All posts by Thomas L. Knapp

Don’t Expand NATO. Disband It.

Animated map of the expansion of the intergovernmental military alliance NATO from its founding to 2020. Created by Arz. GNU Free Documentation License.
Animated map of the expansion of the intergovernmental military alliance NATO from its founding to 2020. Created by Arz. GNU Free Documentation License.

“The decisions we have taken in Madrid,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said as a summit of the alliance’s members closed in Madrid on June 30, “will ensure that our Alliance continues to preserve peace, prevent conflict, and protect our people and our values.”

Decisions taken at the summit include inviting Sweden and Finland to join as NATO’s 31st and 32nd member states, an increase in “high readiness” forces to more than 300,000, more money in general, and of course more money for non-member state Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

None of these, of course, will “preserve peace” or “prevent conflict,” and given the last 30 years of the alliance’s history, even the notion that they’ll “protect” the people of NATO member states is dubious. That’s not what NATO does these days.

What NATO does these days is constantly attempt to remake the world in the image of “liberal democracy,” very loosely defined as whatever the organization’s member regimes happen to want at any given moment.

Since the  disintegration of the Soviet Union  and  dissolution of the Warsaw Pact — NATO’s original betes noires — in 1991, the alliance has grown like Topsy  with new member states located far from the North Atlantic, all while launching or joining in numerous  wars of choice in the Balkans, in the Middle East, in Central Asia, and in Africa.

Characterizing NATO as a “collective security” or “defense” coalition these days is pure fiction. It’s an alliance for global conquest and US/European hegemony, and that’s all it is. The criterion for NATO military  intervention is no longer, per Article 5 of its charter, an actual attack on a member state, but rather any refusal — actual or potential — to slavishly obey the edicts of the alliance or its heavyweight regimes.

Think what you may of Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, his stated concerns about Ukraine potentially joining this violent supranational gang and bringing it right up to Russia’s border were completely understandable. That war might have been avoided if not for NATO’s obsession with constant expansion.

NATO is a clear, present, and constant danger to world peace.  It outlived its notional usefulness as anything else more than three decades ago.

The United States in particular has no conceivable legitimate interest in remaining a NATO member.  With no closely located enemies of military significance, and with the power to project more force “over the horizon” than any other power on Earth at need, the only things it gets out of NATO membership are the kinds of foreign entanglements George Washington and Thomas Jefferson warned it against.

As for the European powers, if they want to form a military alliance, perhaps under the European Union umbrella, well, that’s their business. They should do it at their own expense and with their own military personnel, not with American blood and treasure at stake.

The first step in disbanding NATO and eliminating it as a threat to global peace is for the US to depart the alliance. The sooner the better.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Who’s Murdering Immigrants? It’s No Mystery.

Plaque inside the base of the Statue of Liberty with the sonnet "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. Public Domain.
Plaque inside the base of the Statue of Liberty with the sonnet “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. Public Domain.

It’s a grisly affair: Dozens of immigrants locked in a semi-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, apparently abandoned by those attempting to smuggle them into the United States. After their cries for help were heard and rescuers arrived, 48 were found dead at the scene, four more died shortly thereafter, and 16 were hospitalized.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pronounces himself “heartbroken,” but doesn’t seem inclined to apologize for the “unprecedented” operation he launched less than three weeks ago in “an all-of-government effort to attack the smuggling organizations.” As of that time, DHS bragged, nearly 2,000 smugglers had been arrested in the previous eight weeks.

Texas governor Greg Abbott declares that “these deaths are on [US president Joe] Biden” — not because Biden is ultimately responsible for the “unprecedented operation” leading directly to outcomes like this, but because (in Abbott’s vivid imagination, anyway) Biden pursues “open border” policies.

But if the US government pursued the “open borders” policy mandated in its Constitution,  those immigrants wouldn’t have been locked in a semi-trailer in the first place, nor would their drivers have abandoned them, presumably after suspecting that they were immediate targets of  Mayorkas’s “unprecedented operation.”

Instead, they’d have arrived  in the US alive, in good health, and without fear of abduction by Mayorkas’s or Abbott’s thugs.

They’d have arrived the way any of us arrive anywhere — on foot, by bicycle or scooter, motorcycle, car,  bus, plane — and largely, like all of us, without incident.

Why didn’t they? Because American politicians know that supporting government lawlessness on immigration gets them votes.

A vote for a non-“open borders” politician — these days, that means pretty much any Republican or Democrat — is a vote for mass murder.

If you happen to believe in a deity who watches and judges us, remember that the next time you fill out a ballot.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Abortion: No, Dobbs Isn’t “Decentralization”

Pro-choice and pro-life demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in 1989. Photo by Lorie Shaull. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Pro-choice and pro-life demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in 1989. Photo by Lorie Shaull. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

On June 24, the US Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Not unexpectedly (due to a leak of associate justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in early May), the ruling overturns decades of precedent established in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992),  largely leaving the question of if (and if so, how) abortion can be regulated to state legislatures.

My usual disclaimer: This column is not about abortion. I’m not going to try to tell you that it’s right or wrong, or that it should be legal or illegal. You’ve probably got opinions on that. They’re probably not going to change. I’m not going to try to change them.

I’m less interested in abortion itself than I am in the quality of arguments about it. And I see a truly silly argument being advanced by supporters of the Dobbs ruling. Let’s call it “the argument from decentralization.”

Constitutionally, that argument often takes the form of claims for “states’ rights,” which is itself a misnomer. Constitutionally, states don’t have “rights,” they have powers. See, for example, the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Most “states’ rights” advocates ignore those last four words, holding that anything goes for state legislatures where a federal power isn’t enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution.

A specific sub-set of those who favor the “states’ rights” position also attribute a general goodness to “decentralization” as such, rather than mere “federalism” (which really treats state legislatures as the “lowest” level of power).

Decentralization is the notion that decisions should be made at the “lowest” possible level of government. Don’t let Congress decide if a state legislature can decide; don’t let a state legislature decide if a county commission can decide; don’t let a county commission decide if a city council can decide;  don’t let a city council decide if individuals can decide.

I’m pretty fond of decentralization myself. But the Dobbs ruling is exactly the opposite of decentralization.

Per Roe, decisions concerning abortion were largely decentralized to the lowest possible level, that of individual choice. Agree with the logic of the decision or not, that was its effect.

Per Dobbs, such decisions are now largely centralized into the hands of state legislatures.

It’s reasonable to argue that abortion is right or wrong, choice or crime, etc., and that it should be addressed at this or that level of government.

It’s unreasonable to pretend that a massive centralization of power is a decentralization of power.

Whatever else Dobbs may be, it’s unquestionably a “bigger government,” not “smaller government,” ruling.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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