France: Departure of Yemeni president 'unavoidable' Reply

From USA Today.

Update at 11:48 a.m. ET: French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says the departure of President Saleh is “unavoidable.”

Update at 11:37 a.m. ET: Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammad Nasser Ali, in an address on national television today, said the military backs President Saleh and will defend him against any “coup against democracy.”

“We will not allow instability” in the country, he said.

Update at 11:05 a.m. ET: The defections set off celebrations among the thousands of flag-waving demonstrators in Sanaa’s main square. They handed out flowers to troops sent by the defecting military leaders to protect the demonstrators and to guard strategic points in the capital.

President Saleh sent his foreign minister to Saudi Arabia to ask its help with mediation, Al-Jazeera reports.

Abdel-Wahhab Tawaf, who resigned today as Yemen’s ambassador to Syria, tells Al-Jazeera TV, “Things have turned to an extreme that cannot be reversed.”

Earlier posting: Several top Yemeni army commanders switched sides and supported the demands by anti-government protesters for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign after 33 years in power, Al-Jazeera TV reports.

The defections follow weekend clashes in which security forces killed at least 50 people.

“Yemen today is suffering from a comprehensive and dangerous crisis, and it is widespread,” says Major Gen. Ali Muhsin Saleh, the head of the northwestern military zone and head of the first armored division. “Lack of dialog and oppression of peaceful protesters in the public sphere resulted in crisis which has increased each day.”

He said at a news conference today that the military backs the revolution and its demands and will “fulfill our duties.”

Other defectors include the head of the eastern division, the adviser to the Yemeni supreme leader of the army and other generals.

The Los Angeles Times reports that after the announcements by the generals, protesters outside Sanaa University, near the center of the capital city, reported that some loyalist soldiers at the site have been replaced by soldiers under Muhsin Saleh’s command.

Al-Jazeera reports a half-dozen top diplomats have resigned, including the envoys to China, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The New Egypt: Muslims Burn Down Church then Kill the Protestors Reply

This is about what I figured Egyptian “democracy” would look like. Article by Paul Cooper.

The media sold us all on the Egyptian so-called democracy protests. It would bring peace and a secular government. Christians would not have to fear. All would be well. Those same newsmen might want to revisit Cairo today where a mob of violent Muslims attacked a Christian protest. So far we know at least 13 people were killed and around 150 have been wounded.

Why were the Christians protesting? Last Friday in the village of Sole, just outside of Cairo, local Muslims decided they now had the freedom to burn down the town’s Coptic church. Without a strong Mubarak police force, they had nothing and no one stopping them. After torching the sacred place, the Muslims promised to build a mosque on that very spot (Are you listening Cordoba House/Park 51 supporters?).

On Tuesday thousands of Coptic Christians protested in front of the state-ran television building in Cairo. They carried large wooden crosses and hoped to get the media’s attention of the burning down of their church (the Church of the Two Martyrs). Sadly, soon after, many of the protesters became martyrs.

What intervention in Libya tells us about the neocon-liberal alliance Reply

Article by Stephen Walt.

Last Wednesday I spoke at an event at Hofstra University, on the subject of “Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy.” The other panelists were former DNC chair and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean and longtime Republican campaign guru Ed Rollins. The organizers at Hofstra were efficient and friendly, the audience asked good questions, and I thought both Dean and Rollins were gracious and insightful in their comments. All in all, it was a very successful session.

During the Q & A, I talked about the narrowness of foreign policy debate in Washington and the close political kinship between the liberal interventionists of the Democratic Party and the neoconservatives that dominate the GOP. At one point, I said that “liberal interventionists are just ‘kinder, gentler’ neocons, and neocons are just liberal interventionists on steroids.”

Dean challenged me rather forcefully on this point, declaring that there was simply no similarity whatsoever between a smart and sensible person like U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and a “crazy guy” like Paul Wolfowitz. (I didn’t write down Dean’s exact words, but I am certain that he portrayed Wolfowitz in more-or-less those terms). I responded by listing all the similarities between the two schools of thought, and the discussion went on from there.

Invader's Remorse: Arab League Now Criticizes Western Attack On Libya 2

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/invaders-remorse-arab-league-now-criticizes-western-attack-libya

Not even a full day after the UN-endorsed attack on Libya began, and the “invader’s remorse” is already manifesting itself as discontent among the “peacemakers” emerges. Per the AFP: “The Arab League on Sunday criticized Western military strikes on Libya, a week after urging the United Nations to slap a no-fly zone on the oil-rich North African state. “What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians,” Arab League secretary general Amr Mussa told reporters.” We wonder what the Arab League will say when reports of innocent civilians, up to a million of whom have been forcefully armed by Gaddafi, being butchered en masse begin emerging. And how long before the entire operation is deemed a total failure… to be redeemed only by a full scale land invasion?

More from the AFP:

On March 12, the Arab League urged the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone on Libya and said Moamer Kadhafi’s regime had “lost legitimacy” as it sought to snuff out a rebellion designed to oust him from power.

In the West’s biggest intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, US warships and a British submarine fired more than 120 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya on Saturday, the US military said.

They hate us because we bomb them, says Libertarian Chair Reply

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
http://www.lp.org/news/press-releases/they-hate-us-because-we-bomb-them-says-libertarian-chair

March 20, 2011

Contact: Wes Benedict, Executive Director
E-mail: wes.benedict@lp.org
Phone: 202-333-0008 ext. 222

They hate us because we bomb them, says Libertarian Chair

WASHINGTON – Giving little thought to the lessons of history, President Obama has begun attacking Libya with the full support of virtually every member of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans. Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle issued the following statement today:

“President Obama’s decision to order military attacks on Libya is only surprising to those who actually think he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. He has now ordered bombing strikes in six different countries, adding Libya to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.

“While the justifications vary in each case, the disturbing common thread is that these are all predominantly Muslim countries. And the goodwill expressed by Arab people about Obama in opinion polls early in his administration has completely vanished: in the most recent Zogby survey, 85% expressed an unfavorable opinion toward the United States, eclipsing the 83% negative opinion in the final year of the Bush administration.

“Libyan President Muammar Gadaffi is no friend of liberty, but the military involvement of the United States in the rebellion against him threatens to undermine the credibility of the resistance to his rule and turn him into a hero. As news of both actual and rumored killings of innocent civilians by American bombs spreads throughout the Arab world, the hatred which spawned the 9/11 murderers will continue to grow. Finally, what if Gadaffi still manages to defeat the rebels? Faced with the choice of losing face or upping the ante with an escalation of military involvement, this could turn into yet another disastrous campaign. And as Steve Chapman put it in an article in Reason magazine, ‘Most of the people endorsing an attack know less about Libya than they do about playing the oboe.’ When will we ever learn?

“Libertarians advocate the foreign policy eloquently described by Thomas Jefferson at his inauguration: ‘Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.’ Just as the Founding Fathers expressed admiration for the ‘Swiss Model’ of armed neutrality that has managed to keep Switzerland out of the vicious wars of Europe for hundreds of years, we should embrace the idea that the purpose of an American military is the defense of American soil, period. As Senator Barack Obama said in criticizing the Bush administration, ‘The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.’

“The Constitution of the United States requires an explicit Declaration of War in order for this country to engage in hostilities with foreign nations. Obama, after dithering for two weeks, has joined the list of presidents who chose to launch wars on their personal say-so in direct contravention of the Constitution.

“I don’t know how many times we have to endure administrations, both Republican and Democratic, who shoot first and ask questions later. Probably for as long as we continue to elect Republicans and Democrats to office.”

The Libertarian Party platform includes the following:

3.1 National Defense
We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.

The LP is America’s third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website.

The United Nations War Machine Reply

Article by William Norman Grigg

It is abominable that 535 people in Washington assume they have the moral authority to compel Americans to make sacrifices of their lives and property in the service of what Daniel Webster (of all people) described as “the folly and wickedness” of the wars arranged by our rulers. Although requiring Congress to declare war didn’t make those conflicts morally defensible, it did put those responsible on record. Now, however, such matters are disposed of by foreign diplomats and bureaucrats who are distant, unreachable, and beyond accountability of any kind this side of eternity.

Militarist conservatives generally denounce the UN as an impotent forum incurably devoted to pacifism and appeasement. Progressive internationalists treat the world body as an instrument for the peaceful resolution of disputes. Both of those perspectives are entirely wrong.

“American critics of the United Nations often zero in on its lack of serious military capacity … [and consider it to be little more than ] ineffective do-goodery gone wrong,” observed British journalist Simon Tisdall in a recent review of the book America, Hitler, and the UN. “Imagine their surprise, then, to learn that the UN was born amid nude scenes in a White House bathroom and that its primary purpose was as a war-fighting machine.”

On December 28, 1941, just weeks after Pearl Harbor – an attack of which FDR had detailed advance knowledge, and which he permitted in order to open the “back door to war” – FDR suggested to Winston Churchill, a guest at the White House, that the anti-Axis coalition call itself “the United Nations.” Churchill agreed. The following New Year’s Day, FDR and Churchill formally introduced that name and the concept of “collective security” when they unveiled the Atlantic Charter.

Conservative militarists invoke “National Security” to justify suspension of due process guarantees; progressive militarists appeal to “Collective Security” to sanctify aggressive war as a “multilateral” exercise. And of course, each of those collectivist factions will embrace the other’s nostrums when convenient. The result of this depraved dialectic is a domestic garrison state on a permanent war footing, with the UN Security Council serving as an instrument of Washington’s imperial ambitions. It will be interesting to see what role the War Machine on the East River will play as Washington’s power and prestige continues its precipitous decline.

Obama's Confused Foreign Policy-and America's Reply

Article by Pat Buchanan

When the army suddenly sent Mubarak packing, the White House hailed the revolution as the harbinger of an Arab spring.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton burbled that her 15-minute stroll through Tahrir Square was “a great reminder of the power of the human spirit and universal desire for freedom and human rights and democracy.”

Some of the young demonstrators, recalling America’s 30-year friendship with Mubarak and ambivalence over his ouster, refused to talk with her.

In denouncing Syria and Iran for crushing peaceful protests, the Obamaites acted consistent with the democratic values they preach. In their muffled response to the brutal treatment of demonstrators in Bahrain and Yemen, they put national interests above national ideals.

Indeed, it is this clash between our professed ideals and our perceived interests that has produced the reigning confusion in Washington and the near paralysis of American policy in the Middle East.

“Nations have no permanent friends or allies; they only have permanent interests,” said Lord Palmerston. America lacks that kind of certitude. She is conflicted. She cannot make up her mind. Do our interests come first or our ideals? How can they be in conflict?

Nuclear Holocaust Denial Reply

Article by Jim Goad

Japan has endured a three-headed monster of colossal catastrophes over the past ten days—a 9.0 earthquake, a tsunami with 30-foot crests, and an unresolved nuclear-reactor crisis that unspooled as a direct result of the first two disasters. The temblor and tidal wave can be blamed on a deliberately cruel God or a murderously impersonal Mother Nature. The reactors’ possible meltdown is the result of human diddling with natural laws that mankind has obviously yet to master.

Nausea-inducing footage of a reactor explosion at Fukushima on March 12 set off a solid week of grim news from Japan, each grisly factoid floating like a puff of radioactive steam sailing on a light easterly plume across the Pacific and onto our computer screens. Mass evacuations. Glum civilians in face masks. Iodide tablets. Helicopters clumsily trying to dump water on the reactors and missing. “Suicide squads” of contract workers in radiation suits making $113 a day in exchange for a death sentence. Little yappy dogs at airports being scanned for ionized particles. Geiger counters clicking away. Snowflakes and raindrops with invisible poison falling on mainland Japan and leaching into milk, spinach, and even Tokyo’s drinking water.

Libya's Slippery Slope Reply

Article by Justin Raimondo.

Barely 24 hours after the first Allied air strikes, President Obama’s high-flying Libyan adventure is losing altitude. The smoke hadn’t cleared from the first air strikes when the head of the Arab League complained that “what happened differs from the no-fly zone objectives. What we want is civilians’ protection, not shelling more civilians.” Russia and China, who abstained at the Security Council, are already getting restless.

There’s trouble on the horizon.

Initially skeptical of intervention in Libya’s civil war, the President reportedly bowed to pressure from a triumvirate of women in his administration: Hillary Clinton, National Security Council director of “multilateral affairs” Samantha Power, and UN ambassador Susan Rice. Yet the President imposed some conditions, according to the New York Times:

“The president had a caveat, though. The American involvement in military action in Libya should be limited — no ground troops — and finite. ‘Days, not weeks,’ a senior White House official recalled him saying.”

Years, not weeks, is more like it – that’s how fast we’re sliding down the slippery slope into a full-bore campaign of “regime change” in Libya. And that will be just fine with the three Vengeful Valkyries of the US State Department.

Power is a former journalist who says she was “obsessed” with Bosnia during the run-up to the Balkan war, and whose “human rights” agenda is a perfect reflection of the liberal “humanitarian” interventionist mindset. She was briefly famous when, during the Democratic presidential primary, she decried Hillary Clinton as a “monster.” Well, it looks like she’s more than made her peace with the monster – and, indeed, become a bit of a monster herself, – as the two team up to push us into yet another Middle Eastern war.

The "Liberation" of Libya Reply

Article by David D’Amato.

CNN reports that “A [U.S.-led] coalition … made good Saturday [March 19] on international warnings to Gadhafi, hammering Libyan military positions in the first phase of an operation that will include enforcement of a no-fly zone.” As reigning hegemon and maintainer of global political “stability” (the euphemistic justification given for its military empire) the United States, in the words of the President, “cannot stand idly by” while events in Libya unfold.

The story goes on to relay the administration’s assurance that United States military efforts in the country will “only last for a few days,” that the American role is supplementary and based in its “unique capabilities.” Certainly the U.S. military’s capacity for exacting death and destruction around the world — with the help of its lesser collaborators — is “unique,” extending into virtually every region of the globe.

On the other hand, as the most recent case of the United States’s signature interventionism, Libya is hardly “unique” or unexampled in the world, standing as a typical rather than aberrant sample of U.S. foreign policy. As a social theory that urges the replacement of the state with voluntary, consensual relationships between free individuals, free market anarchism calls for non-interventionism as a matter of course; as a logical implication of its more fundamental plea for the complete absence of violent, state interference in individuals’ lives, free market anarchism treats America’s busybody wars not as peacekeeping missions, but as maneuvers to promote the interests of a state capitalist elite.

Libya: Kosovo Redux Reply

by Richard Spencer

http://www.alternativeright.com/main/blogs/exit-strategies/libya-kosovo-redux/

I must confess that I have a half-written blog entry on how the Obama administration has, in essence, given up on the American Empire. Due to fiscal constraints, its own incompetence, and its lack of self-assurance in the wake of Iraq and rising anti-Americanism, the Democratic power elite (along with allies like Robert Gibbs) simply doesn’t have the will to act. It was thus unwilling to save Israel’s ally Hosni Mubarek and has been dragging its feet instituting a no-fly zone over Libya. Actively toppling the Gaddafi regime would be out of the question.

I further argued that this inaction will be opposed and demeaned by the mainstream Republican presidential contenders (with the possible exception of Haley Barbour), who will shriek about how Obama is “appeasing dictators.” (On this front, see the Politico’s recent piece “The Return of the Neocons.”)

I was to conclude that for those of us who think the American Empire is a liability for both the American people and the West in general, the Democrats‘ dilly-dallying is actually preferable to the Republicans’ lunatic war-mongering.

Well, needless to say, my half-written blog has been overtaken by events, and my sense that the Democrats are giving up on empire now seems like wishful thinking.

Instead, what we are experiencing today in Libya is a situation that, in many ways, resembles the last time a Democratic president engaged in major military action overseas. It’s Kosovo all over again:

* The UN offers its imprimatur;
* NATO provides the muscle;
* The U.S. declares war on a small national regime with no clear objectives or exit-strategy;
* A statesman (Milošević/Gadaffi), whom Washington had dealt with civilly only months before, is depicted as a Hitlerian menace (and the dutiful media eats it up);
* The U.S. takes sides in a civil war and uses its air and missile power on behalf of a group (the KLA/Libyan rebels) that is — at best — highly dubious.

Libya might actually turn out far worse than Kosovo in that it will eventuate in a failed state and a mass Muslim refugee flow into Europe.

Daniel Larison is quite good on these matters:

The similarities with Kosovo are eerie, and that is a very bad sign for the people living in eastern Libya. Perhaps the only thing worse than intervening in a civil war in which the U.S. and our allies have nothing at stake is to intervene and then opt for those tactics that will do just enough to commit us to the fight without protecting the people our forces are supposed to be protecting. Quite apart from the outrageous harm done to both Albanian and Serb civilians in the prosecution of the air campaign, the war in Kosovo facilitated and caused the mass refugee exodus from Kosovo that it was officially trying to avert. The U.S. and our allies weren’t going to be responsible for what happened to the people in eastern Libya, but our governments have now assumed responsibility for them.

Whatever you want to say about them, the ’99 House Republicans were steadfastly against Clinton’s Kosovo adventure; Gov. George W. Bush (in another life) actually scolded Al Gore for engaging in “nation-building.” After the entire mainstream GOP went “all in” for Iraq, they now have nothing to run on.

Breaking News: Libyan Hospitals Attacked; Libyan Source: Three French Jets Downed Reply

Article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

The U.S. and its allies are embarking on another regime change operation. Before they started their attacks on the Libyans, they admitted that there would be civilians casualities in an act of irony. They claim to be acting to save civilians, but they will be killing them.

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the action amounts to an ‘act of war’ that is critical to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power before he massacres any more of his own people,” according to the Edmonton Journal. It also added: “The prime minister acknowledged that the military operation will be complex and could lead to casualties among the very civilians that nations are trying to protect, and perhaps among the military personnel being sent to Libya.”

The war criminals are back at it again.

Our "America Last" Foreign Policy Reply

by Kevin DeAnna

http://www.westernyouth.org/articles/what-does-this-have-to-do-with-us/

Our government has one basic job. Before anything else, the federal government has to ensure the physical security of the nation. This includes securing the borders, preventing foreign invasion, and discouraging attacks against the national territory and American citizens.

Obviously, our government doesn’t do any of this. Nor does it seem to care. And of course, it’s hard to see what any of this has to do with taking sides in Libya’s civil war.

The arguments raised in support seem remarkably unconvincing. This action seems to increase the danger to the oil supplies from Libya rather than reducing it. If Gaddafi (Kadafi?, Qaddafi?, whatever) survives, we can expect that Western oil companies will be driven out altogether. It has been argued that Gaddafi is an enemy of the United States and we should use this opportunity to destroy him solely for that reason. I’m sympathetic to the idea that Gaddafi simply has it coming. I have no problem with President Reagan’s air attack in the 1980’s to avenge attacks on Americans. If we were bombing him for that reason alone, I might even support it.

However, this isn’t the reason we are intervening. We didn’t seem to care about avenging our people over the last few years, when we essentially functioned as Gaddafi’s ally. There also seems to be a bit of “man up” type rhetoric essentially arguing that we should bomb Gaddafi because it will make us look bold, tough, and decisive. To whom? Other countries openly mock our laws, insult us to our face, and treat us like a province and we don’t seem to do anything. How is bombing Libya going to help?

And let’s not kid ourselves about humanitarian reasons. As we speak, our great ally Saudi Arabia is sending tanks and troops to Bahrain to help them murder protesters in the street.

We also don’t know enough about who these “rebels” are to justifiably say we are going to replace Gaddafi with something better. Jim Lacey writes in National Review, “There is just one question to answer: Does the United States desire the rebels or Qaddafi to win in Libya.” My answer is we don’t know.

Gaddafi, at least over the last few years, allowed Western oil companies to operate in Libya, kept out Al-Qaeda, prevented huge waves of refugees from hitting Southern Europe. Who are these “rebels?” Islamists? Secular democrats? Random tribes? Even if Gaddafi is defeated, we have no idea who is going to replace him, whether the rebels will be able to assemble a stable governing coalition, or what exactly we are dealing with. In fact, these questions seem to be completely ignored.

I submit that there are two primary rules about getting involved in civil wars in other countries.

Rule 1 – Don’t do it.

Rule 2 – If you break rule 1, pick the side that is going to win.

We can’t even say for sure that we are backing the winning horse. There is no evidence that the “rebels,” who seem to be a loose confederation at best, will have the capability to defeat Gaddafi’s forces even if his air superiority is taken away.

Some are making references to the American bombing of Serbia as a precedent for this kind of action. That is not exactly an example to follow. In Serbia, we bombed a country that posed no threat to us. We then stripped them of their most sacred territory and handed it over to a terrorist group that has spent the last few years merrily conducting ethnic cleansing. We also managed to seriously endanger our relations with countries far more important than the province of Kosovo by infuriating Russia and bombing the Chinese embassy. Nor did this action somehow repair our image in the Muslim world. In fact, we still have Kosovars themselves trying to attack us. In retrospect, the entire enterprise seems rather pointless.

What is truly amazing is how the national security apparatus is mobilizing for a “threat to our national security” in Tripoli, while ignoring the threats within our country. As our own border remains unsecured to terrorists, our visa laws are loose and unenforced, and our police are outgunned within our territory, I simply do not believe that our government is acting in good faith when it says it is looking after our security.

Whether Gaddafi remains in power or not, our government will still refuse to protect our own territory even as we bankrupt ourselves intervening all over the world. As always, ordinary Americans will pay, in both dollars and more serious coin. In fact, it seems that our own people are the one group that our government seems indifferent to.

We are about to take a leap in the dark that our country can ill afford. The potential benefits are few, the potential costs are great. However, given what is happening in our own country, it is hard not to see this as just one more stupid distraction.

Ralph Nader Calls for Obama's Impeachment Reply

Watch the video at LRC.

Hat tip to David Kramer.

A principled liberal (unfortunately, there are so few now that one of theirs is in office) calls for the impeachment of the current “liberal” murderer in the White House. Where’s the outrage from the rest of the left who were courageously marching in anti-war demonstrations when the former murderer in the White House (Bush) was residing there and ordering the murder of innocent foreign civilians?

The Free City-State Reply

by Vinay Gupta

1. City States: If Italy collapsed as a nation state, but remained peaceful, Naples and Venice and so on could theoretically join the EU with very little in life changing.
2. Rational Borders: The suburbs of Geneva are in France. If they were in the city state of Geneva, it would change very little.
3. Matrix Government: If the Road Chief, Rail Chief, Water Chief, Power Chief, Sanitation Chief, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Hospital Chief and so on were all independently elected in a city state, there may be no need for an over-all municipal dictator to keep the lights on and the roads open.
4. Peaceful Villages: Most villages throughout human history have managed most of their affairs. If a village is going wrong politically, people can leave. Transparency helps.

I explore these four axioms, collectively, as The Free City State, two talks I did at The Free School in London. The talks are tentative, early work, but I feel may point in interesting directions as I build a political model around Simple Critical Infrastructure Maps.

I hope you find these talks useful.

This was written by Vinay Gupta. Posted on Monday, March 14, 2011, at 3:30 pm.

Let the Kids Rule the School Reply

Finally, some commonsense ideas on education reform. This is what real education looks like. Article from the New York Times.

The students in the Independent Project are remarkable but not because they are exceptionally motivated or unusually talented. They are remarkable because they demonstrate the kinds of learning and personal growth that are possible when teenagers feel ownership of their high school experience, when they learn things that matter to them and when they learn together. In such a setting, school capitalizes on rather than thwarts the intensity and engagement that teenagers usually reserve for sports, protest or friendship.

Schools everywhere could initiate an Independent Project. All it takes are serious, committed students and a supportive faculty. These projects might not be exactly alike: students might apportion their time differently, or add another discipline to the mix. But if the Independent Project students are any indication, participants will end up more accomplished, more engaged and more knowledgeable than they would have been taking regular courses.

We have tried making the school day longer and blanketing students with standardized tests. But perhaps children don’t need another reform imposed on them. Instead, they need to be the authors of their own education.

The Most Viable Form of Government? 1

Recently, one of my occasional debating partners put this question to me: “Keith: What, in your worldview, would be the most viable form of government…or do you have an absolute ideal?”

My response:

Well, all systems end up being oligarchies. There really is no other kind of system, regardless of the specifics of its institutional structures and formal characteristics. Elite theory demonstrates that pretty well. I think the biggest question is the matter of scale. The larger political units become, the harder they are to manage and keep under control. I’m generally a micro-nationalist, which means I’d see smaller nations like Luxemborg, Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore, or Liechtenstein, as being of the most viable scale. In terms of internal structures, I don’t really have an absolute ideal. Swiss direct democracy works pretty well, so does the monarchy of Liechtenstein. I’m interested in older systems as well, like the Allthing of the classical Icelandic Commonwealth. I generally have a more favorable view of the common law traditions of the Anglo countries that of the Roman or Napoleanic civil law tradition. Common law is more flexible and rooted in informal custom. In terms of political economy, I’m interested in syndicalism, mutualism and council communism from the far Left and ideas like distributism from the far Right.

The case of Joe Arpaio illustrates pretty well the differences between my approach and that of the Left. I’ve been following Arpaio’s career since the mid-90s, and it wasn’t until his immigration enforcement stunts started getting publicized that I noticed any real criticism of him. Before that, he was sort of a folk character and considered a comedic figure. It was the same thing that happened with the issue of prisoner medical neglect. That had been going on for years, even decades, but it wasn’t until the press started publicizing the issue of medical neglect of immigrant detainees that it received any notice. The same is true of the War on Drugs, which liberals and the Left rarely criticize in any serious way unless they can get some racial mileage out of it.

The reason for this is that the Left really doesn’t see the state, the cops, the law, the prison system, etc. as the enemy, but, at most, considers these things to have been corrupted by the usual laundry list of Isms, Archies, and Phobias that the Left regards as rooted in “white male hegemony” and all that. My approach is a precise inversion of that. The enemy is the state, the “ruling class,” and state-allied institutions, the legal caste, police state, prison/military industrial complex, etc. The Left opposes these things only when they pick on their favorite groups. I on the other hand would argue that the usual Isms and Phobias are no big deal without the state to back them up.