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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday philosophy of liberty: Is foreign interventionism consistent with libertarianism?

Internal emails between some Western Standard contributors and editorial staff have picked up of late, with an interesting discussion between those who think non-interventionism is the right policy, versus those who see no conflict between libertarianism and foreign interventionism, at least in principle.

This particular debate within libertarian circles has raged ever since the surprisingly spirited leadership campaign of Republican congressman Ron Paul. Paul's version of libertarianism (paleo-conservatism may be more fitting) leaves no room for an aggressive foreign policy.

One important distinction is this. All libertarians believe in self-defense, and believe that a proper function of government is to defend citizens from foreign threats. That is not the issue here. The question is not whether or not a government should defend citizens, it should. And it is not about whether or not the War in Iraq, for example, counts as an instance of foreign intervention for the sake of self-defense (this is an empirical question). The question is whether or not non-self-defense foreign intervention is ever justified according to libertarianism. (h/t Alain in the comments).

One argument in favour of non-interventionism on the part of the U.S. government is this. The Constitution does not explicitly specify that it is a function of the federal government to intervene abroad. The Constitution goes hand-in-hand with libertarianism (not because they are both grounded in the same reasons but, rather, like the overlapping bits in a Venn diagram). Libertarians, therefore, should not endorse adventures abroad.

A better argument is this:

The state has a territorial monopoly on force, and in exchange for the "right" to collect tribute they offer citizens security against outside invaders and domestic criminals. The state in this respect is like an insurance policy you never asked for and can't get rid of, but whose services you have to access given your lack of options.

Under this arrangement, I would be very unhappy to see my insurance provider pay-out on claims coming from non-policy holders or incur costs at my expense to provide these non-policy holders with "security" that they have never paid for. If my security is threatened, that would change things, but you are arguing for intervention to help someone else without the caveat that national security must be at risk.

This argument makes the case that intervention is in principle anti-libertarian.

Non-interventionist libertarians include Ron Paul and his supporters, the Austrian economists at the Mises Institute and the Lew Rockwell blog (Anthony Gregory, a Lew Rockwell contributor, has a nice archive of articles against what he calls "Liberventionism" here), the policy wonks at the Cato Institute, and the cosmotarians or liberaltarians at Reason magazine, amongst others.

Several libertarians, however, have tried to make the case that, at least in some circumstances, it would be right for a Canadian or American government to intervene abroad for the sake of greater individual liberty.

One argument is this. Each of us, regardless of where we were born, have individual rights to life, liberty and property. Sometimes, a government of another country violates these rights to such an extent that anyone is justified in doing what they can to help those whose rights are being violated. "Anyone" includes governments. Since we're lucky to have relatively liberal and free states like Canada and the U.S., it would be good for these countries to use their military to ensure at least a basic minimum amount of respect for these rights.

Another argument goes like this:

According to Locke, [apart from your right to self-defense] you also have a right to come to the defense of someone else who is being or has been victimized, on the grounds that a crime is a violation of the public peace, not simply a tort against the individual.

Applied at the international level: If a rogue State or Tyrant is oppressing and killing innocent people, then you -- or a higher-level organization of which you are a member -- has the right to step in and stop the crime, as long as doing so does not cause even more harm. It is an extremely complex question in most cases whether it is prudent or effective for one country to intervene to stop the crimes of another; but as a matter of libertarian principle, it is certainly prima facie permitted.

Libertarians who think that intervention is not in principle anti-libertarian include legal scholar Randy Barnett, our own Grant Brown, amongst others (I will update this list just as soon as a few others are brought to my attention).

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on April 26, 2009 in Libertarianism | Permalink


First of all it is necessary to distinguish between dealing appropriately with a foreign threat or danger and intervention abroad in an attempt to impose freedom and liberty. People either value and want freedom and liberty or they do not, and the fact is that there are those who do not. We have plenty of such people in Canada and the USA, so it should not be a surprise that whole societies of such people exist abroad. Most often intervention in other countries, no matter what the official line is, occurs to protect the economic interest (usually monopoly) of the aggressor.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-04-26 1:51:27 PM

Thanks for mentioning this important distinction, Alain. I've updated the original post to make this plain. Libertarians, as you know, are all in favour of self-defense, and the defense of citizens by our governments.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-04-26 2:00:40 PM


I put up a post a while back on a similar issue. Unfortunately, the article I was responding to was penned by one James Kirchick (you might remember him), and the thread got taken over by Ron Paul acolytes who busied themselves denouncing me for my lack of true libertarian spirit.

You can put me in the "sometimes compatible" column. In libertarian land, private citizens could direct their own resources to smite evil dictators and the like. In the real world, the U.S. government makes things more difficult.

(A broad reading of the Logan Act might prohibit, e.g. Bill Gates from sending his private army to take down Saddam Hussein. Maybe.)

Given this, several things need to be asked: since government has usurped private initiative in this area, we might say: the least the government can do is act like a libertarian on the world stage, smashing at least the worst violators of freedom, when it is feasible to do so.

In addition, while the military is funded by taxes, and taxes are bad, it's unclear to me whether defending the rights of foreign citizens is the worst thing a government can do. Maybe we can agree that everything the government does carries with it the stink of immorality (I don't believe this, but many libertarians do.) Regardless, we should be able to rank the actions of government from "less immoral" to "totally immoral."

Killing the worst of the worst, especially when the bad guys support terrorism, seems like it would be closer to the "less immoral" side of things. But we can all agree that killing bad guys would be done better by the private sector ;-)

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-04-26 2:12:37 PM

If a foreign threat to us emerges then it is proper to destroy that threat. Nation-building and long-term occupation is not something we should do. Although if indeed the Islamic fascists force the issue we might have to nuke their major cities and then occupy their lands for a few generations while erasing Islam from their collective memory banks... ala Ann Coulter

Posted by: GeronL | 2009-04-26 2:35:47 PM

I often find that libertarians are extremely moralistic about the positions that they take. Stealing is wrong, taxation is theft, therefore taxation is morally wrong. At the same time most, if not all libertarians, would admit that some level of taxation is needed. That is, taxation is a neccesary evil.

This sort of conflict between morality and neccesity plays out when talking about foreign invasions (or interventions if you prefer). Invading another country involves murderings and killings, it is therefore immoral.

You can talk about moral justifications for invasions, such as to protect people from a brutal dictator. But I always thought that this was rather like burning down someone's house to stop their husband from beating on them.

A far more interesting question is would invasions be justified if it was immoral but neccisary?

Posted by: hughmacintyre | 2009-04-26 5:36:32 PM


I think some libertarians are simply going to deny that, outside of cases of self-defense, war is ever necessary. These are generally the same libertarians who tend to be anarchists.

They're the ones who are most anti-war. They also deny that there was any justification for the Civil War.

My response has always been that, while war is bad, slavery -- especially as practiced in the U.S. -- was even worse. Slavery wasn't going away on its own (Munger, Sandefur, and others have done the work to try to prove this.) And the southern states had taken political steps to ensure that slavery would continue, and even expand.

One can and should make a distinction between the legitimacy of government authority -- which I deny -- and the potential moral justification of particular actions of government. Sometimes, in spite of itself, governments produce morally better states of affairs.

If Superman had swept in from the sky to kill all the slave-owners, that would be morally justified, even though Superman's political authority is as illegitimate as the government's. From what I can tell, some of the Paleo-cons would stumble over themselves criticizing Superman for "initiating force."

Well, sure. He initiated force. He also, through the initiation of force, brought about a world without slavery. And, at least in that respect, the world was morally improved.

Was his use of force necessary? No, not really. Should we give him moral kudos anyway? Of course.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-04-26 6:29:56 PM

In principle, I think foreign aggression is anti-libertarian. Libertarianism is above all else about non-aggression.

In business-life we don't use force or advocate its use against business men with whom we compete. If we know of a swindle, if we know of people who are being swindled, we as classical liberals and libertarians wouldn't ask for the state to use aggression and go kicking in doors.

No - we'd just open the doors of our own businesses a little bit wider, and let those who are being swindled know that there's somewhere else that they can get a better deal.

The same thing should apply to international affairs. Rather than go smash heads in Zimbabwe - and likely kill exponentially more innocents than criminals - we're best just to open our doors that much wider and tell every person in Zimbabwe that if they reach our shores, they can be free.

There are worse things for our navy to do than pick up boat people. And boat people, mind you, will at least pay us back in time.

What's the alternative? Use the greatest achievement of state-funded science - the fusion bomb? Kill em all and let "God" sort it out? Impose 'correct' state-sanctioned thought, like our fellow 'GeronL' is suggesting above? Yeah, that's real 'liberty' loving.

Any state willing to instigate force overseas is, in time, just as much a threat to its own people as it is to foreigners. Pick a foreign intervention and then look at that aggressor 5 or 10 years later - is it more or less free than when it set out to kick foreign ass? How many years between Vietnam and the Kent State Massacre?

You cannot achieve lasting individual liberty through the ultimate act of big government.

Posted by: Robert Jago | 2009-04-26 6:48:39 PM

"All libertarians believe in self-defense, and believe that a proper function of government is to defend citizens from foreign threats. That is not the issue here."
Uuuuuh, well, that not being the issue, actually IS the issue.
While it may be argued that the state has the right to have a defense force because it is a right that can be legitimately transferred, I would argue that once the state has any power, that they finance through forced coercion, that power will expand uncontrollably. Not much imagination is required to make anything a 'defense-related' matter.
Besides the fact that the only need for a conventional defense force is to 'protect' us from another nation-state, and that there is no other nation-state that could ever maintain control over Canada's vast territory (The US can't defeat insurgency in Iraq or Afghanistan - do you think, me and the buddies on my hockey team with bricks on gas pedals, fertilizer and kerosene, etc. couldn't send any conventional armed forces out fairly quickly?), let's say we needed a defense force. A defense force run using a command economy structure using monopolistic and socialist principles? Oh great! Libertarians want to be protected by government bureaucrats? What? Not me! I want private sector protection!!!!
Instead of monopoly protection services, ie. 'justice', police, courts, etc., a better way to organize things is by using the private sector where competition can weed out the incompetent and 'protection' and 'justice' are simply 'services' free enterprise can deliver.
So, your entire argument, and the statement that government has a legitimate role is decidedly anti-libertarian. Whether any free-enterprise organization, financed through voluntary association, decides to engage in 'foreign' intervention, is solely a function of whether the shareholders feel it would be financially viable or not. The same organization, or groups of organizations that protect me, can also have another 'division' to deal with foreign threats.
Remember, the Canadian Income Tax was brought in by Borden as a 'temporary measure' to pay for WWI. I strongly disagree with the assertion that the state can legitimately decide whether anything foreign is actually a threat. Many times, it is just more war- and fear-mongering to reduce our freedom. Just because the state can probably correctly argue that defense is a function that they can fulfill, does not mean it is a function that they should be given. They can't be trusted; monopoly and socialism simply do not work, in any endeavor. 'Protection' absolutely included. In fact, giving the state the monopoly right to determine what is and what is not a threat is one of their most insidious and vile tactics. Don't fall for that ridiculous misrepresentation by supporting their right to any kind of forced, monopolistic, bureaucratized, socialist, fascist coercion!
For further expansion of my argument, you can read more on 'private law societies'.
The only moral thing we can do, is to demolish the concept of allowing any government to have territorial monopoly. Then, as others see the advantages, 'foreign threats' are slowly eliminated by these 'foreigners' from within. Until that time, we can only use the marketplace to determine whether any invasion is justifiable. I would suspect that not many people would be that interested in financing any foreign invasion and that better solutions can be found that do not use violence to succeed. Isn't invasion of any kind a direct violation of the non-aggression axiom? If it is necessary to invade a foreign threat, then that is not a violation if forced coercion is not used to pay for said invasion.

Posted by: Frank Gas | 2009-04-26 7:17:16 PM

It is a useful and interesting question; but also one which is fraught with real world complications.

I suspect, in the 19th century, a rigid policy of non-intervention would have made sense simply because it was practically possible to isolate a particular "state" or area and let them fight it out amongst themselves. As well - and to answer Robert's point about opening up immigration - there were no social services to speak of in much of the West so such a solution would not have imposed costs.

The world has changed and become vastly more interconnected. Our - and here I refer to Canada - interest in a quiet life may be threatened by a bio-chemical lab literally anywhere in the world. (Nukes are actually easier to deal with.)

That being said, a policy of prudential non-intervention might be possible if we were to develop an Israeli level of obsession with border security. This could be done but it would be vastly expensive and, perhaps more to the point for libertarians, hugely invasive of personal privacy and freedom.

My own preference - and here I split from my more doctrinaire libertarian friends - is to create and maintain a really serious special ops capacity which is large enough and hard enough to intervene effectively where the Canadian government perceives either a) Canada's interests/security directly threatened, b) where a genocide is occurring. In the case of "a" I would like the Canadian government to, on its own hook, be able to take out the weapons lab. In the case of "b" I would like us to be able to set up and maintain, again off our own bat, a safe zone for the potential victims of a genocide.

In both cases we should be very clear that we intervene because we - as a nation are either threatened or outraged. In neither case should we look to the international community, much less the UN, for authorization. And, most importantly, we should make our position very well known.

I suspect that we are not far from a leaden era of genocide in Africa and parts of the Islamic world. As failed states collapse the ethnicies and tribalisms which those states concealed in the post WWII era are likely to re-erupt and make Rwanda look like a picnic. Much as I would prefer to look on in splendid isolation, the potential slaughter of millions suggests that is not a morally acceptable option.

Posted by: Jay Currie | 2009-04-26 11:23:01 PM

How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation [or genocide] today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity. But that is not good enough.

The "aren't we all such wonderful caring people" school of foreign policy. Too funny.

Posted by: DJ | 2009-04-27 1:02:34 AM

"Given this, several things need to be asked: since government has usurped private initiative in this area, we might say: the least the government can do is act like a libertarian on the world stage, smashing at least the worst violators of freedom, when it is feasible to do so." -- Terrence Watson

But you haven't explained why intervening is acting like a libertarian, Terrence. You've explained why it might be hard for Bill Gates to legally marshal an army, but you take for granted that we all agree on what it means for the state to act like a libertarian. If the insurance example holds, the state would not be acting like a libertarian by intervening.

And as for private responses to violators of freedom, they are much more varied than substituting government military action for private military action.

Is military interventionism the worst thing government can do? I doubt it, but this isn't a discussion about the worst thing the government can do. It's a discussion about whether or not interventionism is compatible libertarianism.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-04-27 1:13:22 AM

If Superman had swept in from the sky to kill all the slave-owners, that would be morally justified, even though Superman's political authority is as illegitimate as the government's. From what I can tell, some of the Paleo-cons would stumble over themselves criticizing Superman for "initiating force." - Terrence Watson

I'm surprised by this glib comment, Terrence. Nobody has yet argued that the "worst violators of freedom" haven't initiated force.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-04-27 1:21:50 AM


By "act like a libertarian" I mean a combination of two things:

1. Libertarians believe that people have rights, and
2. Because of (1), if a person's rights are being violated by a third party, there is at least a reason (not a conclusive one, not the only reason that might matter) to intervene.

A corollary of 2, I think, is that the more serious the violation of rights, the stronger the reason is to intervene.

Some (most?) libertarians will deny 2, but that's either because:

(a) They think that it implies that it's always right for the government to intervene (it doesn't imply this) or

(b) They simply think we never have any reason to defend the rights of others.

(b) is a coherent position, but it's not very appealing. In addition, the activism of, e.g. the Western Standard, is hard to square with it. If the fact that others are having their rights violated literally doesn't matter, then why even be an activist libertarian?

Surely some of us could be more successful simply by taking advantage of the state and profiting from the violation of the rights of others.

So if we deny (a) and (b), we're left with 2: there's a reason to intervene to protect others who are having their rights violated. I would say, also, that the way I understand rights pretty much implies 2, but discussing that would take us off topic.

Regardless, if we endorse 2, then each of us has a reason to concern ourselves when the rights of others are being violated, and the weight of this reason increases with the degree of the violations occurring.

I'll add one other assumption to the mix. I can't prove it, but it's a good rule-of-thumb for living in a land that is less than fully libertarian. The assumption is this:

If government (illegitimately) monopolizes a certain project, X, such that it prohibits individuals in their private capacity from fulfilling X on their own, then at the very least government has a moral burden to fulfill X in the least morally objectionable way possible.

That's rough, and I don't have the time to fill in what I mean by "least morally objectionable", but I think it means that (for example) a relatively effective tax-payer funded public health system is superior, with respect to this principle, than a crappy one that lets lots of people die.

This is so even though neither system would exist in libertarian land. The government shouldn't have the monopoly, but if it has it then it should be guided by morality (broadly construed) in the way it exercises that monopoly.

Similarly, if the government is going to monopolize military force, then it should use that monopoly in the least morally objectionable way possible. Allowing genocide to occur is morally objectionable, if one can stop it (that's an assumption, but it's one most people are happy to make.)

Stopping genocide from occurring is admirable, and since the government has monopolized this role, I at least want it to do admirable things with it; given 2, there is at least a reason to intervene, to protect the rights of others, so not only is stopping genocide admirable, it's consistent with acting like a libertarian.

(I take it that one can act like a libertarian -- a Scrooge caricature comes to mind -- without doing morally admirable things. My point is that we can both act like libertarians, in protecting the rights of others, and do something morally admirable at the same time, as in stopping a genocide from occurring. But both 2 and my assumption are necessary in order to cut off an obvious objection.)

While I see the force of your argument, I think it ultimately has to rest on a total denial of 2. For example, your argument would justify withholding police protection from the large percentage of people who pay no taxes at all (at least in the United States.) They haven't paid into the system, either, but it is still a good thing that their rights are being protected.

(I suppose one could try to run an indirect self-interest argument in favor of protecting the rights of non-payers, but I don't think it would work that well. And, to the extent one accepts extending the umbrella of protection for intangible benefits to one's own interests, the argument could -- at least in principle -- extend that protection to foreign non-payers as well.)



Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-04-27 11:14:39 AM


But if they have initiated force, then -- given the argument I just made -- there is a reason to intervene and protect the rights of others.

That reason, plus my assumption that government should exercise its monopoly in accordance with the demands of morality, is enough to justify -- at least in principle -- using military force to protect the rights of others.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-04-27 11:16:23 AM

Fine, but nobody is arguing that these people have not initiated force. The discussion is about third party interventions.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-04-27 12:03:55 PM


I'm claiming that if A has or is threatening to initiate force against B, then C has a reason to protect B.

And I'm claiming that recognizing such a reason is not only compatible with libertarianism, but strongly implied by the recognition of individual rights.

Here's what I see some people proposing:

1. Rights impose moral reasons of near infinite weight on all of us.

2. If an agent ignores those reasons and violates the rights of others, he is being immoral in a very strong sense.

3. Nevertheless, we have no reason at all to intervene to prevent others from committing these strongly immoral acts against others.

4. Hence, we do absolutely nothing wrong -- at all, in any way -- by allowing the rights of others to be violated, no matter how easy it would be for us to stop it.

I think 1-4 make up a coherent position (we could call it libertarian egoism), but the crucial premise is 2. I think one can deny 2 and still be a libertarian. Does that make sense?

In fact, consistent with libertarianism, I think one cannot only deny 2, but simultaneously assert that a world in which income is taxed and genocide occurs is morally inferior to a world where income is taxed and genocide is prevented.

There is nothing especially wrong with taxing income. Which is not to say it isn't wrong, but it isn't as wrong as genocide. People will have to consult their intuitions on this.

I have a little more to say, but it will have to wait.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-04-27 12:47:13 PM

I'm basically exactly on the same page as Terrence (as always).

I would expand on Terrence's point though, to suggest that it may not only be right for a state to intervene against foreign countries in some cases, but it may ultimately be prudent.

If my read on the non-interventionist libertarians is correct, then the United States would have only engaged Japan in a self-defensive war, while leaving Europe to the Nazis.

Given Germany's now historically, and well-understood global aspirations, I would fail to see how such an ardent non-interventionist position would have achieved "more liberty".

Rather, without the US industrial superiority bearing down on Germany, it is not only conceivable, but likely that the UK would have fallen under German control, as well as all of Western Europe, Russia, eventually all of Africa, etc. The Jews in Europe would have been completely exterminated (for lack of a better word), and Germany would have ultimately showed up on America's footsteps at some future point.

I would argue that practicing an ardent policy of only engaging people who engage you, but not necessarily coming to the defense of others, is a the same as cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I think it's even more important to come to the defense of the like-minded; ie. liberal democracies defending other liberal democracies, considering these states represent the maximum liberty available in the world today.

Sitting on our hands while other liberal democracies are brought down either through internal insurrection or by an external belligerent, will result in a net negative for liberty.

I think Terrence's point about taxpayers and police protection is pertinent here; the fact that we would offer police protection to members of society who do not pay taxes, but then be against our tax dollars being spent on protecting the liberty of foreigners, is not terribly consistent. The main differentiating quality between the citizen and the foreigner is the state--something that libertarians are not terribly hot for, but will use the state to make an arbitrary distinction between the legitimacy of using state force to defend the citizen and using state force to defend the foreigner.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-04-27 12:54:38 PM

I want to add just as a suffix to my last point, that I do not support the war in Iraq.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-04-27 12:56:43 PM

Given the above logic, it was virtuous for Germany to invade both Poland and Russia to end the mass messianic murder by Stalin's Jews and to prevent the further ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans in the Danzig corridor. Unless of course you plan to deny the Bolshevik Holocaust?

Eric Margolis writes:

In 1932, Soviet leader Josef Stalin unleashed genocide in Ukraine. Stalin determined to force Ukraine's millions of independent farmers - called `kulaks'- into collectivized Soviet agriculture, and to crush Ukraine's growing spirit of nationalism.

Ukraine's nightmare had begun in 1932. Faced by resistance to collectivization, Stalin unleashed terror upon Ukraine. Moscow dispatched 25,000 fanatical young party militants - earlier versions of Mao's `Red Guards' - to force 10 million Ukrainian peasants into collective farms. Secret police units of OGPU began selective executions of recalcitrant farmers.

When Stalin's red guards failed to make a dent in this immense number, OGPU was ordered to begin mass executions. But there were simply not enough Chekists (secret police) to kill so many people, so Stalin decided to replace bullets by a much cheaper medium of death, mass starvation.

All seed stocks, grain, silage, and farm animals were confiscated from Ukraine's farms. Ethiopia's communist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, used the very same method in the 1970's to force collectivization: the resulting famine cased one million deaths.

OGPU agents and Red Army troops sealed all roads and rail lines. Nothing came in or out of Ukraine. Farms were searched and looted of food and fuel. Ukrainians quickly began to die of hunger, cold, and sickness.

When OGPU failed to meet weekly execution quotas, Stalin sent henchman, Lazar Kaganovitch, to destroy Ukrainian resistance. Kaganovitch, the Soviet Eichmann, made quota, shooting 10,000 Ukrainians weekly. Eighty percent of all Ukrainian intellectuals were executed. Ukrainian Nikita Khruschchev helped supervise the slaughter.

During the bitter winter of 1932-33, mass starvation created by Kaganovitch and OGPU hit full force. Ukrainians ate their pets, boots, belts, bark, and roots. Cannibalism became common; parents even ate infant children.

The precise number of Ukrainians murdered by Stalin's custom-made famine and Cheka firing squads remains unknown to this day. KGB's archives, and recent work by Russian historians, shows at least 7 million Ukrainians died. Ukrainian historians put the figure at 9 million, or higher. Twenty-five percent of Ukraine's population was exterminated.

Six million other farmers across the USSR were starved or shot during collectivization. Stalin told Churchill he liquidated ten million peasants during the 1930's. Add mass executions by the Cheka in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; the genocide of 3 million Muslims of the USSR; massacres of Cossacks and Volga Germans. In total, Soviet industrial genocide accounted for at least 40 million victims, not including 20 million war dead.

Kaganovitch, and many senior OGPU officers( later, NKVD) were Jewish. The predominance of Jews among Bolshevik leaders, and the frightful crimes and cruelty inflicted by Stalin's Cheka on Ukraine, the Baltic, and Poland, led the victims of Red Terror to blame the Jewish people for both communism and their suffering. As a direct result, during the subsequent Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe, the region's innocent Jews became the target of ferocious revenge by Ukrainians, Balts, and Poles.

While the world is by now fully aware of the destruction of Europe's Jews by the Nazis, the story of the numerically larger holocaust in Ukraine has been suppressed, or ignored. Ukraine's genocide occurred 8-9 years before Hitler began the Jewish Holocaust, and was committed, unlike Nazi crimes, before the world's gaze. But Stalin's murder of millions was simply denied, or concealed by a leftwing conspiracy of silence that continues to this day. In the strange moral geometry of mass murder, only Nazis are guilty.

Posted by: DJ | 2009-04-27 1:37:48 PM

Sorry, there was a rather glaring error in my last comment. I meant that we can deny (3) without ceasing to be libertarians.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-04-27 3:23:02 PM

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