03 Sep 2014

Thoughts on Europe

Foreign Policy 38 Comments

I vaguely remember in grade school they taught us a short list of the causes of World War I. One was the assassination of the archduke. The other was a two-word phrase. I can’t remember it now. Neither does President Obama, apparently.

38 Responses to “Thoughts on Europe”

  1. Dan says:

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but he gave a speech on WWI earlier this year that made me want to vomit. He talked about how we all owe our freedom to those who sacrificed their lives during that war. How a war that led to the spread of communism and facism is what we owe our freedom to is beyond me. Although, he could’ve meant it ironically and been using air quotes when he said freedom. But somehow I doubt that is what he was going for.

  2. Enopoletus Harding says:

    “Arms race”?

  3. Matt M. (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    “unrestrained capitalism?”

  4. Ken B says:

    It re-assures me to know you still consider grade school lessons adequate to understand the causes of that war; I do like seeing my prejudices confirmed.

    • Major.Freedom says:

      Murphy, I recommend deletong this troll comment.

      Nowhere did you say or imply that the two cases you mention are “adequate to understand the causes of WW1”.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        MF I recommend you ignore trolls from now on. It’s actually very difficult and a waste of my precious bodily fluids to decide what I can delete in good conscience.

        • Enopoletus Harding says:

          I agree with MF here.

          • Dan says:

            Why should he waste his time policing the comments when we can simply ignore trolls? Now, if you want to talk about banning trolls, I completely agree with doing that.

            • Dan says:

              And I would add that I believe banning trolls is necessary if you want to have productive conversations. Because, for whatever reason, a lot of people don’t have it in them to ignore those kind of comments. Heck, look how many times people state flat out they like arguing with people even though nothing productive is coming out of it.

              • K.P. says:

                Hey now, “productive” is subjective… oh, I won’t fight this one, Bob has plenty reason to ban me.

        • Major.Freedom says:

          Ok, I understand.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        We should be paying Bob Murphy for allowing us to participate for free in his anger management course.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          It’s a market failure Bob Roddis. GDP would go up but it would violate natural law if I forced you guys to pay for it.

          • Major.Freedom says:

            How about putting a link to your PayPal account?

            I think it would still be “Free Advice”, but offering something for free doesn’t mean you can’t be paid for something else you aren’t selling here.

          • Enopoletus Harding says:

            Funniest thing I’ve read all day.

        • Tel says:

          I thought I was paying him by participating!

          • Peter says:

            Always remember to click the ads. For example, right now I’m looking at a cool ad for “PetPlan” pet insurance on the top of the Free Advice page. I have pets, so I will click, if only to thank them for being such a kind sponsor.

    • Matt G says:

      Ken B, your comments are often informative and provide a welcome dose of thoughtful criticism. You do them a disservice with pointless insults such as this.

      • Ken B says:

        Fair enough. Let me explain why I think Bob’s remarks are so very objectionable. Bob doesn’t care whether deterrence might keep the Ukraine free. He hasn’t given even a cursory examination to the facts on the ground. His mind was made up long ago; he opposes any action the US government might take in Ukraine, regardless of the facts or the effects. It’s an ideological decision. I think it bad enough just like that, to chance with the fates of millions on the basis of what is little more than a settled prejudice. But to lard on top of that a flippant shot to imply that it his political adversaries who are the unthinking ones is even worse.

        • Tyler says:

          If someone was advocating murdering an innocent person and I said I opposed doing so, and you said “But wait, you haven’t heard all the facts yet, you’re making an ideologically motivated decision,” and I still refused to consider the facts, would you then say I was acting objectionably?

          • Ken B says:

            Right, because deterring aggression and murder are the same thing. Murphy knows game theory, he knows deterrence can be effective. Ancap claims to be based on a proper understanding of incentives. Instead of a discussion of this case we get boilerplate dogma.

          • Major.Freedom says:

            Tyler, that is exactly right. Ancaps consider the “fact” of some people murdering innocent people, hold it as unethical, and certain people, some of them poster children for the “statist troll” monicker, say that this is a decision that is taken “regardless of the facts” and “ideological”.

            As if it is not an ideological decision to believe murdering innocent people can be ethical if done by technocratic social democratic governments.

            We hear boilerplate dogma from the true believers almost every time a political event occurs, and then we have to hear that we’re spouting boilerplate dogma.

            • K.P. says:

              The ideologue that acknowledges himself as such is, at the very least, refreshing.

        • Jan Masek says:

          What’s wrong with an “ideological opinion”? What else should an opinion be based on if not a collection of intelligent, rational thoughts, i.e. ideology? Bribes, unrestrained violence, randomness?

          On Ukraine: what does it even mean to say “keep Ukraine free”? Who or what is Ukraine? In my opinion it’s 45m individual people. Some of them want to be organized in the state of Ukraine, some of them don’t. Some of them identify themselves as Ukrainians, some of them as Russians. Some of them speak Ukrainian, some of them Russian (similar but different language). To force those identifying themselves as Russians to be part of a Ukraine state and follow their orders is aggression and I don’t see how anybody can dispute that.

          When Slovaks wanted to break away from Czechoslovakia, did we (the Czechs) have the right to send tanks to Bratislava? Absolutely not. We split and it’s been an enormous success story, both economically and politically – we have never had such friendly relationships with the Slovaks as we have now. Being independent doesn’t mean you cannot do business together.

          The USG effort to help Kiev subdue Doneck is criminal and efforts like these are the reason why the USG (not the USA) is despised the world over.

          • Ken B says:

            Ideology and intelligent rational thoughts are not synonyms.

            • Jan Masek says:

              How are they different?

              • Major.Freedom says:

                Some people use the Marxist definition of “ideology”, which is a peculiar definition derived from the belief that true knowledge can only come from sensory experience, and never self-reflection, which Marx held as at best illusory, and at worst a product of one’s class interests, and more generally, the social conditions during each stage in the history of class conflict.

                Many intellectuals over the years have adopted this definition of ideology as a pejorative, and it has filtered throughout the general population as the same.

                So we hear things like “Oh that’s just your ideology”, and this is supposed to constitute a sufficient grounds for eliminating it from consideration of truth of reality.

                Ideology, if you look up the definition, is just a set of ideas that constitute a persons’ knowledge. Everyone who has ideas has an ideology.

                Ideology and rational thoughts are not synonyms, but they are not mutually exclusive either.

                Statists have an ideology. Their ideology consists in the belief that statesmen ought to abide by a different ethic than the rest of the population. There are state ethics, and civilian ethics, and often they don’t even realize that their ethics contradict themselves. They claim it is wrong to do X, but they believe it is OK, or at least tolerable, if statesmen do X.

              • Tel says:

                Shorter MF: people without ideology really have no idea.

          • Ben B says:

            “Being independent doesn’t mean you cannot do business together.”

            I don’t think they see it like this. The people wanting to keep the Ukraine united are not businessmen; they are politicians. They make money through the expropriation of property, and not through production and exchange. They are concerned about the immediate loss of tax revenue.

        • Bob Roddis says:

          Bob doesn’t care whether deterrence might keep the Ukraine free. He hasn’t given even a cursory examination to the facts on the ground.

          What “facts on the ground”? The US helped overthrow the elected Ukrainian government in February using authentic Nazis who were rewarded with four ministries, including the office of national security, in recognition of their key role in the final attacks that forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives. The Ukrainian military is slaughtering civilians in the east. And Kiev most likely shot down the Malaysian plane.

          Finally, the Russian have not invaded or really threatened Ukraine despite these outrageous provocations.


  5. Ken B says:

    For those with a serious interest in the cause of the war, Fromkin’s book Europe’s Last Summer makes very well the case the war was sought by factions in the Serbian and especially German military and government. It seems certain that Berchtold and Moltke wanted war and worked to achieve it.

    • Major.Freedom says:

      You’re like that lond haired guy at the “Hahvard bah” from Good Will Hunting.

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    The ultimate cause of the war was the citizenry that participated in and enabled it. Daniel Kuehn has shown that US participation was financed by the Federal Reserve.


  7. Noah says:

    Entangling alliances?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      That’s it Noah, thanks. Now tell the White House that an “eternal” commitment (actual word he used) to Estonia is unwise.

  8. Bob Roddis says:

    The American statist “ideology” seems to have two branches, both of which coalesced in the mad “progressive” Wilsonian rush into WWI: American as a “Christian” nation with a duty to “save” the world with “democracy”. Read 8 pages of “The War for Righteousness” by Richard Gamble. The declaration of war was passed on Good Friday, 1917 and that was not a coincidence.


    Since then, the Democrat “progressives” have dumped the “God” part of the religion, while the Neocons have adopted a strange “dispensationalist” version where “Christians” and the USA have a duty to help Israel steal more land and induce WWIII and the “rapture”. (I have had the recent unforturnate experience of debating an entire army of Mark Levin types who “like” genocide of the Palestinians). The Neocons actually seem to believe that Obama is a liberal peacenik who simpathizes with radical Islam. They think libertarians do too, while the left “progressives” think we hate everyone. Both sides seem to think the US government has magical powers to cure things, but they disagree upon what those magic powers are and who and how they should be applied. Those who do not agree with each side are evil and/or stupid.

    Both sides are still gung-ho about imposing their religion upon everyone else and the rest of the world. When their endeavors blow up in their faces, it’s because the opposing “progressive” side didn’t do it right.

    I suspect this is the real reason why we have such trouble even defining basic terms with the statists.

    (I am not trying to disparage non-statist Christianity here and have no intention of entering into a Sunday-type debate on that completely different topic.)

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