I’m on the road again this week doing our Southwest speaking tour — Yuma, Phoenix, and Dallas, so blogging is likely to be periodic rather than daily. Details on the events are posted below. Admission is open to the public. The Yuma event costs five dollars. The Phoenix and Dallas events are free. If you’re in any of these areas, we’d love to have you join us for some enjoyable intellectual events to discuss the critical issues facing our nation—and what we can do to get America back on the right track, toward freedom, peace, and prosperity.
Last Thursday, I spoke to another chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), this one at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. However, I wasn’t there personally. I spoke via the Internet to an audience of students in an auditorium at the school. The experience worked great. I could see the audience on my laptop and they could see me on a big screen in the auditorium. The talk was on civil liberties, the war on terrorism, and foreign policy, which reflects the deep interest that young libertarians have in this very important topic. It’s a great sign for libertarians!
I spoke for about 50 minutes and then came the Q&A and discussion, which turned out to be lively. There were disagreements with parts of what I said, which I love because it shows that the students are not automatically accepting what I have to say and are instead thinking for themselves. The way I figure it is that as long as people are engaging in critical thinking and exercising their consciences, then the likelihood is that they will figure out that we libertarians are right. It’s the people who have rendered their minds and consciences to the U.S. national-security state that are taking our country down the road to moral debauchery, loss of freedom, and financial and economic bankruptcy.
One of the points of disagreement was over the U.S. government’s invasion and occupation in Iraq. One of the students was a Marine veteran who had served in Iraq. He said that most of the people in Iraq had been killed by other Iraqis, not by U.S. forces during the invasion and long-term occupation of the country. He said that U.S. forces were just doing their best to bring freedom to the Iraqi people.
I responded by pointing out that Iraq has been engaged in a civil war for a long time and that it’s not surprising that people kill each other in civil wars. One good example, I pointed out, was the U.S. civil war, which killed hundreds of thousands of people. But I told the student that the U.S. government had no right to invade Iraq and kill even one Iraqi. Moreover, U.S. forces themselves had killed plenty of Iraqis. We don’t know the exact number because early on the Pentagon said that it would keep count only of American dead, not Iraqi dead. The number of Iraqi dead simply didn’t matter.
I pointed out that the initial primary rationale for invading Iraq had nothing to do with bringing freedom to the Iraqi people but instead was based on the bogus claim that Saddam Hussein was about to unleash WMDs and nuclear mushroom clouds over American cities. The fact is that many U.S. officials and neocons lamented the fact that George H.W. Bush did not bring about regime change and install a pro-U.S. ruler in Iraq during the Persian Gulf intervention. The reason for the 11 years of brutal sanctions against Iraq was to squeeze the Iraqi people into ousting Saddam from power and installing a pro-U.S. dictator. When the sanctions failed to do that — despite contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children — U.S. officials and neocons decided to use the 9/11 attacks as a way to achieve what George H.W. Bush and the 11 years of sanctions had failed to achieve — regime change. So that the invasion would not appear as a war of aggression (which was condemned as a war crime at Nuremberg), they came up with the bogus WMD scare to garner the blind support of the American people.
The bogus nature of the excuse for invading was reflected when the WMDs failed to materialize. If that had truly been the reason for invading, President George W. Bush would have apologized for making a grave and deadly mistake and ordered the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops. Instead, he didn’t skip a beat, quickly transitioning to new primary rationale for invading and occupying the country — to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people.
I told the soldier that while he (the soldier) may have genuinely believed that he was bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people, the fact is that that wasn’t the mindset of U.S. officials. That was just a way for soldiers and the American people to feel good about invading and occupying a country that had never attacked the United States — and killing multitudes of people in the process.
After all, I pointed out to the student, how could such a new-found love for the Iraqi people be reconciled with the 11 years of brutal sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children? When genuine love is felt toward other people, one does not engage in policies that knowingly bring about the deaths of their children.
Moreover, don’t forget that there was never an upward limit on the number of Iraqis who could be killed to achieve regime change in Iraq. The number of Iraqis killed, like the number of Iraqi children killed from the sanctions, didn’t matter. In the minds of U.S. officials and neocons, any number of Iraqi deaths would be justified to achieve regime change. It’s impossible to reconcile that mindset with supposed love for the Iraqi people.
Switching gears, on Friday I participated in a great academic conference sponsored by the Law and Economics Center at the George Mason University School of Law. The aim of the conference was to bring together lawyers and economists from around the country (and a libertarian economist from Argentina who I met many years ago and greatly enjoyed visiting with over lunch) to discuss and integrate libertarian concepts of law and Austrian economics. There were four different panels with 3 panelists, followed by lively discussion by the participants. It was a real honor to have been invited to participate in it.
Here are the details on this week’s Southwest Speaking Tour;
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Gila Ridge High School Performing Arts Center
7151 East 24th Street
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Doors at 5:45 p.m.
For more information, contact Freedom Library: firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 726-3123.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Scottsdale Plaza Resort
7100 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, Arizona 85253
Hotel telephone: (480) 948-5000
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
No registration required.
For more information, contact FFF: email@example.com or (703) 934-6101.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Warwick-Melrose Hotel
3015 Oak Lawn Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75219
Hotel telephone: (214) 521-5151
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
No registration required.For more information, contact FFF: firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 934-6101.