A compilation of my commentary on war, over the years. Am I anti-War or Pro-War? I think the clear and honest answer is, “yes.” But I am, and have always been, unequivocally opposed to conscription at any time, for any purpose. I wrote my novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, to make the strongest pro-natural-rights and anti-utilitarian argument I could muster.

Iraqnaphobia, J. Neil Schulman, February 22, 1998

Regardless of how evil a dictator Saddam Hussein is, and what weapons he is accumulating, the arguments why the United States needs to make a preemptive strike against Iraq strike me as both hollow and wearily familiar. Time and again through history — whether it’s the Israelite nation or the Roman Empire in ancient times, or the colonial British, Nazis, or Soviets in our own century — some heads of state claim the moral stature to impose their will on a morally inferior enemy — and the military advantage to do it. Now President Clinton — who as a college student decried the American military presence in Vietnam as imperialistic — asserts that because of its unique status as a superpower, the United States has a moral obligation to “send a message” to a foreign power that does not pose any immediate threat to our national security, by preemptively bombing its cities until it complies with our disarmament demands.

There is no other word for that sort of policy than imperialism. Naked imperialism. Evil imperialism. It is imperialism of precisely the sort that has buckled the knees of every superpower throughout history that has attempted it, destroying its people’s domestic liberties along the way and replacing personal freedom with an intrusive state that spies on its people, raids their homes, businesses and churches based on nothing more than suspicion and rumor, and attempts to leave them disarmed and helpless against its official predations.

Chivalry, Courtesy, Provocation, Women’s Suffrage, and the Vile United Nations, J. Neil Schulman, November 8, 1999

These requests to support United Nations projects is symptomatic of this. The noble purpose is paraded; the principles that need to be violated, and the villains who must be supported to accomplish these noble goals, are hidden.

The United Nations is not yet a world state, but there’s no doubt that the establishment forces today would be happy to make it one, so long as it remains under their control. The appeal of the United Nations to the Third World is envy; the appeal of the United Nations to the First and Second Worlds is power. It appeals to those forces of imperialism and international robbery in the developed nations; it appeals to tinpot dictators in the undeveloped nations. Both unite in agreement that a Blue Beret is an emblem of virtue; and those who oppose it are at best atavists and at worst partisans of what Gore Vidal called the Hitler of the Month.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself …”, J. Neil Schulman, September 19, 2001

Only a week after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, all the commercial American airline companies are within weeks of declaring bankruptcy themselves. They have cut back on scheduled flights by 20 percent already, and have begun layoffs of airline employees that may top 100,000 jobs eliminated within days.

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D, Missouri) has called for Americans to save the airlines by boarding planes again. He is, in essence, suggesting that Americans suck it up and forget their fears of terrorist attacks in order to save the American airline industry.

But it is not the fear of the American people that is destroying the American airline companies. We have learned about the heroic passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, disarmed by longstanding Federal Aviation Administration policy but having heard what other hijacked airliners were being used for, making an unarmed attack on the only person who knew how to fly the plane — the pilot-hijacker who had already murdered the United flight crew — in order to prevent the passenger jetliner they were on from being crashed into buildings and murdering thousands of their countrymen.

Nowadays there is an agreement between the terrorists who capture jetliners to use them as weapons of mass destruction, and those who are calling for sealing airline pilots into their cockpits no matter what happens in the passenger compartment. That agreement between the terrorists and the counter-terrorists is that the passengers, the reason for the existence of the jetliner itself, are as expendable as dumping jet fuel. The metal is now more important than the flesh.

It is not only at airports where “fear itself” is going to paralyze us. We already fear, and will fear more, taking our loved ones to concerts, sporting events, high-rise buildings, theme parks, government buildings, and many other places that are tempting targets for terrorist reprisals, once the armed forces of the United States engage the enemy overseas. We fear that public gatherings could turn deadly from terrorists with bombs or strategically placed machine guns. We fear that the enemy is already among us with horrific weapons of mass destruction including biological agents, chemical weapons, or even nuclear bombs.

President Bush was correct when he told us we must get back to work.

Congressman Gephardt is right when he tells us to suck it up.

But it is not the fear of the American people that is the threat to our economic and community life. It is the fear of our policy makers, including Congressman Gephardt, that is the main problem.

We all remember the grade-school teacher who, hit by a spitball while writing on the blackboard, punished the whole class because she didn’t know whom the perpetrator was. Our leaders are acting like that teacher.

Because there are a few — very few — terrorists among us, and our government’s investigators doesn’t know who they all are, our policy makers are punishing all of us. They are treating all of us like terrorists. Our leaders are terrified of the American people and in their fear it is they who are paralyzing our national life and our economy.

It’s time we told them they have to trust us again.

If anyone needs to suck it up, it’s them.

UnHoly Lands, J. Neil Schulman, October 16, 2002

The Middle East is not the only place on earth where, if one went to the trouble, one couldn’t make a good case for the restoration of ancestral homelands and fomenting a long-term civil war over real-estate. Considering how poorly the Cherokee people have fared in the last 16 decades, they might be able to convince a sympathetic world that they have as good a case for a restored homeland as the Jews of Europe had following Hitler’s holocaust.

As much as I think Andrew Jackson’s nearest contemporary of ours might well be Slobodan Milosevic, I think anyone who initiated a “White Rose” movement to restore a Cherokee homeland in Georgia would be a maniac. If the Cherokee actually wanted a new homeland, I’d suggest they start with someplace nobody is currently living, and start developing. I’ve flown over the United States. There’s still plenty of unoccupied land.

But here’s my point.

Anyone who fought a war over Holy Land in the state of Georgia would be a maniac.

Anyone who decided that it was worth blowing up school buses, cafes, and supermarkets over conflicting deeds of title to real estate in Georgia would be maniacs.

When I look at Israel, I see a civil war between maniacs.

Collateral Damage and the Libertarian Non-Aggression Principle, J. Neil Schulman, October 29, 2002

Perhaps it is better to define libertarianism not by the non-aggression principle but by the principle that any chosen action contains the possibility of third-party damages, and the moral actor accepts personal responsibility for them. This is not so much letting the end justify the means as recognizing that no human action, even choosing inaction, is without risk of a catastrophic outcome.

This is, I admit, not a pristine libertarian position. That’s because, in the world I see, this libertarian can’t find one.

Reply on Wally Conger’s Out of Step blog, J. Neil Schulman, May 2007

I support fighting Jihadi cadre who wish to impose Sharia law on the rest of the world by any means necessary, including violence and acts of terror.

I support armed and informed civilized people defending themselves and private property from invaders, criminals, and terrorists of any race, creed, color, faith, gender-preference, ideology, or national origin.

I oppose suspension of habeas corpus, imprisonment without trial, disarming people who travel on common carriers of their personal self-defense weapons, searches without probable cause or warrants, confiscation of private property except after conviction in a jury trial, or the issuing of warrants except on presentation of specific facts leading to probable cause to a magistrate.

Of course, in the event we ever have an agorist alternative, my standards will go up considerably. These statements are made in the context of our current Hobson’s Choice — anomie or organized crime.

As far as the War on Terror (so-called) — its been botched.

The point to the invasion of Afghanistan was to capture Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cells and punish the Taliban for hiding him. The Taliban was punished and any campaign against al Qaeda involves clandestine services, not “boots on ground.” I have no idea what policy or national defense interest is served by a continuing presence of American troops in Afghanistan.

As for Iraq. There was yellowcake in Baghdad — under IAEA seal. Saddam Hussein did use poison gas against both Iran and the Kurds — some of it provided to him by the U.S. He did want nukes because his enemy Iran wanted nukes.

And, the disinformation that Hussein had an active program (as Iran really did) to centrifuge yellowcake into fissionable materials he could use to make A-bombs originated with — tah-dah! — Saddam Hussein, who was passing this disinformation on to any intelligence source who’d listen because that’s what he wanted Iran to think. This bluff cost him his dictatorship and his neck.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was, in retrospect, unnecessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from obtaining nukes he could pass on to third parties for deployment against his enemies — including us. But it hasn’t been established to my satisfaction that George W. Bush knew that when he ordered the invasion.

What has been established to my satisfaction is that once Saddam Hussein’s statue fell and he was in hiding, and his rape-room sons had been killed, and the inspection for WMD’s — which was the casus belli of the invasion — had been completed, then the mission was indeed accomplished, and the U.S. troops should have been pulled out. Purple fingers, while preferable to either Saddam’s more secular dictatorship or Sharia law, was not part of the sales pitch.

Bring the troops home from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s Way Past Miller Time for the War in Iraq, J. Neil Schulman, May 20, 2007

Mr. Bush, you’re the President who Won the War on Terror. Please brings our troops home from Iraq and declare a domestic State of Emergency that suspends the numerous federal, state, and local impediments to domestic oil and coal production and refinement.

We don’t have to stop the Iraqi Insurgency for our own security, or for Israel’s. We can accomplish that merely by doing what Americans do best: minding our own business.

Mr. Bush: Make Oil, Not War.

Dragon*Con Report: The Panels,the Pageantry, the Parties,, September 30, 2007

In the Q&A afterwards Schulman commented on his thematic intentions.

“I’m a libertarian, so I’m suspicious of government and the way they do things, even at times when one has to be on the side of the government,” Schulman said. He remarked that while he understood the reasons for the war in Iraq, “I don’t think it has accomplished what Mr. Bush thought it was going to accomplish. We still have a big problem with terrorism and I don’t see that the government knows how to solve it. What I was trying to do with this film as much as anything was to say, look at Flight 93. On 9/11 the only people who managed to stop an al-Qaida attack were the passengers on Flight 93; the government just totally fell flat on all levels in preventing this. And so I’m going back to the original idea of the framers of our system of government of relying on the people themselves … If I have any overall message, it’s that the American people have to look to themselves for their own security — they can’t count on the government to do it.”

J. Neil Schulman to John Amendall, Facebook, April 10, 2009 (no longer linked by Facebook)

John Amendall:
You wrote in Jan 2006: “Since 9/11, I have been a supporter of the War on Terror — including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

What made you change your mind?

J. Neil Schulman:
John, it would be dishonest of me to claim that my disillusionment with the conduct of these two wars was either moral or ideological, since in terms of my pure libertarian principles I’d already made my lesser-of-evils “deal with the devil.” My October 2002 article “Collateral Damage and the Libertarian Non-Aggression Principle” on Rational Review is probably as close as I will ever be able to explain how someone who lived in the Jesuit-like monastery that the AnarchoVillage was for ten years of my life could support two wars.

As I posted today to the MLL Yahoo Group, and my Facebook wall — but in less detail — I had lost faith that I was ever going to live to see Agorism enter the mainstream and compete with Marxism, Social Democracy, and various levels of constitutional conservatism. It just didn’t seem to be an option on the menu so I was left with the hard choices that always face those who find that their principles have no traction in the world — just how to try for crumbs when even slices of cake, never mind the whole cake, are beyond one’s reach.

I considered the point of the invasion of Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda brains responsible for the 9/11 attacks who was still coordinating their independent cells, and as a secondary goal to put the Taliban out of power, since they were evil tyrants and it didn’t take much of a casus belli beyond retaliation for 9/11 for me to want to seem them disestablished. But then Afghanistan — as it had been for the Soviets — became another Vietnam-like quagmire — and any point of continuing to maintain a military operation there eluded me.

With Iraq I believed the WMD threat was real, and as I’ve stated elsewhere I believe the disinformation that led to this threat appearing credible came from Saddam Hussein’s attempt to bluff Iran, which as we know is well along the way to having its own A-bombs. Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator and, again, it did not take much of a casus belli to want to see Iraqis — especially the Kurds, whom he had massacred — liberated from him. I’d previously opposed the first President Bush’s Gulf War and President Clinton’s bombing of Iraq so this was a radical change for me. But my enthusiasm for continued American military presence in Iraq faded quickly after Saddam’s statue fell, and when I saw the “Mission Accomplished” sign on the USS Abraham Lincoln I was ready for the troops — and yes, the bombers also — to come home and leave the future of Mesopotamia for its own people to sort out.

John Amendall:
In the same essay you write about “sneak-attacked the chief financial and military defense headquarters of my country” as if you are entirely satisfied by the finance industry. Have you kinda noticed that they suck? And the military kinda sucks too.

J. Neil Schulman:
I am as thorough-going an individualist as you will ever find. I don’t just see a “financial industry” or a “military-industrial complex.” Three thousand individuals died on 9/11, and I would consider most of them non-combatants — and even those working at the Pentagon would exist on a spectrum of moral responsibility depending on their specific jobs. I don’t think the receptionist in Hitler’s office bore the same moral responsibility as the generals sitting at the table who ordered people being put on cattle cars to concentration camps, and even among concentration camp Capos and guards there would be a moral spectrum of bad to worse to worst.

You’ll note that in Alongside Night I have characters who are ex-military and even ex-CIA. I consider that people are not only redeemable but we have to judge them according to how well they act within the Tao when being members of organizations and processes that do overall evil. I abhor the collectivism that infects even anarchist individualists when it comes to blanket condemnations of those who work at jobs we wish did not exist. The clerk who is in charge of veterans benefits is not even on the same moral plane of calculus as a Lt. William Calley.

John Amendall:
You are quoted saying “Schulman said that a ‘war on terror’ is both necessary and moral, partially because, whatever the past wrongs in US interventionist foreign policy, he sees no present alternative that would protect innocent civilians.”

Has your view on the war on terror changed? If so, why have you changed your view?

J. Neil Schulman:
I still hate the collectivist evil represented by Muslim jihadis, particularly when they make no distinctions between Jews and Likud, or Americans and the Ku Klux Klan. I never had much faith that the Bush administration would do well in conducting the “War on Terror” and they were far worse than I had hoped for — making airline travel a nightmare when most of the security procedures are actually counter-productive; ignoring Constitutional protections that did not advance the actual process of fighting the enemy; and engaging in Wilsonian nation-building that was in direct contradiction to historical conservative principles. But I must note that George W. Bush could have sent American Muslims to relocation camps and engaged in virulent racism against Arabs, and he did not. Let’s give the devil the credit that’s due.

John Amendall:
You write here: “From a libertarian standpoint, any murderous dictator or party of dictators is ripe for overthrow at any moment. By committing acts of mass murder, torture, and tyranny, they have long forfeited any rights they might have.”

Is that universal? Would it apply to any tyrant, or just an Arab one?

J. Neil Schulman:
Universal. But I do make distinctions between term-limited office holders whose power can be limited or recalled short of assassination or revolution, and totalitarian dictators who can be separated from power only by massive force.

John Amendall:
In this thread you write, “I support fighting Jihadi cadre who wish to impose Sharia law on the rest of the world by any means necessary, including violence and acts of terror.”

Do you deny having an ongoing desire to fight Jihadis “by any means necessary” including government action?

J. Neil Schulman:
I don’t deny having had that desire. I am far less sanguine about the benefits of doing so than I was closer to 9/11.

John Amendall:
In saying “bring the troops home” you don’t say anything about air forces. Since an air force plane can be based in the US and fly to Afghanistan and back, they are brought home and yet still bomb.

J. Neil Schulman:
I am opposed to the U.S. engaging in continued military occupations or operations anywhere in the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and what’s generically called “the Holy land.” Is that clear enough?

Now Obama’s Got His Own Phony War, J. Neil Schulman, December 2, 2009

The Taliban didn’t launch the 9/11 attacks — and President Bush punished them eight years ago for hiding Osama bin Laden. The Taliban are not still hiding Osama bin Laden, so what the fuck?

President Obama also admitted that what remaining al Qaeda there still are in Afghanistan camp out close to the border of Pakistan, and cross over into Pakistani territory our troops aren’t allowed to follow them into whenever they’re pursued.

So adding 100, or 1000, or 100,000 more American troops to this bug hunt won’t bring us any closer to capturing or killing Obama bin Laden and his merry men because they still have a safe haven: Pakistan.

Barack Obama is not willing to enforce the Bush Doctrine — he who shields a terrorist will be treated like a terrorist — on Pakistan, any more than President Bush was willing to enforce the Bush Doctrine on Pakistan. The reason is that — unlike Iran, which is just a nuclear wannabe — Pakistan actually has nukes.

Private emails to Brad Linaweaver, J. Neil Schulman, December 26, 2009

I support the American Revolution.

I think some Native American tribes got ripped off of land they should still own.

I oppose Lincoln’s refusal to accept secession of Southern States.

I’ve never studied the Spanish-American War but from what little I know I think it unnecessary.

I don’t support the U.S. occupying the Philippines prior to the Japanese invasion. Frankly, I don’t understand how the U.S. legitimately gets any territory in Pacific Islands.

I oppose U.S. entry into World War I.

I oppose U.S. provocations against Japan, but after Pearl Harbor — and Germany’s Declaration of War against the U.S. — I can’t fault entering WW2.

I favored the Cold War but I’ve never really been convinced that Korea and Vietnam were the right theaters to fight it.

I might have thought a full invasion of Cuba the moment Castro declared his alliance with the USSR was a good idea.

I have no problem with financing and arming anti-Communists in Central and South America.

I demonstrated against the first Gulf War.

I favored the invasion of Afghanistan to punish the Taliban and al Qaeda and capture or kill Osama bin Laden. I oppose installing a puppet regime and continuing presence there. All U.S. troops out of Afghanistan now.

I favored the invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein and his sons from power, but I would have withdrawn as soon as they were captured or killed and the WMD inspections were completed. I oppose any nation-building in the region. All U.S. troops out of Iraq now.

I oppose a preemptive U.S. strike against Iran. I have no problem if Israel feels like doing it without U.S. help.

I favor returning the United States to its pre-1911 Constitutional form of government. I support the 14th amendment extending the Bill of Rights to state and local governments.

Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

Bookmark and Share