This past week, the lead "national news" story on AM radio seemed to be the forced evacuation of Gaza. Cindy Sheehan was a close second.
Every half hour, heartbreaking stories of crying Israeli soldiers and screaming American and Israeli protestors led the national news in the American heartland. Radio interviews with protestors in Gaza revealed one reason for the apparent U.S. media interest — several protesters spoke English with a clearly American accent.
But the second aspect of this story is cause for libertarian celebration. The Israeli settlers live courtesy of the state. Their assigned land, homes, security, transportation, and employment in the occupied territories are entirely subsidized by the Israeli government, and those countries who subsidize Israel. No doubt, another reason for Americans to care.
The settlers in Gaza and the West Bank are the poster children of a white collar, faith-based security/welfare system. We Americans have a similar example of political welfare, but it lacks a compelling media image. Our own heavily subsidized big oil, pharmaceutical and military weapons and construction company executive suites are characterized by glassy highrises and anonymous well-dressed executives. There are no emotional human faces and hot physical interaction that can be captured in an award-winning photograph.
In Gaza, the faith-based welfare recipients now hate their government. They now resent the rule of the very state that created them. They hate the state. The Likud government, a key designer of both the welfare/security strategy and its reversal, has betrayed them. The settlers are angry. We understand.
The state that gave them land is now taking that land away. The soldiers who provided their security are now forcibly collecting them and placing them in temporary housing, via cages and armored vehicles. The state that built their homes will now bulldoze them.
As a lesson in government and capitalism and property rights, one couldn’t ask for a better illustration. Does the state produce anything of value — or only redistribute it? If the state has gun-backed power over all property, all security, all humanity, can the individual have comparable rights, or indeed, any rights?
Libertarians, anarchocapitalists, and other pragmatists already know the answer to these questions. But much of the world still does not — the Gaza evacuation of Israeli settlers provides a needed object lesson to the rest of the world. It is, "Beware the state."
The Gaza settlers will not see it this way immediately — but you can be sure that the next handout they accept from Tel Aviv will be taken with some apprehension. Their lawyers will creatively seek new mechanisms for ensuring private property rights. Trust in their government and in the Likud has been permanently broken.
The other news on the radio was the vigil in Crawford. One woman of principle is standing up to an unprincipled American president who took a gullible and worried nation to war without a truthful rationale, without a legal justification, and perhaps most importantly — without either a plan or an objective.
Of course we wanted new military bases and some prime military real estate in the heart of the Middle East. Of course we wanted an ability to emplace American companies securely into a post-sanctions oil-producing, cash-rich Iraq. Of course we wanted Iraqi oil to be sold on the dollar, not the euro as Saddam had been doing since 2000. But these are not discrete military objectives, nor were they ever articulated publicly to the American taxpayer.
Today, the president and his neoconservative advisors face an angry public and a tentatively brave U.S. Congress that would pull all troops back, and leave Iraq to her own nationalities, a free country to fight with whom it chooses, trade with whom it will, and to host the military forces of others only because it wants to, and not because it must. Not exactly how academician Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of the "beautiful minds" in War Party expected it to roll out.
Radio news this week, as every week, was cushioned on both sides by non-news talk — in the form of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Reagan, Neal Boortz, and Laura Ingraham. When not encouraging the listeners to purchase more of this product of that, these announcers encourage listeners to close their eyes, ears and minds to reality, so as not to be dismayed.
The Limbaugh crowd is unhappy with Cindy Sheehan’s example and her solid and growing support throughout the country. Rush is disappointed with the Main Stream Media and its sudden "liberal" bias. He and the rest of the war party cheerleaders are having a tough time picking on Cindy, with her being a mother who lost her son in a war for which they personally and incessantly lobbied, happily repeating government lies and half-truths over and over. With all her pain, she — unlike AM radio’s political puppets — has not resorted to illegal painkillers or broad brush smearing of people who disagree with her. It is a tough game these days for the neo-nasties on talk radio.
Incidentally, you can also hear Air America in Virginia. Much of it seems to be modeled on the Limbaugh/Hannity/Ingraham style, and as such is painful to hear. These days, you have to resort to National Public Radio and Alex Jones for polite conversation on the radio.
Lessons in the terrible power of the state juxtaposed with lessons in the unassailable power of individuals with integrity and courage. Good conversation and intellectual curiosity found in staid publicly funded radio and radical privately funded radio — strangely united in their curiosity and their lack of faith in the current government.
For lovers of liberty, it is hard to believe that there is much good on the national AM airwaves. But there is. Perhaps, like a lot of things, the key is to listen with your heart.
Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and among other things, writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.