So I emailed Brink Lindsey what I posted earlier. He has now
responded, not specifically to me. Lindsey has simply ignored my main points: that the USA should act morally, which means dismantling our "war machine", and that the USA should cease to coerce our own citizens who wish to trade with Iraq. These are, in my opinion, the heart of the argument. Men should be moral, perhaps not at any cost, but certainly to the point of tolerating great costs.

Anyway, here's my response to the rest of his points.

The final argument, against the idea that Congress needs to declare war, I tend to agree with. Yes, it would be better if there were some way to limit the actions of our government by the Constitution. But there isn't. That is, of course, the problem with the USA, not just in this case but generally, so this one is hardly exceptional.

The other two points show Lindsey as pragmatist, hardly any surprise to me. He argues that "we" need to "face reality", both of the present and of the future. That's reasonable. Then he throws up the straw man: "we see that our options are essentially two. Either we try our best to stop these maniacs before they kill more of us, or else we leave ourselves at their mercy." This is feeble. To refuse certain kinds of attack against an enemy is not equivalent to throwing yourself at his mercy. Nobody is advocating surrendering to terrorists. What I advocate is defunding and shutting down the imperial war machine. These things are different. Of course that's not going to happen, either. The practical choice is (a) more defense spending and more erosion of our domestic rights, and war with Iraq, then perhaps others, or (b) somewhat less defense spending, less erosion of our rights, and no hot wars.

So if Mr Lindsey wants to argue for war, let him do so. But in contrast to a very similar world, not a world where we have surrendered our nuclear weapons to Osama Bin Laden.

Indeed, since we are not, currently, at war with Iraq (at least not as Mr Lindsey and his ilk would have it), I can turn around his straw man. Using Lindsey's boolean division of our choices, we currently are "at the mercy" of the "terrorists", which makes me wonder why they don't just show themselves and set up the concentration camps.

Lindsey's point (2) is more sophism. "What are the odds we're going to pick up and evacuate the Middle East? How likely is it that we'll tell Israel she's on her own? I'd say the probability is indistinguishable from zero." I would agree the chance that "we" will abandon Israel is near zero. But as for the others? I would say it is quite possible that we would pull out of Saudi Arabia (in fact they might kick us out), and/or that we will give up our embargo against Iraq. Further I think that "we" have a lot of leverage we could exert on Israel to force it into peace. Does Mr Lindsey think these things are near-impossible? If so, then argue it. Otherwise it seems reasonable to believe that peace is possible by peaceful means.

Now some classic warmonger. Sure, "we" do have a conflict with radical Islam. So Lindsey argues that we need to "start figuring out how to manage that conflict so we come out on top." No, only in a zero-sum, him-or-me world. In the world I live in, people can live in peace in positive sum ways. And I find it mighty strange for a libertarian, of all people, to be arguing the reverse. All people, all cultures benefit from economic and social liberty. The fact is, most Arabs have little of either -- they are ruled by despots. Most of those despots, the USA put there, helped put there, or supported at one time or another; or we failed to support the opposition. Arabs know that. They know that in our foreign policy, we are hypocrits, talking up liberty, justice and democracy while working to make sure they get none. It is time that changed. Both sides -- the American people and Arabs, everywhere -- should come out on top.

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