Aux armes, citoyens! Formez vos bataillons!

I miss the days when I was a card-carrying Libertarian. We may have been semi-anarchist pro-porn selfish nuts, but at least there were none among us who could be accused of favoring totalitarian tyranny over Constitutional government.

As a conservative, I am not so lucky. Why is there even a single one of our ranks who favors the monstrosity of secret assassination of American citizens?

I’m staggered to see Harold Ford not only say he supports the killing of American citizens without evidence, solid intelligence or due process, but also to suggest that politicians and ideologues who were relentless in claiming that “enhanced interrogation” shamed America might find themselves in sympathy for the Bush position, for the current sake of Obama. Suddenly, the idea that we had standards that should not be abandoned, even in times of war, should be set aside.

My question for my fellow Tea Party conservatives is this: you are willing to march on Washington for a sake of constitutional limitations on government, and a halt to the insane levels of spending and borrowing that has put the next two generations into hock. Why are you willing to stomach this without protest, civil disobedience, obstruction, tumult,  riot? Was all that talk about the Constitution just talk?

Did you believe the Left, that we were torturing and murdering Muslims, flushing their Korans down the toilet, and thought this was necessary to the war effort? Did you believe that law, order, decency, and honor becomes optional at wartime? Then you are no true conservative.

My question for any honest members of the opposition, if there are any, is this: you are will to dress up in Guy Fawkes masks and march on Wall Street and maintain a public nuisance and crap on police cars to express your dissatisfaction with living in a free market economy and being the most pampered generation of the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Why are you willing to stomach this?

Even if you trust President Obama as a Lightworker who will never abuse this unchecked, untrammeled, and unobserved power, why do you trust that we, whom you dismiss as racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic exophobic buck-toothed hillbillies will not vote in a President Nixon, President Palin, President Buchanan, President Bushitler or President Nehemiah Scudder?   If you are so afraid of the Jewish Interests ruling Wall Street and their power over the political process, why do you allow the political process the power to assassinate American citizens abroad without a warrant, without a hearing, and without any records being kept?



  1. Comment by Tom Simon:

    Aux armes, bien sûr, mais où est le lien?

  2. Comment by Nate Winchester:

    Not too sure about other tea partiers but…

    My question for my fellow Tea Party conservatives is this: you are willing to march on Washington for a sake of constitutional limitations on government, and a halt to the insane levels of spending and borrowing that has put the next two generations into hock. Why are you willing to stomach this without protest, civil disobedience, obstruction, tumult, riot? Was all that talk about the Constitution just talk?

    Won’t we kill two birds with one stone? Cut down on spending and the government won’t even be able to afford to assassinate anyone, right?

    Actually in all of these discussions, I’m surprised I haven’t heard more of what I proposed once: the roman system of treating citizens different from others. For instance, in this case (or in the case of torture) I would feel a lot better if we made the government jump through a lot more hopes and challenges for an American citizen than if a non-citizen was involved. Streamlining both does not sit well with me.

  3. Comment by Malcolm Smith:

    That is all very well, but how exactly is it suppose to pan out in real life? As far as I am aware, the only US citizens to fall foul of this system were Anwar al-Awlaqi and a relative? What was the Administration supposed to do: send some police into the remote, al-Qaida-controlled area of the Yemen with an arrest warrant? And let’s not forget that al-Awlaqi could, at any time, simply walk into the embassy and give himself up. There would be plenty of lawyers who would be happy to defend him, probably pro bono.
    In the middle ages, if a suspect had gone to ground, and it was next to impossible to bring him to trial, he was declared an outlaw, after which he “bore the wolf’s head” and anyone could kill him. Perhaps something similar could be resurrected to cover the current situation. After all, it would be possible to appeal the declaration of outlawry and, as I said before, the victim can always give himself up.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I cannot tell if you are being serious. This is how exactly it is supposed to pan out in real life: we issue a death warrant. The man is declared a traitor, two witnesses attest to his treason, the protection of the laws of the United States is withdrawn from him in some public ceremony, or at least hanging a poster in the Post Office, and it is announced to all and sundry that the man is in the armed forces of an enemy power. He is then officially an enemy in time of war.

      Oh, and, of course, we actually declare war, that is, after throwing in jail every single accursed senator and congressman who did not perform the Constitutional duty imposed upon them by their oaths of office to abide by the laws of the land. Because the President does not declare war any more than the town dogcatcher does, and the Congress lacks the authority to delegate to the executive the authority to do so.

  4. Comment by R_Flaum:

    This has been really depressing to me, as someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum to yourself. I really thought — naively, apparently — that the Dems would do better at this than the GOP. Not that I thought our politicians were better than the Other Side’s, but I thought at least that the mass of voters who had elected them, many of whom opposed this sort of thing, would keep political pressure on them. Maybe this is just because I’m a young man and 2008 was only the second Presidential election I was old enough to vote in, but it’s been quite astonishing to see how the activists, people who have nothing to gain from a betrayal of their principles and many of whom I had a great deal of respect for, have taken their moral lead from their elected officials rather than vice versa.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I would urge you to think carefully, more carefully and most unemotionally, about why this should be. Nothing happens for no reason. There must be a reason why the activists, who are apparently motivated by high ideals, should suddenly and inexplicably betray those ideals at the behest of their political leaders. What could it be?

      I insist I am serious on this question: I am not asking a rhetorical question, nor do I expect the analysis to be simple nor your answers quick or easy.

    • Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

      It’s certainly interesting that waterboarding confessed terrorists was right up there in the major league of war crimes, while remotely killing possible terrorists and those who happen to be standing next to them is perfectly OK with about 90% of the group which was noted for weekly aneurysms about what Bush was doing.

      I do credit Glenn Greenwald and a handful of other anti-war types with a failure to exercise hypocrisy, but they are few and far between.

  5. Comment by Sean Michael:

    It seems to me that the best way to handle this would be some kind of trial in absentia before an American citizen could be lawfully killed by drone strikes. I agree with Mr. Wright and Nate Winchester that rules and procedures are needed.

    Sean M. Brooks

  6. Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

    Frankly I would like to see many more conservatives take a stand against: wars against abstract concepts rather than enemy states; and the rathole of “nation building” down which so much blood and treasure has been flushed.

    Unfortunately, the McCain/Kristol/Bolton cadre who never met a quasi-war they didn’t like seems to be dominant and unshakeable.

    • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

      Well, one of the first great actions this country took was a war against an abstract concept (Pirates), and, of course, the rathole of “nation building” is nothing compared to the huge sinkhole that not nation building has been in the past (WWII, Vietnam and the boat people and mountains of skulls). That rathole might have stopped WWIII, and at one hundredth (at largest) of the cost we spend every year to keep people poor. We have also seen that the minute we pull back, the pirates come back, so the quasi-wars are not going to stop any time soon, if we want to keep being as wealthy and productive as we are now.

      • Comment by R_Flaum:

        I don’t know that it’s really accurate to say that the Barbary Wars were against an abstract concept. They were wars against a specific group of pirates[1], not against the concept of piracy in the abstract. (Not that this necessarily means that warring against an abstract concept is necessarily always a bad idea, just that it wasn’t what we did in that specific case)

        [1]To be more precise, a war against those who harbored pirates.

      • Comment by Nate Winchester:

        I am, of course, aghast at the slaughter of innocents. Unfortunately we are limited by our resources and budgets and it seems that we simply won’t be able to afford preventing those mountains of skull with our present methods.

        Something’s going to have to change and I for one am hoping we can figure out a new method of “mop up” that we can afford, yet doesn’t cost lives. But as to what, I’ll defer to wiser men than me.

        • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

          We are not even vaguely limited by our resources or budgets. The “War on Terror” has been cheap, cheap, cheap. A pittance compared to “Social spending”. The problem has been the absolute refusal of the Democrats to act as the loyal opposition when not in power, and their need to pay off their coalition when in power.

          As to costing lives, isn’t freeing people from regimes that feed them into shredders worth more then driving (which costs so much more then our war has)? No matter what we do, Men die. The men of the military are all volunteers and seem to think the goal worth the price. Unless you are coming at the problem from the Humanoid perspective, where we are all to be strapped into chairs and fed healthy paste while trapped in VR, then the price seems acceptable to those who pay it. Who are we to gainsay their choice?

      • Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

        the minute we pull back, the pirates come back

        Only because we fail to use force against those who, behind the risible fiction of being our “allies”, provide the pirates with ideological justification, massive financial support, and sanctuary whenever they require it.

        My dad used to say “If you step on a rattlesnake, be sure to kill it.” I could not agree more. Better to have stayed out of snake country than to continually enrage them without ever finishing the job.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          You Dad is a wise man, and I agree wholeheartedly. This USA’s unwillingness to fight those Terror Masters who are funding irregular soldiers attacking us, in effect, allowing an enemy to flourish under a fig-leaf of a legal fiction, is a source of astonishment and frustration to me.

          • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

            Only to a point. I believe all of recorded history speaks of pirates. The legal fiction is a part of the problem, but lacking a physical naval presence, and the political will to use it, there will be pirates.

            • Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

              To my way of thinking, there are two acceptable levels of war. Total war, and no war.

              President Bush could have put America on a total war footing September 12, 2001. Instead, he called Islam a “religion of peace” and told Americans to go shopping. Those are the acts of a no-war statesman, which should never have been combined with the commencement of military action.

              • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

                Yes, and we won quite handily, both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both over in a matter of weeks. There was no point to going “Total War” or going on a war footing, and probably would have been counterproductive, making those sad little losers seem more dangerous then they are, and giving vast power to the permanent government, which has proven unable to handle snow. Not that “Total War” (a very new concept) has proven very successful in the real world. The two great examples of that tactic, WWI and WWII, had very, very sloppy resolutions, both leading to more wars.

                No, Bush got the war right. It was the peace that went wrong, because there are no depths of Treason the Left will not sink to in their uncontrollable quest for power. Track down Mr. Wrights essay (on this very site) on how the Left could not put down their hate for even an hour, could not even crack a smile that Iraqis were able to vote.

                • Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

                  we won quite handily

                  In my opinion, within six months from the date the last American soldier leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban will be fully back in power, their return greeted by the population with the equivalent of a carpet of rose petals.

                  Perhaps your definition of “won” is semantically so dissimilar to mine that we are talking past one another??

                  • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

                    Come now. “Winning the War and Losing the Peace” is not an obscure phrase. We need to continue to occupy, (as we do to this day Germany and Japan) for the Democrats have shown themselves to be Oathbreakers who have no problem with ethnic cleansing to the point of Genocide (see : Vietnam). The people living in Afghanistan rightly fear reprisals, and our troops are a symbol we will protect them, our word not being good enough (because we elect Democrats. See : Vietnam). No amount of “Total War” will solve that problem. It is will, not resources, that is needed after the war is won. We have no end of resources, but the will, alas, often falters.

                    • Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

                      Our soldiers driving through Germany in 1948 were able to do so with very little fear of deadly ambush.

                      That’s because we did not draw a line around the “holy sites” of Nazism, granting them sanctuary status, while the shooting was underway. And because in 1945 and 1946 we rounded up all the major Nazi “imams” and hung them.

                      The war was won and the peace guaranteed, not when the shooting died down, but when the enemy’s ideology was effectively deleted from the German public square. Ditto Japan.

                      President Bush might have had the ability to delete Islamic fundamentalism from the world’s public square. Certainly he did not have the will to do so.

                      And failing to do so means that we are destined to be an occupying power, in the midst of a population which largely detests us, for generations to come. Ask Brezhnev how well that worked out for him.

                    • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

                      Perhaps you missed the Berlin airlift and the Berlin wall? Things were quite a mess in Germany, perhaps because we rewarded the enemy quite nicely, giving them more then they wanted when they started the war. The Middle East would be a lot calmer if we did the same thing, by destroying the Sunni in favor of the Shiites, with much, I think, the same result. We certainly did not suppress the ideology, which is taught and advanced in our schools to this day. At best we removed the NAZI colors from the public square. We can’t do that in the war on terror for the terrorists have no colors.

                      President Bush might have had the will to remove Islamic Fundamentalism from the public square. Certainly the Democrats would not have allowed him to do so (War for Oil! Imperialism! Quagmire!), refusing to be the loyal opposition during a time of war. Second, I can think of no example of a religion being removed from the public square. Heck, the Jews are still here after four thousand years of pogroms. The French Revolution and the Soviets completely failed to get rid of Christianity, and both were absolute powers (something I think we can agree W never was, despite the fevered dreams of many envious Democrats) in a world far less mobile and wealthy then we are today. Can you sell me on your plan? Give me a reason to think that we, alone, can pull it off, while the Democrats do everything in their power to stop it? (Do you remember the endless tantrum they threw over some pictures of prisoners being treated rudely by their guards? Ah, how young and innocent we were, to take prisoners! I guess you are pleased to see the Democrats now embrace your “Total War” concept. No prisoners, no borders, no nationalities. Not even Americans can claim sanctuary status! Odd that attacks have more then doubled……..)

                      As to occupying for generations, well, we are still doing that in many parts of the world, including German and Japan. Perhaps better examples then yours? At least we can see a light at the end of this tunnel, for when their oil stops being such a factor (running out, fracking, NG, etc.) they will most likely return to the backwater they were.

                  • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

                    In my opinion, within six months from the date the last American soldier leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban will be fully back in power, their return greeted by the population with the equivalent of a carpet of rose petals.

                    Well, what of it? The question is not what band of thugs rules in Kabul, or whether they can extract tribute from the provinces. The question is whether they allow their territory to be used as a base for terrorist attacks on our territory. It seems to me that the punitive expedition has succeeded at teaching the mainstream Taliban to stick to oppressing their women and the smaller tribes of Afghanistan, rather than going for Great Satans with the capacity to fight back. Which is the purpose of a punitive expedition: Make the Emir understand that he can do what he likes in his mountains, but he is not to stick his nose into the settled plains and he had better make sure his vassals understand that point also. You’ll note that the British, who knew something about empire building, never tried to occupy Afghanistan for any longer than was needed to make get the idea of “no raids across the Northwest Frontier, or else” across; quite apart from the unpleasantness of getting shot at, why would you want to?

              • Comment by John C Wright:

                With all due respect, I cannot agree with the way you worded this thought. The concept of Total War is a conceit of Clausewitz,who was so impressed with the mass conscription of Napoleon, and awed by the sight of an entire republic up in arms, mass warfare. By way of contrast, the more civilized warfare between Christian princes before that time were expected to adhere to rules of war. The ideologues of the French Revolution, who were more similar to the ideology of the Russian Revolution than they were to the ideals of the American Revolution, preached overthrow and destruction of all social institutions, crown and miter.

                ‘No war’ is not an option before the Second Coming.

                Hence, all war falls between these two extremes. It is the use of organized violence to break the enemy will to resist. Any violence more than that is sadism, and anything less is an invitation to more war, so both are counterproductive.

                However, I agree with your sentiment unreservedly, even if I disagree with the wording. Your sentiment is that no one should begin a war who lacks the will to fight to the end.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Was the “War on Poverty” or the “War on Women” something conservatives invented? We conservatives talk about wars against nation-states or against non-state actors who fund and support acts of war.

  7. Comment by Sean Michael:

    Dear Mr. Wright:

    Have you seen Andrew McCarthy’s article on NRO called “The Problems of the White Paper”? He seems to offer valuable and useful insights and suggestions..

    Sean M. Brooks

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