“Sovereignties, World Orders, and the Federalist Option”

I wanted to draw attention, however belatedly, to Sovereignties, World Orders, and the Federalist Option: Reviving Libertarian Foreign Policy, an issue of Cosmos and Taxis, Studies in Emergent Order and Organization (10:9-12) edited by my friend Brandon Christensen. Brandon is editor of the blog “Notes on Liberty” (now at a new location on Substack), and a long-time friend of PoT. The issue looks great, and I’m happy to see libertarians thinking in innovative ways about this much-neglected set of topics. Contents below the fold, with clickable hyperlinks. Continue reading

“Trump Approved the Turkish Invasion of Syria”

Truth, they say, is the first casualty of war. Here’s one:

On Oct. 6, the day President Trump spoke to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and gave tacit approval for a Turkish military invasion, the American military had around 1,000 troops in Syria.

Isn’t there a clear difference between acquiescence in an action and approval of it? I’ve acquiesced in the Trump presidency; it doesn’t follow, and isn’t true, that I “approve” of it, whether explicitly or tacitly. What is the evidence for the claim that Trump approved of, or “gave approval for,” the Turkish invasion of Syria? Continue reading

Tulsi Gabbard vs. Liberal McCarthyism (2)

The New York Times, covering Hillary Clinton’s reputation-destroying claim that Tulsi Gabbard is being “groomed” by the Russian government to undermine the Democrats in the 2020 election.


Tulsi Gabbard Lashes Back at Hillary Clinton After Claim of Russian Influence

Why not “Hillary Clinton Floats Unverified Conspiracy Theory About Tulsi Gabbard?” Never mind that she did it while criticizing Donald Trump’s reliance on unverified conspiracy theories (the relevant segment is about 35 minutes into the interview). Continue reading

Tulsi Gabbard vs. Liberal McCarthyism (1)

If there’s anything you might have thought “we’d” learned from the Trump presidency, it’s that well poisoning, guilt-by-association, and reputation-destruction-by-innuendo were all thoroughly bad ideas. Evidently, this isn’t what the leaders of the Democratic Party or the Democratic Party establishment have learned. What they’ve learned is that well poisoning, guilt-by-association, and reputation-destruction by innuendo are useful instruments for the conduct of internecine warfare against ideological positions they don’t like or don’t understand. Continue reading

Chicken Kiev: Misframing the Trump-Ukraine Controversy

It’s remarkable how the Trump-Ukraine story has reflexively been described as a case of Trump’s “courting Ukrainian interference in American politics” rather than as Trump’s interfering in Ukrainian politics, or even more precisely, as Trump’s abortive attempt to make an intervention into the Ukrainian criminal justice system. The latter strikes me as a more straightforward description of what actually happened.

DES MOINES — Allegations that President Trump courted foreign interference from Ukraine to hurt his leading Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., dominated presidential politics on Saturday, as Mr. Biden demanded a House investigation of Mr. Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader and as Mr. Trump lashed out, denying wrongdoing without releasing a transcript of the call.

I heard one pundit try to justify the “courting interference” description by claiming that in asking the Ukrainians to investigate Hunter Biden, Trump was legitimizing Ukraine’s sending covert operatives to the United States to circumvent the American criminal justice system–presumably to abduct Biden for trial (or worse) in the way that the Israeli Mossad abducted Adolph Eichmann in 1960. I guess that’s one interpretation–a highly speculative one that involves a gigantic leap beyond any evidence we have, but an interpretation nonetheless. Continue reading

Khizr Khan and the Wages of Self-Sacrifice

Everyone–or at least all of America–seems to be talking about Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Am I the only person who found Khizr Khan’s message depressing rather than uplifting? I understand the need to put Donald Trump in his place, and sympathize with the desire to stick it to him. And yes, there was something inspiring about the spirit if not the letter of Khan’s speech.

But as for the content of the speech, it hit all the wrong notes. Translated, it seemed to be saying the following: Continue reading

The “No Boots on the Ground” Fraud

I spent a fair bit of time during the fall of 2014 boring the readers of this blog with my insistence that despite Obama’s “promise(s)” not to put “boots on the ground” in Syria, he would eventually find some disingenuous, incremental way of putting them there. Since “boots on the ground” doesn’t really mean anything, military speaking, the phrase is practically designed to guarantee plausible deniability: you can promise not to put “boots on the ground,” then send military personnel to the relevant place, and then deny that that’s what you meant by “boots on the ground.” No, no: “boots on the ground” referred, all along, to those military personnel that we haven’t (yet) sent, not the boot-wearing ones that now happen to be there.

I may be a newly-minted Democrat, but I’m not dumb, amnesiac, or loyal enough to our President to forget that this is just a tired variant on the semantic game that the Bush II Administration played with the phrase “weapons of mass destruction.” As we all by now know (or ought to know), very strictly speaking, weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq as a result of the 2003 invasion; it’s just that the WMD we found found bore no relation to the WMD that furnished the rationale for the invasion. So if the invasion of Iraq was predicated on “finding weapons of mass destruction,” very narrowly conceived, well, it was a great success: weapons were found. But this is just a pathetic way of saving a pathetic thesis. The war was predicated on finding usable stockpiles of WMD, and precisely none of those were found.

Continue reading

Civilization, Its Enemies, and the Dumbest Conversation about ISIS on the Internet

Note added, September 3, 2022: To belabor the obvious–for those who need a belaboring–this post was a response to a post on a separate blog, then called Neo-Neocon, now called The New Neo. The original post was posted in 2014; I don’t know whether it still exists. Neo-Neocon was defending the idea of US military involvement in Syria (back in 2014), which I was opposing. A commenter on the original blog post on Neo-Neocon, “blert,” had attacked my views by doing a cursory Google search, finding what he thought were photos of me, mistakenly identifying me with a fashion model with the name “Irfan Khawaja,” and then offering an elaborate confabulation about how I was an out-of-the-closet gay academic jihad blogger (implying, inadvertently, that Irfan Khawaja the fashion model was one, too). Obviously, blert’s whole comment was premised on a series of really stupid, obviously false assumptions and fabrications. That hasn’t deterred people from making some more.

To be absolutely clear: I am not Irfan Khawaja the fashion model, and have never pretended to be. The references to Irfan Khawaja the fashion model below are obviously satirical references to the erroneous identification of us made by the commenter “blert” on Neo-Neocon. If I’m gay, I must be in the closet about it even to myself, and to all of the women I’ve ever married or dated. I know nothing about the sexual orientation of Irfan Khawaja the fashion model, have no interest in knowing, and have never made any assertions about it whatsoever. I don’t mind being called a “blog jihadi,” but I have no comment on whether Irfan Khawaja the fashion model is. I don’t sympathize with ISIS, and have no reason to believe that Irfan Khawaja the fashion model does. I posted his photo in the post to satirize the error of the commenter, blert. As my bio makes clear, I’ve never claimed to be a fashion model. All of the commenters below except Irfan Khawaja the fashion model grasp that I am not Irfan Khawaja the fashion model, and am not claiming to be.

I wouldn’t have to belabor these obvious points if Irfan Khawaja the fashion model hadn’t, eight years after this post was first posted, decided to misread it by identifying my views with blert the commenter, and then attacking me for what blert had said. The ludicrous results of this misreading are now in the comments. As Dwight Eisenhower put it, “There is no final answer to the question ‘How stupid can you get?'” Continue reading