The US is no Angel of Peace

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sheldon Richman 

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Sheldon Richman, American political writer and academic

An interview with Sheldon Richman, an American political writer and academic, best known for his advocacy of Libertarianism.

He is the editor of The Freeman, a magazine published by The Foundation for Economic Education, and is a Senior Fellow at the Future of Freedom Foundation, Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, and a member of the Liberty and Power group weblog at the History News Network.

A graduate of Temple University, Richman was formerly a journalist, and a senior editor at the Cato Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University.

His books include:

Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families.

Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax.

Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State.

He is a contributor to the Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics.

Q- Do you believe a US-sponsored peace conference to be held next month could bring sustainable peace to the Middle East?

A- No, I don't. We've been through this many times already. The US government is not an honest broker. It is an unconditional ally of one of the parties, Israel, and has many times sided against the Palestinians, who have been the victims of injustice, including property violations, for many years. The US government wants a "peace" that serves its and its allies interests, which is not the same thing as a genuine peace with justice.

Q- Don't you think it is paradoxical for the US to sponsor the Middle East peace conference while it has practically proved to conduce to insecurity and crisis in the Middle East?

A- Of course it is paradoxical. The US government has made war on the Iraqis, it countenanced war on the Lebanese, and it now threatens to make war on the Iranians. This is a peculiar angel of peace, indeed.

Q- After the Balkan War, the West took the advantage of the vacuum of power in Eastern Europe and divided the Yugoslavia based on ethnic lines (Balkanization). Do you think the US is pushing ahead with a similar plan for Iraq? If yes, what are the reasons behind such a plot?

A- My hunch is that the Bush administration wants a united Iraq, a federation in which the US has the major influence on the central government. A broken-up Iraq would make it easier for countries in the region to exercise influence.

Q- Would the so-called privatization of “security management” in Iraq, negate the liability of the US for the war crimes that are committed in Iraq?

A- "Privatization" is not the right word. What the US is going in Iraq is a government operation. That it hires so-called private firms for particular services changes nothing about that. Whether in law this negates liability for war crimes, I do not know. But it should not do so.

Q- As you know, using mercenaries for hunting suspects and fighting adversaries dates back to early history of the US. Can we draw a parallel between what is going on in Iraq and the events of the Wild West era? In other words, has the US only succeeded to bring chaos to Iraq instead of the rule of law and security?

A- I must correct your misconceptions about the so-called Wild West. This was a period before the US federal government established itself in the western US. It was a remarkably peaceful time, as documented in a recent book by Terry Anderson and Peter Hill (

The people themselves generated a bottom-up peaceful system of property rights and law. I see no parallel whatsoever with Iraq, which is a government operation through and through, with all the negative aspects we should suspect of such an operation. The problem with the Iraq operation is that it is an attempt to establish law top-down by outsiders. This is not likely to work.

Q- What is your interpretation of Bush's recent comment about Iran that its nuclear program would lead to World War III.

A- This is an alarming statement, another ratcheting-up of the war rhetoric, as we saw previously with Iraq. While I don't believe the decision has been made to bomb Iran, I think the Bush administration wishes to maintain its options. Keeping the American people alarmed is part of the plan.

An attack would lead to disaster.


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