Skip to comments.Iraq Through a Rebel's Eyes
Posted on 10/17/2006 1:57:30 PM PDT by kiriath_jearim
Thomas Jefferson was a rebel, as so many of his comments demonstrated. He also was a gun enthusiast, and not the bird-shooting kind. His gang of insurgents fought the British with the eighteenth century equivalents of assault rifles, RPGs, and roadside bombs and that is why they are worth recalling when our conversation turns to Iraq.
Before going further, I should declare that I am a patriot, but a qualified one. My loyalty is to the kinds of ideas Jefferson put in the Declaration: the sanctity of property, suspicion of power, and extra suspicion of the state. I am saying so now because some of what follows might sound deeply unpatriotic to the modern ear, but I think it would have sounded just fine to Jefferson's classical one.
The shock of September 11th did some damage to my political resolve. The murder of three thousand innocents was an act so outrageous that it demanded a quick and violent response. So, like many Americans, I wanted to see someone punished, and the federal government appeared ideally placed to do the punishing. I silently agreed with the plan to go after the bombers and their friends.
The way I saw it, the army could pummel some bad guys (not necessarily the 9-11 culprits) and that would be one way to get our revenge. Self-declared allies of the killers would find themselves being treated as such.
It was a classical liberal's rationale: a stand for the subjective individual and his property; finally, the government doing its job. Of course the logic was twisted by emotion, and I knew the whole enterprise might end badly, but I felt like punching anyway, at least until my arm was completely exhausted and the anger was gone.
But the Jeffersonian in me had other ideas about Iraq, and they do not make happy reading not for neocons who like the war or apologists who don't. If we woke Jefferson's gang up today, what would they make of it all? Well, the first thing they would see is the US government punching away on our behalf, and that they would probably endorse. Knowing about the carnage in New York and Washington, the attempted assassinations of two Presidents, the invasion of Kuwait, and the chemical attacks on Saddam's subjects (and, of course, the fact that he had subjects) would be reason enough.
But then, as their excitement subsided, I think they might notice a few disturbing things: the sheer size of the US force, for one, and how far it is reaching across the ocean, for another. And they could only be dismayed to discover that their libertarian brainchild had grown up to be an empire, feeding off its citizens' labor, with legions stationed around the world, fighting in foreign civil wars, enforcing a Pax Americana, and tasting the bitter fruit of its adventures.
Once over that disappointment, though, Jefferson and his friends might spot a ray of hope in Iraq. Their radical eyes would pick up on something about the guerilla war that we after two hundred years of relative comfort and ease have missed.
The US government's arm is tired. Even with one hundred and fifty thousand troops, a fortune in fuel and supplies, and the best weapons ever invented, all that power is having a rough ride. Humvees loaded with high-tech regulars are sitting targets for bits of plumbing packed with C-4, left at the side of the road. There are plenty of surprises from the front, but such news would only elicit a sad smile from Jefferson, and the same from his fellow insurgent, Madison, who wrote this:
The highest number to which a standing army can be carried in any country does not exceed one hundredth part of the souls, or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This portion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men.
To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops.
Even though Madison was talking about a war between the feds and the people, the parallel with Iraq makes it a devastating tactical appraisal. The biggest military machine even the GPS-guided, kevlar-toting, night-fighting, uranium-shooting US Army of 2006 can't subjugate a rabble of ornery civilians if a good number of them have guns. Yes, it can obliterate them, but that's not the same as governing them. Madison knew, and Iraq proves, that a rifle over every mantlepiece can safeguard freedom.
American insurgents from 1776 would see Iraq through the filter of their own occupation: the struggle against the Crown and its Hamiltonian successors. They would see the setbacks of the 75th Rangers in Baghdad and the 8th Cavalry in Fallujah, and would mourn the casualties among the professional soldiers, as we do, but another part of them would be saying I told you so and might even be glad. They couldn't feel anything else, because they were rebels to the core:
The governments of Europe are afraid to trust the people with arms. If they did, the people would surely shake off the yoke of tyranny, as America did.
The man who wrote that would not have rooted for Iraq's fanatics and murderers, out to become tyrants themselves, but neither would he have cheered the federal juggernaut fighting them now. The Iraqi insurgents are the bad guys, for sure, but they are sovereign men, too, armed with nothing but light assault weapons, trip wires, and explosives. Just as Madison predicted, they are holding their own against the attack helicopters of the King. Our government is against them today, but that doesn't change their tactical likeness to the snipers of 1776.
The comparison is a disturbing one to make in the middle of our war, but we need to make it. And maybe it would put Madison and Jefferson at ease about the monster they fathered the global superpower. A successful insurgency, independent of its underlying purpose, is a reason for every man who loves liberty to cheer.
For both of our modern wings of politics, Iraq is a lesson in government, and not the one either of them wants to learn. It proves the assertion that the best way to keep the state down is to get everyone a weapon. Some part of the gun rights lobby should want the army to lose in Iraq, and some part of the gun control lobby should want it to win.
Let neocon Republicans, who support the war and guns in the home, and leftist Democrats, who despise both, put that contradiction in their pipes and smoke it. Do they like state power or not? I am afraid the answer is: they like it when it suits them. That is why we who can be true patriots only by being rebels ourselves must not forget how our patriotism was born.
Here is one last quotation, this from the insurgent commander himself:
the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference, they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.
That's not Moqtada al-Sadr talking, but George Washington. You get the idea. Staring into Iraq's quagmire, we should see a second chance for freedom everywhere, including the United States.
[Andrew Greene was born in Philadelphia and lives in London.]
You left off the "Barf Bag" alert.
Tell me again, how many children did Jefferson blow up? Were there English civilians murdered and burned upside down? Did the colonialists set off bombs to kill everyone just in order to agitate?
This guy is an idiot.
I don't recall much in the way of indiscriminate bombings and beheadings in my study of the Revolutionary war.
And what weird clowns went to your birthday parties? Are you really Keith Olbermoann?
Who is this punk?
In South Carolina and other parts of the Deep South, the Revolution had the character of a civil war, with Patriot and Loyalist gangs (militias) going at each other using guerilla tactics.
There were records of such atrocities on both sides.
Did not Thomas Jefferson initate a war against the Barbary Pirates shortly after Independence? The point is that a young Thomas Jefferson was given to a lot of high-minded ideals. An interesting debate would be Young Thomas Jefferson, member of the Virginia House of Burgesses versus the Old Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States.
Did you see the source on this? Here:
Ludwig von Mises Institute Home
The Ludwig von Mises Institute is the research and educational center of classical liberalism and the Austrian School of economics..
When I read this, my very first thought was "This guy is a liberal idiot who has probably spent a good deal of time in an ivory tower pontificating to himself because he enjoys the sound of himself speaking..."
Then, I thought, I should check the source first before I say that. Funny how you can just pick them out after a few words in the first paragraph.
If I hear one more LIBERAL MORON compare the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan to our Founding Fathers, I am going to send out a team to revoke their right to have stupid speech issuing from their piehole, because they have just exceeded the limits of tolerance.
In case you did not know it, and this pathetic excuse for a handwringing Euroweenie clearly doesn't know it, the Founding Fathers DID NOT DELIBERATELY BLOW UP INNOCENT WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
The man who sent our military forces to attack the islamic terrorists of his day (the Barbary Pirates), would have been unlikely to submit to the Saddamites and Jihadis in modern-day Iraq.
Hogwash. They'd have been in there fighting against the tyranny of Saddam and the terrorists who are now attempting to take over his oppression of the Iraqi people.
Please provide links to such records.
Also, please prove that Washington, Jefferson, Adams and the others approved of massacre of innocent men, women and children, in contrast to the leaders of the terrorists who not only approve of it but brag about it.
Pap like this just irritates me to no end.
"No comment from you?
Did you see the source on this? Here:"
Classical liberalism is akin to libertarianism. It's primarily a pro-capitalist economic philosophy. Ludwig von Mises wrote an excellent book years ago titled "Socialism" which literally chews Marxism to pieces as an utterly unscientific economic system.
Just because the word "liberalism" is used by an institute doesn't mean it believes in the modern connotations of the word, i.e. socialism, leftism, etc.
Uh, not sure why you posted this to me.
True, but if this person is affiliated with the institution and this is at all indicative of its views, then there is no doubt about it, none whatsoever.
This writer wants to have it all ways. For Gun Control, against Gun Control. For government action. Against Government action.
Nothing personal, because you did not write it, but this is crap.
A couple of curious war-monuments here at Wanganui. One is in honor of white men "who fell in defence of law and order against fanaticism and barbarism." Fanaticism. We Americans are English in blood, English in speech, English in religion, English in the essentials of our governmental system, English in the essentials of our civilization; and so, let us hope, for the honor of the blend, for the honor of the blood, for the honor of the race, that that word got there through lack of heedfulness, and will not be suffered to remain. If you carve it at Thermopylae, or where Winkelried died, or upon Bunker Hill monument, and read it again "who fell in defence of law and order against fanaticism" you will perceive what the word means, and how mischosen it is. Patriotism is Patriotism. Calling it Fanaticism cannot degrade it; nothing can degrade it. Even though it be a political mistake, and a thousand times a political mistake, that does not affect it; it is honorable always honorable, always noble--and privileged to hold its head up and look the nations in the face. It is right to praise these brave white men who fell in the Maori war--they deserve it; but the presence of that word detracts from the dignity of their cause and their deeds, and makes them appear to have spilt their blood in a conflict with ignoble men, men not worthy of that costly sacrifice. But the men were worthy. It was no shame to fight them. They fought for their homes, they fought for their country; they bravely fought and bravely fell; and it would take nothing from the honor of the brave Englishmen who lie under the monument, but add to it, to say that they died in defense of English laws and English homes against men worthy of the sacrifice--the Maori patriots.
The other monument cannot be rectified. Except with dynamite. It is a mistake all through, and a strangely thoughtless one. It is a monument erected by white men to Maoris who fell fighting with the whites and against their own people, in the Maori war. "Sacred to the memory of the brave men who fell on the 14th of May, 1864," etc. On one side are the names of about twenty Maoris. It is not a fancy of mine; the monument exists. I saw it. It is an object-lesson to the rising generation. It invites to treachery, disloyalty, unpatriotism. Its lesson, in frank terms is, "Desert your flag, slay your people, burn their homes, shame your nationality--we honor such."
The insurgent's objective is domination. Their aversion to government and rebeliousness is a means to install their own brutal form of domination over their neighbors
Classical liberalism has nothing to do with today's perverted definition of "liberal". Friedrich Hayek was the epitome of a classical liberal. Classical liberalism is what conservatives like Goldwater were supposed to be trying to conserve.
Not saying I agree with anything written in this essay, far from it. Just making a point.
The Mises Institute is Lew Rockwells shop. Nuff said.
Uh, no... The author is confused and is no lover of liberty. He is making the same silly mistake that would be made by someone coming across a scene where a big man is pummeling a smaller man, and without understanding the reason for the pummelling, comes to the aid of the smaller man, not realizing that the smaller man has just raped the bigger man's children and murdered the bigger man's wife. The big guy is not always wrong, and the small guy is not always right...
I understand well the distinction you make...on this side of the Atlantic, at this point in time, Liberalism in the current sense means something different than Liberalism in the classic sense.
I am not sure we actually disagree on that point, however I am making my judgement based on the content of the article.
As reinforcement we are on the same page in understanding the meaning, I take your invocation of the classical liberal Friedrich Hayek, whose excellent (and HIGHLY relevant) book "The Road to Serfdom" is one of my favorites.
Boy, I guess so. You hit that one right on the head.
Yes the British rule had similar problems back home internally and with the French. But nothing like America where the press is simply the propaganda arm of the DNC.
World wide the press is just one anti-American leftist institution and our war fighting is hamstringed because of it.
From the Cindy threads:
"Cindy was in Crawford when a process server found her and handed over the lawsuit that would end her marriage. Cindy Sheehan had a boyfriend who is a major anti-war activist, Lew Rockwell. Cindy Sheehan took refuge with a computer that became her companion day and night. Cindy Sheehans former sister-in-law says Cindy had become addicted to online chat rooms of a pornographic nature."
Like a guy who has to go out of his way to declare he is not a virgin...
This is my idea of Patriot Qualification:
LOL...funny how the same piece of text can hit different people the same way...
Freely elected government in Iraq = complete breakdown of the analogy.
The "insurgents" this a$$hat is cheering on are nothing more than out of power thugs that want it back or want to get it the first place, without the boredom of going through a process whereby you PERSUADE most of the voters to pick you.
I share their desire for a small state domestically, but I think it's the government's duty to kill foreigners who try to kill us and undertake a course of action that will improve our overall security (even if it takes time to get there).
They also seem to think that the rational Economic and Political Man sprung fully formed from the Holy Market Place, forgetting that a free market is itself usually a product of a healthy, pre-existing civil society, rather than the reverse. I find assaults on the market to be repugnant not simply because they are likely to result in bad economic consequences unforeseen by socialists, but because such interference is primarily an interference with free association in civil society in general.
In brief, maintaining a healthy civil society and politics means respecting those orders as representing higher and more important goods than the market itself; and this means--in wartime-- recognizing that the political realm not only can but must make legitimate claims to our loyalty and our property in order to defeat the enemy.
Likening the terrorists in Iraq to 18th century rebels for liberty shows that the author cannot distinguished liberty from the unlimited exercise of political savagery and unrestrained passion, something that doesn't speak well of the understanding of liberty by 'libertarians'.
Thank you for that reasoned and thoughtful explanation.
If the central argument of the essay is "an armed populace can keep central authority in check" it fails to support it by citing the Iraqi situation where the rebellion is heavily funded by outside sources (Iran and Syria).
Actually, I WAS referring to #32...did I misunderstand your post (is that why you are directing me back to it?)
What an R-Tard.
I thought you being ironic about my first post.
This guy is so full of shiite his eyes are brown! Jefferson sent U.S. forces to North Africa to confront the Barbary Pirates who were attacking our merchant ships. For this moron to infer that Jefferson didn't use the military outside the U.S. is a flat out lie.
I assume that the 25 - 30 thousand figure for a standing army was based on the population of the United Colonies circa 1775. Quotation marks would have been helpful.
I assume that percentage shifted somewhat as industrialization & public education made a bigger percentage of a nation's population 'fit' for military service.
The comparison is a really stupid one to make at just about any time.
When did Washington and/or the Continental Congress order those atrocities? Did Jefferson push for greater numbers of civilian deaths? Did any American leader layout a plan for victory through terror? Perhaps you're starting to see my point?