“Are We Rome?”


A recent Washington Post editorial meeting


I would like to put in a good word for this year’s Freedom Fest, which will be held in Las Vegas on 10-13 July.


I won’t be able to be there this year, because I’m leading a tour of England and Wales at exactly the same time.  But I regret my inability to participate in Freedom Fest 2013 very, very, very much.  And especially this year, because of the fun and intriguing theme.


I’ll be there — and I hope I’ll have another chance to be on the program — in 2014, if I have any control over it.


I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my attendance and speaking participation at past Freedom Fests.  The meetings are informative, intellectually stimulating, and enormously fun.  Where else would I have been able to have dinner with the founder and CEO of Whole Foods Markets and, another year, with Senator Rand Paul?  Or to chat with Steve Forbes and meet — separately! — with Dinesh D’Souza and Christopher Hitchens?  Or to debate one of the most prominent professional anti-Muslims?



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  • Lucy Mcgee

    I would be curious to know if your thoughts have changed since your 2008 debate with Robert Spencer regarding the “surge” into Afghanistan/Iraq, given the instability existing there today?

    To me, this dozen year war, costing trillions and resulting in the deaths of thousands of our military and tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a tremendous waste and massive national misstep. The transfer of our nation’s wealth to the transnational corporations offering their goods and services to the U.S. industrial military complex should be considered an outrage methinks.

    This seems like capitalism run amok. Dick Cheney, casting a fly to rising trout on a stream running through his ranch would likely disagree. But of course he never had to worry about his family being destroyed by an unseen drone sending down Hellfire missiles or his grandchildren being killed or maimed by an IED.

    • Mark Pierce

      As a professional soldier of some 40 years (RVN 71-72), and as one who was medevaced out of Iraq in 07, I believe you could not be more wrong in your assessment. As you may have well forgotten, all these wars started when 3,00o+ civilians were killed in New York City. While it takes two to make a peace, it only takes one to start a war. As a beneficiary of the surge (I was in Bagdad), I saw peace and stability come to neighborhoods where killing and torture had been the rule. It allowed us to pull our troops out and leave some stability for the citizens of that country. The problem with Afghanistan is we should have put enough troops instead at the beginning and not half hearted it like we have done. You can’t fight a war unless the populace is with you, and once our current glorious leader announced a departure date, the locals are now lining up with those who will run or take over the country post American troops.
      It is unfortunate that there are those in American who would apologize to terrorists for our way of life but I am not one of them.

      • danpeterson

        An excellent and valuable comment. Thank you.

        And thanks for your service.

      • Lucy Mcgee

        With all due respect to your military service, I tend to take the view of Dr. Richard Falk and the information he offers in “Lessons to be learnt from the Iraq War”. And if you read books from the likes of Chalmers Johnson, the true reasons for the 9-11 attacks emerge and it was certainly not that they hated our lifestyle as President Bush so stupidly explained. And, as we now know, there was never a link established between the 9-11 attackers and the regime of Saddam Hussein or his having WMD.

    • danpeterson

      No, my position on Islam hasn’t substantially changed since my debate with Robert Spencer.

      And I don’t see the war as particularly “capitalist.” War, however necessary it may be, isn’t a free market transaction, and the military, even if indispensable, isn’t a capitalist institution.

      As to Dick Cheney: He did, in fact, have to spend substantial time at “an undisclosed location,” and he did in fact have to worry about his family being killed by assassins and/or terrorists. Whatever one thinks about the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, they didn’t come out of a clear blue sky.

      • Lucy Mcgee

        If war isn’t particularly capitalist, then perhaps you could explain why SOFEX is held in Amman Jordan every other year, where companies like Northrop Grumman, Boeing and General Dynamics sell weapons to anyone willing to purchase them. There are some 300 vendors, set up in 30 massive tents with 12,000 attendees, mostly generals, who are “shopping”. If this isn’t capitalism, then nothing is.

        Retired generals go to work as consultants earning multimillion dollar salaries to grease the wheels of massive arms sales. Are you not aware of this?

      • http://nathanrichardson.com Nathan000000

        Dan, I got curious and looked up the debate online. I listened to the whole thing—really interesting. I liked it because right off the bat you explained how much common ground the two of you already agreed on, so you were able to go into more specific details than many debates would cover. I have some follow-up questions, but I don’t want to thread jack, so is there a better place I can ask you about the topics in the debate?

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    US arms sold to the US military employs US workers. US arms sold to other countries employs the same US workers.
    Saddam Hussein was making a concerted effort to give the appearance of having programs for producing chemical weapons (which he had used in his war against Iran), and he did have programs related to nuclear weapons production that were bombed by Israeli jets years before. He kicked out UN weapons inspectors, specifically to make Iran think he had a nuclear program.

    When Iraq was invaded, it resulted in Libya shutting down its own secret nuclear weapons program. Qaddafi did not want the US to invade his country. Libya had harbored terrorists who attacked the US, including the 747 blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland. There were two failures of the intelligence agencies, but it was a positive outcome in decreasing the number of nuclear armed countries.

    As to Bush’s intelligence, he had better grades at Yale than John Kerry. He also has an MBA from Harvard.

    While every soldier injured or killed is a personal tragedy for the family, the war started with 3000 American civilians killed on 9/11. It took ten years of fighting to equal that number in military casualties, and the number of soldiers killed in the Middle East was less than those who died in traffic accidents in the US over the same period.

    • Lucy Mcgee

      I would only direct your attention to a site named costsofwar.org, which enumerates the various human, economic and social costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Data are continuously compiled and disseminated to an interested public.

      Allied combat deaths to February 2013 is 42,335 which does not include American military who have committed suicide. Between 158,000 and 202,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan; a tremendous toll.

      • danpeterson

        And World War Two was far worse.

        Is anybody here saying that war is good?