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It seems someone at the Cato Institute has gone mad and jumped on the War Party's band wagon. An article entitled The Era of Hostage States by Arnold Kling was posted on July 22 that not only tries to justify Israel's desruction of Lebanon, but also attempts to justify preventive wars on Iran and North Korea.

The front page of Cato's website displays the words: Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Free Markets and Peace. This would tend to make you think that this organization promotes libertarian noninterventionst principles. Excellent articles by Cato foreign policy analysts Ted Galen Carpenter and Justin Logan serve to reinforce that belief. But instead of a well-reasoned article from Carpenter or Logan examining the situation in Lebanon, Cato publishes the sort of drivel one would expect from talk radio.

Arnold Kling, an economist, has apparently absorbed so much bombastic rhetoric from Bill "It's Our War" Kristol and Newt "Global War" Gingrich, he became bamboozled and thought he was Dick "War Bucks" Cheney. His reasoning is unrealistic and his conclusions would seem to be those of someone unable to think clearly.

Kling starts his article with a paragraph from a YNET News piece that reports "Hizbullah is preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon," according to the Israeli Military. Of course, we all know that the Israeli Military would never provide information that wasn't 100% accurate. Kling proceeds to make the case that all Lebanese people are either being held hostage by Hezbollah or they elected a government that tolerates Hezbollah.

Kling moves on to Palestine, making the same case: either Palestinians are being held hostage by Hamas or they voted for Hamas. Then he proposes his rule of collective punishment that justifies attacking innocent civilians and he renders his verdict of collective guilt:

The first rule that I propose for the era of hostage-taking is the obligation to resist. Anyone who lives under the control of hostage-takers has an obligation to attempt to escape or to resist.

Ultimately, if almost everyone resists being held hostage, then hostage-taking will fail.

I do believe that civilians in contemporary hostage situations need to be more pro-active. Passive acceptance of hostage status is not the same as innocence. It is closer to being an accessory.

So, because the Lebanese and Palestinian civilians chose to be accesories by either remaining in their countries or electing goverments tolerant of militias (that took Israeli soldiers "hostage"), Israel can freely attack these civilians.

Kling moves on to North Korea:

North Korea clearly has a government that is holding its own people hostage. Many North Koreans would escape if they were given a chance to do so. If the North Korean government were content to hold its own people hostage and not threaten anyone else, then perhaps it would be in our interest just to let them get away with it. However, the North Koreans seem eager to threaten others. Moreover, they probably would be willing to sell weapons to people who threaten others. There appears to be a strong case for applying the Bush doctrine of pre-emption to North Korea.

If this is a strong case for pre-emptive war, the world is in a heap of trouble. North Koreans seem eager to threaten others? They probably would be willing to sell weapons? Does Kling believe people should be arrested and thrown in jail with no trial if it seems to a policeman that the culprit is eager to threaten someone and/or would probably sell weapons to some other likely culprit? This is would not be a pre-emptive war against North Korea, it would be a preventive war.

Presumably, it was North Korea's lackluster missile tests that made it seem to Kling that they are eager to threaten others. North Korea's biggest missile fizzled out after 35 seconds and dropped in the water. On the other hand, America tested a missile about two weeks later that carried a dummy warhead 4,200 miles. That is pretty threatening. I guess China would be fully justified in conducting a "pre-emptive" strike on America if it seemed America was eager to threaten them.

After making a "strong case" for a preventive war on North Korea, Kling nominates Iran as a strong candidate for a little pre-emption:

The other "axis of evil" member, the government of Iran, also is a strong candidate for pre-emption. If they want to install a theocracy and advocate for the destruction of other countries, that is fine. If they want nuclear weapons, that is fine. But they cannot do both. They have to choose: either have a nuclear program, or conduct yourself in a non-threatening way.

Would this doctrine apply to a government that is a theocracy, presently has nuclear weapons, and actually is destroying another country? If so, then America must immediately launch a pre-emptive war against Israel - a Jewish state that has nukes and is currently turning Lebanon into a pile of rubble. We can take out Israel now and worry about Iran later because if Top Intel Chief Negroponte is to be believed, Iran won't be able to develop nukes for years.

Kling closes with this brilliant idea:

What about the idea of the U.S. government acting as a policeman in dealing with dangerous rogue regimes, such as North Korea or Iran? That is a troubling prospect - until one considers the alternatives. Waiting until the government of North Korea or Iran engages in hostage-taking that more directly threatens the United States is one of the less-attractive options.

How alarming! We don't have the option of waiting or else there will be hostage-taking. Obviously America must act immediately to nip any hostage-taking in the bud. After all, we are doing so well at policing Iraq and Afghanistan now. Policing Iran and North Korea should be no problem. All we have to do is reinstate the draft, train our soldiers to kill civilians that weren't pro-active in resisting their government, and then let the bombs fly. I wonder if China will lend us the money to pay for all of this?

UPDATE (8/7/06): Maybe Cato has regained some sanity. Kling's article has been pulled, but it was saved by Google here.

This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.