issues that bring together a subset of libertarians, traditional conservatives and modern liberals.  War is one of these.  Many readers will be familiar with traditional conservative Pat Buchanan and his views on war and empire; on the left one will find Noam Chomsky.

Then there are those on one side or the other of the political spectrum who can appreciate a position, and not an ideology.

Speaking the Unspeakable: Why the Establishment Wants to Silence Donald Trump, by Sam Husseini. 

Much of this post will be a restatement of Husseini’s position; however, at the end I would like to offer a few thoughts about the good and bad of Trump.

The establishment so wants everyone else to unfriend Trump supporters on Facebook. There’s even an app to block them. That’ll teach them!

Yes, Trump plays a bully boy and is appealing to populist (good), nativist, xenophobic, and racist sentiments (bad).

Trump appeals to nativist sentiments, but those same sentiments are skeptical of the militarized role of the U.S. in the world — as was the case during Pat Buchanan’s 1992 campaign.

Husseini offers that focusing only on the “bad” Trump allows many – including many in the media – to dismiss or ignore the “good” Trump.

While the New York Times concludes Trump is an “off the scales” liar, Husseini finds reason to disagree:

…he recently said the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State “killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity….The Middle East is a total disaster under her.” Now, I think that’s pretty accurate, though U.S. policy in my view may be more Machiavellian than stupid, but the remark is a breath of fresh air on the national stage.

Instead, he sees statements such as these ignored:

But I’ve not seen anyone fact-check that assertion, because that’s not an argument much of establishment media wants to debate.

It is a conscious omission, according to Husseini:

…Trump — or Rand Paul’s — remarks about U.S. policies of regime change and bombings are often unexamined. It’s more convenient to focus on our kindness in letting a few thousand refugees in than to examine how millions of displaced people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somali might have gotten that way as a result of U.S. government policies.

To those who complain that Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims is unconstitutional, Husseini retorts – what about all of Obama’s undeclared wars?  Two wrongs don’t make a right, but “pretend moral outrage” is rather unbecoming.

Trump wants to ban Muslims until the government figures out what is going on:

Now, a reasonable stance would be to say let’s stop bombing until “we can figure out what the hell is going on.” But Trump — unlike virtually anyone else with a megaphone — is actually raising the issue about why there’s resentment against the U.S. in the Mideast.

Trump is not afraid to say what some know to be true:

“When you had the World Trade Center go down, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia.” Which is totally mangled, but raises the question of Saudi Arabia with relation to 9/11.

About the only non-military planes allowed to fly after the events of that morning.

Sure, Trump is no non-interventionist, but still – he is raising points that should be examined, not ignored.  Of course, if he reaches office, who knows?

Now, Trump may well be no different than the other if he were to get into office. But he conveys the impression that he will act like a normal nationalist and not a conniving globalist.

Perhaps more importantly:

And much of the U.S. public seems to want that. And that’s a good thing.

Even more importantly:

Trump — apparently alone among Republican presidential candidates — is saying that he will talk to Russian President Putin. Having some sense that the job of a president is to attempt to have reasonable relations with the other major nuclear powered state is a serious plus in my book.

In my book, too.

Right or left, outside of Trump the dialogue is lacking:

And no prominent Democrat has taken on the position that we should seriously examine the root causes of anger at the U.S. government. The public is never presented with a worldview which articulates that position.

Finally, a shout-out to the one man who would clearly be the ideal candidate for this confluence of anti-empire libertarian, right, and left:

The only one on the national stage to have [suggested we examine the root causes of anger at the US government] in recent history was Ron Paul — and he was demonized in ways similar to Trump by much of the liberal establishment in 2008.

Husseini concludes:

It’s important to stress: I have no idea what Trump actually believes. Backing him as a person is probably akin to picking a box on The Price is Right.

Obviously, I have no idea either; this is one reason (of many) that I say nothing about if or for whom anyone should vote.

Common Cause

Trump – like Ron Paul before him – demonstrates that there is a line that runs through a widely-varying spectrum of political thought: left, right and libertarian. 

As to the good and bad of Trump: in many ways he would be a scary president – forceful, brash, and almost unrestrainable.  There are concerns of the significant aggressions he might commit on the home-front.  Conversely, he seems more reasonable than any other candidate on the issue of war and empire.

More aggression against US residents or more aggression against foreigners in foreign lands?  This may very well be the choice when it comes to Trump vs. the rest of the field.

I continue to come back to the idea that war is the greatest violator of the non-aggression principle – certainly true for those on the receiving end. 

It is easy to live in America when all the major violations are committed overseas.  This doesn’t make anyone-but-Trump a better choice.  Should Americans sit content, feeling that they live in a relatively free country, as long as the worst violations committed by their government are occurring over there?

Further, anyone who is willing to talk to Russia is better than anyone who is not willing to talk to Russia.  A failure in this relationship will pretty much result in the end of my concerns about Trump’s trampling on my liberty.

Left, right, libertarian.  Instead of focusing on all of the reasons we disagree, Trump offers a hint of one place – a very important place – where many of us do agree.  Trump may not do any of the things he says if he reaches office; yet, at least he is saying them.  This suggests to me that he is the only one for whom some version of international non-intervention is possible.

If one is inclined to vote and if there is one single issue on which to vote, it is on this issue of war and empire.  A good candidate on these issues outweighs whatever bads might come along for the ride.

Please note: I said “if.”  Please note: I said it twice.


  1. Yes.

    I've suggested similar things to friends who are going on a tear about Trump (after walking back from my tear on Trump).

    IF (big if) he really would walk back the wars the rest of it may be livable.

  2. I agree with the assertion that opposing war and empire should be the cardinal plank when a libertarian chooses who to support. It's also a uniting stance, and your writing reminds me of something. I recall in 2008 four candidates (It may have been three, I recall one who didn't show because he wasn't getting an endorsement) of very opposing viewpoints came together, at a conference organized by Ron Paul, to stand firm on the idea of peace.

    War's most visible and blatant effects are abroad, but it enables the state at home. I don't think the powers that be would have been able to sell the police state to the public if not for war.

  3. "..he seems more reasonable than any other candidate on the issue of war and empire."

    An illusion. And even if he were sincere on this issue, the fact of the matter is that he will be required/forced to "go along with the agenda", regardless, by the "the powers that be".

    The fact of the matter is that the main business of _all_ governments is war [by any means necessary], indeed war is essential to its/their survival and growth.

    As Randolph Bourne astutely observed: "war is the health of the state", meaning, if you have government[s] in the first place, you _must_ have war[s], both external [i.e.outside the governments territories], and internal [i.e. on select people/groups within its territories].

    And so it goes....

    Regards, onebornfree

    1. OBF, as Owyhee notes below, consider the following my reply to your comment:


  4. I think your "Out of chaos,Chaos" is the answer to this
    "I see a relationship of one hand washing the other: the various autonomous actors throw a few bones to the Puppet-in-Chief, and the Puppet-in-Chief provides cover to the various autonomous actors."

    After all is not this just another "business deal" for Uncle Trump?

    1. It may have started this way (or with a wager on his golf course w/ Bill Clinton), but Trump has 3 kids and multiple grandkids. This could be a "back to blood" moment for him. Contrary to Husseini, his views on immigration are a feature, not a bug.