05 May 2011

Tom Woods Tells Conservatives Why Wars Are Not Conservative

Foreign Policy 38 Comments

This is really a great little video. Like Tom, I thought the first Gulf War was pretty cool. When I was little my uncle gave me a bunch of photos of Grumman aircraft and such. Man the F-14 Tomcat is still one sleek machine.

38 Responses to “Tom Woods Tells Conservatives Why Wars Are Not Conservative”

  1. RFN says:

    Well, not many “conservatives” think that wars (of choice that is) are conservative. I’m not sure if a war is ever “conservative” or not, but certainly they may be an option. The people we call neo-cons are not really conservative, are they? Hawkish progressives is more like it.

    • Jeremy says:

      “The people we call neo-cons are not really conservative, are they? Hawkish progressives is more like it.”

      They present themselves as “conservative” and the public buys it as such. Reality doesn’t really matter.

  2. Louis B. says:

    It’s amazing how well Tom can market himself as a conservative despite being a fucking anarchist.

    • Daniel G. says:

      Yeah, it took me a while to figure it out. Finally I saw this video where he appeared explaining why he thought the state should be abolished.


    • visose says:

      Well, he lives his life as a conservative, he embraces conservative values just like Ron Paul, thats why it’s easy. The key issue is not imposing those values by force.
      If he lived his life frequenting prostitutes, consuming drugs and mocking the primitive beliefs of every religious person he meets it would be much harder, yet he could favor the exact same government policy.

      I’d personally like him more as the latter.

    • Blackadder says:

      It’s amazing how well Tom can market himself as a conservative despite being a fucking anarchist.

      Ironically, the very first exposure I had to Bob Murphy was listening to his talk How I Bamboozled Thousands of Conservatives into Thinking Like Anarchists.

      • bobmurphy says:

        I just want to point out that I didn’t pick the title of that talk.

        • Blackadder says:


          That’s too bad. If it wasn’t for the provocative title, I probably wouldn’t have listened!

          • bobmurphy says:

            If it weren’t for your avatar I probably wouldn’t pay as much attention to your posts.

        • yahya says:

          let me guess, Rockwell chose the title

        • Rick Hull says:

          Did you bamboozle or enlighten?

  3. Avram says:

    Most males crave combat when they are little. They play with toy wooden swords they make from cardboard,, play with toy soldiers, play violent video games, play fights, and even real fights.

    That is all normal. Its just when you grow up your thirst for combat should translate in wanting to succeed in your dreams. To beat the others, to compete, to win and such things, because by then you should know how cruel and counterproductive violence actually is. Any helathy hot blooded thirst for some physical contact should manifest itself in a sporting interest or with a relationship with a partner that likes rough sex or something.

    But something like cheering for an overseas war when you’re a fully grown man, there is nothing manly about that. You are not the one getting the thrill of combat and life and death violence. You can’t even vicariously get that thrill, its not possible. You are just some sick weirdo who likes knowing that cruelty is happening because without participating that’s all there is in it: senseless cruelty. Alternatively you might be some very feminine dude taken a back by all the pomp and glamor of military parades, brave strong soliders, and a nation unified or other such nonsense.

    I think the Ron Paul / LRC anti-war message is the only genuine one in the modern United States political theatre, even including fringe radical groups. I am really proud of how consistent and unrelenting it is. Keep fighting the good fight champs!

  4. Argosy Jones says:

    Man the F-14 Tomcat is still one sleek machine…

    It’s something of a paradox that many engines of destruction are so aesthetically compelling. The breakdown of the natural urge to conflate the beautiful with the good and the true.

    • Just t says:

      It’s still my favorite fighter jet. Absolutely gorgeous.

      Even though I still “like” military items, I’m utterly appalled and embarrased by my past hawkish, nationalistic, neocon life. I’m glad that part of me was killed a thousand times over (in self defense, of course).

      I still haven’t figured out how I will handle this issue with my newborn son when the time comes.

      • Just t says:

        “Embarrassed” by my grammar too.

  5. Cody says:

    I think some of you are conflating personal violent tendencies with the decision to fight a war, which are widely separate things. I seriously doubt much of a presidential or congressional decision to deploy troops into danger and conflict has much to do with fools who think war is like a bigger version of football.

    On the other hand, be aware that violence is a reality of nature and a world of scarce resources.

    Yes, wars are not typically significant of shrinking government power.

    But with rights and freedoms come responsibilities: if it is your intention to eliminate armies and police forces, then private citizens are going to face a real increase in their own personal resposibility to be ready to conduct violence in their own defense.

    Do not kid yourselves that eliminating the navy is going to decrease violence on the high seas. When you scuttle the warships, every merchantman and tanker will have to go armed.

    The same goes for the police: I’d recommend teaching your kid to shoot.

  6. ListenEllipse says:

    Blowback. It’s all about blowback. I’ve had numerous conversations with conservatives, convincing them of all the problems of the warfare state but they always come back to one basic idea: they had us because we’re not Muslim and we’re free. It doesn’t matter if the warfare state is highly inefficient, leads to the death of innocents, is run by lying politicians, or increases the power of government; those are all reasonable prices to pay if it means you don’t get killed by radical Muslims who just want you dead.

    Once you show conservatives that Muslims are motivated by the actions of US military (blocking Iraq in the 90s, supporting Israel, blowing up kids with terror drones, 60 years of violence), the whole perspective changes.

    Glenn Beck’s a perfect example; he’ll support the warfare state, no matter the costs, until the day he dies because he believes it’s the only thing keeping Muslims from blowing us up.

    • RFN says:

      Most conservatives I know don’t hate Muslims at all. They hate Islamists. Few Muslims are Islamists. This is one area where I think anarcho-capitalists (or Austro-Libertarians) need to be more precise. And no, it’s as facile to say that they hate us because we are over there (government and military policies) as it is to say they hate our values and freedom. It’s most definitely a combination. Would, maybe, less of them (potential islamists) hate us should we get the hell out of there? I think that’s a resounding yes, so maybe we’re splitting hairs. And certainly our wars of choice have stirred up a hornets nest. However, Islamists are just following the orders of the really important Muslim and that is Muhammed. Screw Osama, Khalid Muhammed and Zahawiri. They are irrelevant. Islamists will hate us for ever. And that’s fine as it’s virtually impossible to change the way someone feels, especially a religious zealout. That’s why real National Defense starts at home, not in lands considered holy by Muslims.

      • ListenEllipse says:

        If they do “hate us forever,” they why shouldn’t be at war with them? Isn’t this kill or be killed? I understand that their messed up ideology is important to desire to attack America, but that’s secondary compared to US military actions in the region. The call to arms from someone like Bin Laden (who has no standing in the Islamic church, and thus no real authority to declare a Jihad) is not alone enough to inspire 19 men to leave their families and fly planes into our buildings.

        • RFN says:

          “If they do “hate us forever,” they why shouldn’t be at war with them?” For the same reason that I don’t fight my neighbor every day. I don’t like him and he doesn’t like me but we learn to get along. Who cares if they hate us. Someone is always going to hate someone else. That’s called life. And there have been many jihads called against the US by people with authority. Again, it doesn’t matter. National Defense starts at home, not in the ME.

      • Jeremy says:

        “And no, it’s as facile to say that they hate us because we are over there (government and military policies) as it is to say they hate our values and freedom. It’s most definitely a combination. ”

        No its not. That is pure propaganda.

        Even Rumsfeld doesn’t try the absurd “they hate us because we’re free” anymore. He admits they hate us for our interventions:


        “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies.”

        • RFN says:

          Again, it’s not the Muslims, it’s the Islamists. And since when did we go to Rumsfeld as the final arbiter of all things Islamic? We really don’t. Read the Koran. Listen, I agree and I definitely know that our policies are obviously causing tension, and hatred in the Islamic world. But, it’s not propaganda at all to state the obvious vis a vis Islamists and their view of America.

  7. Cody says:

    Beck gets awful close to calling for the elimination of all foreign bases at times. His only sticking point is power vacua and the innocents and free trade at risk to them. I suggest paying more attention before you start wheeling out the straw men.

    Also, he doesn’t think all US soldiers are psychopathic murder machines, as some seem to assume. Like me, he may base this opinion on knowing soldiers who aren’t, themselves, and who also don’t know any.

    • ListenEllipse says:

      Beck is all over the place with a lot of these issues. A couple weeks ago he was going on trying to connect the Muslim Brotherhood to nearly every news story (Minnesota teacher’s union, Libya, Egypt). Lately he saying how Muslim are trying to infiltrate and destroy us from within, in the name of Jihad. On the eve of his restoring honor rally last summer he was talking like a Bill Kristol neo-con http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/64288.html

  8. Cody says:

    …See what I did there?

  9. Bob Roddis says:

    I just don’t think you can guilt-trip red-staters about the financial cost or the human cost of foreign intervention. While that must be part of the mix, I would also focus upon the fact that what the US military is spreading around the world is “progressive” Clintonista style democratic socialism.* Democratic socialism will lead to a complete lack of respect for private property and individual rights and most often will result in ethnic conflict and slaughter in multi-ethnic societies (see Rwanda and now Iraq). The only solution to the problems of these countries is private property, laissez faire, sound money and very limited government. The red-staters must be told that the US is not spreading freedom and enlightenment around the world. They must really hate the troops to put them in harm’s way for Hillary.

    *“Gee, we can’t let those Muslims have an election. It would result in carnage.” Who knew?

    • Jeremy says:

      “Democratic socialism will lead to a complete lack of respect for private property and individual rights”

      Since when did property rights and individual rights matter to mainstream “conservatives”? They certainly didn’t when Bush was in charge.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        Perhaps nothing matters to mainstream conservatives. Perhaps everything is hopeless. I’m just thinking about red-staters who may understand some basic free market economics and generally hate the welfare state and try to explain to them that the government is doing the same thing overseas that it is doing here. And our troops are losing their kidneys and lives to spread it. And it is bankrupting us etc…..

  10. Bob Roddis says:

    FYI, Ralph Raico’s new book “Great Wars and Great Leaders” is available online:


    • Dan says:

      Should get my copy in the mail today.

  11. Bob Roddis says:

    Similarly, with the war on drugs, private property and a free market in streets, neighborhoods, neighbors, schools and school mates would allow for private druggie prohibition.

    The statist conservatives, with their support of public schools and drug prohibition, are encouraging their children to meet up with dangerous characters at school and the fostering of the murderous drug gang problem. Rothbardian solutions solve all of those problems, making them moot.

    • Rick Hull says:

      Yep, and leave aside the massive black market implications of prohibition. Repealing prohibition does not mean that we morally sanction rampant (e.g.) heroin use. We can still recognize the behavior as deviant and worthy of rehabilitation. So let’s do that. Let’s rehab that behavior. What good is achieved by locking up addicts with violent criminals?

      • Rick Hull says:

        Though, let me say, the above is not a Rothbardian appeal by any stretch. It is rather an alternative support to Bob’s plank. My appeal is to li-curious.

  12. Bob Roddis says:

    The thing that frustrates me the most about our opponents is their complete inability to understand what it is we are saying. For example, they do not understand the “meaning of a price”. I just realized that one of the Raico articles in his new book was one that I had originally read in the March 1979 issue of Libertarian Review which I still own.

    http://www.libertarianism.org/lr/LR793.pdf @ p. 38

    Raico explains how how a lack of understanding of the nature of prices led to famine in the Soviet Union after the abolition of prices:

    One slight obstacle was encountered, however, on the road to the abolition of the price system and the market: “Reality,” as Trotsky noted, “came into increasing conflict” with the economic “system” that the Bolshevik rulers had fastened on Russia. After a few years of misery and famine for the Russian masses—there is no record of any Bolshevik leader having died of hunger in this period— the rulers thought again, and a New Economic Policy (NEP)— including elements of private ownership and allowing for some market transactions—was decreed.

    The significance of all this cannot be exaggerated. What we have with Trotsky and his comrades in the Great October Revolution is the spectacle of a few literary-philosophical intellectuals seizing power in a great country with the aim of overturning the whole economic system—but without the slightest idea how an economic system works. In State and Revolution, written just before he took power, Lenin wrote:

    “The accounting and control necessary [for the operation of a national economy] have been simplified by capitalism to the utmost, till they have become the extraordinarily simple operations of watching, recording and issuing receipts, within the reach of anybody who can read and write and knows the first four rules of arithmetic. [emphasis in original]”

    With this piece of cretinism Trotsky doubtless agreed. And why wouldn’t he? Lenin, Trotsky, and the rest had all their lives been professional revolutionaries, with no connection at all to the process of production and, except for Bukharin, no interest in the real workings of an economic system. their concerns had been the strategy and tactics of revolution and the perpetual, monkish exegesis of the holy books of Marxism.

    The nitty-gritty of how an economic system functions—how, in our world, men and women work, produce, exchange, and survive—was something from which they prudishly averted their eyes, as pertaining to the nether regions. These “materialists” and “scientific socialists” lived in a mental world where understanding Hegel, Feuerbach, and the hideousness of Eugen Dühring’s philosophical errors was infinitely more important than understanding what might be the meaning of a price. @170-171 of the new book

    We fact the same incomprehension today by people like Krugman.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Men are warriors by nature. Rarely do I find myself not thinking that I could take “that guy” if I had to, or wonder what kind of weapon I’d need to take “that bigger, fitter guy.” We need culture and conscience to keep us from resorting our basic instincts. It’s one thing to think that you *could* take that guy or would need a weapon to take that bigger one. It’s another thing to try to take that guy and to grab a weapon in order to take the other.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Like when Daniel-san asked Mr. Miyagi if he could karate chop through a tree trunk, and Miyagi said, “Don’t know, never been attacked by tree” ?

  14. Joseph Fetz says:

    Haha! I too thought that the F-14 was freaking awesome as a kid. Maybe it was ‘Top Gun’, or the Nintendo game ‘Afterburner’, who knows. I did, however, join the Navy in 2002. Sure, I didn’t know what I was getting into, and I definitely learned more than I am willing to disclose. As it turns out, my eyesight is not good enough to be a pilot, plus I did not have a degree at the time. Oh, well. But, I did get a chance to fly to and trap onto the deck of the Nimitz as “cargo” on an F14 from Bahrain.

    In any case, while it was an enlightening experience (the Navy), I will say the same thing to you that I tell everybody, “it was one of the greatest and most exciting times of my life, but I will never, ever do it again”.

    I met some really good people and made some really deep friendships, but I am definitely a different man now. Let’s just say that my eyes see much clearer, and that flying an F14 no longer seems to be what it used to be.