Libertarian press is divided on Syria

For all the volume generated over the years by Ron Paul supporters for an end to foreign interventions, UK and mid-Atlantic libertarian news sites seem surprisingingly favourable towards the Syrian intervention.

Guido wants war

Guido’s “seen elsewhere” seems to favour war

My brief review found no comment from Guido but the Seen Elsewhere section of Order Order has linked to a sequence of pro-intervention articles, along with “openminded” Douglas Carswell. The Backbencher meanwhile has quite a lot of balance on it’s front page today although it’s founder’s editorial is extremely skeptical. According to Alex there is no logical reason why the use of a different weapon should radically change our analysis and he continues to fear that removing “a Louis” will “end up with a Napoleon”.

Alec MacDonald continues to express skepticism

Backbencher’s Alex MacDonald continues to express skepticism

The popular Anna Raccoon blog is also an anti, and is in colourful form today:

Why doesn’t Hague take out a couple of dozen of our fine British soldiers, tie their hands behind their backs with a copy of the Human Rights legislation – and shoot them himself?

He could have a real bloody-hands-on experience of warfare, save the country a fortune not shipping what is left of our military out to Syria, not leave behind several thousand automatic rifles to arm the next ballot box dispute, and the rest of the military could stay home and watch x-factor.

The end result will be just the same. A couple of hundred thousand dead Syrians, and a good few dozen dead sons of England.

Meanwhile, mid Atlantic Trending Central defends against claims that pro-interventionists are really chicken and calls out to libertarians to abandon “Randian selfishness” (this is strange as Objectivist leaders favour total war on Iran) and use the military intervention by US and UK governments as an opportunity to connect with libertarians abroad. I am skeptical that this form of internationalism will work.

Trending Central is mostly reporting events but has published a couple of pro-intervention opinion pieces

Trending Central is mostly reporting events but has published a couple of pro-intervention opinion pieces

Finally, of course, Libertatrian Home blogger Richard Carey steps back and looks at the history, and wonders if this chemical attack is what it appears to be.

UPDATE: As parliament is recalled, Guido makes his editorial position clear:


Guido’s choice of graphic makes his position clear


Simon Gibbs

Simon is a London based IT contractor and the proprietor of Libertarian Home. Working with logic and cause-and-effect each day he was naturally attracted to nerdy libertarianism and later to the benevolent logic of Objectivism. Find him on Google+ 


  29 comments for “Libertarian press is divided on Syria

  1. Aug 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I don’t think the libertarian press is divided, rather that this issue shows the clear divide between libertarians on one side and right-wingers who like to dress up as old-school liberals when the living is easy. I understand that some kind of case could be made in theory for an attack on Assad as a defence against aggression, but I’m old enough to have seen this same propaganda game having been played a few times too many. As the venerable Bill Hicks put it: “All governments are liars and murderers”.

    • Aug 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      In fairness, Neo-Guido is Harry Cole is aka *Tory* Bear and Trending Central is rather vague on it’s about pages, but employs Andrew Ian Dodge amoungst others. It may be reassuring that the more explicitly libertarian you are the more likely you are to be anti.

      • Aug 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        Ah, that would be the Andrew Ian Dodge who left this comment on James Snell’s piece:

        “There is no libertarian case for intervention in Syria. It is a mess that we best avoid because no matter what we do it will be bad for the US & the UK”

        • Aug 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm

          Snell may a case of a right-winger in libertarian dress, as you put it. It seems he usually writes for Thomas Stringer’s The Libertarian and so therefore presumably considers himself one.

          Regardless, it’s certainly interesting to see Staines and MacDonald on different ends of this one, if indeed Staines is still at the keyboard.

          When I first used the phrase “Libertarian press” I meant Order Order and City AM (whom I neglected to include, to my regret). I think Backbencher clearly qualify, Trending Central has a much weaker case, and perhaps Order Order is no longer in this category? In fact, can we really use this phrase at all?

          • Richard Carey
            Aug 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm

            “In fact, can we really use this phrase at all?”

            Probably not!

  2. Nico Metten
    Aug 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    WMDs again, seriously? The whole thing is obviously a false flag attack. I cannot believe that they are using the exact same lie again and people are still falling for it. But this time they could actually start WW3. This could easily spread to a war against Iran and then we will get a full blown world war. Unbelievable that there are people who call themselves Libertarians who even consider to support this. This is betraying everything that Libertarianism is about.

    • Richard Carey
      Aug 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      I don ‘t think we can say it was ‘obviously a false flag attack’, but there’s certainly a possibility that it was, as far as any of us can say. I don’t think the Syrian military leaders would have any moral qualms in using such weapons, but neither would any of a number of other actors.

  3. Nico Metten
    Aug 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Nothing is 100% certain, but this comes close. Firstly, there is the question of cui bono. There is very little doubt that Assad is currently winning the war. Why would he use chemical weapons against civilians at this point? There is simply no military benefit for him in this, since he is winning anyway. On the other hand the rebels have a strong interest in this story. Then, there is no evidence that such an attack took even place. Expert of chemical weapons immediately said that there were no signs of real chemical weapons in the pictures. You see people hugging their dead loved once shortly after the alleged attack. If real chemical weapons had been used, this would not be possible, as this stuff does not go away so quickly. And finally, our leaders do not seem to care anyway. The US has made very clear that they believe that Assad used chemical weapons regardless what the UN inspectors say. That tells you that this is not about chemical weapons. I think Sean Gabb is right. They do not even seem to care anymore whether they lies are convincing. The US and UK does not care about these weapons anyway. They have used them themselves in Vietnam and have supplied tons of this stuff to Saddam during his war against Iran. Both the US and the UK have other problems at the moment. Both have deepening financial crises on hand. And of course there are these nasty headlines about them massively spying on their own people. So both could use a war to be the leading headlines in the newspapers. The same is true for Hollande and Turkey for slightly different reasons.

    • Richard Carey
      Aug 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      As Sean Gabb’s post was so short – and I agree with it, it’s worth quoting it in full:

      “It may be that I’m older this time round. Or it is the complete realisation that nothing I say will have any effect on what happens. Whatever the case, I don’t feel inspired to write bookloads of denunciation of this latest projected war.

      Then again, this time round, our rulers have also given up on trying to persuade us. They are lying. We know they are lying. They know we know they are lying. But everyone knows there is nothing we can do to stop them from taking us to war again.

      The only potential brake on their actions is the one applied from Moscow. I hope Mr Putin has his foot on the floor.”

    • Karel
      Aug 28, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      Nico, there is very little doubt that Assad is not winning the war, he had some minor gains in and around Homs but he lost something around Hama, Aleppo, Deir ez Zor and Latakia. Actually it is a stalemate with slightly moving borders in favor of one or the other side. Seen this way (and this is what I see following both sides), ask again, cui bono? If I am completely wrong, then tell me who is holding most of the biggest city of Aleppo, still holds some Damascus suburbs, controls virtually the whole border with Turkey? Who, on the other hand, only made some gains after getting help of thousands of Hezbollah fighter from Lebanon?

  4. Tim Carpenter
    Aug 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I can see no logic or madness inAssad using gas.

    I can see both in the “rebels” using it, though.

    • Aug 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      So why did Assad stall the weapons inspectors? And who shot at them?

      • Richard Carey
        Aug 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm

        The Syrian government did not immediately agree, but given the area is under rebel control, I don’t know whether this can be called stalling. In any case, the war-mongers immediately declared the case open and shut guilty. As to who shot at the inspectors, your guess is as good as mine.

      • Nico Metten
        Aug 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm

        Many possible reasons. First of all maybe someone really shot something like chemical weapons. In that case they would find evidence and would blame it on Assad. Secondly, the UN might use the mission to spy on the ground for an upcoming military intervention. Thirdly, in the end he let them in, why would he then shoot on them? The inspectors are not in an area that is fully under control of Assad.

  5. Aug 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    One of the things about being libertarian is that you find it necessary to be in the same pigeon-hole as people who’s views you find somewhat distasteful. But this is part of the territory. But then there are some things that, to me, are pretty fundamental and anyone “libertarian” who espouses them, isn’t. Sending troops into a foreign war is one of these things.

    • Nico Metten
      Aug 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. Libertarianism is a big tent with all kinds of ideas. Libertarians have different opinions on anarchy, immigration, copyright etc. That is all fine, it all belongs into this movement. But to me, war is a big line in the sand. This is the only topic where I cannot help but getting emotional. That is because it compromises every goal that Libertarianism has. At no time is the power of the state over the individual bigger than at war times. It can literally decide over life and death. War is causing an enormous economic damage on both sides, transforming more and more of the productive economy into a state economy. War is an effective tool to silence opposition as it forces people to take sides. It is the perfect excuse to take away civil liberties in the name of security. War destroys the morality of society. In short at war times everyone loses, except for the state. Sure, sometimes you do not have a choice but defending yourself. But if wars break out, they need to be kept as small as possible. With interventionism you simply suck more and more people into this evil dynamic. People who advocate war as a tool to spread freedom and prosperity, haven’t understood the first thing about it. It is particularly absurd as none of the parties fighting any of these wars is libertarian. Calling this a libertarian position is about as absurd as calling a communist a libertarian. Luckily no one would do the latter, but for some reason there are a number of people who thing it is ok to do the former.

      • Aug 28, 2013 at 1:17 am

        Thank you for your post, it hits the nail on the head to why war is a tool of statism. My one reservation is that Islamism is a foe of liberty from whatever angle you look at it.

  6. Aug 28, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Agree with Richard absolutely. No genuine libertarian could be in favour of the use of military force to influence a foreign conflict.

    Can’t believe, Simon, that you can use Guido and libertarian in the same sentence…….

    • Aug 28, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Whether or not you agree with his views Paul Staines is a well established figure on the libertarian scene and “Guido” is a project with specific laudible objectives.

      • Aug 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm

        Staines may self-define as a libertarian (I agree he self announces) however he does not pass my litmus test and I am a little surprised he passes yours.

  7. Aug 28, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I favoured intervention in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq… in the Balkans it worked out exactly as I had hoped, in Afghanistan likewise and if the US and friends had got the hell out within a year of the Taliban losing Kabul and just left the factions to sort it out amongst themselves, I would be similarly happy… Iraq… hmmm… still better than leaving the Ba’athists there but still made no sense whatsoever to stay for years and years even though much of Iraq is actually fairly stable and vastly less totalitarian than before.

    But Syria? Someone wants to intervene to stop Al Qaeda and Hezbollah killing each other? Really? I have a better idea… sell ammunition to both sides.

  8. Aug 28, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Oh and my flavour of whatever you want to call my politics (and I really do not care less about the libertarian tag, preferring minarchist myself) is predicated on not being at all interested in ‘my’ nation-state over ‘that’ nation-state. Nations have no sacred right to do mass homicidal things to ‘their’ citizens, so I am really ok with less-bad nations fucking over more-bad ones with non-conscript armies once an egregious tipping point is reached, within the bounds of what is actually possible this side of WW3.

    So yeah, I fail the purity test. But then I smelled the mass graves in Bosnia and did not just read about them reading the Times whilst eating my cornflakes in Surrey. It has a way of injecting a degree of F-18 laser bomb armed pragmatism into one’s world view *wink*

    • Sep 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Agree fully with what Perry said, so guess I fail the purity test too. Who do I turn in my badge to :p

  9. Aug 28, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Is that pragmatism you are injecting, or emotionalism? Which mass graves were these? The ones the Serbs did, or the ones the Croats did, or the ones the Moslems did, or the ones the Albanians did, or the ones Nato did?

  10. Paul Marks
    Aug 28, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I would ask those wishing to use Western force to overthrow Assad (admittedly a murdering socialist scumbag – like Saddam) WHO do they wish to see in power.

    Not some vague platitude such as “it is for the Syrian people to decide” – the name or names of the SPECIFIC people they wish to make the government of Syria.

    My guess is that none of the interventionists are even thinking in these terms.

    For all their faults even 19th century Imperialists would be shocked by this thoughtless demand for the use of force – when they (the 19th century Imperialists) used force they had a specific idea of which locals they wished to put in power (which ones specifically) it was not just “shoot now – think later”.

  11. Aug 30, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Haven’t read the comments above. Just popped by to say that Guido is about as libertarian as Hitler. War is the collectivists wet dream.

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