Tag Archives: Foreign Affairs

Win-win: How about creating that libertarian paradise in Barbuda?

Hurricane Irma destroyed Barbuda, forcing evacuation of the island’s 3,000 inhabitants.  Media reports suggest that it will cost around $250M to rebuild the tropical paradise.  The territory is, of course, part of the country of Antigua and Barbuda, which has a relatively high standard of living.

In lieu of focusing on seasteading, how about a bunch of rich libertarians get together and, though a market solution, try to purchase the island, rehabilitate it, and create a new sovereign state?

Maybe offer $500M to the government of Antigua and Barbuda to cover the costs of permanently accommodating former Barbuda residents on Antigua and to compensate them for the lost territory.  Given the country’s fiscal challenges, this could be a nice nest egg, covering about half of the annual government budget [PDF].  Add in the $250M to rebuild Barbuda.  (We have little doubt that enterprising, profit-motivated Americans could manage it cheaper.)

Offer, say, $100,000 to compensate each resident of Barbuda who chooses not to return.  If half of them take you up on it, that’s $150M.  (Better yet, determine the fair value of their private losses and compensate them; we doubt that it would be anything close to an order of magnitude higher than $100K on average.)  Invite those who decline the opportunity to return under the new system.  Budget $50M to build the hardware and software of a new (minimalist) national government.

So, for less than a billion dollars, we could possibly have a new state.  Peter Thiel alone could cover this.  The new owners could begin selling parcels of land, privatizing government-type services, and creating a true libertarian paradise.  It’s easy to envision them recouping their investment while creating a society that would soon become the richest per capita in the world.  Think of the prospects for tourism, retirement homes, and financial services alone.  The geography and weather (minus the occasional hurricane) are a good start.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

Might Hillary Clinton pivot her rhetoric on terrorism to win the election?

The Muslim terrorist attacks over the weekend in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota provide another dose of vindication to Donald Trump’s worries about the threats posed by Muslim immigrants.  It must be clear to Hillary Clinton that this issue—contrasted by her and her minions’ default nothing-to-see-here responses—could carry Trump to victory.

Could we see Clinton try, perhaps in the presidential debates, to co-opt Trump’s ownership of this issue by finally acknowledging the pattern of Islamic terrorism and recognizing that a specific ideology and specific group of identifiable people are at war with our civilization?  It would only take a few words, and Clinton could probably craft an artful paragraph or two to produce the most headline-grabbing news out of a debate.

We know from their words and actions what Hillary Clinton, President Obama, the mainstream media, and the rest of the left think of terrorism:

  • The U.S. is an evil hegemon that has oppressed the brown peoples of the world and must repent.  Arabs and other Muslims are noble people with admirably exotic [collectivist] views and lifestyles.
  • Only a selected few enlightened global visionaries, due to their life experiences and proper educations, have internalized the image of global utopia that is within our grasp, if only they may be allowed to bring to bear their benevolent understanding for the benefit of the rest of us.  President Obama, of course, is the quintessential contemporary “Muslimist” (as Steve Sailer has coined) who, while perhaps not Muslim per se, can bridge cultures and allow us to vicariously bask in his understanding of the beauty of Islamic society.
  • To fulfill the left’s prime directive of building a multicultural society in the U.S.—to achieve three interrelated goals of uplifting the other peoples of the world, making American society more progressive, and demonstrating our virtue as a people—is the most important movement on which we could embark.  Hence a few or a few thousand dead prole Americans is a trivial price to pay to achieve this vision, which of course depends on Clinton’s election.
However, Clinton is also a smart politician, and she must be able to see that the American people—selfish bigots that we are—are not grasping this reality.  Since she will say anything to get elected, it is possible that she will take the risk of modifying her language.
If she declares that the U.S. is under threat from concerted Muslim terrorism, there will certainly be a hushed outcry from the left.  We can envision her briefing her followers in advance, telling them not to worry about her public rhetoric that has become  necessary to win the election, just as she certainly did in her secretive speeches to Wall Street banks.  Her private audiences will understand that her public pivot is just for show.
Such a tactic would be a significant test for the left, to see whether they are so blinded by their world view that they can’t adapt to win an election.  Forget about challenging their core beliefs—that won’t happen—but it is conceivable that she could at least change her language for two months.  Huma Abedin might pout, but she will join everyone in nodding and winking just to get over the finish line in November and then allowing Clinton to resume her regularly scheduled programming.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

Bill to allow Americans to sue Saudi Arabia for terrorism is against the rule of law (that it passed unanimously is a telltale sign)

It’s odd that we side with President Obama as he is facing the first veto override of his term.  Though the fact that the bill passed both the House and the Senate unanimously is a hint of its perniciousness.

The bill, called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), would allow citizens who can convince a jury that they were victimized by terrorism to sue governments that they believe contributed to the terrorist acts.  We agree with the high-minded reasons that both the Obama Administration and some of the Republicans’ best legal and foreign-policy minds put forth in illustrating the bill’s dangers:  it undermines sovereign immunity, could prompt retaliatory lawfare from other countries, and  could place Americans abroad at risk of being detained by countries where the divide between civil and criminal prosecution is not as clear as in America.

We also fret that—while we are not condoning our supposed allies like Saudi Arabia in creating the environment for and directly supporting attacks on the U.S.—subjecting more defendants to the whims of the U.S.’s tort system is not the definition of justice.  Supporters of the bill reflexively cry that “it’s not about the money,” but we’re sure that the tort bar doesn’t see it that way.

The lawsuit industry undermines the U.S. economy every day via “jackpot justice,” in which it’s not that hard to employ emotionally-charged arguments to convince juries that some faceless, deep-pocket foreign defendant should pay up.  The preponderance-of-the-evidence standard on such civil matters is a dangerous substitute to deal with complex issues that should be left to the international political process.

The bill, while not unconstitutional, violates the spirit of the American constitution’s visionary prohibition of Bills of Attainder and ex post facto laws.  JASTA strikes us as a ham-handed attempt to scapegoat for imprecise reasons a defined boogeyman after the fact—a a sophisticated form of mob rule that these constitutional provisions were designed to deter.

Most bills that pass Congress unanimously are trivial, with the only down-side being wasted legislative resources.  When they are not trivial, such laws almost always increase government and erode liberty, as the political class generally agrees on these values as opposed to their converses.  Unanimous laws generally fit the pattern of benefiting from emotional resonance—as in the case of JASTA—and being seen as having little down-side.*

JASTA is not trivial and carries significant down-sides, though it does fit the general pattern of feel-good unanimous legislation and all of its ills.

*We would like to see a historian write a book on unanimously-passed legislation and the dissenters (like former Rep. Ron Paul (Tx.)) who have stood alone against them.  Such a work would certainly be filled with anecdotes that would educate and often amuse political junkies.

Leave a comment

Filed under Big Government

Clinton says on Israeli TV that ISIS is “rooting for Donald Trump”; MSM gets outraged that Trump appears with Larry King

We long for the quaint unspoken rule that politicians don’t engage in partisan attacks or criticize their political opponents from overseas.  President Obama has made a sport of eviscerating this decorum.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton declared in an interview on Israeli TV that ISIS is “rooting for Donald Trump’s victory.”  The terrorists, according to Clinton, are praying, “Please, Allah, make Trump president of America.”  The illogic of this claim aside, the mainstream media failed to take Clinton to task for fear-mongering and attacking from overseas the patriotism of an American politician—as they always do while attempting to criticize Republicans for such perceived affronts.

For example, the media came down hard on Trump for mild praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, especially that uttered in an interview with American media icon (and Trump friend) Larry King.  They piled on the he-said-this-on-Russian-media trope because King’s show happens to be syndicated on Russia Today, a government-controlled outlet.

This criticism of Trump for a non-offense compared to silence on Clinton shows a double standard outrageous even by MSM standards.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Bias

We never get the right questions on re-thinking the Iraq war

The most obvious way for a politician (or non-politician) to explain his ostensible waffling on support for President Bush’s war on Iraq beginning in 2003 is to say that it was a reasonable idea at the time, but, given the history, he wishes that we hadn’t begun it.  This result was not inevitable from the outset, but rather came about because of our insane rules of engagement—in which President Bush tied one had behind our proverbial backs and then President Obama tied the second hand too.  Moreover, Obama made the fatal mistake of promising to withdraw and then doing so before the job was finished, erasing gains that we had made after the surge toward the end of Bush’s term.

This seems like a simple and valid reading of history (and is our position).  Yet the media never ask the right question.  At Wednesday’s “commander-in-chief” forum for the presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton duly said, “I think the decision to go to war in Iraq, and I have said that my voting to give President Bush that authority was, from my perspective, my mistake.”

Perhaps it’s implicit, but she didn’t explain why.  Nor do the media ever drill down on this point.  The hard left would say that many members of Congress who voted for the war were simply duped by the Administration’s false intelligence.  But very few people in either party offer the view that the decision to go to war was a mistake only in light of how it turned out due to conscious decisions once we were at war, and why that is the case—simply circumstance or bad luck, the realization that America simply doesn’t have the will to do what it takes to win a war, or President Obama’s fecklessness?  Even putting aside the issue of blame, is our polity not mature enough to understand that it is possible that an action might have been warranted at the time but simply didn’t work out as we had hoped—and that doesn’t mean it was a mistake?

There are different types of mistakes:  (1) decisions that were inherently erroneous to begin with, (2) those that were simply calculated risks but didn’t turn out well, and (3) those that might have been right but in which execution failed (and perhaps should have been predicted to fail).

“Mistake” is an odd word; it has acquired an imprecise definition in common usage, though the dictionary definition seems to mirror (1) above.  Is buying a lottery ticket a mistake if you don’t win?  We would say no.  Getting married to your ex-wife?  Probably yes.  Launching “New Coke”?  Hard to say.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

Debates about guns and Muslim immigration don’t explicitly discuss trade-offs

I am willing to tolerate higher levels of gun violence in America in exchange for having a Second Amendment.  We don’t often hear our fellow rightists state the case so explicitly, but most probably have arrived at this cognitive consonance.

(It is true that more guns means less crime in general.  It is also true that America has the highest rate of mass shootings and other gun violence of any industrialized country, and this is due at least in part to the wide availability of firearms.  America’s unique history, culture, legal environment, and demographics all contribute to these seemingly contradictory realities.  The quote above is the position of this blog, and we also believe that the best way to counter the threat of Islamist terrorist attacks like the Orlando night club shooting is to facilitate more people being armed.)

The alternate universe in which the U.S. never had a Second Amendment, in which there were not hundreds of millions of guns in circulation, in which the police have all the firepower, and in which mass shootings and other instances of gun violence were extremely rare, is easy to envision.  That’s the situation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and most other industrialized countries (as well as in most police states).  Count ours as one vote in favor of the American status quo.

The left doesn’t really possess the vocabulary to present its own arguments about the trade-offs associated with gun rights (or most other issues).  We rarely hear progressives espousing the values of individual liberty anymore—except in a few specific scenarios that turn the Bill of Rights on its head—and they are even less sympathetic to the concept of individual self-defense.  The left apparently isn’t able to comprehend the main reason why the founders included the Second Amendment to begin with:  protection from government tyranny.  We will have a social contract in which only the benevolent government will have guns, and in exchange the citizenry will trust the government to use them to protect citizens’ liberty and well-being is also not a scenario that liberals articulate very often, even if this is what they believe.

It is a legitimate political stance to try to persuade the American electorate to move our country in that direction, although we don’t see the left doing so very often:  as opposed to openly arguing for repeal of the Second Amendment, they usually use stealthy Federal and local legislative, regulatory, and judicial actions to end-run around it.  Fortunately democratic means couldn’t succeed nationally at this point.

The debate about Muslim immigration, or immigration in general, similarly seems devoid of a discussion about trade-offs.  We would like to hear Donald Trump state, Of course in principle I don’t like the idea of banning an entire group [Muslims] from visiting or immigrating to the U.S.  Such a ban would certainly affect some innocent people who don’t intend to harm the country.  However, we are in a time of war, so we need to accept this trade-off in order to reduce the number of Muslim terrorists we admit.  We presume that Trump feels this way—and he has implied an understanding of the trade-off in his call to pause Muslim immigration until we “can figure out what’s going on”—but it would be nice for him to make it explicit.

Similarly, it would be nice if President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or other liberals made explicit their own views of a trade-off.  The U.S. is the most multicultural, open country in the world.  I want to accept more Muslim immigrants, and in fact all types of immigrants, because they make America better.  I acknowledge that, in so doing, we might inadvertently admit some people who will go on to commit terrorist attacks, but a few hundred or a few thousand dead Americans is a reasonable price to pay for the vibrancy that immigrants contribute to our society.  We have little doubt that Obama, Clinton, and most of the cosmopolitan left, including the mainstream media, feel this way.  (Though even this may be a charitable portrayal of their views:  the hard left, like President Obama, has demonstrated that it thinks that traditional American culture is an anachronism that should be replaced by a culture that is more collectivist, authoritarian, and brown.)

A sympathetic article, “What Obama Actually Thinks about Radical Islam,” by Jeffrey Goldberg (h/t James Taranto) seems to serve as a rare reveal of Obama’s view:

Obama believes that the clash is taking place within a single civilization, and that Americans are sometimes collateral damage in this fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.

Taranto rightly expresses puzzlement at the phrase “collateral damage” as it relates to Americans being killed in a “fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.”  One way to reconcile this apparent misreading of the current state of the world—there doesn’t seem to be much of a “fight” pitting Muslim modernizers against Muslim fundamentalists, especially on American soil—is to speculate that Goldberg misinterpreted Obama’s statement.

Obama possibly seems himself as the “Muslim modernizer”; inasmuch as he is not actually a Muslim, he could be fairly called a “‘Muslimist‘ modernizer,” to use Steve Sailer’s term.  Obama may not identify precisely as a Muslim, but he was raised in a Muslim environment and considers himself an enlightened exponent of the Muslim faith (as does Hillary Clinton).

Goldberg posits that “Obama sees the problems affecting parts of the Muslim world as largely outside American control,” though he cites the president asserting that the way we address Muslims around the world talking about the problem of radical Islam—including his infamous refusal to label the motivations of terrorism as such—plays an important role in addressing it.  And Obama has strongly condemned Trump’s call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration to the U.S. while increasing admission of people who claim to be Syrian refugees.  Obama probably sees himself as playing a righteous, central role as a “Muslim modernizer,” by importing more Muslims to the U.S., by his imposition of political correctness on all government discussions of terrorism, and by the virtue-signaling language he insists on using to assert solidarity with Islam.  If these accommodations carry some costs, then it’s worth it.

So, if Goldberg is accurately portraying What Obama Actually Thinks about Radical Islam, then it appears that what Obama is really saying is, The United States can play a role in the clash between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists, by, among other things, welcoming Muslim immigrants to the U.S.  A few dead Americans as collateral damage is a price that I am willing to pay to promote Muslim modernization.   Such a viewpoint would fall within the bounds of legitimate debate within our political system—as taking sides in any war involves the conscious sacrifice of American lives—though we assume that vast majority of Americans would vehemently disagree with it and would redeem their disagreement through all democratic mechanisms available.  Let’s have the debate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Politics

Restricting Muslim immigration is impractical, harms freedom, and is legally dubious, and therefore not worthy of considering even if it improves our safety. Restricting gun ownership, on the other hand. . .

All right-thinking people seem to think that, even if it were practical, banning Muslims from visiting the United States would be at best an ineffective overreaction and at worst, a violation of human rights and abdication of America’s standing as a beacon of liberty in the world.

We—and Donald Trump—concede that banning all foreign Muslims would ensnare some innocent people who only want to visit the U.S. and have no terrorist sympathies at all.  But we are apparently not allowed to consider such trade-offs in debating how best to promote Americans’ safety when it comes to deciding which foreigners to allow the privilege of entering the country.

Meanwhile, President Obama has gone ahead in unveiling various actions to restrict Americans’ access to guns.  “We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people,” the President said, while claiming to support the Second Amendment.  “Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown.”

We understand there are some constraints on our [sic] freedom in order to protect innocent people.  Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from Americans serving their country at Fort Hood and in Chattanooga , police officers serving their communities in Philadelphia and New York, and innocent civilians attending a holiday party in San Bernardino, the president did not say.

Banning foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. would create unforeseen problems in our foreign policy, would be difficult to implement, and might entail some legal challenges—so we should not even think about how to overcome these barriers.

Obama’s executive actions on gun control would “present new and unforeseen enforcement problems,” “create untold logistical . . . difficulties,” and be “subject to legal challenge,” according to a White House staffer.  But it’s worth it.

Banning foreign Muslims from the U.S. enjoys majority support in polls, but that is not reason to consider it, according to mainstream media editorialists (most of whom supported the president’s proposals on guns).  According to the Washington Post, majority support is a good reason for Obama to act:  “Obama said gun owners would support his new restrictions. He was right.”

Banning Muslims from entering the U.S. would affect some innocent people, who just want to enjoy their vague “right” to visit the U.S. and are no threat to our safety.  Making it harder to purchase a firearm would affect mostly innocent people, who just want to enjoy their constitutionally-protected right to own a gun and are no threat to our safety.

So are we to conclude that personal freedom, implementation challenges, and public opinion are relevant factors in considering measures to improve public safety only when it comes to some issues?

1 Comment

Filed under Culture