Being Good at Being Anti-War – Opting Out

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Should we ever criticise a regime that is clearly being targeted and undermined by neoconservative warmongers?

The context is Dave Smith’s discussion with Chris Spangle on his podcast. Chris slammed Daniel McAdams and the Ron Paul Institute crowd for seemingly siding with dictators (Putin, Maduro, etc.) in foreign policy debates. McAdams apparently has a policy of not criticizing foreign regimes that the West is targeting for war.

This revelation (to me anyway) resolves the mystery of why McAdams got into a debate with me, a nobody, about North Korea a couple of years ago. I had replied to some Tweet.

I see where he’s coming from, to echo Dave’s point. It would be tone deaf in 2002 to constantly post about all the bad things Saddam Hussein has done. However, I believe it undermines the non-interventionist case if we don’t talk about those bad things. The point is: Yes, it’s horrible over there, but the track record shows that intervention will certainly make things worse, and the cost to us, our military, and civilians’ lives is too great.

This is important to keep in mind as tensions with Russia and China continue to heat up. When it becomes obvious to everyone that the debate is between war and peace, non-interventionists will certainly be accused of shilling for foreign regimes.

You don’t have to look very hard to find proof of this: Anyone who watches blue checkmarks when President Trump occasionally does something good (i.e., less aggressive) in the Middle East will notice the accusations of bending to Putin’s will or some such hokum. Those who protested the US’ intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s were routinely labeled “anti-American” or “anti-freedom.” This is a long, tried and tested establishment strategy that seems to work.

Normies take it hook, line, and sinker. Playing to people’s ignorance and prejudice, The Man bombards them with anti-“them” propaganda to the point where any disruption to the narrative is laughed at. Even something as insignificant as posting a video, as I did, about how China is getting back to normal post-COVID-19 will subject you to accusations of being a Communist Party shill.

Regardless of the content, the neocons and the idiots that take their BS are going to do this anyway, but we’re still not obligated to provide them even more ammunition. Daniel McAdams and other great anti-war voices such as Caitlin Johnstone may disagree (they are by order of magnitude more qualified and clever than me, I may add), but refusing to criticize countries that the West is using as a scapegoat for further self-interested war and destruction, even in the abstract, is simply not portraying the world correctly.

I’m sorry, but Venezuela is bad, and it is the fault of socialism. Yes, the US sanctions are criminal, attack mainly the Venezuelan people, and likely contribute to the economic destruction. Yes, Maduro’s opposition is being backed by Western forces. But the downfall began way before 2017. The shortages preceded the sanctions. The comprehensive nationalizations brought about massive disruptions to prices and has made economic business a minefield. More than one power can be bad.

Also absurd, granting that much of what the West says about China is utter bollocks, are the otherwise solid anti-war China pundits who truly believe that the Communist Party can do no wrong, is changing the world for the better, and has discovered something unique and wonderful that the West can learn from. Au contraire, if something is good in the East that is bad in the West, it’s down to centuries of Chinese culture, not the state. Remember that governments produce nothing, being mere legally-legitimized mafias. If there is anything to be said about the Chinese Communist Party, is that lately they’ve become more efficient parasites by comparison to some Western countries.

Thankfully, abandoning total state ownership and planning (though taking a few million dead to think of doing that) and embracing markets and private property, China has seen spectacular economic growth and the Chinese individual became freer. The right idea is: good, carry on getting out of the way, to allow your citizens to own and trade even more, not seek further control.

That said, if America wants to look for bad things about the Communist Party, it’ll find them, and it still wouldn’t be an excuse to continue to flex muscles and endanger Chinese people’s lives (implicit in any urge for intervention, as history shows). The Communist Party is a government after all, an inherent threat to individual rights. The idea that a government, let alone one with such a terrible record on protecting individual rights (the United States), has some moral high ground from which to judge other countries is absurd.

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James Smith

Writer and film-maker from the United Kingdom. Digital nomad. Author of 'The Shy Guy's Guide to Travelling'.

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