Inter Press Network

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Simple Libertarian Argument Against Unrestricted Immigration and Open Borders

by N. Stephan Kinsella

To own means one has the right to control a given resource. Ownership is distinct from mere possession or actual control; it is the right to control. (On the nature of ownership, see Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, chs. 1, 2, esp. pp. 5–6, 8–18, discussing notions of scarcity, aggression, property, norms, and justification, and ch. 9, esp. pp. 130–145; also links in this post.)

As H.L.A. Hart argued, the question of what the law is, is different from the question of whether a particular law is moral or just. We can distinguish the way things are from the way things should be. Fact and norm, is and ought, are different things. When we speak of the actual state of affairs, we are talking about actual or legal ownership, and the positive, legal right to control a resource.

What I am getting at is that the state does own many resources, even if (as I and other anarcho-libertarians believe) the state has no natural or moral right to own these things. Nonetheless the state does own some resources – roads, ports, buildings and facilities, military bases, etc. We can allow that a road, for example, is actually, or legally, owned by the state, while also recognizing that the "real" owners are the taxpayers or previous expropriated owners of the land who are entitled to it. This poses no conceptual problem: there is no conflict between the proposition that the taxpayers have a moral or natural right to the land, i.e. they should have the (legal) right to control it; and the assertion that the state has the actual positive or legal right to control the land. The state is the legal owner; but this legal ownership is unjustified, because it amounts to continuing trespass by the state against property "really" owned (normatively or morally) by certain victims of the state (e.g., taxpayers or the resource's previous owners).

The point here is the state does (legally) own resources which are "really" owned by others. As libertarians, we can view this situation as the state holding property on behalf of the real owners, as a sort of uninvited caretaker.

Now my contention is that given the existence of significant public property in a certain country, it is not necessarily unlibertarian for immigration to be restricted by means of usage-rules established on public property by the state-owner.

Consider this case. I live in a small independent city, which has about 10,000 residents. It is very small and dense, and smack-dab in the middle of Houston, which has 4 million people. Our City has a public pool a few blocks from my house. As a resident of the City (and hence a taxpayer) I am entitled to use the pool for a very small fee – say, $2 per visit. Nonresidents – outsiders – may use the pool too, but they pay three times as much: $6 per visit.

Now let's say that as a libertarian I would rather the pool be privatized, or sold and the proceeds returned to those who have been victimized to found or maintain it – the taxpayers, or residents, of this City. This would be a type of restitution for the crime committed against them. Alternatively, if the land for the pool had been expropriated, the owner ought to be paid restitution. Etc. The point is that given a government theft, taking, or trespass, it is better, other things being equal, for the victims to receive restitution; and more restitution is better than a smaller, insufficient amount.

But restitution need not be made only in dollars. It can be made by providing other value or benefits to the victims. One such benefit to me is the ability to use a nice, uncrowded, local pool for a cheap price. It is arguably better, even more libertarian, for the City to discriminate against outsiders. If it did not, the pool would be overrun by outsiders seeking cheap swimming. It would be virtually worthless to me and most of my fellow residents of the City if there were no rules on entry, or no discrimination against outsiders. The rule set on the usage of this property by its caretaker-owner, the City, is a reasonable one – one that the owner of a private pool might adopt, and also one that generates more restitution for the victims of the City's aggression, than a less discriminatory rule would.

This example illustrates the general point that when the state assumes ownership of a resource, then it has to establish some rules as to the resource's usage. This is what it means to own something: to be able to determine how the thing is used. Coming back to immigration, let’s take the case of the federal government as owner-caretaker of an extensive network of public roads and other facilities. If the feds adopted a rule that only citizens and certain invited outsiders are permitted to use these resources, this would in effect radically restrict immigration. Even if private property owners were not prohibited from inviting whomever they wish onto their own property, the guest would have a hard time getting there, or leaving, without using, say, the public roads. So merely prohibiting non-citizens from using public property would be one means of establishing de facto immigration restrictions. It need not literally prohibit private property owners from having illegal immigrants on their property. It need only prevent them from using the roads or ports – which it owns.

It seems to me establishing rules as to how public roads are to be used is not inherently unlibertarian. Even libertarians who say the state has no right to make any rules at all regarding property it possesses – even speed limits etc. – really advocate the following rule: allow anyone to use it, and/or return it to the people. This is a way of using a piece of property. But most libertarians don't seem to have a principled opposition to the very idea of rule-setting itself. Sure, the state should not own a sports stadium or road, but so long as it does, it is not inherently unlibertarian for the state-owner to promulgate and enforce some rules regarding usage of the resource. A road may have speed limits; a stadium or museum may charge an entrance fee; the sheriff's office and the courthouse might have locks on the doors preventing anyone but employees from entering.

Advocates of open-borders/unrestricted immigration are simply those who prefer a certain rule of usage be issued by the feds: that anyone at all may use federal roads, ports, etc. Whereas other citizens have a different preference: they prefer that the feds not allow everyone, but only some people. By having the latter rule, obviously, a version of immigration restriction could be established de facto.

Now I am not so far arguing for the latter rule. I am simply noting that it is not necessarily unlibertarian, as the open-borders types want to maintain. They urge that the illegitimate owner-caretaker of public property use it in this way; others want it used another way. We all agree the rule that really should be adopted is: return the property to private hands. Where we differ is on what second-best rule is more libertarian, or more preferred. Is one second-best rule more clearly libertarian than the other? It seems to me that one useful way to compare alternative rules is to examine the restitution that would be provided by various usage-rules. A rule that generates more restitution for more people is, other things being equal, probably preferable to other rules.

In the case of federal highways, for example, most citizens currently get a benefit from being able to use roads. Is it "worth" the cost of being taxed to maintain the roads, or to pay for compensation fees paid to expropriated or bought-out property owners, or the associated liberty violations? No. But given a rights violation, some restitution is better than none. If the feds announced tomorrow that no rules at all applied to the federal highways, the utility of the roads to most people would fall dramatically, meaning that restitution has decreased. The resource would be wasted. If the feds announced tomorrow that no one could use the roads except the military, then again, this would reduce overall restitution. Some more reasonable rule in between would obviously generate a more respectable amount of restitution than either extreme.

Is there an "optimal" rule that leads to "optimal" restitution? Most certainly not. Private property is the only way to objectively and efficiently allocate capital. But some rules are better than others; and one reasonable rule of thumb used to judge the validity of a given usage rule for a publicly owned resource is to ask whether a private owner of a similar resource might adopt a similar rule; or to compare the amount and types of restitution corresponding to alternative usage-rules. And since it is impossible for the state to adopt a rule that perfectly satisfies all citizens – this is one problem with having public property in the first place – then, other things being equal, a rule that is favored by the overwhelming majority may be viewed as providing "more" overall restitution than one that is favored only by a few people.

Given these considerations, it seems obvious to me that, just as my neighborhood pool discriminates against outsiders, and just as a private pool also does this, so the state owner-caretaker of federal property might also establish rules that discriminate against some immigrants. It is obvious that the overwhelming majority of citizens do not want open borders; which means almost every American taxpayer would prefer that public property not be open to everyone. It is also clear that given federal anti-discrimination laws, providing unlimited access to public roads is tantamount to forced integration, has Hoppe has argued (1, 2). This cost is yet another reason why most Americans would prefer not to have public property open to all with no discrimination or restrictions. Given that values are subjective, using property to cater to the subjective preferences of the vast majority would seem to be one way of achieving a more substantial degree of restitution.

What are my own personal preferences? Well, I would prefer the public property be returned as restitution to the victims and the mafia called the state disbanded. Barring that, so long as they hold property rightfully "owned" by me and others to whom the state owes damages/restitution, I would prefer property they own to be used only for peaceful purposes of the type that would exist in the free market (can any libertarian seriously deny that it's objectively better for the state to build a library or park on public property than an IRS office or chemical weapons factory?). I would prefer rules to be set regarding the usage of these resources so that they are not wasted, and so as to act in a reasonable manner like private owners would, and to maximize restitution. So far, I think my "preferences" are the only libertarian ones possible.

But what actual rules should we prefer? Here I think we start to veer from libertarianism into the realm of personal preference. I would not want the feds to allow any and all comers onto federal property, for the reasons mentioned above – I believe it would reduce the utility of public property, and impose costs (such as forced integration). In any event, even if this were now my own preference, I have to admit 99% of my fellow taxpayers would simply prefer some immigration restrictions, and therefore probably would prefer some kinds of rules of the road that discriminate against outsiders – given this preference, which does not seem per se unlibertarian – it is obvious that far more restitution is made overall if such rules are enacted.

Libertarians who righteously assume that their open borders view is the only principled one can only maintain this stance if they argue that the state should not ever establish any rules on property it asserts ownership of. Once they grant that some rules should be set, then they can not assume that discriminatory rules are automatically unlibertarian; all rules are "discriminatory." And I do not personally believe it can be convincingly argued that there should be no rules on public property, because this would result in significant costs to citizens who are victimized enough. It cannot be a libertarian requirement to add injury to injury; libertarianism is about vindicating and defending the victim, not about victimizing him further.

September 1, 2005

*Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston. His website is


Hiroshima and Gene Callahan

by Bob Murphy

Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it; that’s why I foolishly formed an entangling alliance (officially dubbed the "Anarchist Irish Drinking Club") with one Gene Callahan. Consequently, I have now twice been dragged into a devastating conflict with writers from National Review Online, as I am treaty-bound to defend Gene whenever he starts a war with these folks. (Long-time LRC readers may recall my inexcusable violations of the Geneva Convention during the first encounter with Jonah Goldberg.) The present hostilities concern Gene’s critique of Victor Davis Hanson’s defense of Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb, a critique to which Hanson has recently responded.

Hanson feels Gene is being paranoid and absurd: "[I] am derided as a lover of war for suggesting that the United States, when it goes to war against fascists, should defeat them, insist on their unconditional surrender, and stay on to promote democratic reconstruction."

Well, yes and no. If by insist Hanson had meant something such as, "continue to shoot Japanese troops in the field," then I don’t think Gene would have devoted an article to Hanson. But no, when Hanson thinks the US was perfectly justified in "insisting" on unconditional surrender, one of the means of persuasion was incinerating tens of thousands of civilians. In Gene’s own words: "So what justified unleashing the A-bomb on the world and melting a large city along with its unfortunate inhabitants?"

Hanson claims that "Callahan ignores the fact that the bomb ended, not perpetuated ‘eternal’ war, abruptly saving millions of casualties on both sides." Again, not really. Gene certainly didn’t ignore this claim – he spent several paragraphs attacking it. The atomic bomb only saved millions of lives if the only other option were an infantry invasion of the mainland; but Gene’s point was that other options should have been considered. And I don’t see how Hanson can claim that the bomb ended "‘eternal’ war." By using that adjective in quotation marks, Hanson is alluding to the peacenik complaint that the war hawks are always urging us into one conflict after another. Well, isn’t that precisely what happened? The atomic bombing of Hiroshima has utterly failed to end war. (In case you’re not following me: Not even Charlie Sheen would argue that Japan is still fighting the US. Yes, that war is over. So those worrying about "eternal war" are talking about the fact that the US is just about always blowing up some foreigners.)

Next Hanson dismisses Gene’s third option of a negotiated peace: "[Callahan] forgets that the allies much earlier had tried a negotiated, rather than unconditional surrender…and got Hitler and another war later as thanks." Yes, that’s definitely one way to look at it. But it is equally valid to point out that Hanson forgets that the Allies who killed hundreds of thousands of admittedly innocent people thought that they were thereby liberating half of Europe from a mass murdering dictator, and got Stalin and a Cold War later as thanks.

While discussing Gene’s alleged inability to make sound moral distinctions, Hanson makes the following odd remark: "In such a world of relativism it makes no difference who starts wars, much less whether they are fought by fascists or democracies." Now here is one point where I truly disagree with Hanson’s moral position (and not just his interpretation of history). In the context of Gene’s critique, no it doesn’t matter whether the deeds are ordered by an elite group or sanctioned by majority opinion. (Let us overlook the fact that in practice, the distinction is hardly crisp: Even dictatorships ultimately rest on public opinion, and FDR was not exactly a mere conduit of the American General Will when it came to foreign policy, nor was he afraid to control subjects who retained nominal ownership of their property – i.e. the mark of a fascist.) Whether you use the Ten Commandments or Just War theory, it is simply unacceptable to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians to elicit particular terms from an enemy. Whether such mass murder is carried out by a democratically elected government doesn’t change this fact.

Finally, Hanson is simply stunned that Gene could equate the methods of Truman with those of bin Laden. Gene had said, "Note that this sort of thinking is exactly how Osama bin Laden justifies striking civilian targets…" Hanson replies, "Ponder that: Dropping a bomb on the headquarters of the Japanese 2nd Army to force a military cabal to surrender during a war they started that was taking 250,000 Asian lives a month is the same as blowing up an office building full of civilians at a time of peace" (italics original).

Yes, Mr. Hanson, they are the same, in the sense that they are both examples of killing noncombatants to achieve a military outcome; that was Gene’s whole point. But Hanson’s incredulity reveals his failure to at least understand what motivates current American enemies. The average Arab in the Middle East certainly would not have said that his country was at peace with the US on September 10, 2001. Our forces covered the globe, and could perform "peacetime" operations (such as sending cruise missiles to blow up a pharmaceutical plant during the Monica Lewinsky hearings) with impunity.

Furthermore, as every Al Qaeda recruit undoubtedly knows, Madeleine Albright didn’t even bother denying charges that the American and British blockade of Iraq (post-Desert Storm) had killed 500,000 Iraqi children. So if it’s okay for the Allies to firebomb Tokyo and Dresden, and nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki (operations in which plenty of tall commercial buildings – and relatively few military targets – were destroyed), then it’s a bit silly to be so scandalized by the widespread acceptance in the Arab world of such tactics. Does Hanson really not see that an Iraqi could understandably look at over a hundred thousand foreign troops (who had toppled the previous government and bombed the heck out of several major cities) as, well, an occupying power?

In conclusion, I want to say that Victor Davis Hanson certainly knows more military history than I do; I would never dare suggest otherwise. But his response to Gene Callahan demonstrates that he is apparently incapable of even getting inside the head of someone who doesn’t take George Bush at his word. Because of this, I’m not so sure Hanson is a good person to be making recommendations for how to deal with the terrorist threat to Americans.

September 1, 2005

*Bob Murphy has a PhD in economics from New York University, and is the author of Minerva. See his personal website at


Origins of the Species Neo-Con

by Roger Morris

Tracking the genealogy of the cabal of neo-conservatives who have so disastrously dominated foreign policy under George W. Bush, journalists have followed a political bloodline back to the 1960s, to cold war pamphleteers like Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, and – more respectably if also more tenuously – to the postwar University of Chicago political theorist Leo Strauss.

As so often with the neo-cons, however, there is less there than meets the eye, especially in finding any serious intellectual content in the rise of men like the former Deputy Defense Secretary and now World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz or UN Ambassador-designate John Bolton.

Whatever their other derivation, the genus also traces to more banal, seedier origins, curling back through closed-door politics where so much of U.S. history happens. The neo-con coup d'état after 9/11, the war on Iraq, the fear and loathing as foreign policy – all that and more started as well nearly seventy years ago in the wooded curving inlets and gentle fog of the far Northwest.

Nineteen thirty-eight was the year Henry Martin Jackson, an ambitious 26-year-old Democrat fresh out of the University of Washington Law School, was elected prosecuting attorney for Snohomish County along the shore of Puget Sound north of Seattle. As usual, few outside Washington state noticed the obscure local vote. But it launched a fateful political career, and ultimately led to the U.S. invasion and bloody occupation of Iraq.

Jackson rose rapidly from the courthouse in his hometown Everett. Making a name for himself chasing San Juan Island-skirting bootleggers and lumberjack camp gamblers, he shot on to Congress in 1940. He served five terms in the House, broken by a stint as a World War II GI, and by 1952, had gained the Senate, where "Scoop," as he was called from his days as a paperboy and cub reporter, became a national force.

A middle-of-the-road, pro-labor Democrat on domestic issues and an early champion of environmental causes, Jackson was chairman for nearly two decades of the Interior Committee (later Energy and Natural Resources) and sat on the Government Operations Committee and Joint Committee on Atomic Energy – all major fiefdoms in dispensing federal money and wielding influence in politics and policy. One of Capitol Hill's more vigorous legislators, he was a main author and driving force of the legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency, major wilderness preservation and other landmark acts. With another local prosecutor raised to Senate power, Seattle's Warren Magnuson, Jackson also saw to it that generous appropriations and contracts were sluiced to his home state. "Scoop" especially would be known scathingly in congressional corridors as the "Senator from Boeing" for being on-call to the increasingly powerful, increasingly corrupt corporate giant.

But it was in national security that Jackson's impact was deepest. The hawks' hawk, he was to the right of many in both parties. Not even the massive retaliation strategy and roving CIA interventions of the Eisenhower '50s were tough enough for him. Perched on the mighty Armed Services Committee as well as his other bases of power, he went on over the next decade to goad the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, urging the Vietnam War, fatter military budgets, stronger support of Israel in the Middle East and a more aggressive foreign policy in general.

It was then, 40 years ago, that Jackson began to be linked directly, if furtively, to some of the uglier and little-known origins of the war on Iraq. Overseeing the CIA's "black budget" for covert operations and interventions from a subcommittee of Armed Services, he was one of a handful of senators who gave a nod to two U.S.-backed coups in Iraq, one in 1963 and again in 1968. Those plots brought Saddam Hussein to power amid bloodbaths in which the CIA, exacting the price for its support, handed Saddam and his Baath Party cohorts lists of supposed anti-U.S. Iraqis to be killed.

The result was the systematic murder of several hundred and as many as several thousand people, in which Saddam himself participated. Whatever the toll, accounts agree that CIA killing lists comprised much of Iraq's young educated elite – doctors, teachers, technicians, lawyers and other professionals as well as military officers and political figures – Iraqis who would not be there to oppose Saddam's growing tyranny over ensuing years or to help rebuild or govern Iraq, as the United States now hopes to do, after the current war.

By 1969, Jackson was so prominent in military and national security affairs, and so at odds on those issues with many in his own party, that newly elected Republican Richard Nixon thought to name the Washington Democrat his secretary of defense, though the senator declined the job.

But Snohomish County's favorite son coveted the White House himself and was soon a sharp critic of Nixon's arms control and détente. Added to his cold warring was even greater zeal for Israel, a certainty that the United States should endorse the Israelis' own hard line – absorbing the West Bank after its conquest in the 1967 Middle East War, the long-term subjugation of Palestine and an abiding hostility to Iraq and other Arab states.

As Jackson grew nationally prominent, he attracted the inevitable ambitious staffers and partisans boarding his coattails to advance both their own hawkish views and themselves. Among them was a recent graduate of the University of Southern California who was fanatic about amassing and projecting U.S. power, especially on behalf of Israel, and not least about his own strategic genius. The young New Yorker named Richard Perle became Jackson's chief assistant from 1969 to 1980.

I saw these origins firsthand working in the Senate in the early '70s after resigning from Henry Kissinger's National Security Council staff over the invasion of Cambodia. Seen from the inside, Jackson's Senate heft was considerable. Though a relatively small, unprepossessing figure as politicians go, he usually did his homework, could be incisive about important details his colleagues let slip and struck a shrewd balance between conviction and expedience. Much of his Capitol Hill power derived from his unique role, which he played well, as a northern Democrat with solid labor backing and other party credentials yet whose hard-line international view drew the support of many Republicans and the most conservative Southerners on either side of the aisle.

His belligerence also exerted – as it still does, of course – an extortionist pull on Democrats deathly afraid of appearing "weak" on national defense or in standing up to the Russians or anyone else. There was no question that "Scoop," albeit very much a half-educated provincial from the mountains and straits of the far northwest corner of the continental United States, shrewdly caught the unease and reflexive combativeness of much of America in dealing with a planet we knew, and know, so little despite our power. Still, in the '70s, a more worldly post-Vietnam moderation and sensibility in the leadership of both parties appeared to have passed Jackson by, leaving his chauvinism and foreign policy animus marginal, sometimes looking a bit crazed.

As for Perle, he was a pear-shaped, slightly fish-eyed man of self-consciously affected locution, the too-hungry, too-sly and too-toadying aide familiar in bureaucracies public and private. His views were patently uninformed, and he wore his conference-room warrior's zealotry no more gracefully than his expensive blue pinstriped suits. It seemed obvious that the bellicose policies he and Jackson embodied were not only wrong for America, but would also usher Israel into the ruinous isolation I and other admirers of its brave people most feared. "Scoop" & Co. would remain, I assumed, an extremist fringe.

How wrong I was.

Jackson, of course, never got the White House. With big pro-Israeli money though stolid style, he lost the presidential nomination in 1976 to Jimmy Carter, who offered a fresh face in the national weariness in the wake of the Watergate scandal. But when Jackson died seven years later back in Everett, ending more than four decades on the national scene, he had spawned a cult following. With the lavishly financed and much-propagandized neo-conservatives first taking power under President Reagan, and then at the senior levels under a new and ignorant George W. Bush, their throwback foreign policy was, and is, "Scoop" Jackson warmed over – the red, white and blue, bombs-away dawn of an old era.

For his part, Perle missed a long-coveted chance to make presidential policy when Jackson stumbled in 1976. But the aide promptly moved on to the next coattails in classic, if banal, Washington, D.C., style. Relentlessly levering the system he learned under Jackson, he cultivated the media, courted politicians in both parties and used old allies in the ever more politically potent pro-Israeli and military-industrial lobbies. By the Reagan '80s, he was an assistant secretary of defense, veteran of the now-venerated Jackson tradition of military expansion and a self-promoted strategist for a Republican president as comfortably as for a Democratic senator.

Whatever "Scoop" Jackson's mix of political principle and opportunism, Perle's politics were largely himself. And in time-honored Washington tradition, on the way up Perle gathered his own disciples among similarly grasping men – Wolfowitz, Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and others who would go on themselves in the same fashion to become key officials in the current administration, and who gathered their own coterie from assorted Reagan regime and Capitol Hill right-wing hacks such as Bolton. Like Perle, who was appointed in 2001 to chair the Bush Administration's influential Defense Policy Board, they were all longtime advocates, years before the Sept. 11 attacks, of pre-emptive American military invasions in Iraq and elsewhere and of implicit, if not open, support for the expansionist and repressive policies of their right-wing counterparts in Israel. Their concerted influence was decisive in going to war in Iraq.

Grown wealthy in the revolving door between government and corporate plunder, Perle drew notoriety briefly in 2003 not only for his intimate ties to Israel but also for his connections to companies standing to profit obscenely from the war he'd mongered. When Michigan Congressman John Conyers Jr. and Senator Carl Levin began to prod Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the disreputable dealings, Perle angrily resigned from the chairmanship of the board, though he continued to sit as a full-fledged member of the pivotal body. It was a fleeting glimpse of the cronyism, conflict-of-interest, loyalty-for-sale and general political-intellectual corruption of the neo-cons in Perle's lineage.

It was also – history's nice irony – just the kind of disgrace young "Scoop" Jackson might once have prosecuted up in Snohomish County.

September 1, 2005

*Roger Morris was Senior Staff on the National Security Council under both Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, until resigning over the invasion of Cambodia. Morris is the author of Partners in Power: the Clintons and Their America and with Sally Denton The Money and the Power: the Making of Las Vegas. He is completing Shadows of the Eagle, a history of US policy and covert interventions in the Middle East and South Asia over the past half-century, forthcoming from Alfred Knopf.

*This article originally appeared on the Green Institute GP360 web site.

God Help You When the Government Does

by Becky Akers

The only thing worse than Katrina's devastating destruction is Leviathan's horrific "help."

The day after the hurricane, Louisiana's Governor Kathleen Blanco ordered New Orleans evacuated – again. Yep, folks facing a flood several fathoms deep without electricity, potable water, or food are too stupid to leave on their own. Good thing the Nanny Kate tells them what to do.

Nanny's sending buses, boats and helicopters after all the silly little citizens who didn't know enough to come in out of the rain. These "refugees," as the Associated Press calls them, will be taken to shelters across the state. Some of these, such as cruise ships and mobile home parks, are private property that the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] is commandeering: apparently, their owners escaped Katrina only to be ravaged by FEMA. The bureaucracy also plans to erect hundreds of tents, ignoring both the wet ground and campers' comfort. It may even house citizens aboard its "floating dormitories," the boats on which FEMA quarters its minions while they run around getting in the refugees' way.

Whatever happened to bunking in with friends and families? I've experienced several hurricanes; on hearing that an especially dangerous one was heading my way, my first thought would be: "Time to visit Dad."

For sure I wouldn't trust either Nanny or the fiendish FEMA to host me. It's a shock that anyone does, given the conditions at prisons and public schools.

But folks busy raising families and earning money to pay taxes haven't the time to analyze Leviathan's propaganda. Such harried people make ripe pickings for the state. They entrusted themselves to "authorities" at the start of this disaster, perhaps reasoning that a government powerful enough to "protect" Iraq from Saddam could "protect" them from Katrina.

That "protection" immediately turned on them. It began with tactics similar to those used in Iraq. Refugees were searched for drugs, alcohol and weapons before they were admitted to New Orleans' Superdome. Presumably, those found with contraband during this unconstitutional frisk sheltered at New Orleans' jail instead.

That might have been a blessing, actually. The Superdome, built in 1980, has not aged gracefully. It also lost power, depriving the 20,000 people trapped inside of lights and air-conditioning at the height of a Southern summer. High winds tore holes in the roof, flooding the place with torrential rain and sending residents scurrying for the upper levels. One man fell from there and died. Toilets overflowed, as did trash containers. Little food or water could be had. In short, Nanny's miserable hospitality probably violated the Geneva Convention, let alone simple humanity.

General Ralph Lupin of the National Guard whined, "We're doing everything we can to keep these people comfortable. We're doing our best. It's not getting any better, but we're trying not to let it get any worse." Alas, running hotels and restaurants isn't easy, though entrepreneurs make it look that way every day. Their skills provide clean beds and rooms, private baths, delicious meals – all the miracles that Leviathan desperately longs to reproduce. And can't. Nor ever will.

Meanwhile, the refugees tire of the state's abuse. Yet they can't go home because National Guardsmen are preventing anyone from escaping the Superdome.

That's right. Citizens of the supposedly free United States, folks who have committed no crimes, who are, in fact, pitiful victims of a natural disaster, are being held against their will by the very entity that promised to "help" them. But fear not: General Lupin understands. "I know people want to leave," he said, "but they can't leave." Yo, Ralph, what's your legal justification for that breathtaking diktat? You ever heard of habeas corpus and due process?

Apparently not. Instead, our man Ralph blames the kidnapping of 20,000 people on Katrina. "There's three feet of water around the Superdome."

I'm a tiny woman, not even five feet tall. Three feet of water reaches a bit above my waist. It might not even wet the hips on adults of average height. If the choice is wading away or suffering in the sweltering Superdome, most of us would probably roll up our pants and go. Yet the state has usurped that decision for those caught in its clutches. Then it pretends that it's mere water, not troops training guns on disarmed citizens, imprisoning folks.

Funny that the city's so flooded folks can't depart the Superdome, yet looters roam the streets. Gangs plunder unmolested. "In some cases," AP reported, "the looting was in full view of police and National Guardsmen." Leviathan is egregiously, utterly, criminally failing at one of its only Constitutional duties. But that's not how the media describe it. Rather, they call it "anarchy." Right. Anarchy doesn't force people to abandon their homes and businesses. Nor does it compel them to surrender their weapons before imprisoning them in "untenable" emergency shelters, as Nanny Kate herself characterized them.

Naturally, Nanny's trying to excuse the state's ineptitude: "We don't like looters one bit," – unless, of course, they work for the tax department – "but first and foremost is search and rescue." Might I ask where the Constitution authorizes "search and rescue"? Ditto for the boondoggle known as FEMA.

Katrina's tragic toll in lives and property is still being counted. But we can rejoice that there are some things no hurricane, however powerful, can destroy: resourcefulness, independence, liberty.

It takes Leviathan to devour those.

September 1, 2005

*Becky Akers writes primarily about the American Revolution


Intelligence Brief: Uzbekistan-C.I.S.

Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein

During the week of August 22, Washington and Moscow suffered setbacks in the pursuit of their respective and conflicting geostrategic aims in the contested region of Central Asia.

Registering a decision made by Tashkent on July 29 to evict the U.S. military from its base in Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan's Senate unanimously approved the expulsion on August 26 in a session rife with complaints about Washington's relations with Tashkent. The loss of Karshi-Khanabad throws into question Washington's grand strategy of planting bases throughout an arc from East Africa to East Asia with the purpose of checking Islamic revolution and containing Moscow's and Beijing's regional ambitions.

Signaling the collapse of Moscow's goal of regaining its influence over the successor states of the Soviet Union through the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.), the August 26 summit meeting of the C.I.S. was the first one to take place without a prior consensus on a statement of principles or even an agenda due to the inroads made by Washington and Brussels in Moscow's "near abroad" in the wake of the pro-Western regime changes in Georgia and Ukraine. As Tbilisi and Kiev shift their allegiances, Moscow has lost any of its hopes that the C.I.S. might eventually evolve into a strong strategic and economic alliance along the lines of N.A.T.O. and the E.U.

The mixed picture presented by the base eviction and the failed C.I.S. summit reveals a new stage in the "great game," in which Washington and Brussels contend for spheres of influence in the Eurasian borderlands. Until recently, the borderland states had pursued dual-track foreign policies, seeking to cultivate positive relations with both sides and to play each off against the other. Now the lines have begun to harden, as the borderland states are constrained to make choices among power centers. The shakeout is far from complete, but it is clearly underway.


Long in the making, the eviction of the U.S. from Karshi-Khanabad is the result of Washington's calculation -- reached after a struggle between the U.S. Defense and State Departments -- that Uzbekistan's authoritarian regime led by President Islam Karimov is not stable in the long run, that it should be pressured on its human rights violations and that opposition to it should be nurtured. In 2004, Washington canceled aid to Tashkent on the basis of its human rights record, precipitating a tilt by Karimov toward Moscow and Beijing.

Washington-Tashkent relations reached a crisis point after the Karimov regime's violent suppression of a rebellion in the city of Andijan on May 13, 2005 when Washington joined Brussels in calling for an independent investigation of the incident, and Moscow and Beijing backed Karimov. Rejecting the demand for an independent investigation, Tashkent retaliated against Washington on June 16 by restricting U.S. flights out of Karshi-Khanabad. At that time, Tashkent denied that the restrictions were actuated by Washington's response to the Andijan incident and said that Washington "knew" the unspecified reasons for them.

Those reasons -- or rationalizations -- were on full display at the August 26 Senate session, where legislators said that the base was responsible for environmental pollution in the surrounding area, that Washington had failed to reimburse Tashkent for the US$168 million it had spent on infrastructure to support the base, that the justification for the base -- support of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan -- was no longer valid, and, most importantly, that Washington is backing regime change in Uzbekistan and that the presence of U.S. military forces in the country encourages Islamic "terrorism" rather than diminishes it. According to Russian analyst Stanislav Oriovsky, Washington's decision in early August to fund "democracy" projects throughout Central Asia was crucial in creating a united front in favor of eviction among Uzbekistan's political class.

With its eviction from Karshi-Khanabad now certain, Washington attempted to regroup by sending General John Abizaid to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan to discuss military cooperation. Those efforts are unlikely to bear significant fruit in the near term, if at all.


Having chosen to abandon its dual-track foreign policy, Tashkent finds itself in the embrace of a Moscow that is reevaluating its approach to its near abroad. The pro-Western Rose Revolution in Georgia and Orange Revolution in Ukraine have so severely divided the C.I.S. that it can no longer function to project a coherent policy, but is, at best, a forum for discussion. In response to the new situation, Moscow pushed for "reform" of the C.I.S., renouncing any efforts to restore a sphere of influence.

Moscow's moderation failed to produce its desired result, as Tbilisi and Kiev refused to sign on to a common program, and Tashkent, which wanted a coherent policy statement, reportedly sought to cancel the meeting altogether. As a result, the only substantive result of the summit was approval of a protocol on cooperation among the C.I.S. states centered on resolving border disputes and curbing illegal migration and "terrorism and extremism." In a confession of failure, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed that the C.I.S. form a working group that would promote integration of member states consistent with their "shared interests and national foreign policy priorities," and would be composed of a "group of sages."

As Tbilisi and Kiev move to form an alternative Commonwealth of Democratic Choice, including Black Sea, Caspian and Baltic states, the future of the C.I.S. as anything more than a shell is in doubt. Moscow is likely to retrench, turn its attention to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization where it is allied with Beijing in a more promising structure, and to concentrate on strengthening bilateral ties with the allies it has left in its near abroad, such as Belarus, Armenia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The Bottom Line

The eviction of the U.S. from Karshi-Khanabad and the failure of Moscow to "reform" the C.I.S. register shifts in the balance of power that redistribute advantages in the great game and portend a hardening of lines between the contestants.

Washington seems willing to sacrifice its presence in Uzbekistan in favor of a policy of encouraging the kind of regime change that has occurred in Georgia, Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, in Kyrgyzstan, which remains disputed territory. Moscow seems unable to formulate a coherent response to its loss of influence in its near abroad and faces credibility problems even with its remaining allies, who doubt its ability to function as a protector.

At present, Moscow has lost more than Washington and will seek ways to retrench. Washington will gamble on the longer-term weaknesses of the regimes that remain in Moscow's camp, attempting to walk a fine line between undermining them and avoiding their outright hostility.