The Libertarian Standard » Imperialism Property - Prosperity - Peace Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:15:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A new website and group blog of radical Austro-libertarians, shining the light of reason on truth and justice. The Libertarian Standard clean The Libertarian Standard (The Libertarian Standard) CC-BY Property - Prosperity - Peace The Libertarian Standard » Imperialism TV-G Didn’t The Terrorists Win A While Back? Sat, 20 Apr 2013 03:49:22 +0000 I posted the paragraph below on my Facebook page and a long, sometimes contentious, debate broke out. We even had a resident of Boston and a policeman–two different people, by the way–chime in to attack my point of view. Given that it generated so much discussion in that venue, I figured I’d share it here as well.

Armored police vehicles. Tactical teams. Everyone under house arrest. Soldiers and/or other armed enforcers roaming the streets. House-to-house searches. We call it, “Terror in Boston!” In any one of the several places the U.S. has invaded and/or is currently deploying drones, they’d call it, “Tuesday.” Perspective. Stated differently, maybe the “terrorists” won a while back?

Even looking at it now, it strikes me as obvious and uncontroversial. Maybe I’ve spent too much time sniffing the glue of philosophical free thought?

…cross-posted at LRCBlog.

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FBI arrest man in terrorist plot organized by the FBI Sun, 19 Feb 2012 02:45:06 +0000 That’s a more accurate title for this news story: “FBI arrests Virginia man suspected of plotting attack on Capitol.”

What the FBI is doing is called entrapment. No, worse, it’s like finding a virgin not previously interested in having sex with a prostitute, seducing him, teaching him how to have sex, getting him all horny, giving him money and a condom, and then pointing him in the direction of a cop posing as a prostitute.

Has the FBI caught any “terrorists” it didn’t create?

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US No-Fly List Doubles in One Year Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:18:41 +0000 According to this AP report.

Before long we will all be grounded except for privileged members of the Republicrat National Socialist Party, who will also have special Party stores that carry Eastern goods not available to mundanes.

Is this the change we were told we hoped for? Do you really expect the next Republican president to cut back on the warfare-police state?

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The illusion of American moral authority Wed, 30 Nov 2011 11:00:14 +0000 Barack ObamaLast March, Anthony Gregory questioned if Barack Obama was already a worse president than George W. Bush, noting a long list of dubious accomplishments during Bush’s eight-year tenure.  Prior to his election Obama was highly critical of Bush’s policy on torture and the holding of suspected terrorists indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay without trial.  And one of Obama’s first acts after being sworn in as President was also one of his most dramatic: he signed an executive order banning torture and ordering the closure of Gitmo by 2010.  It was hailed as a bold move to restore the country’s shattered image overseas and bring its prosecution of the war on terror in line with its values on respecting human rights.

What a difference a thousand days as Leader of the Free World makes.

During that time Obama has ordered the killing of an American citizen in Yemen, without due process, based on his alleged association with al-Qaeda.  And in March he made an about-face on his promise to close Gitmo, instead reinstating the military tribunals and continuing Bush’s policy of detaining suspects without trial since they “in effect, remain at war with the United States.”

Now the Senate has granted Obama even greater discretion in arresting and indefinitely holding anyone – even U. S. citizens, despite itsGuantanamo Bay prisoners supporters’ claims to the contrary – suspected of terrorist activity, in approving a defense appropriation bill for 2012 that essentially expands the battlefield for the war on terror to anywhere on the planet, including U. S. soil.  (The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Colorado Democrat Mark Udall and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul that would have stripped out the authorization for indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.)  It is an unprecedented expansion of power for a president who campaigned on a promise to restore the country’s “moral authority.”  Yet Obama is simply another in a long line of politicians making promises that could never be kept: it is impossible to regain a moral authority the American empire has never possessed.

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Sigh. Catholic Priest Whoops It Up For Unconstitutional Military Assassinations Tue, 03 May 2011 05:54:15 +0000 One thing about Catholics is that, when it comes to partisan politics, they’re split pretty evenly. Only deeply ignorant people lump Catholics in with the “Religious Right” since about half of them are on the religious left. Many are admirably antiwar, and of course, there is even a nice anarchist pacifist tradition, in which one finds Dorothy Day or Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy.

Some Catholics, however, are absolutely terrible on issues of nationalism and war. This article below, written by a priest with whom I broadly agree on almost all theological and liturgical issues, was particularly tasteless. Fr. Zuhlsdorf, who is generally sound when writing about things that he actually knows something about, always ends up toeing the neoconservative line every time he ventures into foreign policy. Most clergy can be safely ignored when opining on political matters, and this case is no different. The text of his irreligious column is below with my comments in brackets.

Usama Bin Laden … Rest in… well… whatever… [How classy. Zuhlsdorf must have forgotten about Matt 5:44.]
by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Pres. Obama announced tonight, fairly late on a Sunday night, that Usama Bin Laden was killed a week ago, as it seems.

I am guessing that he made this announcement tonight, USA, time, so that people rising in other parts of the world would get the fresh news during the morning at the beginning of a week, as markets open, etc. Had it come at the end of the week, it would have been fodder for Friday evening Muslim sermons. [Because all Muslims liked Osama bin Laden, you see. This assumption that all Muslims support violence is at the heart of the neocon ideology. Always ignored is the fact that a majority of “Christian” Americans support the dropping of American bombs on Muslim women and children.] It still will be, but after several days.

Nevertheless I find the timing of both the event of his killing by a small team of US operatives in a fire fight and the release of the news interesting. One friend called me to opine that they actually found him at a Taco Bell in North Carolina and flew him back to Pakistan before… you know. [ho ho] Moreover, the President seems now to be ready to quote a standard of American patriotism, the Pledge of Allegiance, with its strong invocation of God, when for sometime he couldn’t bring himself to quote the Declaration of Independence [written by an anti-Christian Deist] correctly with its reference to a Creator who gives us our rights. [Yeah! Why can’t Obama be more like Bush who once said that the Constitution “is just a goddamn piece of paper.”] Color me cynical.

And now CAIR is piping up to say that it is glad that the US military got him. Color me more cynical yet. [‘Cuz any group that represents Muslims is bad and is pro-OBL.]

So, Usama bin Laden is dead. He has now gone before the Just Judge and has received whatever eternal reward he merited. [This is the part where any Catholic clergyman should encourage you to pray for the deceased.]

I wonder what Mr. Gaddafi is thinking tonight. [What does this even mean? This priest obviously knows nothing about the Islamic world if he thinks that Gaddafi and bin Laden were allies. Or this may just be a general comment in which the priest expresses his overall approval of war-criminal Obama’s undeclared, unconstitutional war in Libya that’s killing women and children and wasn’t so much as even debated in Congress.]

I may say a prayer that he repented and God is merciful. [Finally, a reasonable comment.] I wonder if I will really be saying it for his sake or for my own. [So now he get’s to what this whole post should have been about. Praying for the soul of a criminal. I guess he just remembered Luke 23:43.]

I am bit concerned at the cameras on the young people jumping around like IDIOTS whooping and hollering because someone was killed. [Agreed.] Although the kids with the “BUSH” t-shirts were amusing and perhaps not the sort of image the White House wanted. [Because Bush, who we now know (thanks to Wikileaks) supported the imprisonment and torture of old men and children at Gitmo, is da man, it seems, with this guy] Still, this story was – thank goodness – able to bump reruns of the royal wedding off air. [Because a peaceful event (which I roundly criticize here), that involves no killing or whooping it up for the US government, should never get more attention than an orgy of killing. Jesus hates weddings and loves war, of course. John, Chap 2 notwithstanding.]

I can understand the urge to celebrate that a paragraph of a chapter of US history has been brought to an end. [So can I, but one has to plumb the depths of naivete to think that this changes anything. The police state we now groan under was largely justified by bin Laden’s existence, but now the state will invent fresh enemies, and Zuhlsdorf and other “patriots” will help lead more bleating sheep to the altar of the state where the last few remnants of freedom will be sacrificed in the name of making us “safe.”]

I would rather see Americans welcome this news with a quiet nod of the head than with squealing in the streets. (cf Proverbs 24:17) [Romans 12:17 and 12:19 would seem even more appropriate here.] It seems to me that his death isn’t something to strut about as if it were a gold medal win at the Olympics. [Agreed.]

I am also grateful to the military and intelligence personnel [hired killers] who were involved. Hard, dangerous, quite, anonymous [and well paid and prestigious, and not even in the top 20 of the most dangerous professions. But then, farmers and fishermen don’t have cool guns n’ stuff.] work for the sake of the safety of others [of the government]. Navy Seals did their job [Silly me, I thought, per their oath, that their job was the uphold the Constitution of the United States. I guess I missed which one of the enumerated powers of the Constitution grants the president the authority to assassinate a person inside the borders of a country with which we are not even at war (or anywhere else). And all funded by your tax dollars of course. And all after eight years of roasting the flesh off toddlers and women in Iraq and other places in the name of the War on Terror. Why can’t Muslims love peace like we do?]

In case you think I’m a little too hard on the author, I would direct you to this post, for example where he indulges his fetish for killing machines, and his general re-posting of militarist and anti-Muslim talking points can be seen here and here and here.

All of this, needless to say, is extremely bad form for a priest.

He’d benefit from reading a little Laurence Vance.

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Bastiat on Rome Mon, 18 Apr 2011 12:30:03 +0000 Consider Bastiat’s comments on Rome and how–if you substitute for slavery the drug war and tax slavery–they apply to the modern US:

What is to be said of Roman morality? And I am not speaking here of the relations of father and son, of husband and wife, of patron and client, of master and servant, of man and God—relations that slavery, by itself alone, could not fail to transform into a whole network of depravity; I wish to dwell only on what is called the admirable side of the Republic, i.e., patriotism. What was this patriotism? Hatred of foreigners, the destruction of all civilization, the stifling of all progress, the scourging of the world with fire and sword, the chaining of women, children, and old men to triumphal chariots—this was glory, this was virtue. It was to these atrocities that the marble of the sculptors and the songs of the poets were dedicated. How many times have our young hearts not palpitated with admiration, alas, and with emulation at this spectacle!

From Bastiat, Selected Essays in Political Economy, quoted in Geoffrey Allan Plauché, “Roman Virtue, Liberty, and Imperialism: The Murder-Suicide of Classical Civilization.” America is riddled with patriotism, with American flags senselessly displayed all over, and people mindlessly responding to criticism of the Fatherland with the retort, “You show me another country that’s better!” Its wars, the welfare state, its taxes and manipulation of money, its jails full of non-criminals have indeed debased morals. We have scourged the world with fire and sword, and statues of our modern warlord gods, such as Lincoln, adorn our capital city. As for the last line, about the youth swooning over our military might and conquest, one is reminded of the not completely tongue-in-check skit Wayne’s World during Gulf War I, when Wayne and Garth had fun watching the videos of US missiles destroying Iraqi targets.

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Is Obama Worse than Bush? Wed, 16 Mar 2011 18:23:39 +0000 The two are definitely in the same league, in absolute terms. Maybe Obama is Nixon to Bush’s LBJ, in that he is continuing and expanding upon his predecessor’s foreign and domestic enormities, deserving special ire for ramping them up, but with the president before still deserving special hatred for having started so many horrible policies.

Of course, it is unfair to compare Obama to Bush just yet, since Bush had eight years of destruction and Obama has only had a little over two. Nevertheless, let’s remember what Bush had done by this point in his presidency, mid-March 2003. Just over two years into his presidency, Bush had:

  • Invaded and occupied Afghanistan
  • Invaded Iraq
  • Rounded up and detained hundreds of aliens right after 9/11
  • Established a policy of indefinite detention and torture
  • Created a prison camp at Guantanamo
  • Signed the Patriot Act, including major assaults on free speech (National Security Letters) and a near total annihilation of the Fourth Amendment
  • Created the Transportation Security Administration
  • Created the Department of Homeland Security
  • Instituted “Project Safe Neighborhoods” and overseen a vast increase in firearms prosecutions by the Justice Department
  • Signed No Child Left Behind
  • Rammed through Medicare Part D, adding $20 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the largest expansion of the welfare state in about 35 years
  • Rammed through Sarbanes-Oxley, the largest expansion of the corporate regulatory state perhaps since the New Deal, which has devastated the economy
  • Signed protectionist steel tariffs
  • Expanded farm subsidies
  • Made “free-speech zones” a commonplace
  • Directed the NSA (a branch of the military) to warrantlessly wiretap the American people
  • Accelerated the subsidization (directly and indirectly) of home ownership by minorities and others who couldn’t really afford houses, sowing the seeds for a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble, culminating in the crash of ’08

Obama has done a staggering amount of damage in just over two years, but I submit that Bush might still have him beat in terms of destruction unleashed in so short a time. Also, the war in Iraq has long-term consequences in foreign relations that are yet to be seen. Bush could very well be the Woodrow Wilson of the 21st century, having set in motion a series of devastating events humanity will suffer from for a century.

Obama is definitely no sort of relief from the Bush years. But never let it be forgotten how completely terrible his predecessor was, right off the bat.

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“Defense” Secretary Gates Rediscovers Most Famous Classic Blunder Sat, 26 Feb 2011 04:04:40 +0000 With great solemnity, “Defense” Secretary Robert Gates imparted on West Point cadets this Friday a hard-earned pearl of newly discovered wisdom:

In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here.

In other words, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.”

Sounds like good advi… Wait,what? Not everyone knows this already? Inconceivable!

Any culturally literate person has seen The Princess Bride at least once in the last 24 years1 and certainly knows about the most famous classic blunder:

It must take being a politician or government official to have never heard of this before, or to forget it, or else to possess the hubris to think that they can make things turn out differently this time.

I’m reminded of another classic principle, this one pithily stated by Thomas Sowell:

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

Here’s another one Gates is probably not familiar with:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana

[Cross-posted at Prometheus Unbound.]

  1. The novel by William Goldman was published over a decade earlier in 1973. But I imagine this bit of wisdom goes back much further. 

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange influenced by libertarianism Thu, 02 Dec 2010 22:04:35 +0000 imageAndy Greenberg has a fascinating interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange posted at Assange states that he has been significantly influenced by “market libertarianism,” and though I disagree with the conclusions of his “expertise in politics and history” he is most assuredly a friend to the cause of liberty. Check out this excerpt from the interview.

Regulation: Is that what you’re after?

I’m not a big fan of regulation: anyone who likes freedom of the press can’t be. But there are some abuses that should be regulated, and this is one.

With regard to these corporate leaks, I should say: There’s an overlap between corporate and government leaks. When we released the Kroll report on three to four billion smuggled out by the former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi and his cronies, where did the money go?  There’s no megacorruption–as they call it in Africa, it’s a bit sensational but you’re talking about billions–without support from Western banks and companies.

That money went into London properties, Swiss banks, property in New York, companies that had been set up to move this money.

We had another interesting one from the pharmaceutical industry: It was quite self-referential. The lobbyists had been getting leaks from the WHO. They were getting their own internal intelligence report affecting investment regulation. We were leaked a copy. It was a meta-leak. That was quite influential, though it was a relatively small leak–it was published in Nature and other pharma journals.

What do you think WikiLeaks mean for business? How do businesses need to adjust to a world where WikiLeaks exists?

WikiLeaks means it’s easier to run a good business and harder to run a bad business, and all CEOs should be encouraged by this. I think about the case in China where milk powder companies started cutting the protein in milk powder with plastics. That happened at a number of separate manufacturers.

Let’s say you want to run a good company. It’s nice to have an ethical workplace. Your employees are much less likely to screw you over if they’re not screwing other people over.

Then one company starts cutting their milk powder with melamine, and becomes more profitable. You can follow suit, or slowly go bankrupt and the one that’s cutting its milk powder will take you over. That’s the worst of all possible outcomes.

The other possibility is that the first one to cut its milk powder is exposed. Then you don’t have to cut your milk powder. There’s a threat of regulation that produces self-regulation.

It just means that it’s easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business, if the dishonest businesses are more effected negatively by leaks than honest businesses. That’s the whole idea. In the struggle between open and honest companies and dishonest and closed companies, we’re creating a tremendous reputational tax on the unethical companies.

No one wants to have their own things leaked. It pains us when we have internal leaks. But across any given industry, it is both good for the whole industry to have those leaks and it’s especially good for the good players.

But aside from the market as a whole, how should companies change their behavior understanding that leaks will increase?

Do things to encourage leaks from dishonest competitors. Be as open and honest as possible. Treat your employees well.

I think it’s extremely positive. You end up with a situation where honest companies producing quality products are more competitive than dishonest companies producing bad products. And companies that treat their employees well do better than those that treat them badly.

Would you call yourself a free market proponent?

Absolutely. I have mixed attitudes towards capitalism, but I love markets. Having lived and worked in many countries, I can see the tremendous vibrancy in, say, the Malaysian telecom sector compared to U.S. sector. In the U.S. everything is vertically integrated and sewn up, so you don’t have a free market. In Malaysia, you have a broad spectrum of players, and you can see the benefits for all as a result.

How do your leaks fit into that?

To put it simply, in order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information.

There’s the famous lemon example in the used car market. It’s hard for buyers to tell lemons from good cars, and sellers can’t get a good price, even when they have a good car.

By making it easier to see where the problems are inside of companies, we identify the lemons. That means there’s a better market for good companies. For a market to be free, people have to know who they’re dealing with.

You’ve developed a reputation as anti-establishment and anti-institution.

Not at all. Creating a well-run establishment is a difficult thing to do, and I’ve been in countries where institutions are in a state of collapse, so I understand the difficulty of running a company. Institutions don’t come from nowhere.

It’s not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I’ve learned from many. But one is American libertarianism, market libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I’m a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free.

WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical.

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Mexico: The War Party’s New Target? Sat, 27 Nov 2010 21:13:58 +0000 For decades, some elements of the Right (occasionally abetted by people who should have known better) have peddled the notion that Mexico has created a vast and well-organized “fifth column” within the United States dedicated to La Reconquista — the re-conquest of territories seized by the U.S. during the Mexican-American War. In this scenario, non-assimilated Mexicans by the millions are stealthily enlisting in a campaign of subversion orchestrated by the Mexican government with the help of foundation-funded anti-American groups on this side of the border — and, when the time is right, this fifth column will erupt in an orgy of violence and mayhem.

Whatever revanchist sentiments may exist in Mexico are the residue of Washington’s seizure of roughly half the country through a war of aggression. Washington’s proxy narco-war, which has killed tens of thousands of people since 2006 and displaced hundreds of thousands more, has done nothing to palliate those feelings. An actual U.S. invasion might be the only thing that would turn the alarmist fantasy of a nationalistic uprising on the part of Mexicans living on the U.S. side of the border into something akin to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Since 2007, when the Fed’s most recent economic bubble collapsed, immigration from Mexico has tapered off dramatically. In Arizona, immigration (both legal and illegal) and violent crime have both been in decline for a decade. Yet the state’s Republican leadership, and much of its law enforcement apparatus — from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the corrupt septuagenarian headline whore, to Pinal County Sheriff  Paul Babeau, his younger and more telegenic understudy — insist that the state is under unremitting siege.  Governor Jan Brewer,  who claimed that the “majority” of illegal immigrants from Mexico are “mules” in the employ of drug cartels and that illegal immigrants had committed “beheadings” in Arizona, was headed for electoral oblivion following an unpopular tax increase — until she seized on the immigration issue, which propelled her to a dramatic political recovery.

Arizona’s Republican leadership has diligently cultivated anti-immigration hysteria, and in exploiting it has managed to embrace two apparently contradictory positions: It has denounced the Obama administration for butting into state affairs by filing a federal lawsuit against SB 1070 (the “Your Papers, Please” law), while angrily demanding greater federal intervention in the form of a military presence on the border. “It’s literally out of control,” Sheriff Babeau protested in an interview with Fox News. “We stood with Senator McCain and literally demanded support for 3,000 soldiers to be deployed to Arizona to get this under control and finally secure our border with Mexico.”

Arizona’s experience illustrates that the political potency of Mexico-bashing has no logical connection to the severity of problems associated with Mexican immigration. That lesson hasn’t been lost on Texas Governor Rick Perry, an establishment Republican who has sought to cultivate a constituency among Tea Party activists. In a recent MSNBC interview, Perry upped the ante by calling for a U.S. invasion of Mexico. Of course, Perry insisted, Mexico’s government would have to “approve” of the invasion.

As if to answer the question, “What kind of Latin American political figure would `approve’ of a U.S. invasion and occupation of his country?” Colombian-born Washington Post columnist Edward Schumacher-Matos has offered a very public endorsement of the proposal. Between positions with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and his present gig at the post, Schumacher-Matos taught a course at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American studies, which is one of several academic nurseries in which the Establishment cultivates tomorrow’s Quislings.

In a tone reminiscent of a Brezhnev-era media apparatchik condemning “reactionaries” who resisted the advance of Soviet-administered enlightenment, Schumacher-Matos piously chastises Mexico’s political class for being “too proud to do what they immediately should: Call in the Marines.” Only if Mexicans somehow emerge from “their nationalistic stupor” will they see the light of reason and welcome the presence of “American military specialists stationed within [their country’s]  borders to help the country build powerful electronic intelligence systems and train modern military and police forces to replace its suffocatingly hierarchical, outdated ones.”

Although Mexico “is our neighbor and supposed longtime ally, the Mexican army has never — never — participated in a joint military exercise with the U.S. military,” Schumacher-Matos points out, inviting us to sorrowful contemplation of the shame of it all. To substantiate the point, he cites a recent study by Roderic Ai Camp of the Woodrow Wilson Center, oblivious to the irony of mentioning Wilson’s name in connection with proposed U.S. military intervention in Mexico.

“What is getting in the way of deeper cooperation with the U.S. military is that the Mexican military, political and intellectual leaders, abetted by U.S. intellectuals, still have their heads in the Mexican and American wars for the 19th century and the Cold War of the 20th,” Schumacher-Matos scolds. “They talk of imperialism and hegemony — which are irrelevant today.” This isn’t “imperialism” that we’re discussing: It’s applied humanitarianism of the kind that has turned places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia into havens of peace and prosperity.

Elements of Schumacher-Matos’s prescription are a bit outdated.  The “electronic intelligence systems” he describes are already operating in Mexico, huge amounts of money are being poured into training and equipping Mexican military and police, and U.S.-trained paramilitaries are actively involved in the Drug War – albeit, for the most part, on the side of the cartels. None of this is sufficient, he insists; there is no substitute for U.S. boots on the ground, even though the troops wearing them would be sent in a purely “advisory” capacity, at first, as they always are.

No hyperbole is involved in describing Mexico as another front in the Regime’s war with — well, practically everybody. This is illustrated by “The Third Front,” this evening’s installment of Oliver North’s “War Stories” agitprop series on the Fox News Channel. That title says a great deal about the assumptions of the militarist Right, which the FNC’s core demographic: Because our state of war never ends, we don’t begin a new war, we simply focus on a different “front.” Accordingly, Mexico will soon endure some more unwanted attention from the War Party, irrespective of what happens in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, or North Korea.

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