Iran will Never Attack Us

On I saw this post on the utter impossibility of Iran ever attacking us, by Pat Buchanon. It’s so good I want to repost it here entirely:

Regularly now, The Washington Post, as always concerned with fairness and balance, runs a blog called “Right Turn: Jennifer Rubin’s Take From a Conservative Perspective.”

The blog tells us what the Post regards as conservatism.

On Monday, Rubin declared that America’s “greatest national security threat is Iran.” Do conservatives really believe this?

How is America, with thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, scores of warships in the Med, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, bombers and nuclear subs and land-based missiles able to strike and incinerate Iran within half an hour, threatened by Iran?

Iran has no missile that can reach us, no air force or navy that would survive the first days of war, no nuclear weapons, no bomb-grade uranium from which to build one. All of her nuclear facilities are under constant United Nations surveillance and inspection.

And if this Iran is the “greatest national security threat” faced by the world’s last superpower, why do Iran’s nearest neighbors – Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan – seem so unafraid of her?

Citing The Associated Press and Times of Israel, Rubin warns us that “Iran has picked 16 new locations for nuclear plants.”

How many nuclear plants does Iran have now? One, Bushehr.

Begun by the Germans under the shah, Bushehr was taken over by the Russians in 1995, but not completed for 16 years, until 2011. In their dreams, the Iranians, their economy sinking under U.S. and U.N. sanctions, are going to throw up 16 nuclear plants.

Twice Rubin describes our situation today as “scary.”

Remarkable. Our uncles and fathers turned the Empire of the Sun and Third Reich into cinders in four years, and this generation is all wee-weed up over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“For all intents and purposes, (Bibi) Netanyahu is now the West’s protector,” says Rubin. How so? Because Obama and Chuck Hagel seem to lack the testosterone “to execute a military strike on Iran.”

Yet, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Bibi first warned in 1992 that Iran was on course to get the bomb – in three to five years! And still no bomb.

And Bibi has since been prime minister twice. Why has our Lord Protector not manned up and dealt with Iran himself?

Answer: He wants us to do it – and us to take the consequences.

“With regard to Afghanistan, the president is pulling up stakes prematurely,” says Rubin. 

As we are now in the 12th year of war in Afghanistan, and about to leave thousands of troops behind when we depart in 2014, what is she talking about?

“In Iraq, the absence of U.S. forces on the ground has ushered in a new round of sectarian violence and opened the door for Iran’s growing violence.”

Where to begin. Shia Iran has influence in Iraq because we invaded Iraq, dethroned Sunni Saddam, disbanded his Sunni-led army that had defeated Iran in an eight-year war and presided over the rise to power of the Iraqi Shia majority that now tilts to Iran.

Today’s Iraq is a direct consequence of our war, our invasion, our occupation. That’s our crowd in Baghdad, cozying up to Iran.

And the cost of that war to strip Iraq of weapons it did not have? Four thousand five hundred American dead, 35,000 wounded, $1 trillion and 100,000 Iraqi dead. Half a million widows and orphans. A centuries-old Christian community ravaged. And, yes, an Iraq tilting to Iran and descending into sectarian, civil and ethnic war. A disaster of epochal proportions.

But that disaster was not the doing of Barack Obama, but of people of the same semi-hysterical mindset as Ms. Rubin.

She writes that for the rest of Obama’s term, we “are going to have to rely on France, Israel, our superb (albeit underfunded) military and plain old luck to prevent national security catastrophes.”

Is she serious?

Is French Prime Minister Francois Hollande really one of the four pillars of U.S national security now? Is Israel our security blanket, or is it maybe the other way around? And if America spends as much on defense as all other nations combined, and is sheltered behind the world’s largest oceans, why should we Americans be as frightened as Rubin appears to be?

Undeniably we face challenges. A debt-deficit crisis that could sink our economy. Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, Africa, Arabia, Iraq and Syria. North Korea’s nukes. 

A clash between China and Japan that drags us in. An unstable Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

But does Iran, a Shia island in a Sunni sea, a Persian-dominated land where half the population is non-Persian, a country whose major exports, once we get past fossil fuels, are pistachio nuts, carpets and caviar, really pose the greatest national security threat to the world’s greatest nation?

We outlasted the evil empire of Lenin and Stalin that held captive a billion people for 45 years of Cold War, and we are frightened by a rickety theocracy ruled by an old ayatollah? Rubin’s blog may be the Post‘s idea of conservatism. Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize it.”

The Federalist Papers

     Two weeks of reading and I’ve finally finished the Federalist Papers! From here I’ll be moving on to the Anti-Federalist Papers and Constitutional Convention Debates. I also plan on reading the best historical interpretations of the Constitution which would be Views of the Constitution by St. George Tucker (1803), New Views of the Constitution by John Taylor of Caroline (1823) and A View of the Constitution by William Rawle (1829). These texts are the most relevant examples of early 19th Century texts expounding the Constitution. What not to read: Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833) which attempted to rewrite the history of the Constitution and make it a nationalist document, rather than a federalist document. I will of course read it eventually just because, however it is definitely not ideal if you want accurate constitutional interpretation.
     As an aside, from reading the Federalist Papers, the interpretation by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison of the Constitution was completely reasonable, and if men of avarice had not rewrote the history of the Constitution and ultimately forced their view upon the American public through the Civil War, they would still stand correct today. However, although the anti-federalist view may not have been correct upon a realistic reading of the Constitution, it has proved to be strangely prophetic. For all the blustering by Hamilton and Madison that men of candor could not misinterpret certain Constitutional provisions as granting broad strokes of power, they clearly proved to be on the wrong side of history as we can see today. They should have been right. But, Alexander Hamilton himself led the charge to subverting the Constitution himself; so I guess he was adamant about proving himself wrong.

Executive Power and Foreign Aggression

     In my musings on the Constitution, I used to grapple with the idea that the executive needs more powers (than Constitutionally granted) to be able to strike quickly and effectively at our enemies. Having to wait for Congress to declare war in these situations would not seem prudent. This power is also deemed necessary particularly because secrecy in such operations can be deemed paramount.
     However, these observations depend entirely on the necessity and propriety of preemptive/preventative war. This is why some say we needed the War Powers Resolution which allows the president to undertake such operations as necessity would dictate, with certain limits. But these views are not compatible with a free nation. A free nation cannot be an aggressor in an armed conflict, nor can it participate in preemptive war if it is to stand on any kind of moral high ground. When would it ever be necessary for us to preemptively invade a country that has not attacked us? The only situation that would make sense would be if a country declared war on us, but has yet to actually attack us. In that situation, some may rightfully consider the declaration itself as an act of war. Save that, it can never be necessary. The thought that the president should be able to command troops that will partake in aggressive operations is something any peaceful citizen should scoff at. An executive with the powers to attack other countries free from restiction is only necessary for a country that believes it needs to be the policeman of the world or has imperialist aspirations. Frankly, I believe we are grossly over-policed at home and it is not something we should be proud of, nor should we be foolhardy enough to attempt the same thing abroad, funded by the already overburdened U.S. taxpayer. Asserting that we need these powers in the event an attack is imminent opens up the door to abuses. What does imminent mean? Ultimately, it means whatever the executive will decide. It opens the door to propaganda campaigns by the government to convince the American public that we are actually facing an imminent threat; like has happened with Iraq and the Weapons of Mass Destruction and is happening currently with Iran. See here, here and here
     Any man of candor will admit that the continental United States will never be in danger of being invaded. The last time it was invaded was in the War of 1812 by the British. Any nation would be foolish to attempt it. We have the strongest military in the world, the largest active nuclear arsenal, and we spend more militarily than the next 19 nations in the world combined. Anyone who believes the U.S. is in danger of being attacked by a foreign government is either insincere, or downright stupid. If we are that worried about being attacked, we should bring all our troops home to defend our boarders rather than stationing them in hundreds of bases around the world; our country would be impregnable.
     A free nation should have the ability to vigorously defend itself but it should not have the power vested unchecked in the Executive to send troops all over the world attacking nations that have not attacked us. This makes us less safe and perpetuates the unflattering view of Americans as ‘Cowboys‘.
     The President (pick any recent one) would have us believe that a declaration of war is a thing of the past and an obstruction to our self-defense. But what relation does preventative war have to self-defense? None. In the unlikely situation we were ever invaded by a foreign army, it is not as if our armed forces would sit there twiddling their thumbs, unable to defend the country without a declaration of war. The reality is the armed forces are capable of acting autonomously, and don’t need the command of a President to be able to effectively coordinate their strategic decisions in a national emergency of that sort. Did the soldiers that were attacked at Pearl Harbor need to wait for Congress to declare war before they started shooting back at the Japanese planes? No. In the face of an invasion, necessity and propriety will drive the armed forces to defend American territory and fight back when their own lives are at stake. Further, in this day and age, Congress could be convened very rapidly, if necessary, to declare war so this supposed need for these extra executive powers is even more fruitless than when these powers were first proposed (usurped).
     Not only can we say that these powers are unnecessary for self-defense, our own foreign aggression subjects us to many problems. In cases of self-defense against an invader, every time we shoot at the opposition, we can be sure the action is justified; they have aggressed on us and invaded our country. When we aggress on others and invade their country, any shot we take or bomb we use has the potential to kill innocent citizens. If we are to be considered a free country, our respect for human life must be second to none; thus we see how American intervention threatens our core values. America must be anti-interventionist if we are to ever again to become the example of a free nation everyone wants to emulate.
     As unlikely as these sources seem, some presidents have spoke out against preemptive war and executive power (I somehow doubt whether Abraham Lincoln actually believed what he was saying, though):

Lincoln: “Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion… and you allow him to make war at pleasure… If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him,–’I see no probability of the British invading us’; but he will say to you, ‘Be silent: I see it, if you don’t.'”

Eisenhower: ” Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.”

Also, you can read this article by Ron Paul to learn more dangers of preemptive war: suicide. And Thomas Woods article defining what Presidential War Powers actually are.

P.S. I see preventative war as a general symptom of preemption prevalent in many aspects of society. For example, when we consider someone who has been drinking and driving, but not hurt anyone else, as a criminal deserving of punishment, or someone who has taken drugs or smoked marijuana as a criminal because someone on drugs might be more likely to commit crimes, etc. we are preempting any actual crime; we are preempting anyone actually being harmed in their person or property, despite the distinct possibility or even likelihood that no actual harm will even be committed, even in the remote future. It is nanny state policy applied to foreign nations. This relation is admittedly imperfect, of course, since  sometimes we are invading countries that have done harm to their own citizens, but that is beyond the scope of the discussion.

23 Laws to Make the US a Socialist Utopia

An article from Business Insider details 23 laws from around the world that can be enacted in the U.S. to make it a better place to live. This could have been interesting, but naturally the writer has some sort of utopian vision in mind rather than one that is grounded in reality. Also, it failed to give any reasons to support why any of these laws would be make the U.S. a better place to live. More accurately, it details 23 laws from around the world that will turn the U.S. into a socialist nightmare.

For example, one law from Bhutan details how they have expanded “conventional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measurements of wealth to include non-monetary factors like psychological well-being, community vitality, and environmental quality” and “Proposed policies in Bhutan must pass a GNH review similar to an Environmental Impact Statement in the US.” Forgive me, but all those non-monetary factors they list are utter nonsense. There is no real way to gauge these factors in any type of relevant context, so any survey they use is going to be completely arbitrary. There are no objective human values, only subjective values. Any attempt to measure these non-monetary values is futile. The only way to gauge subjective values is through prices, meaning monetary values. Furthermore, application of these non-monetary factors in this way, which they consider important, are sure to lead to lower overall wealth and standards of living. Wealth must be built by accumulation; it cannot be mandated by government decree. Standards of living and working can only be obtained after wealth has achieved a certain level. We cannot expect poor countries to implement rigorous environmental regulations that are extremely costly without first being wealthy enough to afford these luxuries.

Next the article details how “Germany’s Renewable Energy Act mandates that 80% of the country’s power will come from renewable sources by 2050.” Renewable energy is a fine initiative, but at what cost? Government initiatives to mandate renewable energy are only going to harm standards of living. If these initiatives were wise and cost effective, private industries would have no problem implementing them. If the technology is not currently cost effective, it isn’t good economic policy to force businesses to invest in it now. Over time, goods and services become more efficient and cheaper and we should wait until this happens so we don’t hinder ourselves in the mean time.

The article advocates GMO bans. “90% of American corn, soybeans, and cotton are currently grown from genetically modified organisms (GMO) and 70% of all American processed foods contain GMO ingredients,” it says. Shouldn’t this be an alarming indicator that GMO bans would hurt our standard of living immensely? It is clear from those statistics that GMO’s are the most cost-effective way of providing food to the greatest number of people. Shouldn’t this be what we are trying to achieve? GMO’s clearly improve access to cheap and affordable food so a ban on GMO’s will likely hurt the poor the most. It’s one thing to advocate not using certain methods or consuming certain products, but when it comes down to marginal decisions, it is better for a hungry poor person to eat some unhealthy product or some product that was made using an objectionable process than to eat nothing at all.

The article also advocates an Urban Agriculture law.  This law “makes it not just legal, but free to adapt unused, public land into food production plots.” This law is interesting, and I respect the innovative idea and this productive use of public land, however the problem with this law is that since the land being used is public domain, the absence of property rights presents a problem. Say you have an individual growing food on public land for his family, what is to stop another individual from taking the food grown by this person for their own use? Granted, I know nothing else about the law, maybe this is mitigated somehow, but it seems problematic to me.

In a piece advocating Cycling Laws, it states how “In the Netherlands, a bicycling ordinance requires children to take a written as well as a riding test, administered by the police at around age 10.” The first problem is that this means children who are developmentally challenged and have trouble reading and writing would be forcefully prevented from a recreational activity like riding a bike, which is reprehensible. Secondly it is difficult to comprehend how this would make any country a better place to live. This restriction is clearly odious and is typical of the ridiculous restrictions a nanny-state imposes. A child might not be the best bike rider, so what? If the child represents that much of a danger to himself or others on a bike any responsible parent would either give them more instruction or prevent them from riding. This falls under parental jurisdiction; the state has no business getting involved in areas like this. What’s next, rollerblading tests?

The article also advocates Compulsory Voting and Automatic Voter Registration. These laws are typical of worshipers of democracy. As I briefly exposited in a recent blog entry, democracy is a path to tyranny and we should be seeking to champion republicanism, not democracy. Also, of what benefit would compulsory voting be? Why should we encourage (force) someone who has no awareness of the issues or candidates to vote? We shouldn’t. And what about those people who seek to protest the candidates by not voting?

The article advocates laws on Parental Leave, Mandatory Paid vacation, and Flexible Work Hours, all of which could be consolidated into the header, “Ways to Make Businesses Less Profitable, Less Productive, More Inefficient and Deplete Capital.” In the piece advocating Flexible work hours, the article states that as a result of these laws, “Europeans now work only 80-85% as many hours as Americans.” But is this even desirable? Unless Europeans are 15-20% more efficient than Americans, it certainly isn’t. I think it’s safe to say Europeans’ average standard of living is lower than ours, so shouldn’t they be trying to work more to raise their standard of living? Working less certainly isn’t going to do that. Further, benefits like parental leave, mandatory paid vacation, etc. are indicative of wealthy nations that have achieved a standard of living that can sustain these benefits. As detailed above, standards of living cannot be mandated. They are not the sources of wealth, they are merely indicative of a wealthy society and result from the accumulation of wealth. As Ludwig von Mises said, “The difference between the less developed and the more developed nations is a function of time: the British started to save sooner than all other nations, and to accumulate capital and to invest it in business.”

I won’t even get into how the article advocates stricter gun laws and universal health care. To end on a positive note, the article did recommend decriminalization of marijuana. Touche.

Teenage unemployment and minimum wage

If you favor raising the minimum wage (to say, $9), you must also be in favor of unemployment; because it necessarily follows from it. It’s so simple, it’s the Marginal Product of Labor. How many workers at minimum wage actually add $7.25 of value to businesses with their labor currently, let alone $9? Not very many teenagers would be able to find a job if the minimum wage was raised to $9.

Ideas by Force

     Democracy, or any other idea, is incapable of being spread by force. Force only sows the seeds of discontent. Any ideas spread by force only serve to associate that idea with force and violence in the hearts and minds of those oppressed or aggressed upon. Why would we want to associate an idea that we think is worth spreading with aggression and violence? 

    Besides, democracy is not an ideal we should be hoping to spread. Popular vote is as likely a path to tyranny as an absolute dictator. Alexander Tyler said “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over a louse fiscal responsibility, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.” Our country was founded on Federal Republicanism and is a better guarantor of liberty than democracy could ever hope to be.