Sunday, November 30, 2014

Defending the Undefendable: Walter Block's Defense of Rand Paul's Bill for a Declaration of War Against ISIS

By Robert Wenzel

Professor Walter Block is out with an essay heaping effusive praise on Rand Paul's planned introduction of a bill into the US Senate calling for a declaration of war against ISIS:
Rand Paul is in the process of drafting a bill calling for a declaration of war on the part of the U.S. against ISIS. In my view, this is a magnificent development, and Senator Paul is to be highly congratulated for this brilliant initiative of his... 
In either case, libertarians, and all men of good will, will owe Rand Paul a great debt of gratitude for this superlative initiative of his.
How does Dr. Block justify these superlatives for a war proclamation? He writes:
 Why is it so important that the U.S. explicitly declare war? The reason is simple. If the congress must pass such a declaration before hostilities are commenced, then literally hundreds of people must approve. Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War”. If not, and the present policy of “police actions” is continued, then one and only one person need support this, the president of the U.S. (In saying this I abstract from the possibility of his impeachment, or the disobedience of the military, as in a coup de etat.) Very likely, no, surely, we will have fewer military interventions abroad the more people who must sign onto such a policy. The last time the U.S. declared war was in 1941. Since then, there have been literally dozens if not scores of unwarranted imperialist ventures.  Almost of a certainty there would have been far fewer of these unjustified actions if each of them had to pass muster by Congress as the Constitution explicitly required...
The point is not who the enemy is, but rather that all possible obstacles to declaring offensive war are put in place. If a declaration of war is required, that is just one more hurdle over which the war-monger must catapult, and the more of them, and the higher they are, the better.
The problem with Dr. Block's perspective can best be understood when he writes:
 I am concerned, only, with the principle of the matter, from the libertarian perspective. 
Dr. Block does not mean that RP's bill is a matter of principle. He means that he is against war from a principled position. This is a good thing. However, most certainly a bill calling for a declaration of  war is not a move of principle against war. It is at best, when viewed from Dr. Block's position, a tactic to prevent offensive wars.

But would it accomplish this?

To cheer on such a move is to simply advocate the transfer of the power center from where war is declared. Nothing more. Dr. Block considers the transfer of such power to Congress an advance against war because,"then literally hundreds of people must approve." And this is technically true. However, is this really a tactic an anti-war person wants to use?

Is Dr. Block underestimating the evil within the military-industrial complex? These men want war. They are not going to stop their war desires simply because of a switch in the power center. They will switch their tactics in response to the power center moving to Congress.

Indeed, with the power center in Congress, it will be more important for warmongers to get the masses on their side. Propaganda will increase to the Nth degree. Perhaps false flag operations will commence. Indeed, the unintended consequence of RP's bill may be more 9-11 attacks, to get the masses in line with war. In other words, it will be much more difficult for the anti-war advocate to gain the ear of the man on the street, when he is in direct battle with the military-industrial complex.

President Obama tried the "Congress tactic" when it came to engaging Syria. And the masses objected to US involvement there. And so what occurred instead? Magically, a new terrorist group emerged, ISIS, armed to some degree with US weapons. They have beheaded Americans and Europeans with YouTube postings of the horrific actions. And suddenly, the masses are not against US military activities  in Syria (and Iraq!).

I am not saying with 100% certainty that the ISIS beheadings are false flag operations, but it is clear what type of false flag operations will be needed if Congress must support wars.

And it is simply naive to think that false flag operations are beyond the limits of the military-industrial complex.

Indeed. it is curious that Dr. Block brings up the declaration of war in 1941 as an example of the last time war was declared. Is he aware that FDR goaded the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor and that the American government broke Japanese encryption codes and knew what was going to happen, when and where, but that the president did not dispatch this information to Pearl Harbor? That after the attack American sentiment moved massively in favor of a declaration of war?

Is he aware that the only war that was stopped by the masses in the US was a war that was not declared by Congress, the Vietnam war?

I would much rather have the military-industrial complex focused on influencing a president, then the masses. RP's bill would do nothing but put a big target on the back of the masses and focus the attention of the military-industrial complex on that target. I would rather have the MIC focused elsewhere so that anti-war advocates have less of a battle (but still not an easy battle) against war.

Further, once a declaration of war is made by Congress, the warmongers have another tool by which to beat back the anti-war movement, "Well, the people, by way of Congress, have spoken and they see the necessity of this war." These wars are never wars of the people. They are wars of the elite, Congressional approval of such wars does nothing but hide this fact.

In  short, RP's bill is calling for a declaration of war and it is only of use by an anti-war advocate as a tactic but it is a tactic that stinks. RP's bill is not a brilliant bill, it is a very dangerous bill.

 Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics


  1. Wenzel, great analysis!! Thank you.

  2. To go off topic a bit Isis didn't magically appear. Its the successor to Al Qaeda in Iraq. who were hired by the Saudi Monarchy, the Turks and DC to battle Assad when the Damned Fools in DC finally woke up to the fact they had let the Iranians expand their influence over the area.
    But to return to the topic I don't see how a declaration of war would change much at all. I await Walters response with interest.

  3. There are plenty more reasons the declaration of war against Japan is a terrible example.

    First of all, only ONE person voted against it. Even Robert Taft voted for it. Imagine if they did vote on Rand Paul's declaration and that happened! This is a criminal gang that makes war for a living. It not only could happen, but it has.

    It also was not in defense of the US. Hawaii was illegally seized and congress itself decreed so in 1993:

    This set the precedent for every successive war, where the federal government has carte blanche power to cover the planet in military bases, not for defense, but to use kids as bait.

    And much like today, congress effectively passed the war before the declaration through sanctions and arming mass murderers:

    Declaring war didn't even stop the crimes. Nuking Japan may have been the single greatest war crime in all of history, yet to this day, most people believe it was legitimate.

    Today is different. Droning the middle east is unpopular, and it's always big news when the state is caught lying about innocent people killed and labeled "enemy combatants."

    But how many people would care about the lies and innocent people after a declaration of war? Down the memory hole they would go, just like nuking Japan, firebombing Dresden, building Stalin's war machine, etc.

    The ISIS scam is just a repeat of this very same series of events. It is the time tested method of turning public opinion in favor of what the state wants - power.

  4. Why is it so hard for Block to sometimes just see the obvious? He's been so prolific in giving everyone an alternative viewpoint, rightfully so in many cases, it's like he's thrown Occam's razor right out the window.

    There's nothing "good" about anyone proposing a sovereign national war against a stateless society no matter how you spin it. That's why Ron Paul talked about Letters of Marque in the 08' debates.

    Jan Helfeld, though filled with cognitive dissonance on the issue of minarchism vs. anarchism(like most minarchists), has been very good on why ISIS is not a threat to US sovereignty and how war IS NOT justified from a Constitutional standpoint, getting major gov't officials to admit there is no imminent threat:

    Sure, most of us here is don't give a damn about the Constitution, but you should use all tools at your disposal to effect libertarian philosophy and I agree with RW, any proposal for a war with no clear enemy seems like both and endorsement of said policy and is very dangerous in terms of the lives put at risk regardless of the claim of political maneuvering.

    Also, RW's point about false flag potential seems relevant as well given that the Jihadi John had a British accent and if you view the brief Helfed interview with Bolton, Bolton states that ISIS members have US and European passports....

  5. Hopefully Block will come around to Robert's views, which always contains the most consistent and accurate, true libertarian analysis.

  6. Walter's wandered off of the reservation on this one I'm afraid. There comes a point (and we have almost reached it) where Rand Paul does not deserve to be "saved" from his dangerous foolishness in his quest for Republican favor. Good job, Bob.

  7. While RW makes some excellent points and Block is being his usual loud mouthed obnoxious self I don't think its worth arguing about. Either way the politicians will continue to use false flag operations and propaganda lies to line their pockets with the war machine. Its an old clich├ęd saying but seems very appropriate to describe this argument as like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic ocean liner. We should use our energy to save ourselves for another day rather than trying to slow the sinking of this ship of state.

    1. Well, it is fine for you to say that we should move on but Block is promoting Rand's bill, should we just ignore Block? That's absurd. He is a major thinker/influencer in the libertarian movement.