Category: Politics

Politics

Yes, El Chapo Should Pay for the Border Wall

Jack Parkos | United States

Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas has proposed a unique plan to fund the border wall. He calls it Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order, or the EL CHAPO Act.

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Newsflash: Candace Owens Is Not Hitler

Glenn Verasco |Thailand

I have published 132 blog posts thus far (this one is number 133). But I have failed to complete or decided not to publish at least 100 others. Sometimes I lose my train of thought, sometimes my research persuades me to disagree with my initial thesis, and sometimes I fear my words could come back to haunt me if ill-intended people come across them. Still other times, I simply can’t find a way to express my thoughts in a way that I feel comfortable sharing with my readers.

Continue reading “Newsflash: Candace Owens Is Not Hitler”

Is Bill Weld the Best Thing Libertarians Can Get?

Jack Parkos | United States

The mainstream libertarian movement is dying. It could be speculated that libertarianism will never come to significance under today’s system. Mainstream libertarians have abandoned private property rights and decentralization for a so-called “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” platform focused on “tolerance” and weed.

Bill Weld puts the final nail in the coffin. Bill Weld was the vice presidential candidate under Gary Johnson in the 2016 Presidential Election and has joined the Republican Party in a possible attempt to primary Trump in 2020.

As a libertarian, I can only stand back and laugh at what’s happening. If Bill Weld is the best we can do, then is libertarianism dead? While he is running in the Republican Party, he no doubt has the views of the Libertarian Party. Many of his views are an insult to libertarianism.

Admittedly, Bill Weld does hold some good views, such as decentralizing education and being more dovish on foreign policy. However, he does have some views that many libertarians cannot get behind.

Weld’s Blatant Anti-Libertarian Agenda

Bill Weld has been quoted as comparing AR-15’s to “weapons of mass destruction,” and is indeed pro-gun control. Even many mainstream Republicans are fine with the AR-15. In an interview, he was quoted as saying,

“The five-shot rifle, that’s a standard military rifle. The problem is if you attach a clip to it so it can fire more shells and if you remove the pin so that it becomes an automatic weapon. And those are independent criminal offenses. That’s when they become essentially a weapon of mass destruction. The problem of handguns is probably even worse than the AR-15.”

That statement sounds more like something one would hear from the Democratic Party, but this is coming from a so-called “libertarian” running in the Republican party. It’s an embarrassment to all libertarian whether they support the party or not.

A Right to Abortion

There is plenty more he can be criticized for. Bill Weld has little respect for property rights or the Constitution. On the issue of abortion, he stated that the federal government must ensure everyone has access to abortion.

“I think it’s OK for the government to be involved in ensuring clinic access because that’s guarding a fundamental constitutional right of the individual. So that’s not the nanny state; that’s good government, not bad government.” However, Weld is wrong, this is a nanny state. Furthermore, nowhere in the Constitution does it state abortion as a right. Weld is buying into the leftist lie that abortion is somehow a “right”.

Endorsing a Violation of Property Rights

Weld and Johnson ran a campaign in 2016 that seemed to be simply social liberalism and not libertarianism. Weld’s running mate Gary Johnson supported forcing a baker to bake a cake for a gay wedding, furthermore, explaining that he would force a Jewish baker to bake a cake for a Nazi. This is a complete violation of property rights, a key tenet of libertarianism. Much speculation points to Bill Weld holding similar views to Johnson based on his past rhetoric, one, in particular, being his support for affirmative action.

Furthermore, Weld supports an open borders policy. Right now, under a massive welfare state and the current state of politics, immigration restrictions are needed. This isn’t an anti-libertarian stance but rather an overall net gain for liberty. Moreover, he compared Trump’s immigration plans to Nazi Germany, making holocaust references and comparing Trump’s wall to the Berlin wall. This is all from the leftist playbook.

An Endorsement of the Opposing Side

Perhaps worst of all was when Bill Weld practically endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.

“Having said that, I’m not taking back anything I said about the massive difference between the two establishment party candidates. One would be chaos for the country, I think. And the other would be a very business-like and capable and competent approach to our affairs.”

In this interview, Bill Weld explains how Trump would be chaos for the country and that Hillary would run it better. Furthermore, he endorsed Obama for president as well. No libertarian in their right mind would endorse Hillary or Obama, so why did Weld support them? It could be said that Trump was maybe the better option for libertarians as many thought that way. However, he did not have to support either of the candidates in any elections. After all, Ron Paul didn’t.

Ron Paul is retired from politics, and right now there does not appear to be another charismatic libertarian to lead the movement. Rand Paul will likely not run for president either.  However, libertarians should not look to Bill Weld to be a leader of the movement.


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Walter Jones: A Hero to the Anti-War Movement

Kenneth Casey | United States

On Sunday, America lost one of their most principled and honorable members of Congress with the passing of Walter Jones, the U.S. Representative of North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. According to Fox News, Jones had suffered a broken hip at his home on January 14th and underwent surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville the following day, which was just one of a series of ailments that Jones had faced.

The North Carolina politician first entered the cutthroat world of politics in 1983 after being elected as a representative of North Carolina at the state level, serving as a Democrat for the entirety of his tenure. After his father vacated his U.S. Congressional seat as a member of North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 1992, Jones decided to run for his father’s seat and did so successfully. While being a Democrat and serving his first term as so, he decided to switch his party affiliation to the Republican Party in 1994 and has remained a member of the party since.

For around a decade, Jones worked like most people in Washington. He flew under the radar, for the most part, not garnering much national attention. He often served as the standard Republican member of Congress by commonly voting in line with his party as most members of Congress do. The practice of rarely breaking party line and staying away from even the slightest hints of contrarianism is popular in Congress as it increases your chances of being re-elected. That’s why, just about every year, 90% or more of Congress gets re-elected. As long as you do your part and vote in line with your party on the most important issues, the party leadership will support your re-election bid and make the threat of a primary challenge extremely unlikely.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Jones did something that garnered widespread mainstream media attention. Unless you know Walter’s path of getting where he is today, what he did may just surprise you.

A Figure Emerges

Walter was one of the biggest supporters of the Invasion of Iraq back in 2003. His passion for the war was so strong that when France announced their opposition to the United States’ involvement in Iraq, Walter, along with fellow House Republican Bob Ney of Ohio, led the charge to alter a couple names of food choices on the House Cafeteria menu. “French Fries” were to be changed to “Freedom Fries”; “French Toast” was changed to “Freedom Toast”. Yes, Jones’ first real moment of prominence after 10 years a Congress was when he became known as one of the Republicans who bootlicked for the Invasion of Iraq so much that he made his disapproval of France’s stance on the issue known by removing the word “French” from the House Cafeteria Menu.

By the end of 2005, the number of American casualties had reached 2,181. It was around this time that Walter Jones drastically changed his views on Foreign Policy. He called on President Bush to withdraw from Iraq, stating he had “come to believe that there had been little reason to go to war, despite his earlier support, which had been based upon selective intelligence supplied to Congress.” Walter did something that we hardly ever see in politicians, and that is admitting that they are wrong. After coming to the realization of his past faults, he became one of the biggest non-interventionists in Congress, supporting peace every single chance he got and opposing war at all costs.

Because of his heroism among anti-war activists, he earned the label “Champion of Peace” by fellow non-interventionist Congressman Ron Paul. In the years following his change of heart towards the Iraq War, Jones has signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who have lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and has hung posters displaying the faces of the dead along the hallway leading to his congressional office in Washington D.C. “That was for me asking God to forgive me for my mistake,” Jones told the NPR in 2017.

An Enemy of War Hawks

Of course, whenever Jones defied the Republican and neoconservative establishment by advocating for non-interventionism and going against their mainstream ideology, they did not take kindly to that. In both 2014 and 2016, Jones a faced primary opponent who benefited from having received millions from neoconservatives, most notably Bill Kristol, who despised Walter for his foreign policy and didn’t think that he belonged in the modern day Republican Party. Even though his views didn’t exactly coincide with the majority of the Republican Party’s, he still managed to easily brush off his primary challengers both times from the hawkish right, with his constituents proving they wanted to keep their principled politician. This led to him being awarded another nickname from Ron Paul: The Neocon Slayer.

Later on in his congressional career, following the changes in his foreign policy beliefs, he lived by a mindset that he felt his father had failed to follow. That mindset was doing what he believed was right even if it resulted in his career ending abruptly ending. He noted in a 2005 interview that he remembered the worst day of his father’s career was when he had to vote for a financial bailout of New York City in 1970, something his father personally opposed but had to vote for because of “political reasons”.

A Legacy to Remember

If you asked Jones, prior to his death, how he feels looking back at the time in which he was known as the guy who was the reason for the Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast denominations on the House Cafeteria Menu, he most likely would have reacted by laying his cheek in his left hand. This was a habit he said he would “repeat dozens of times a day when lost in thought or sadness”. He would uncharacteristically say nothing, wishing to erase that point in his political career from his and everybody else’s memory. Sixteen years after his vote to send American troops into Iraq, Jones would still have been furious with himself and shaken that he reacted with the dramatic response to a problem much bigger than that, ashamed and regretful of his past votes and rhetoric. In a 2015 interview, he stated he would “go to his grave regretting that he had helped kill 4,000 American soldiers.”

In his later days, Walter ended up becoming so much more than what I previously described in this article: an unprincipled politician who really doesn’t have a person in Congress other than to be there as a yes-man. Walter ended up becoming something that is such a rare species. Some wonder if principled, honorable politicians are already extinct. The type of morality that Walter Jones displayed earns the amount of respect none of us are capable of giving. For that, he deserves to be recognized, honored, and never forgotten in our memories.

May he rest in peace.


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Book Review: The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities by John Mearsheimer

Kevin Doremus | United States

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities by John Mearsheimer challenges progressive liberalism to its core.  Through his most recent book, Mearsheimer argues that progressivism is the root problem in the United States foreign policymaking.  The ideology encourages a messianic state to spread its values across the world or to remake the world in its image.  This ideology is the foundation of what is known as liberal hegemony, which Mearsheimer and other realist international relations scholars claim has resulted in instability throughout the world and is destined to fail.  He argues that realism and nationalism will overcome liberalism because liberalism does not take into consideration how the world actually operates thus it lends itself to foreign policy failures which the US has experienced since the end of the Cold War.

About the Author and The Great Delusion

John Mearsheimer is a professor of international relations at the University of Chicago.  His literature primarily focuses on international security and politics from a realist perspective.  He has written books like The Tragedy of Great Power Politics and co-authored controversial books such as The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.  He and his co-author Stephen Walt argue that pro-Israeli lobbying firms have influenced the US to serve Israel’s interests instead of its own.  This book sparked numerous accusations of antisemitism from foreign policy establishment.  Robert Merry in his review of The Great Delusion documents the verbal insults between Mearsheimer and Robert Kaplan over policy differences and the role of their universities.  Mearsheimer considers that Kaplan teaches at a “government policy shop” and Kaplan says that the University of Chicago is for “oddballs.”  This outspoken manner allows Mearsheimer to present an indictment of progressivism.

The book structure builds a case for a restrained US foreign policy.  The first chapter defines what liberal hegemony means, then it follows a bottom-up method, starting with the discussion on what human nature is and builds upwards towards the international system.  The book has dedicated four chapters critical of liberal hegemony with the conclusion presenting a case for a foreign policy of restraint.

When Mearsheimer discusses liberalism he acknowledges that there are two variants which are modus vivendi and progressivism.  Mearsheimer argues that it is the progressive variant that goes beyond the negative rights promoted by modus vivendi liberals.  Progressives advocate positive rights that would require government intervention and activism to solve injustice in society.  When it comes to foreign policy, a progressive liberal state would attempt to spread its values across the world.  In international relations, the liberal theory is heavily influenced by progressive ideals.  Progressive foreign policy is known as liberal hegemony or primacy.

Liberal Hegemony

He defines Liberal Hegemony as a grand strategy in which a liberal nation-state attempts to spread liberal values throughout the world.  A liberal “state aims to turn as many countries as possible into liberal democracies like itself while also promoting an open international economy and building international institutions.”  Liberal societies embody universal values like unalienable rights.  If universal rights exist and an illiberal society does not honor those rights, liberals make the case for intervention in the name of justice.

As Mearsheimer points out, this universal logic leads towards advocacy of regime change. Liberal states are “likely to end up fighting endless wars, which will increase rather than reduce the level of conflict in international politics and thus aggravate the problems of proliferation and terrorism.”  Liberal hegemony is a contradiction of liberalism. It is intolerant of differences in societies and cultures.  Social structures that do not embrace liberal values and democracy should be socially engineered out of their backward ways.

On the surface, a liberal hegemonic policy appears good since it promotes protection for open markets, universal human rights, and tolerance.  Advocates for liberal hegemony are known as primacists, who argue that liberal hegemony is the best method for protecting liberal societies from illiberal ones.  Primacists fear that as China rises it will seek to upend the liberal norms of trade.  In their minds, China needs to be counterbalanced.  However, the US attempts to isolate China and also Russia, have both been a colossal failure.  The attempts to spread US influence abroad has resulted in “chaos, bloodshed, an intractable refugee crisis besetting the Middle East and Europe, increased tensions among major powers, [and] curtailment of civil liberties at home…”

Human Nature

The negative results represent liberalism’s underestimation of human nature and nationalism.  Realists have a Hobbesian view of human nature which is considered egoistic and self-interested.  Progressives instead believe that human nature can be perfected through a top-down approach by an activist state.  Mearsheimer notes that elites in Western societies do not speak of communities in a localized context but in a global context.  In a globalized world, societies have become more interconnected.  No longer are societies isolated by geography, technology allows people to travel and communicate at incredible speed.  As Mearsheimer correctly points out, no single global culture has been formed, “There is an abundance of distinct cultures in the world, and they underpin a wide variety of societies. Heterogeneity, not homogeneity, is the prevailing state of the global culture. Thus global society and human society are not useful terms.”  Liberal internationalists are challenged by the diversity of the world.

Mearsheimer presents his assumptions on human nature.  The first is that there are limits to reason.  He notes how enlightened ideas reinforce the thought that humanity is perfectible.  This is a delusion in his mind because there is disagreement on what is universal.  He uses religion as an example to illustrate how universal ideas do not agree with one another.  If the world cannot agree on a true religion, how can one believe that liberalism can encompass the world?

Nationalism

Human beings are not just individuals but also social beings.  When people are brought into this world, they are socialized into particular groups.  Mearsheimer argues that nationalism presents a problem for liberalism.  Liberalism underestimates the power that particular groups have on creating group loyalty.  Through his theory of nationalism, he argues that a nation has six features which are a sense of oneness, a distinct culture, a sense of superiority, a deep history, sacred territory, and sovereignty.  These six features distinguish a particular group of people from another.  He makes references to distinguished nationalist scholars such as Benedict Anderson and Ernest Geller to build his definition.  He contends that liberalism ignores these features instead it is focusing on an abstract idea of universal rights.

In a world of nation-states, liberalism has to operate with nationalism in mind.  In fact, Mearsheimer claims that liberal hegemony is in fact nationalistic.  Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright statement that the US is an “indispensable nation” is an example of US nationalism.  “American exceptionalism” is a similar phrase, both present the United States’ identity as a distinct and superior nation because of its liberal tradition.  American liberalism has become a contradiction of itself.  Liberal hegemony is the exact opposite of what liberalism means.  It is in fact illiberal.

The Liberal Failings

The nationalistic component of the US identity combined with progressive liberalism created the idea that the US was a “city on hill” and “an indispensable nation.”  Mearsheimer argues that the belief in liberal ideals and the American nation has created an unhealthy hubris. This was compounded by the fact that after the Cold War the international system was unipolar.  There was only a single power that reigned supreme over the system.  Unipolar powers have no real opposition to their actions.  The Soviet Union no longer existed to counter-balance against the US.  In Mearsheimer’s speeches, he argues that the US operated the Cold War through a realist worldview.[12]  The US was balancing against the Soviet Union.   Once the threat of the Soviet Union was gone, the US abandoned realism and adopted a liberal foreign policy.

This liberal foreign policy has left havoc and instability across the Middle East and North Africa.  Liberal foreign policy advocates argued that if the US was to bring democracy to Iraq, democracy would spread throughout the region.  In Eastern Europe, the expansion of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meant to solidify emerging democracies.  The integration of China into the global market was in hopes that with economic liberty, the Chinese Communist Party would transition their government towards liberal democracy.  This liberal dream has not worked as promised due to the fact that liberals ignored human nature and the power of nationalism.

Society can be socially constructed from the top, but it also can be done from the bottom.  In response to the US spread of democracy, local resistance has formed along ethnic lines.  In the Middle East, Islamic nationalism rose to create an environment ripe for the Islamic State.  The Middle East and North Africa are now more unstable and vulnerable to terrorism than before democracy.  In Asia, the Chinese created a historical narrative of “never forget national humiliation” in which China needs to be strong and look out for its national interest.  In Eurasia, Russia, sees its enemy creeping to its borders.  Russia understands that it needs to balance against the US expansion of influence.

Conclusion

Realists argue that the US should be more restrained. Thus, it should not seek to spread liberal values across the world. For a safe and secure world, a realist foreign policy is ideal because it respects that nature of humans which progressives need to learn.  It entails understanding the local context of different societies.  There are limits to human’s understanding of the world.  In attempts to form foreign policy, ideological biases will be at the base of the policy assumptions. It is difficult to assume how one perspective will perceive another nation’s actions.  Unintended consequences will arise.  In the case of the West’s policy towards The Great Middle East, no one expected the rise of the Islamic State and a mass influx of refugees creating instability in Europe. The national interest of the United States should take priority over global dreams.

As the world becomes multipolar the US will have to consider the interests of Russia and China before acting.  This means rejecting liberalism because now great powers can challenge the liberal order.  Nation-states seek power for their security as there is no global police force to protect their interests.  Deterrence is a way to check the power of other states.  Imperialist have to consider the cost of expanding outside their territory if their opponent has similar capabilities.  In addition, expansion into the so-called third world provides little benefit.  Mearsheimer uses the example of Vietnam in which the war was not salient in the global balance of power. This is true for the Middle East as well where there has been no strategic benefit for the United States’ presence in the region.

A progressive-liberal foreign policy hoped to create an ideal world with no threats to democracy.  Instead due to its assumptions of human nature and nationalism, it has left the Middle East and Ukraine in a state of war.  A progressive-liberal state then becomes illiberal.  In the quest for spreading liberal values, the US has slowly become a police state.  Critics to Mearsheimer will argue that the world is becoming safer and that conflict is on its way down.

However, these critics look at the world from a broad perspective.  As a result, they are not willing to look solely at the results of a US progressive-liberal foreign policy.  To do so they would have to admit that an activist state can cause great harm to many in the world.  John Mearsheimer focuses more on the philosophical causes of Liberal Hegemony.  Another realist Stephen Walt wrote a book with a fitting title, The Hell of Good Intentions, which analyzes Liberal Hegemony on policy grounds.  John Mearsheimer’s latest book will help educate readers on why a progressive-liberal foreign policy is dangerous.


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