Identity Quest: conservative, liberal, or libertarian?

July 14, 2010

Moe Lane comments on a debate at Reason about whether libertarians should ally with conservatives or liberals (or no one) in our continuing political free-for-all. While I’m uncomfortable with labels because people rarely agree on definitions, Moe provides a good example of why I consider myself a “conservative with libertarian leanings,” rather than a “Big L” doctrinaire libertarian:

When asked whether the government should be involved in something, the libertarian will default to “No;” the liberal, to “Yes;” and the conservative to “I don’t think so.”  What a lot of conservatives forget is that their answer and the libertarian answer is not quite the same; once a conservative is convinced that government intervention is acceptable or even laudable he will enthusiastically support it*.  And what a lot of libertarians forget is that while “No” and “Probably not” are not quite the same, “No” and “Yes” will never be the same; even in places where the results would be the same the process is significantly different**.  In other words: to a libertarian, a conservative is an ultimately unreliable ally (and vice versa).  But a liberal’s just going to be somebody who’s only right by accident.

Click through to see the reasons for the asterisks.

I don’t reject all government actions, programs, or regulations by any means, but I do have a healthy suspicion of them and a bias toward a) thinking the free market will often but not always do the job better and b) do so without running the risk of unduly restricting an individual’s freedom. To my mind, any action by government should be forced to answer the old question from WWII gas-rationing days, “Is this trip really necessary?”

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In most cases, this would mean war

July 14, 2010

Based on communications intercepted during the operation itself and the confession of one of the operatives, India has accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, of being behind the 2008 Mumbai massacre:

India has accused Pakistan’s powerful spy agency of planning and executing the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in the strongest and most specific allegation of Islamabad’s involvement in the assault from a top official.

The remark comes a day before the foreign ministers of the rival nations are set to meet in Islamabad to attempt to rebuild a fragile peace dialogue that was shattered by the attacks, which killed 166 people. It appeared to be an attempt to ratchet up the pressure on Pakistan to prosecute people whom India says were deeply involved in the assault.

In an interview published Wednesday, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai accused Pakistan’s powerful spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence of playing a key role the attacks.

“It was not just a peripheral role. They (the agency) were literally controlling and coordinating it from the beginning till the end,” Pillai told the Indian Express newspaper.

Sponsoring a raid on another country’s city that results in over 150 deaths would usually earn one a visit from the other guy’s military. And I have no doubt that a) India would have every justification to crush Pakistan and b) they could do it within a matter of weeks, if they tried.

But, then, both have nuclear weapons, which no doubt gives India considerable pause. Look at it this way: the point of nuclear weapons is that your enemy can’t be sure of what will trigger a massive response, therefore they aren’t likely to push you too far. In Pakistan’s case, the ISI (which is highly Islamized and only nominally under government control) guesses it can get away with quite a bit without provoking war with India, because India, on its part, cannot be sure that an invasion of Pakistan wouldn’t lead to a nuclear strike by a desperate Pakistani military. India also has to be concerned that punitive action against Pakistan, with its weak and unstable governments, might cause a collapse of central authority and the passing of Pakistan’s nukes into much more dangerous and unpredictable hands.

Hence New Delhi’s relatively mild words (after all, they’re still talking) and the apparent determination that an attack against the nation’s financial capital and the deaths of several hundred citizens isn’t worth war.

Yet.

The danger lies in a Pakistani miscalculation of India’s response after the next incident, and there will be a “next incident,” I’m sure. The ISI isn’t sorry this happened, only that they got caught. With a large part of the service comprising  jihad-minded Muslims, they’re bound to continue their terror war against India. The risk is that the Indians decide they’ve had enough and should “do something” about Pakistan.

At which point things get really scary.

(via DaveedGR)