Palmer makes much of my description of the U.S.-appointed “Prime Minister” Iyad Allawi as a “quisling,” and claims that I am comparing America to the Nazis, since Vidkun Quisling was a Nazi sympathizer, etc. etc. But the dictionary definition of a quisling is: “Someone who collaborates with an enemy occupying force.” It doesn’t mean “Nazi,” or even “Nazi-like,” nor does the context of my usage even imply that is my meaning:
“The process of spreading a "global democratic revolution" – in the president's words – not only subverts democracy at home, but also discredits and defeats it throughout the Middle East. If ‘democracy’ and even ‘free markets’ are represented by foreign invaders and their local quislings, then sheer pride and instinctual nationalism will give rise to a rebellion of illiberalism.”
This is taken from my November 19, 2004 column, “Why We Fight,” and immediately following this paragraph is a direct refutation of Palmer’s deranged accusation that I, or Antiwar.com, give any kind of political support to the various forces fighting American troops in Iraq::
“The outright barbarism of the defenders of Fallujah – the beheadings, the kidnappings, the suicide bombings – is the work of a ‘resistance’ that is in no way admirable. The various groups that have arisen in opposition to the American occupation – the Islamists, the neo-Ba'athists, the radical Shi'ites, etc. – are all of them totalitarians of either a religious or secular cast, with the former rapidly gaining the upper hand. No American peace movement worthy of the name can give them any kind of support: they are not the "minutemen" of Michael Moore's imagination, unless one views Patrick Henry as some sort of improbable early American ayatollah – which he was most certainly not.”
In spite of the above, Palmer rants that I support the “beheaders.” That is an outright lie. He also avers, in answer to a baffled reader who objects to his characterizations, that one “should not hope, as Mr. Raimondo do[es], that more Americans be killed or that more Iraqi ‘traitors’ be killed.” One searches through my writings for any such sentiment in vain, and for a good reason: I never said or wrote any such thing. I’ll leave expressions of murderous hate to Palmer, the laptop bombardier, who sits in the safety of his cushy office in Washington, D.C., and calls for any Iraqi who dares oppose the occupation to be ”hunted down” and “destroyed.”
Hey, Tom, why don’t you go do it yourself?
In characterizing Antiwar.com’s opposition to this administration’s war-crazed foreign policy, Palmer writes: “They aren’t for peace, they’re for the other side.” That’s another lie, as anyone who cares to read what I actually wrote (in “Why We Fight”) can easily discover:
“We opposed the invasion of Iraq – without giving any support to Saddam Hussein – just as we opposed the war against the former Yugoslavia, while refusing to defend either the politics or the actions of Slobodan Milosevic and his followers. Today, we oppose the occupation of Iraq, without granting the Islamist-Ba'athist resistance a single iota of moral or political legitimacy.
“Yes, it is understandable that an occupied people will fight back: but totalitarians feed on legitimate grievances, and often come to power because they seem to address them. The tragedy and irony of our war of "liberation" in Iraq is that it is empowering the very forces – and, make no mistake about it, they are dark forces – we seek to defeat.”
What could be clearer? Palmer conflates support for the “resistance” with opposition to the occupation. Since Antiwar.com supports immediate and total withdrawal from Iraq, one could argue that this “objectively” gives support to the “enemies of America,” but Palmer isn’t honest enough to make it. Instead, he simply smears me (and, by implication, anyone who supports withdrawal). According to him, “everyone” realizes that we “can’t withdraw.” What he really means is “everyone in Washington.” Elsewhere he reports hobnobbing with high government officials, and fantasizes that someday he may even convince Dick Cheny – over cocktails – to reconsider our foreign policy of bombing the world’s peoples into submission. Yeah, we’re all reeeeeeeeeeal impressed, now aren’t we?
More untruths: Palmer claims Antiwar.com supports “dictators like Milosevic and Lukashenko” and attacks democrats like Vojislav Kostunica. Yet I wrote several long articles praising then-President Kostunica to the skies – and even planned on going to the former Yugoslavia where I was slated to meet with Kostunica, until 9/11 intervened. While attacking Zoran Djindic, I explicitly attacked Slobodan Milosevic, and went out of my way to explain why support for the Serbian strongman was impermissible:
“Far be it from me to tell the Serbian or any other people what kind of government they ought to adopt, but there is a very bright line that must be drawn between defending the Serbian people against NATO's attacks and defending the Serbian government against its own people. The people are not their government, although this is a mistake non-libertarians often make. It is one thing to call for nonintervention in Serbia's domestic affairs, and quite another to justify each and every action of the Serbian government, even the most indefensible. …
“But so what if Milosevic rigged the election to prevent a first-round victory by Kostunica – after all, who are we to tell the Serbs, the Russians, or anyone, how to organize their electoral procedures? Here is where the bright line must be drawn. It is one thing to deny that the violation of democracy is a valid pretext for intervention, and quite another to whitewash and endorse tyranny.”
That is taken from a column written four years ago, entitled “Sympathy for the Devil,” in which I excoriate, at length, what I called “the American contingent of the Slobodan Milosevic Fan Club.”
Again, what could be clearer?
Palmer, from what I remember about him, used to be a pretty smart guy, and one can only wonder at the cause of his recent mental degeneration. Instead of making some semi-coherent case that Antiwar.com – and, specifically, Justin Raimondo – represents everything that is wrong with the antiwar movement, if not the world, he resorts to making it all up. And it gets weirder …
His increasingly bizarre fixation on me is permeated with an obvious personal animus, and I have no idea what the source of that may be -- but his accusation that “Justin Raimondo and some of the lewrockwellites find my sexual orientation much more interesting than I do” is truly bizarre. Try as I might, I cannot find a single reference to his sex life anywhere on Antiwar.com. Indeed, I can find only a single reference to him at all in my columns, and that is here, where I (briefly) took him to task for not mentioning foreign policy in his radio “debate” with Jonah Goldberg:
“Congratulations to Cato Institute senior fellow Tom Palmer for managing to spend an entire hour or so debating ‘libertarianism’ with Jonah Goldberg on PBS Chicago's WBEZ radio without once mentioning the words ‘peace’ or ‘nonintervention.’ (Although he did manage to get in a plug for gay marriage). That didn't appease Jonah, however, who got in a complaint toward the end about how Tom and the other guest (Richard A. Epstein) are ‘wonderful’ people, but unfortunately they haven't done as well as the folks over at National Review in ‘policing their own movement.’”
Palmer’s sexual orientation is nowhere mentioned, although clearly he means to say that one might infer it from the reference to gay marriage. But that isn’t obvious to anyone who doesn’t already know him, and I was just reporting what he said on the air. My point was not to “out” Palmer, but to say that gay marriage is not a settled issue as far as libertarians are concerned – far less settled than a noninterventionist foreign policy. In any case, I am openly gay. So what’s the big deal? Some people need to stop whining about how victimized they are, and chill …
I have to add that the whole tone of Palmer’s screeching jeremiads – “axis of domestic evil” etc. etc. – is a good indication that something else is going on here, apart from just a difference of opinion over what attitude to take toward Viktor Yushchenko, the Iraq war – which Palmer claims to have once opposed, and now fanatically supports – and foreign policy in general. It is one thing to disagree, and quite another to twist and openly lie about your opponents’ views. What is strange is that, in this age of the internet, anyone can easily fact-check Palmer’s distortions and discover the truth of the matter with relative ease.
Palmer’s views are at the outer periphery of the libertarian movement, and well on their way to going beyond the pale. No one outside of a few neocons in “libertarian” clothing supports either the Iraq war, or U.S. government-funded “liberation” movements. Aside from that, however, it is nothing short of shocking to read Palmer’s speculation that Russia will suddenly become a “danger” to U.S. national security if it manages to retain any influence in Belarus and Ukraine: this puts him way out on that periphery, closer to the neocons than to anyone recognizably libertarian -- including the foreign policy analysts at Cato, who, thankfully, reflect none of Palmer’s foreign policy views.
What’s really odd is that Palmer’s ranting is interpolated with little asides, like this one:
“I had linked to a much less detailed account from CNN some time ago, which led the crackpots at antiwar.com and lewrockwell.com to jump immediately into action, sending me hate filled emails denouncing Viktor Yushchenko (whom they term the “(losing) candidate, a neocon/CIA stooge”) and me for raising the questions of electoral fraud and of poisoning. Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com immediately posted a number of comments on my site under several different names (as he has done in the past, suggesting that I had had sexual relations with Albanian Kosovar terrorists, and the like) railing against me for raising the issue.”
That outburst comes from a real crackpot. It appears out of nowhere, in the middle of a post entitled “Was Viktor Yuschenko Poisoned?” Elsewhere Palmer accuses various people who leave comments on his Tom Palmer assuming all of them are …. me! It’s hilarious, a little scary (“Play ‘Misty’ for Me!”) – and kind of sad. I mean, just because he doesn’t have anything else to do …