How Not to Argue Against Intervention in Syria

syria map

A poison gas attack on the 21st of August, according to US officials, killed over 1,400 people in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The international charity Medicins sans Frontiers estimates the number of dead at 355. The government of Bashar Al-Assad is being accused by US government officials of responsibility for the attack. On the 9th September, the United States Congress will begin debate on President Obama’s proposal to intervene militarily. So far the civil war has caused approximately 100,000 deaths and produced at least 1.7 million refugees, but the use of chemical weapons may have crossed a vaguely-defined ‘red line’ which the Obama administration has articulated several times over the past year.

Intervention is difficult to justify in any case, and in this instance it would probably be a mistake. It is unclear what intervention would solve, or what it is even intended to achieve. Military action will surely add to the casualties and chaos it is ostensibly intended to prevent.

Although war naturally provokes strong emotional reactions, it is important that opposition to intervention is intellectually sound. Unfortunately, opponents of intervention too often employ suspect arguments, weakening the case against military action. Following are some such claims.

Continue reading

Statements on Marijuana Legalization No Reason for Complacency


US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the administration will not seek to prevent the US states of Colorado and Washington from implementing regulations for legal marijuana sales. Ballot initiatives legalizing the substance passed in November of last year with 55% and 56% support, respectively. Initiative 502, the legalization measure in Washington, was passed in an election with an extremely high turnout. Eighty-one percent of registered voters in the state showed up to the polls that day. The Washington Secretary of State suggests that the initiatives on the ballot were partly responsible for this high turnout, although these did not deal only with marijuana, but also included a failed attempt to repeal the state’s gay marriage law, as well as a successful measure to make passing new tax laws more difficult.

The federal administration is presumably responding to the groundswell of public support for drug policy reform in recent years, particularly regarding marijuana. A Pew Research Center poll from this year shows that national support for legalizing the plant is now at 52%, its highest level in the 45 years for which there is polling data. The same survey suggests that 60% of Americans oppose the federal government intervening on the issue in states which have passed more liberal marijuana laws, while 72% agreed with the statement “government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth.” Both this shift in public opinion and the recent statements from the administration represent a significant achievement, and undoubtedly the efforts of high-profile activist groups such as Marijuana Policy Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Drug Policy Alliance, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition played a large part in it.* However, there is no reason to assume that the battle is already won.
Continue reading

The madness of the Syria crisis has turned the world upside-down


The Syria vote in the House of Commons left me in an uncomfortable position this week – on Ed Miliband’s side. Worse still I found myself in agreement with Socialist Worker and a host of other rent-a-gob lefties who I usually despise. But then nothing makes sense in this crisis.

Continue reading

Healthcare choices and the Mommy State


No love burns as hot as the love of the British public for their National Health Service, or so the State would have you think. As a European, this seems odd to me. Sure, I may have “benefited” from a state health sector too - although all my serious ailments were seen to privately - but there is little emotion about this sort of thing expressed by any non-Brit, at least in my humble experience. Even Danes, those paragons of statism, do not gush about their health service so.

Let us forget about the “envy of the [third] world” and have a look at some extant alternatives.

Continue reading

NIDA Claims on Marijuana Insult Our Intelligence

marijuana safer

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has never exactly had the reputation of an unbiased authority on drug use, and this is not simply because of its name. As CNN’s Sanjay Gupta recently pointed out, the agency is responsible for approving every scientific study on marijuana, and 94% of current studies deal ostensibly with the drug’s harms, leaving only 6% to investigate its medicinal benefits. However, the latest statement from the organization sets a new record for anti-marijuana zealotry.

“Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated,” the agency complained in response to a recent pro-legalization advertisement funded by the Marijuana Policy Project, “since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual.” This statement is an insult to the public’s intelligence in more ways than one.

Continue reading

The Consumer in Society


Consumerism is almost always used as a pejorative term that carries connotations of vapidity. Sinister mega-corporations, according to the popular narrative, use advertising to generate shallow desires in the masses. The consumers thus get drawn into an endless cycle of moving from one meaningless and vulgar pastime or product to the next, desperately seeking to realise constant satisfaction.

From this general image, some draw the conclusion that society would dramatically better off without access to certain consumer goods, or even that producing or marketing such goods should not be permitted by law. This, however, is wrong for more reasons than one.

Continue reading

The Next Great Recession


What is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy?  Banks.  Surprised?  Me neither, and not to sound pompous, but I would have a better grasp on this issue than most as I have a Master’s in Finance. 

I am going to explain to you how the big banks are going to implode our financial system again.  Forgive me if the analysis is a bit on the technical side.  But if you’re worried about getting laid off wordinflation, losing your financial liberty and not knowing how it happened; then it behooves you to understand this.  This is how it is probably going to happen again.

Continue reading

Sign up for The Libertarian Newsletter

* = required field