Responding to Likud Anglos’ Daniel Tauber’s “Freedom Agenda”

I know and respect Daniel Tauber, head of Likud Anglos, despite my tone in this rebuttal. He has gotten farther than I have in politics, though I suspect that’s because I hate politics. We agree on many things, but foreign policy is definitely not one of them. This is my response to his Jerusalem Post article that can be seen here. My responses to each paragraph are in bold.

Not long after September 11, US president George W. Bush declared “a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East.” No longer would the US support dictators, but would actively push Arab states to become democratic.

So since 9/11, the US has not supported any dictators, but has instead actively pushed Arab states to become democratic? There are two problems with that statement, both of which have to do with reality. First, since 9/11, the US has supported almost every Mideast dictator with US taxpayer money. Both King Abdullahs (Saudi Arabia and Jordan) Qaddafi (when he did stuff Bush liked), Mubarak, Karzai in Afghanistan, who America basically installed by force of big bombs on airplanes (“democratically” I suppose), the guy in Qatar (a dictator who Bush really liked because they let him put bombs in their country to promote freedom in the Middle East), Bahrain, Kuwait, but I’m sure all this dictator support was in order to promote democracy and a free middle east.

If by “actively push Arab states to become democratic” Tauber means “actively push Arab states by force to do whatever America wants them to do” then he’s right.

The policy was based on two primary conclusions: first, that under authoritarian regimes, the Middle East “will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export”; second, the tenets of liberalism were universal and the “peoples of the Middle East” are not “somehow beyond the reach of liberty.”

The Middle East IS a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export precisely BECAUSE America cannot resist collecting oil fiefdoms and annoying Arabs with military bases on their land that they use to manage their ludicrous empire.

Inspiring words, but elections in Lebanon and in the Palestinian Authority (which Bush brought about) led to victories for Hezbollah and Hamas. While some advocates of the “freedom agenda” have hailed the Arab Spring as confirming Bush’s vision, in Egypt, Islamist parties won the parliament and presidency. But that doesn’t mean president Bush was wrong in principle.

Bush wasn’t WRONG in principle. Bush didn’t HAVE a principle. He was simply LYING. He didn’t care about liberty. He was just using the word “liberty” because he wanted to have Saddam Hussein’s handgun framed in the Oval Office as a war prize to show to his daddy so he’d be proud of him for finishing the job. It would have been cheaper to send him to a good shrink so he’d find his father’s approval in a way that wouldn’t cost $1 trillion and thousands of American lives for NO reason.

His argument was essentially a reformulation of the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal” and “are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” The “freedom agenda” merely applied US support for democracy abroad to the Middle East, where a pro-stability philosophy governed its foreign policy.

This one’s a real kicker. Yes, all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Like the right not to be bombed by foreign countries one did not provoke in any way. What the heck did Saddam Hussein ever do to the United States except unsuccessfully try to defend himself against them in 1991 and 2003? Sure he was a schmuck, but I can’t think of a single Mideast dictator that isn’t. The US has no pro-stability philosophy. If they did they’d leave other countries alone and just trade with them. They have not a pro-liberty philosophy, but a pro-empire philosophy, and will use any excuse to expand. 9/11 was a rather good one. Instead of going after Osama bin Laden directly with a few special forces, killing the guy and calling it a day, they followed the USSR’s example and obliterated all of Afghanistan and decided to make it a US colony.

For those who were indeed inspired by the “freedom agenda,” who, as liberals and humanitarians, still desire the success of democracy in the Middle East, the question is not whether democracy was meant to come to the region. The question is how, in light of subsequent developments, the “freedom agenda” could be modified to ensure that democracy is not merely the rubber stamp on an Islamist takeover.

The scholarly tone of this paragraph really drives me up a wall. Besides democracy itself being a horrible thing (the majority can always vote to kill the minority or take all their stuff in a democracy), no one who calls himself a liberal or humanitarian votes to promote liberal and humanitarian values by slaughtering innocent Arab children. NEVER forget that over half a MILLION Iraqi kids died after the first gulf war due to sanctions against the country that prevented food and medicine from entering Iraq’s borders. In the name of democracy I guess. Madeleine Albright called this a “worthwhile sacrifice” in an interview with 60 minutes in the mid 90’s. Does Tauber believe it was worthwhile as well? I can only assume so. No wonder Bin Laden was able to gather up so much support and enthusiasm for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

First, it should be recognized, as it has been by many, that elections alone do not establish democracy.

Yes, they do, and that’s precisely why democracy is evil. Tauber is confusing democracy with liberty. The latter is the ultimate good. The former is very bad. Democracy is effectively rule by the majority, which is precisely why pushing it in a culture that does not value individual life very highly is a sincerely stupid idea. In a country like the US where liberty is culturally respected at least in theory, democracy is less dangerous, though still pretty bad.

An election can be merely the one-time tool of an anti-democratic group in seizing power. Elections can also be rigged, either by outright electoral fraud or because those in power don’t allow for real opposition. The symbolic power of an election, which Bush realized could draw people to democracy, can also be misused as a method of legitimizing authoritarian regimes.

Yes, this is all true. Which is why Tauber’s “freedom agenda” is inane.

INSTEAD OF merely calling for or endorsing elections, the focus should be on establishing a democratic political culture by offering direct assistance to democratic organizations and pressing states, including new democracies – and pressing them hard – to establish and protect those institutions such as a free media and (non- Islamist) opposition parties.

If you want to press “new democracies” hard, why don’t you go do it yourself with your own money? How do you want to “press them hard”? By bombing them some more? More sanctions that will just end up killing more children? How much is this going to cost? Has it ever succeeded in history? Where is the money going to come from? The Federal Reserve? In case you haven’t noticed, America is the most bankrupt institution in human history.

Second, the collapse of authoritarian regimes in the region tends to unleash extreme anti-Israel forces, which may have even been fostered by the former regimes. This is not just a threat to Israel. If democracy enables those forces to wreak havoc on their neighbors as well as their own citizens that democracy will be artificial and worthless.

All democracies imposed by guns and bombs on cultures that do not value liberty in principle, are ipso facto artificial and worthless. The biggest threat to Israel is actually America itself, while they are busy pissing off so many Arab countries and Israel sits there as the easier target to lash out against in response.

So as part of its push for a democratic culture, the US should make clear, to Egypt especially, that state institutions must be free of anti-Israel rhetoric, that anti-Israel terrorist groups must be eliminated, and that “reviewing” peace treaties, leaving Israeli embassies unprotected from violent mobs and arresting Jewish tourists as “spies,” are all unacceptable.

And how is the mighty United States going to enforce all this? With more bombs and sanctions that will cost the global economy, already in recession, hundreds of billions of dollars? Will taxpayers be forced to subsidize secret CIA and NSA forces in Egypt making sure no Egyptians say anything bad about Israel or they’ll be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay, yet another outpost of the US Empire?

Third, the US itself must not feed the obsession over Israel with repeated attempts at reviving the peace process. This shifts regional attention away from the various states’ many internal problems. These misguided efforts also divert US attention and capital from actually promoting democracy.

Now THIS is a good paragraph. I agree with this paragraph 97.72%, given that there are 44 words in it and I only disagree with one of the words – democracy. Change it to “liberty” and I’m all with Tauber. If only he applied the same logic of America leaving Israel alone to leaving everyone alone who does not attack them, then we’d be in business. It is indeed sad that the only country Tauber wants America to stop meddling with is the very country Tauber himself actually lives in. What about everyone else? Don’t they deserve to not be meddled with as well?

The final and most important reform to the freedom agenda is shifting focus to Iran, the preeminent anti-democratic force in the region. During our conversation, Abrams said it would have been “ludicrous” to think about democracy in the Middle East with someone like Saddam Hussein “sitting in the middle of it.” It seems equally ludicrous to think about democracy in the Middle East when the mullahs are sitting on high in Iran.

Iran WAS a democracy that respected liberty before America decided to get involved in 1953 and depose their leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh, due to an oil dispute with Great Britain and install the dictatorial and brutal Shah. It is ludicrous to think about democracy in the Mideast by forcing it with armies on cultures that do not value liberty.

It goes without saying that Iran must be prevented from developing nuclear weapons.

Yes, but what does this have to do with America? Has Iran ever threatened America? America has certainly threatened Iran. Iranian nukes are Israel’s problem. Israel is the one being threatened, not America. So let’s deal with it.

Whether or not Israel unilaterally strikes Iran and regardless of how much damage it does to Iran’s nuclear program, the US must ensure that sanctions are kept in place and be overtly willing to use force itself.

With WHAT money? Sanctions against innocent Iranians for WHAT? Have sanctions EVER stopped governments from doing what the US didn’t want them to do? Can he cite an example? One would be enough. Just one.

The sanctions and military, cyber, covert and other attacks will take their toll on the regime. The mullahs cannot hold out forever as their airplanes threaten to fall out of the sky for lack of replacement parts, food prices rise, their currency is devalued, they are unable to export their most lucrative commodity, and cannot insure their commercial shipping, while also silencing all opposition.

In case you haven’t noticed, food prices are rising everywhere, currencies are being devalued globally, and America doesn’t export anything except papers called “dollars” and “treasuries”. See the chart below. That’s the US trade deficit. What plugs up the hole to bring it back to zero? Paper. When everyone realizes that the paper is actually worthless because America is not good for its debts, the Empire will come crashing down and Tauber will have to follow my advice to leave everyone alone due to complete lack of any alternative.

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How to shrink government in Israel step 1: Zero taxes for public employees

I was listening to a lecture by Murray Rothbard the other week about John Maynard Keynes the man. The lecture itself was fascinating, and revealed to me that Keynes referred to himself as an “immoralist” who lectured about the virtues of homosexuality over heterosexuality, actively preferring the former even though he was actually attracted to women. It became clear to me that this man was entirely backwards to the core, and now has the world addicted to the idea that in order to become rich, one has to go into debt.

But there was one thing that stood out that had little to do with Keynes in that lecture. That is, Murray made the offhand remark that public employees – meaning anyone receiving a government paycheck – should not pay any taxes. In fact, public employees are the ones that are living off of private sector tax money, and it makes no accounting sense to have them pay back into the very funds they are living off of.

Instead, public employee pay should simply be reduced by the percentage they would have had to pay in taxes had they been private sector workers. For example, let’s say a Knesset Member gets 20,000 shekels a month and pays 6,000 in withheld income tax, arnona, bitach leumi, and whatever else he pays. Instead, he should simply earn 14,000 shekels period.

What’s the difference? The difference is huge. The fact that public employees “pay taxes” so to speak blurs the line between private and public sectors – between who pays taxes and who consumes them. It makes people think that the tax eaters pay equally into the trough, when in fact that are simply consuming and vomiting back into it. If public employees – ALL of them – paid ZERO taxes – no bituach leumi, no income tax, no arnona (land and property taxes), nothing at all as all these taxes go to fund their salaries anyway, then it would become much clearer who is eating and who is producing. It would give Israel a much better idea of exactly how big their government is and how destructive. And people would start to wake up about what exactly they’re paying and to whom.

Special pay stubs should be made for all public employees that show ZERO withholding. These should be plastered all over the place. They would not be required to file a return at all. They would simply earn less. This means no doctor would pay any taxes, no state-employed Rabbi, no Knesset member, no government clerk, no judge, no police officer, no Shabak agent, not a single active duty soldier, the prime minister, the cabinet, their aids, no child day care employee, no school teacher, no public university professor, no histadrut labor union worker, garbage man, no public radio talk show host, no school administrator should pay a single shekel in taxes of any kind whatsoever from their tax-funded salaries.

They should not feel that they are contributing to the public tax burden, because in fact they are feeding off of it. Every penny of their salaries is tax money. They should understand that very well. And the people of Israel should understand very well just how much of their lives the state runs, how humongous their public sector is.

Only then will it start shrinking.