Doctrinaire libertarians are about as practical as a remote-control toaster, and are about as likely to achieve their goals as an Iraqi Republican Guard unit caught out in the open desert.
Well said. And I would add to that last line something about despairing of my political opponents who, through their ideological blinders, just can’t see the tragic necessity of it all.
I generally dismiss L/libertarians since most of their ideology seems to be built around drug legalization. They also seem to exist on the edge of that grey area where differences between left and right fade away into individualist anarchy. The difference is that libertarians believe in private property where a communist believes everything should be public domain.
You should be ashamed of your comment on the space program, however. Useless? Take away all the vast amounts of consumer and medical technologies and scientific knowledge that sprung out of the space program and it’s STILL an incredibly valuable investment.
Perfectly accurate maps of the entire globe? GPS? Instant worldwide TV, telephone, and data communication? Unstoppable satellite surveillance of hostile countries? You think this is all a big waste of money that we would be better off without?
Show me the historical examples of countries that were too scientifically advanced and posessed too much knowledge to survive and I’ll buy the argument…
I’ve been around for more than 40 years. It pains me to see that people don’t recogize that we are in the worst fight we have been since the missiles showed up in Cuba. And it’s every bit as important. Well, said, VodkaDude!
Stephen, I couldn’t agree with you more on this subject.
Regrettably, we will probably see our buses and subways exploding, like in Israel, before this war is finished.
“Robert C. Byrd Memorial to the Memorial of the Robert C. Byrd Memorial Highway Memorial”
“One of his other main goals is the return of Andalusia to Islam — you might know it better as Spain.”
thanks for bringing this up. I’ve argued time and time again that 9-11 is a much about American Foreign Policy as it is about that damnable “Las Ketchup” song.
They still don’t get it. Anything to justify killing an American, blaming them for it, and then expecting the yank to pay for the bullet and thank them for the favor.
Amen, but I would add that this is probably the most desparate fight we have ever been in. It doesnt look like it but let them set off one nuke in a large city and see how much the world will change then.
We need to win this…as Michael Leeden is so fond of saying.
Just curious: Do Libertarians really turn down any publicly-funded item they can use?
I mean, if you have to go from here to there, you either use the road or go through people’s yards. That’s one thing.
But do they all homeschool, for example?
Call cops when they’re in trouble?
This is why I always distiguish between the highly theoretical, ideal world and doing the best we can to go in the right direction in the world that we have inherited from history.
Using the ideal as a… guide, of sorts, has merit. You know, are we getting closer or further from freedom if we do X, and if we look beyond X, is it an itinerant thing that only looks bad held up to the light of non-context?
But the ideal and striving for a world more free bump into reality right out of the gate, and have to be worked at in that framework.
One of the Samizdat guys coined the phrase “social libertarian” to describe someone who has basic libertarian principles but lives in the real world of real human relationships. For example, a pure libertarian would charge a fire department to cross his lawn to get to his neighbor’s burning house, a social libertarian would recognize that kind of pettiness is ridiculous.
Yeah I hate Libertarian-purists, but the libertarian-bashers here also make me puke. Hey ho all libertarians are hypocrites because they took a shit on a public-funded toilet once. We get it. Now bugger off.
As for “war is the health of the state” I am sick to death of this platitude! Was war the health of Saddam’s regime? Or Hilter’s? Nope.
Stephen Green demonstrates that he is indeed a libertarian but will never be a Libertarian….
You need to more carefully distinguish between Libertarians and libertarians.
Libertarians are, simply put, fools. They live in the same utopian fantasy world that 1920s Communists did, a world in which thousands of years of human history and human nature do not exist. And the anti-war stance of Libertarians is because the Libertarian Party was born in the antiwar movement of the 1960s. Many Libertarians are just former hippies with the same fondness for the simplistic and impractical.
By contrast, libertarians want to limit the influence of government to the minimum necessary to hold society together. But, unlike Libertarians, libertarians recognize that self-defense against foreign aggression is a legitimate function of government.
And Harry Browne is just in it for the money. Like a television evangelist, he’s found hawking the Libnertarian line to the gullible to be an easier, more profitable use of his time than. . . . . you know. . . . . a job.
I’ve heard the term “minarchist” used in the past: the most by the least possible means. Works for me, let’s just hash out what is the least possible.
So long as there are people out there who are looking to infringe on my rights, be it muggers who want to take my money or terrorists who want to take my life, there will be a need for some authority. So long as there are those and the government deals with them effectively, I, as a Libertarian, will accept that as a free exchange for my tax money. It ain’t theft if both sides are happy with the exchange.
Doctrinaire libertarians think that to have to pay taxes to fund the care of American three-year-old orphans with no legs is to be enslaved. That’s where I say, “Whatever, dude.” I’m for making welfare lean and mean, but crimony.
in a nutshell
Most of the new bloggers I see are trying to be ever-more-reactionary versions of Instapundit or some such place. I was going to write about that, but of course, VodkaPundit got there ahead of me, and did it so much
Everytime I think libertarianism is stale, that there’s nothing left to be done with the movement, I should come back here and read these comments. I assume you’re all reasonably well informed on current events but some of you know nothing about libertarianism.
“I generally dismiss L/libertarians since most of their ideology seems to be built around drug legalization.”
It’s built on the idea of self ownership. The drug policy debate is just a current hot topic, a winning one for libertarians.
“Just curious: Do Libertarians really turn down any publicly-funded item they can use?
I mean, if you have to go from here to there, you either use the road or go through people’s yards. That’s one thing.
But do they all homeschool, for example?
Call cops when they’re in trouble?”
Of course we do, we’ve paid for those services many times over.
“By contrast, libertarians want to limit the influence of government to the minimum necessary to hold society together. But, unlike Libertarians, libertarians recognize that self-defense against foreign aggression is a legitimate function of government.”
With one swipe, you’ve sidestepped the argument that the Iraq war wasn’t about self-defense. I won’t make that argument, but it’s too substantial to ignore. Any Libertarian would not only recognize, but insist on the right to national self defence.
Walter, I think it was clear my comments were about Libertarians in general, not specifically about their attitudes toward the Iraq War.
But thanks for giving us a good demonstration of the obtuse, “can’t see the forest for the trees” mentality of so many Libertarians.
BTW, I consider myself a libertarian.
Great post. 9/11 changed me from a Libertarian to a libertarian-leaning Republican, or something along those lines. It’s sad to me that people who believe in the most rational political philsophy somehow fall for some of the most childish moral equivalency arguments about our country vs. terrorist regimes.
Harry, let me again highlight the part of your statement that I find so disagreeable:
“unlike Libertarians, libertarians recognize that self-defense against foreign aggression is a legitimate function of government”
That Libertarians don’t recognize defense as a legitimate function of government is simply false, either in a general sense or when dealing with the Iraq war.
There are libertarians who have certain principles which they would like to see put into place in the real world. Some of them are realisitic enough to get involved with actually policy-making or actual politics. People who work for the Cato Institute, or lawyers involved with the Human Action Network come to mind. They have a vision of an ideal world, or at least an optimal set of legal and political arrangements, and they take practical steps to move toward that ideal. So, it is possible to be a libertarian, even a capital-L Libertarian, and still function in the real world. The people whom you are annoyed with, and whom I also find annoying, are the ones who are dogmatists. This basic approach to life takes many forms. I have met Marxist, conservative, Christian, liberal, feminist, and race-fanatical dogmatists, as well as ibertarian dogmatists. These folks are not so much interested in understanding the world of real things and people in which they move and work and breathe and exist. The dogmatist is interested in creating an intellectual cocoon, and surrounding himself with like-minded devotees. The inability to understand and respond to actual facts which threaten this cocoon is a sure sign you are dealing with someone who was slid over the edge into fanaticism. One typical variant on this is the person who believes that nothing is as it seems because there is a conspiracy afoot. Or, the Marxist or feminist trope that if you disagree with them you have a “false consciousness” which allows them to insulate themselves from worrisome facts or arguments which threaten the cocoon.
It is especially disappointing when we see libertarians acting this way, because you (and I and most of your readers I suppose) are in substantive agreement with much of what they think and want to do.
But anyone who can look at the history of the 20th century and not see that military power was needed to defeat Nazism, and to face down the Communists until they fell apart, is refusing to face reality. Similary, anyone who is more afraid of John Ashcroft with a subpoena (however important that may be) than he is of Muhammad Atta’s little brother with a 40kt nuke in a ship container headed for LA, is similarly detached from reality. Real dangers cannot be wished away by dogmatic assertions. Sometimes real bullets, bombs and prisons and interrogations are necessary. Sad, but true.
I write this as a non-libertarian conservative. It is imperative that we be able to have conversations about these things. But someone who cannot agree on the basic factual and historical and logical premises which precede the discussion cannot be a party to a rational conversation. And dogmatists of any kind have this problem. It is endemic.
So, excellent post, but it is not just libertarians.
Amen, Stephen. The Libertarian Party lost me after 9/11. I waited to see what they would have to say in the wake of the attacks, and it began with “If we weren’t meddling in the affairs of others…” and contained little else.
Even if you were to concede that point as true (highly debatable, as you’ve pointed out), my response was “So what?” What do you people have to say in the here and now? Your counsel, such as it is, is of no practical value whatsoever. Are we simply to withdraw within our borders and…what? Wait for the Islamic Manhattan Project to run to completion? And remember, these were objections not to attacking Iraq, but to attacking Afghanistan.
In this most critical time, on this most fundamentally important issue, the Libertarians had to offer what most of the Liberals did…nothing.
I’d hardly call drug legalization a winning issue for libertarians. Check Zogby or any other polling outlet and the tilt is usually about 75% against even marijuana legalization. Here in Ohio a ballot issue to reduce mandatory jail time for drug criminals lost badly in november.
It’s a losing issue, and one that I suspect drives a lot of people away from the libertarian party and ideology. Don’t mean to be argumentative, but those are the facts…
I must disagree with the tone of the initial post, as well as most of the comments here.
With all due respect I feel that Mr. Green has missed the point. It’s not so much a case of the “War on Terror” being engineered specifically for our “benefit” by the government, but rather it being an opportunity the government jumped on eagerly when it came along.
Despite the causes & the blame, the “War on Terror” is a bigger danger to us than most realize. Sure, protecting the borders & keeping said militant from sailing into NYC with a nuke is important, but not more so than preserving our freedoms. Yes, it’s possible that several million Americans could die if we didn’t strip search every octogenarian that came into the country, but (& forgive me if this sounds cold) several million or even tens of million lives will not justify the loss of freedom that we are likely to see as a result of the “War on Drugs”. There is a very slippery slope & we have to look back up to see the top of it.
As for L/libertarians not offering a solution – I disagree. In fact an authoritarian policy was complicit in allowing the events of September the 11th to unfold as they did.
The Feds for a number of decades have ignored the Constitution & told us we have to leave the 2nd Amendment (Right to bear arms) & 9th Amendment (Right to Self Defense) outside the airport; hence a few guys with substandard blades killed 3,000 or so people. Government
I am another Libertarian who is now a libertarian. While I maintain LP registration (or more accurately, failed to change it), I vote Republican now, as the LP’s official stance on the WoT is anathema to me.
Go Read Stephen Green
I have a theory. I think Stephen Green got his wife pregnant. He’s said that he’s on the wagon until he gets his wife pregnant. (That’s my plan, too.) Now read his latest: Doctrinaire libertarians are about as practical as…
That commenter being me, nothing was confused. If you look at political ideology as a circle, liberalism is at the far “left” and conservatism is at the far “right”. At the “bottom” is anarchy where no government exists. I’m also talking about real textbook communism, not the propagandized Soviet style communism that hid a totalitarian government behind the “workers paradise”.
Push left of liberalism and you hit communism, where the state fades away into a giant publicly owned collective. Push farther left and all order fades away into anarchy.
On the other side, push right of conservatism and you hit libertarianism, where the state fades away into a land where government gives way to privatization of everything. Keep pushing right and you get the same result, essentially individualist anarchy.
The point being that communism and libertarianism have more in common than liberalism and conservatism. The biggest aspect being the elimination or reduction of central authority.
Libertarianism also has the same fundamental flaw of communism…it’s contrary to human nature. A certain part of the population will always seek power and authority, and a certain part will always be unable to function without authority. Just like communism doesn’t work on a large scale because competition and accumulation of wealth are part of human nature. That’s pretty much how I see libertarianism…looks great on paper but it will never work unless there is some kind of deep fundamental change in human psychology and culture. I’ll keep sticking with conservative democratic capitalism until then.
even tens of million lives will not justify the loss of freedom that we are likely to see as a result of the “War on Drugs”
Which is why the Libertarian Party will never be a significant political force.
Excellent post Stephen. I couldn’t agree more. I was once fairly active in the California LP, but since I’ve moved to Texas I have seen them as less and less relevent. The final straw came when the LP announced on their website that we are to blame for the 9/11 attacks because of our foreign policy.
Walter complains that the LP is not against self-defense and points at Iraq and claims that it’s all about oil, not self-defense. Nonsense. The LP was denouncing our own self-defense even before any reaction was made by the government. The LP has become a pacifist organization.
But I’m interested in the statement you made about Andalusia. Where did you learn this? It’s a very interesting point and I’d like to read more about that. Perhaps that explains why Spain has been so helpful to us.
I’m not sure what you’re talking about , Mike. Even if what you say is correct, you can’t hold Libertarians responsible for every foolish thing the LP says any more than you can Republicans or Democrats for the silly things their party leaders say.
If the LP changes its platform to support the war in Iraq will the critics here rush out and join?
I didn’t think so.
That’s just absurd, Walter. If the party leadership makes a public statement, that is pretty much the party line, by definition. Since everything they’ve done and said since then is consistent with their press release of a day or two after the attack, then there is really no reason to question the goal of the party. If I don’t like the party line I can try to change it or I can divorce myself from it. They show no inclination to change, and I mailed my membership card back to them.
If the LP changed this policy, then I would certainly re-join them. I’m not holding my breath. I was registered as a Libertarian until they took that line, and I would gladly return because I don’t like being without a party. I didn’t always vote for their candidates, but I most often did.
I wouldn’t vote libertarian for any reason anymore. I’ve become a one-issue voter, and that issue is, “who is most capable of protecting my life and our culture?” The LP has renounced being a party that takes governance of our nation seriously.
I really couldn’t care less about the Libertarian party, Walter and they weren’t the subject of my post. They’re a nonfactor. I’m talking ideology.
Mike R. is right in his view that protecting life and culture is pretty much job #1 of the government. No security? No laws? No economy. Why is the Middle East one of the poorest places in the world when they have riches literally right under their feet? It’s because their corrupt governments can’t provide a stable and secure environment for business to grow and thrive.
Libertarians might think it would be great to have virtually no laws governing personal behavior and to have an isolationist, impotent federal government, but all that will get you is an environment ripe for violence and corruption that no one in their right mind would start a business in. So you don’t have a job, consumer goods are unavailable or outrageously expensive, and the economy is plagued by corruption and shortages…but hey, you can smoke all the weed you want! Woo-hoo!
“Similary, anyone who is more afraid of John Ashcroft with a subpoena (however important that may be) than he is of Muhammad Atta’s little brother with a 40kt nuke in a ship container headed for LA, is similarly detached from reality.”
Mark my words, “Lex”: when that nuke arrives, nobody in the government is going to stop it, and then we’ll have a whole ‘nother same-ol’ discussion about “reality”.
Wow, what I wanted to say has basically already been put out there. The response of the Libertarian Party since 9/11 has been total garbage: even if we were to disengage completely there’d still be people sore about it enough to kill — heck, there’s people in our own country that think we’re scum because slavery was ended “only” 140 years ago, it’s not hard to imagine nutjobs abroad not accepting our gesture.
In general, I think it’d make more sense if instead of pacifism they pursued foreign policy based on the self-interest they respect in domestic affairs: preserve the security & sovereignty of the US as any individual would their own. Sometimes that takes force, and force ain’t pretty but when you have a gun in your face there’s no time for moral dillemas, it’s either you or them.
“Why is the Middle East one of the poorest places in the world when they have riches literally right under their feet? It’s because their corrupt governments can’t provide a stable and secure environment for business to grow and thrive.”
Actually that’s only part of it. There’s a culture that’s popular over there that drastically denigrates individual will. Those governments thrive off of it, but their removal alone wouldn’t get them on the right track.
As for corruption in government: are we to interpret this as you saying that a small government that has it’s hands in very little does more damage through corruption than one w/ it’s hands in a lot? By what logic?
There’s another axis in play here beyond Libertarian/Republican/Democrat. There are various descriptions of it. Premodern vs modern vs postmodern is a good one. Statists vs Dyanamists is another. Our political parties don’t capture these distinctions well, which is why there is so much chaos along the party boundaries.
L/libertarianism tends to attract the modernist and the dynamist. It’s horribly impractical so when important policy decisions need to be made (e.g. do we allow ourselves to be bombed), these people defect to the Republicans.
Premoderns and about half the statists are staunch Republicans, since it has become a religious party. They want the “good old days” to return. The fact that those days weren’t all that good doesn’t matter.
Postmoderns and the other half of the statists are staunchly Democrats. These are the “Everything is equivalent”, “There is no evil”, “We’ll set up the perfect public-policy planned society and everyone will be happy” people.
That leaves the moderns (there is progress, natural law, all people are equal) and dynamists (individual liberty, don’t plan the future, let it happen) floundering between two poles, neither of which they much care for.
If there were a Democrat that had a sane plan, well any plan actually, for the WoT, these are the people who might cross the line.
This is long, and if in poor taste to post, please delete it Mr. Green.
Last July I had an exchange with a friend who had worked for Cato. I have been a fairly long-time supporter of Cato and had recently “cut them off”. Here is the text of my volley to this friend:
I agree with the issue of growth of govt. being bad. I also am down on most Republicans. I am definitely a libertarian / market liberal – you seem to have me lumped in with the neo-cons because I thought the war was the right thing to do. Still do, BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE ME A “NEO-CON.”
I feel like “neo-con” has become a label whose use precludes critical thought. Just saying it squelches thinking.
I probably agree with 99% of the Cato line – we just differed on the war thing. All this illustrates is that I’m not my label.
And just because I am fundamentally anti-Statist does not mean that I believe there is no function for the State. National defense tops the list and I felt, and still do, that our actions vis-a-vis Iraq were appropriate. Not perfect, but nothing ever is, especially in hindsight.
Again, I am not a Republican, nor do I consider myself a conservative in the right-wing Republican sense of the word. I am anti-statist and am just as unhappy with much of the “neo-conservative” movement. But I do agree with them on the war, but please don’t think I’m onboard with ANY other issue just because of that. I pick and choose.
My biggest issue right now with the left, for whom I’ve almost always had contempt due to their unabashed statism, happens to be fast becoming my biggest issue with Cato and many L/libertarians…
…rather than providing alternatives to the war, the majority of both groups have chosen to sit around and bitch.
…rather than admit that the war went quite well and that MANY noble objectives have been accomplished, the majority of both groups have chosen to sit around and bitch.
…rather than work to find common ground with those of us who supported the war but are disturbed and the ridiculousness of much of our domestic policy regarding “homeland security”, the majority of both groups have chosen to sit around and bitch.
…rather than attack bad policies, they have become hysterical and shrill about attacking the Bush Administration.
I expect it from the Left, they haven’t really changed nor do I expect them to. I find most on that end of things to be less rational, more hysterical, and certainly without humor.
I have been deeply disappointed that many from the L/libertarian center section have fallen into those same patterns. Too much scholarly analysis without regard to a longer view of what is right, too much hysterical criticism of the people instead of their policies, too much dour predictions of doom and gloom, and far too little reasonable alternatives regarding our national security. Blind adherence to Jeffersonian foreign policy is no solution, and near constant mental exercises to try to defend that tunnel vision is not helping.
It is getting to where the “I hate Bush” crowd is so “unfun” to be around that it is painful. Yes, he and his administration are a bunch of right-wing statists. Yes, they are not the friends of liberty that a bunch of libertarians would be. However, they are the best choice between lefty statists and righty statists, and those are about the only choices we have at the moment. The left will continue to get its ass kicked at the polls because they are peceived, correctly I believe, to be clueless at defense. The right will continue to see this as a mandate to grow govt. in their image. It sucks, but I don’t want to be one of those who sits around and bitches.
The best thing that we L/libertarians could do is quit whining and build bridges with those that will be in power for the forseeable future. Instead, we get bitching and name-calling. Get on board with the new foreign policy, you won’t change it. Until we do that, we won’t enough voice on other issues to matter.
Here’s a copy of the letter I sent Ed Crane:
The letter I sent to Ed Crane when I stopped giving received no response and they continue to treat me like a donor. Here is is:
Dear Mr. Crane,
I just received my annual invitation to renew my support for Cato and have decided to take a break for at least a year. As a citizen I will still continue to enjoy much of the benefit that Cato produces, thus I felt that I owed some explanation.
I think Cato has blown it on the War on Terror and the Battle of Iraq in particular. I fear that Cato has gotten so caught up in
I think it was Bernard Lewis who pointed that the Islamists hate us not because of our vices (e.g., support for corrupt Middle East regimes) but because of our virtues (our secularism, our pluralism, et cetera).
Virtues that libertarians, above all else, celebrate and defend. Or used to.
Boortz et al. excepted.
Not How I Planned to Spend 6 to 7:45pm.
I hate it when shit like this happens. Now I have to post a response. I guess I’ll start by…
“Libertarianism also has the same fundamental flaw of communism…it’s contrary to human nature. A certain part of the population will always seek power and authority, and a certain part will always be unable to function without authority. “Just like communism doesn’t work on a large scale because competition and accumulation of wealth are part of human nature. That’s pretty much how I see libertarianism…looks great on paper but it will never work unless there is some kind of deep fundamental change in human psychology and culture.”
I just love social arguments for or against a political system based on some idea of “human nature”. Assuming they don’t deny the existence of human nature (e.g., communism), then they are all variants of: Human beings have been doing X for thousands of years. Therefore, doing X is part of human nature.
So, OK, humans have been breathing for thousands of years. Therefore, breathing is human nature. That’s a biological argument. But what about: Humans have had slaves for thousands of years. Therefore, having slaves is human nature. This is wrong somehow. Did it take a “deep fundamental change in human psychology and culture” to abolish slavery (at least in many places)? Perhaps it did. But we did it. It’s been argued that economic progress was the driving force; it was cheaper to produce stuff without slaves. So, does the fact that many societies have had an authoritarian structure for a long time logically imply that an authoritarian structure is human nature?
It seems to me that rational (or irrational) choice is part of human nature – a biological argument, I would say. On those grounds we could choose a non-authoritarian social structure (libertarian) if we decided we would be better off with it.
And if you are thinking about the “but we’re primates and primates have an authoritarian social structure” argument, then you would be wrong. There are many types of primate social organization ranging from libertarian (solitary orangutans) to authoritarian (gorillas). Orangutans are nicer folks generally.
Doctrinaire Libertarianism And The War On Terror
VodkaPundit – Chill Before Serving: So Long, Harry Brown In an earlier life I was a doctrinaire libertarian, though I could never bring myself to sign the statement that taxation is an unacceptable initiation of force, so I was never…
You have (I suspect intentionally) confused nature with behavior. Nature cannot be changed; behavior can be changed. Having slaves is behavior that is a possible result of nature. The human nature driving such behavior is, for example, the need or urge to dominate, to use, to manipulate, to capitalize on others. There are many aspects of human nature that cannot ever and will not ever be changed. We can try to eliminate the behaviors, but unless we find related genes and genetically screen and ruthlessly remove them from the gene pool, human nature is what it is, in all its glory and ugliness. Mike M was not talking about communists’ and and L/libertarians’ inability to accept human behaviors, but immutable human nature. Those of us who have decided we are realists accept the realities of human nature and want to deal with the world as it is, rather than as we fantasize it to be. (Ironically, the urge to fantasize and deny reality are part of human nature, too.)
Libertarianism def. : A philosophy suited to adolescent minds searching for cheap certainties.
Also, the most simplistic political philosophy other than one-man warlordism.
Honestly folks, there’s a lot to like about libertarianism, but it reminds me of a Christian fundamentalist who is much simpler than the norm for that breed. My example knows a few important facts, Jesus is God, we’re all sinners in need of redemption, and they imagine that covers everything.
The Libertarian knows a few true things, and knows them well, and seems to think his fifteen minutes of knowledge places him above those who have decades of study.
If Libertarianism really was all it claims, we would all be libertarians already. This doctrine is so simple, it would have been tried multiple times, succeeded at some point, and taken over the world. Obviously it hasn’t.
So get off your white horse, climb down from the pedestal, and get involved in the messy and confusing thing we like to call the Real World.
That the LP is against self-defense is demonstrably false. To quote from the first line of the military section of the 2002 platform: “Any U.S. military policy should have the objective of providing security for the lives, liberty and property of the American people in the U.S. against the risk of attack by a foreign power.” (http://www.lp.org/issues/platform/milipoli.html)
Most of the critical posts here, including the original one, seem to be attacking a Libertarian Party that only exists between their ears.
The hole in tthe War On Drugs and the need to keep the American gulag full is Medical Marijuana which is supported by 70 to 80% of voting age Americans.
There will come a day and a story out of the war on drugs that will revolt Americans and turn them against it.
The war on the sick and those in pain may be close to that threshold.
Now that that is out of the way: I publicly resigned from the Libs about a month after 9/11.
Vodka’s rant neatly sums up my position.
They hate us…so what?
The Vodka Pundit is probably a nice guy with a decent education. So why does he have to make
“If Libertarianism really was all it claims, we would all be libertarians already. This doctrine is so simple, it would have been tried multiple times, succeeded at some point, and taken over the world. Obviously it hasn’t.”
You could have said this [about democracy] to an advocate for democracy in the days of monarchies and tyrants and you would have been wrong.
The best manner in which humans can organize themselves, whatever that is, is not necessarily going to bubble up to the top of the heap quickly. Democracy hasn’t been around all that long. I suspect at some point in the future a more libertarian-like political structure will be tried somewhere.
I’m a day late now, but I was just reading through these comments again and found something I’d skimmed over, Mike Rentner’s statement:
“Walter complains that the LP is not against self-defense and points at Iraq and claims that it’s all about oil, not self-defense.”
I’ve never said anything about Iraq being about oil! Where did you come up with that? Try to limit your criticism to things I’ve actually said.
BIG L, LITTLE L, WHAT BEGINS WITH L
VodkaPundit has been taking aim at doctrinaire libertarians and their knee-jerk opposition to the War on Terror, mainly here, with follow-ups here, here, here, here, and here. I think he’s right on. This may seem surprising–after all, I’ve defended my…
Funny – I see nothing about osama hating us because “women drive” -
in fact – I read a tone of feeling sorry for the american public that our government wages war in support of Jews.
Joel, you need to read more of Osama’s stuff.
Here’s a link to Osama’s open letter to the US: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,845725,00.html
Pay close attention to 2A
“We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling’s, and trading with interest.”
What’s the punchline?
“If you fail to respond to all these conditions, then prepare for fight with the Islamic Nation.”
ALL THESE CONDITIONS.
Granted, chicks driving isn’t mentioned in the above… but Osama’s grievances include a great deal more than our relationship with the joooooooooooos.
A couple of brief comments in defense of libertarianism.
First, I’m glad you used the term “doctrinaire libertarian.” I consider myself a libertarian, but not doctrinaire. I support the war on terror and the liberation of Iraq. I believe that the state is the only practical way that any group of people can hope to achieve anything close to a libertarian society at this stage in history, so I intend to defend my state and work within it toward libertarian goals.
Second, I don’t expect ever to see libertarian principles widely applied, in my country or anywhere else, in my lifetime. But that doesn’t prevent me from believing they are good principles, or from attempting to nudge the political process in that direction when I can. I can live with a large disparity between my personal philosophy and the values of the society I live in, specifically because I’m not doctrinaire.
Freedom and terror
I’ve often wondered over the US Libertarian movement’s general denunciation of the war on terror. I mean, I know it’s
Me: Confused? Never!
You: What, never?
Me: Well…..hardly ever.
OK, you claim that I have confused human nature with human behavior by objecting to the statement that, “Libertarianism … [is] contrary to human nature.” It’s hard to know which way to start with this claim but here goes:
1. That libertarianism is contrary to human nature is simply an assertion. If the author of the statement really knew what human nature was, he would be the only person on the planet with such knowledge.
2. That “conservative democratic capitalism” (whatever that might mean) is more congenial to human nature would be simply another assertion for the same reason. Both libertarianism and conservative democratic capitalism are ideas. Putting them into practice would be behaviors (unless you want to hold that an idea is also a behavior). Neither is practiced anywhere on the planet.
4. To take the world as it really exists must include hedging your bets because you lack full knowledge of both the world and your own capacity to understand it.
5. You said, “…the urge to fantasize and deny reality are part of human nature…” Humans certainly both fantasize and deny reality. These are behaviors, aren’t they? So I assume it is the urges that are part of human nature. We accept them as given and we want to organize society to accomodate or control them. Let’s drop the urge-to-fantasize thing. We both know that fantasizing can have wonderful outcomes – airplanes, computers, paintings, music, etc. It seems that, in your view, libertarians grant a higher priority to their urge to deny reality than do conservative democratic capitalists. But how do you know that? What is the test to determine who sees the reality of human nature? And who is to judge? The answer appears to be each of us. We are thrown back on our incomplete and probably erroneous knowledge. To paraphrase Rogers, the problem is what you know that ain’t so.
Whether or not libertarians have a stronger urge to deny reality than conservative democratic capitalists then boils down to an opinion, not a demonstrable fact. Nothing wrong with opinions, but appealing to human nature to validate them is a bit over the top.
There’s a key difference between Libertarianism and a classical liberal democracy that demonstrates my point.
L is simple, very simple. Democracy is horribly complicated, and has a number of prerequisites.
Actually its a republic. I won’t defend a pure democracy. Democracies can be easy, and they vacillate between rule by aristos and tyrants.
You need a strong government that is not a tyranny. Weak governments lead to anarchy. Both ends are bad. The Founders solution was ‘enumerated powers’ which gave great strength in essential areas, but blocked the rest.
You need to have proven to people that an electoral loss was not the prelude of a massacre, or the reigning party will justly never step aside since who is going to volunteer to be slaughtered?
A republic is a difficult thing founded on many different sources, and trials. Its quite complicated.
A republic is a thing of beauty, a masterpiece of social and political design with its roots sunk centuries deep, often enough.
And then we have someone with two years in art college who wants to raze the cathedral, and put up this shining vision of his.
Life is complicated, and if one man does not know how to make a pencil, why should one man know how to make the ideal political structure?
I can barely begin to describe the brilliance behind the Constitution, and you want to replace it with “Keep your hands off!”?
Libertarians have some valuable insights, but a little more humility might be in order.
Whither the Libertarians (and the libertarians)?
Stephen Green has caused quite a stir with his two posts on the schism between “doctrinaire” and “pragmatic” libertarians over the conflict in Iraq and the broader War on Terror. The schism is really nothing new, and at some lev…
Since even for an anarcho-capitalist defence is the hardest case, for a libertarian it should be a no-brainer.
IOW, if there’s anything governments can legitimately do from even the most libertarian point of view, it’s defend the country.
“Guided by the overtly imperial vision of the Project for a New American Century (whose members now form the core of the American administration), the PR companies helped finesse the language to create an atmosphere of simmering panic where American imperialism would come to seem not only acceptable but right, obvious, inevitable and even somehow kind.”
Jason, and that’s bad because . . .?
After reading this discussion, I have an honest question for the L/libertarians:
Specificaslly, what would you do now? Let’s not talk about predicitions, mind you, but policy decisisons, actions, and some idea as to what you think they would produce. I am speaking in reference to Iraq/War on Terror.
“After reading this discussion, I have an honest question for the L/libertarians:
Specificaslly, what would you do now? Let’s not talk about predicitions, mind you, but policy decisisons, actions, and some idea as to what you think they would produce. I am speaking in reference to Iraq/War on Terror.”
If I were President, I would make these announcements, and take these actions:
1) I would announce that the “War on Terror” is a fraud. I would explain that the Constitution of the United States does not allow for the federal government to conduct a “War on Terror” any more than the Constitution allows for a “War on Drugs.”
I would explain that the Constitution only permits the government of the United States to be at war with other governments. And specifically only those governments that have been named by Congress in valid Congressional declarations of war. And I’d note that Congress has not made any valid declarations of war since WWII.
2) I would pledge to remove all troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq within 1 year. In fact, I would pledge to remove all U.S. troops from *all* foreign lands within 1 year. And then I’d do it.
3) I would either charge each prisoner in Guantanamo Bay with a crime, or I would send them back to whatever country they came from.
These things would return terrorists to the status they deserve: criminals, not combatants.
Mark Bahner (Libertarian)
I hear you, brother. I spent some time in the (capital ‘L’) Libertarian trenches 20 years or so back and came to a lot of the same conclusions.
My party activism was almost entirely along the lines of trying to get what was, at the time, an apparently up-and-coming political movement (quadrupled their ’72 presidential vote total in ’76, then did it again in ’80) to acknowledge that the ‘Red Menace’ was not an invention of evil statists in DC before they actually – you know – got elected to something important.
By 1984 it had become painfully apparent that while,
1) the Party wasn’t, by and large, going to buy what I was selling, that didn’t matter because,
2) there was also no way a ‘hardcore’ Libertarian was ever going to get elected to any consequential political office.
I believe that the main problem with Libertarianism – and its close cousin, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism – as a model for organizing society is that – like its nominal opposite, Communism – it views Man as strictly Homo Economicus. All we need to achieve the perfect society, in these reductionist views, is come up with a complete and consistent theory of property rights. Libertarians and Communists take essentially opposite views of what said system should be, but, at the end of the day, both of them are about money and transactions.
The real world, unfortunately for this view, is peopled with authentic human beings whose motivations are both more varied and less amenable to a coldly rational calculus than is trading and counting. While the Homo Economicus model of human behavior is a pretty good approximation of reality in societies at peace, it fails more and more to be a useful model as non-economic – and especially violent – motivations for action come to the fore. Torture it how you will, there isn’t any way rational choice theory provides useful insight into the behavior of Palestinian suicide bombers. It seems equally doubtful that the G.I. who charges the machine gun that’s killing his buddies has Pareto optimality on his mind.
In the real world, as we have too often come to find out, it is sometimes necessary for someone to charge that machine gun – perhaps even to be killed by it – so the rest of us can live our mostly Homo Economicus lives.
We have an institution, the military, which is entirely devoted to preparing to go and actually going in harm’s way on behalf of the rest of us. The human motivations that bind this institution together and to the rest of us are “stealth” entities on the economistic radar – they don’t make blips.
Libertarianism has never known quite how to deal with entities that are not – at bottom – based on economics. As a perusal of the Party’s platform will quickly reveal, the de facto answer is to pretend that there are no threats to freedom so that no military is necessary. Thus is preserved the “consistency” of Libertarian philosophy that is so prized by its most doctrinaire adherents.
Silly me. I thought Libertarianism was about maximizing Liberty. Turns out it’s really about maximizing consistency.
While I continue to believe that Libertarianism is a useful analytical framework for figuring out what appropriate public policy should be in most areas of peacetime civilian life, I have come to think of it as being analogous to the place of Newtonian Mechanics in Physics – plenty good enough to get useful answers from under ordinary circumstances, but progressively less useful when the circumstances get more and more extreme in the real, i.e., Relativistic, world.
No, I don’t like paying taxes and the Patriot Act definitely bears skeptical vigilance, but when it comes to making foreign nuisances go away, I am, to paraphrase a saying whose provenance I don’t recall, convinced that you get better results with a kind word and a carrier battle group than you do with a kind word alone. I describe my evolved political philosophy as Big Stick Libertarianism.
Gee, Bahner. If your rule number 1 were true, wouldn’t it be smart for our enemies to hide in a non-governmental organization to attack us?
Hmmm. Maybe they can form military training camps, unassociated formerly with any government. Let’s think, what about Afghanistan?
Hmm. And if I were to be an enemy intent on destroying western civilization via a non-governmental force, maybe I can get Iraq to fund it.
Regardless, the US government has the authority to wage war, violence, or whatever you want to call it, against anybody or anything that threatens our survival. Lawyers need not be involved.
Hm. Folks seem in danger of achieving a consensus here. Let’s see what we can do about that.
Libertarian Ethics and the Tragedy of the Commons.
And Jump on the Cluetrain.
In both articles I argue by implication that a market is not just defined as a place where exchanges valued in currency take place – that ultimately, all exchanges are of ideas.
And I also suggest that a government is a conduit for ideas and services, and can and should only exist as an arbiter of matters of concern to ALL citizens – I liken it to an insurance company, which in return for a regular fee, ensures against calamity.
Providing for the common defense is not just a matter of a standing army, it logically applies to all things that threaten individual citizens and would limit their freedom of action if they had to individually insure themselves against such eventualities;
crime, disease, homelessness, etc.
The provision of such services is a valuable thing and deserves a reasonable fee. Taxation is only theft to the extent that benefits are not commensurate to the service.
Arguably, they are not, nor is the government particularly interested in our Common Defense.
But this is easily remedied.
Indeed, I suggest that it’s pretty near inevitable.
“That the LP is against self-defense is demonstrably false. To quote from the first line of the military section of the 2002 platform: “Any U.S. military policy should have the objective of providing security for the lives, liberty and property of the American people in the U.S. against the risk of attack by a foreign power.” (http://www.lp.org/issues/platform/milipoli.html)”
Nice little quote and you Libertarians are becoming SKILLED politicians, in your selective use of quotes. From the same section of the LP Platform:
“We call for the withdrawal of all American military personnel stationed abroad, including the countries of NATO Europe, Japan, the Philippines, Central America and South Korea. There is no current or foreseeable risk of any CONVENTIONAL MILITARY ATTACK ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, particularly from long distances. We call for the withdrawal of the U.S. from commitments to engage in war on behalf of other governments and FOR ABANDONMENT OF DOCTRINES SUPPORTING MILITARY INTERVENTION SUCH AS THE MONROE DOCTRINE.” (emph. added)
Doctrinaire Libertarians may support the self-defense, but only in an abstract manner. If our opponents happen to reside in Mexico or Canada the US might be able to deal with them. If however they reside tens of thousands of kilometres away in Afghanistan, they’re safe. Why? Because the LP would bring the troops home and dismantle the systems that defeated the Taliban in the war in Afghanistan.
Fundamentally, the LP, and Cato for that matter, are not serious about defense.
Yes, we have a “right” to defend ourselves but we would not have the means. To paraphrase an anathema to the LP, Robert Bork, one can not make a right “moot” and still call it a right. Had the good folks at Cato or the LP been in charge, whilst we would have had the support to go to Afghanistan, and the RIGHT to go to Afghanistan, we would have lacked the ability to wage war there, and so essentially the LP and the more doctrinaire Libertarians would leave us defenseless.
Sorry, I have serious policy disagreements with a Defense Policy best described as, “We’ll stop’em at the 12 Mile Limit” or “The armed citizenry of San Diego will stop’em on the beaches.” Or as I am wont to say, “This is one more reason I am NOT a Libertarian.” It’s a great debating society, wonderful exercise for the mind, but dreadfully thin on the ground, in certain areas.
1. The claim that they hate us because our women wear short dresses or drive cars or our culture is debauched needs to be demonstrated, rather than asserted. And the importance of those issues to them over the fact that our troops have been stationed in the Holy Land and that we’re seen – rightly or wrongly – as unquestioning allies of Israel needs also to be demonstrated rather than asserted.
2. The assumption that the war on terror is less wasteful than, say, Medicare needs to also be demonstrated. You may conclude that given your answer to 1 that paying for the war on terror is worth it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly wasteful. TSA, anyone?
3. Where you describe libertarians as kneejerk in their opposition to war, maybe there are some lessons to be observed. To wit, that the same skepticism that free marketeers show toward expansion of Medicare ought to be shown toward intervention. So when the Bush administration denies that Saddam was involved in 9/11 (there is no evidence that he was), but somehow 70 percent of Americans believe he was, maybe the apparent discrepency is a result of the fact that politicians – whether they’re building a socialized medical scheme or promoting intervention – don’t tell the whole truth.
Or when the Bush administration elided the distinction between chemical WMD (essentially battlefield weapons) and nuclear WMD (truly frightening weapons) and then asserted that Saddam Hussen had WMD, it was not telling the whole truth.
Finally, if “war is the health of the state” is such a ludicrous claim, then how does one explain the dramatic growth in spending in all areas that has been the result of the Bush administration.
“Torture it how you will, there isn’t any way rational choice theory provides useful insight into the behavior of Palestinian suicide bombers. It seems equally doubtful that the G.I. who charges the machine gun that’s killing his buddies has Pareto optimality on his mind.”
There is if you assume that his life has a finite value. Once he’s decided that he’d rather die than live under the other guy’s rule, or let his family live under the other guy’s rule, then he does things like sacrifice his life to defeat the other guy. Throw in some posthumous honors that your GI values, and his action gets even more rational.
“Libertarianism also has the same fundamental flaw of communism…it’s contrary to human nature. A certain part of the population will always seek power and authority”
Yes, they do. Doesn’t mean we should let them have it without severe limitations on what they’re permitted to do with it.
“and a certain part will always be unable to function without authority.”
We call those people children. Eventually they grow up.
Mike Rentner writes, “If your rule number 1 were true, wouldn’t it be smart for our enemies to hide in a non-governmental organization to attack us?”
My #1 statement **is** true. It’s a demonstrable legal fact. The “War on Terror” is no more constitutionally defensible than the “War on Drugs.”
If our “enemies” hid in “non-governmental organizations” to attack us, the U.S. government is legally authorized to demand the extradition of those who have been formally indicted in U.S. courts for crimes committed in the U.S. (or at U.S. embassies around the world).
If the governments of the countries refuse to honor extradition demands, the U.S. Congress is authorized by the Constitution to declare war against those governments.
Then, the President is authorized to wage war such that either: 1) the non-compliant government is replaced by a government that will honor extradition requests, or 2) the non-compliant government changes its mind, and honors extradition requests.
“And if I were to be an enemy intent on destroying western civilization via a non-governmental force, maybe I can get Iraq to fund it.”
Iraq’s government funding an organization that has committed crimes against U.S. citizens legitimate reason for the U.S. Congress to declare war against Iraq’s government.
“Regardless, the US government has the authority to wage war, violence, or whatever you want to call it, against anybody or anything that threatens our survival.”
No member of the U.S. government (e.g., the President) has the authority to violate the U.S. Constitution. The President isn’t authorized by the Constitution to:
1) Wage wars without Congressional declarations of war,
2) Maintain standing armies in foreign countries,
3) Suspend habeas corpus.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of voters in this country either don’t know or don’t care when officials of the U.S. government violate the Constitution. That’s why the voters vote for Republicans and Democrats.
Joe writes, “Doctrinaire Libertarians may support the self-defense, but only in an abstract manner.”
Complete bullshit. Doctrinaire Libertarians support self-defense in a much more concrete manner than Republicans or Democrats. ***NO*** doctrinaire Libertarian would ever support legislation like the Brady Bill or the “Assault Weapons Ban.”
In fact, no doctrinaire Libertarian would ever support legislation that prohibited airlines from allowing their pilots to carry firearms. Therefore, it’s quite possible that the 9/11 hijackers wouldn’t have been able to gain control of the airplanes, if doctrinaire Libertarians ran the country.
And it’s absolutely certain that the U.S. government would not have had troops in Saudi Arabia, nor have given any aid to Israel, nor have had economic sanctions on Iraq, if doctrinaire Libertarians ran the country.
“Sorry, I have serious policy disagreements with a Defense Policy best described as, ‘We’ll stop’em at the 12 Mile Limit’ or ‘The armed citizenry of San Diego will stop’em on the beaches.’”
But you apparently DON’T have serious policy disagreements with a “defense” policy that can best be described as, “We’ll supply troops to protect the incredibly corrupt and repressive Saudi monarchy,” or “We’ll support economic sanctions against Iraq, even if it is almost universally acknowledged that such sanctions result in the deaths of many thousands of innocent Iraqis.”
Joe quotes the Libertarian Party, adding capitals for emphasis: “There is no current or foreseeable risk of any CONVENTIONAL MILITARY ATTACK ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, particularly from long distances.”
Joe, do you disagree at all with that statement? If you do disagree, please name what country might launch a “conventional military attack on the American people.”
“Libertarians are, simply put, fools.”
I’ve heard Thomas Jefferson called many things…but not a fool. Ditto James Madison.
It’s a simple fact, the vast majority of the founders of this country (e.g., those who signed the Declaration of Independence, and those who wrote the Constitution) were closer in ideology to the Libertarian Party than ANY other modern political party. That most certainly includes the Republican Party!
Well, Mark Bahner, you’re an excellent example of why the LP has made itself incapable of being taken seriously as a political party.
Jefferson was NOT a libertarian. Your associating the LP with Jefferson is a bit of wishful thinking. He most definitely believed in defense.
Yes, there are militaries capable of waging conventional war (whatever that is, I couldn’t say) on our territory. But we have, thankfully, a very powerful capability to stop them. That’s mostly because we’re in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Congress most assuredly did declare war on Iraq. They still have the power of the purse to stop it if they’d like. Our democratic process deters them from such foolishness but if the American people didn’t want the war, Congress the ability to stop it.
Now, let’s say that a group of pirates is operating on the high seas and not based at any country. Are you trying to tell me that we have no authority to do anything about it since they aren’t a “country?”
I think we absolutely should hold nations responsible, but we’re not required to do that before we can act to protect our safety.
You’re living in make-believe world where the bad guys follow rules.
“Jefferson was NOT a libertarian. Your associating the LP with Jefferson is a bit of wishful thinking. He most definitely believed in defense.”
You think Jefferson was closer to any other modern party than the Libertarian Party? If so, which one?
“He most definitely believed in defense.”
The Libertarian Party believes in defense. I defy you to show an example of any official Libertarian Party message that supports abolishing the military.
The Libertarian Party does NOT believe in U.S. troops stationed in foreign countries. Neither did Thomas Jefferson. Neither did George Washington. Neither did James Madison.
But the Republican Party most assuredly DOES support U.S. troops stationed all over the globe!
“Yes, there are militaries capable of waging conventional war (whatever that is, I couldn’t say) on our territory.”
Name one country that could wage war on U.S. territory.
“Congress most assuredly did declare war on Iraq.”
Bullshit. Here is an example of a declaration of war…a REAL declaration of war:
“Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United states of America:
“Therefore be it
“Resolved, etc., That the state of war between the United states and the Imperial Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United states.”
I defy you to find any similar language for Iraq.
“Now, let’s say that a group of pirates is operating on the high seas and not based at any country. Are you trying to tell me that we have no authority to do anything about it since they aren’t a ‘country?’”
No, the Constitution authorizes Congress to make laws against piracy. There has been no piracy in the “War on Terror.” There were no crimes committed on the high seas (outside of the jurisdiction of any government).
“You’re living in make-believe world where the bad guys follow rules.”
No, I’m not. But apparently unlike you, I demand that leaders that I vote for follow The Law (the U.S. Constitution). That’s why I vote Libertarian. (Though if I were in the Honorable Ron Paul’s district in Texas, I’d vote for a Republican for my Representative.)
Jefferson and an equivalent modern party? There isn’t one, and I would call it hubris for the LP to claim him.
If we didn’t have military forces overseas, then any number of nations could easily invade us. Perhaps not successfully, but they could have a good try at it. It’s our presence overseas that keeps this from being very viable. But even with our troops overseas, don’t discount the Russians or even the Cubans. If they desired, the British and the French could do so. The Germans have often toyed with the idea of invading through Mexico.
Sure, it’s hard to believe, but that’s because our military is so powerful. If the LP had its way, we would have to start worrying a lot about these issues.
You can play around with your sea lawyer, simple-minded insistence that the Constitution has been violated, but the truth is that our government worked very well in this instance and all the legal niceties were complied with. Congress approved attacking Iraq, and we attacked them.
You certainly stirred up all the big L and little l libertarians! Once I got through all the fancy terminology I had to wonder to myself, does the author of this article really believe that Islamic fundamentalists would have attacked us on our own soil if we hadn’t been militarily thrusting ourselves into the affairs of others as a matter of policy for so long?
It’s a perplexing question.
On the other hand, I worry as much about home grown fundamentalists as I do those born on foreign soil. A little Ricin in your tea anyone?
Fanatic, can you please explain in concrete terms what you consider to have been our “militarily thrusting” at others? Frankly I can’t think of any in the past thirty years that weren’t a reaction to their attacks.
No matter how meddlesome we might have been perceived to have been by religious fanatics or anyone else, nothing on Earth justifies their attacks on 9/11. For that, they must pay dearly. And in the process we will make their people free and great friends to us.
VodkaPundit serves up some Truth: Did Wahhabi Islam attack us because we had soldiers in Saudi Arabia? Yes, it did. Are doctrinaire libertarians opposed to us having troops in Saudi? Yes, they are. But the Wahhabis also attacked us because…
Washington, Jefferson, the Adams family (not Gomez and Morticia, but John and John Q)–these men also ignored 5,000 years of human history when they created the greatest nation to ever be conceived-America. It is not a sign of being out of touch to dream of liberty beyond what history has offered. It can be a sign of greatness.
For 100 years, from the fall of Napolean until the trenches of WWI, the world lived in relative peace. It was no “utopia”, just as the Indians of both East and West, but it was relatively peacefull. That was because by and large, except for the war to prevent Southern Independence, America followed the wisdom prescribed by George Washington in his farewell address. Peacefull trade with all, no entangling alliances, no special relationships with other nations, etc.
In the last century, these principles were abandoned, by Wilson, the Roosevelts, Truman, Johnson, and the Bush family. We have to look at Warren Harding as the only President who actually followed our Fathers wishes…
Don’t tell me that we did not pick the fight that resulted in 9/11. That attack on Manhattan is just a part of the Gulf War , not one and two, but one mindless exercise in Middle Eastern adventurism. Don’t speak to me about National Defense and how we need big government for it when we had the best defense the world has seen for nearly one hundred years from 1814-1914–
a limited constitutional government.
As PJ O Rourke says, there are only two rules for government-mind your own business, and keep your hands to yourself.
Brendan, that was almost incoherent.
Your 100 years of worldwide peace exists only in your mind.
So if they don’t like short dresses or vulgar TV, why don’t they attack Sweden or Denmark? Or the Czech republic (you should see what’s on Czech TV these days). If they don’t like permissive lifestyles, why isn’t Polynesia their primary target?
I think you’d have to lean towards those troops with the flags on their shoulders shooting at them as their main gripe.
Basil, what are you talking about?
It has nothing to do with anyone shooting at them. They want to destroy us. It doesn’t even matter why.
Even if we did something wrong in the past, and nothing we have done justifies their attacks on us, we still are obliged to destroy their ability and willingness to harm us.
More Shifts, Turning Tides?
Venomous Kate weighs in on the upcoming Presidential election — and it’s not good news for GWB. …daily emails arrive asking why I haven’t come out and declared my preference for Bush. The fact is, I’m not ready to do so. Yet. Why not? To readers of …
Bush 43… Conservative, Liberal, Or…?
President Bush has frustrated and confused a lot of people in the last couple of years. His decisions and policies simply refuse to fit into the “left”/”right” spectrum of conventional political discourse. War and internal security policies anger “libe…
“Well, Mark Bahner, you’re an excellent example of why the LP has made itself incapable of being taken seriously as a political party.” – Mike Rentner
That probably says a lot more about the political mindset of the country than it does about the Libertarian party. A political mindset shaped by how many decades of accustoming citizenry to the erosion of actual liberal principles by degree?
“If we didn’t have military forces overseas, then any number of nations could easily invade us. Perhaps not successfully, but they could have a good try at it. It’s our presence overseas that keeps this from being very viable. But even with our troops overseas, don’t discount the Russians or even the Cubans. If they desired, the British and the French could do so. The Germans have often toyed with the idea of invading through Mexico.
Sure, it’s hard to believe, but that’s because our military is so powerful.” – Mike Rentner
Interesting. As a student of the military who’s carried a rifle in harms way a couple of times, that leaves me with a question: Isn’t the presumption that troops stationed in forien lands are the backbone of a powerful military failing to take into account other aspects of a powerful military?
Force projection. Logistics. Transport capability. Mobility of response. Flexibility of response.
Once a Declaration of War is made, you don’t have to have troops stationed in Germany to project force into Europe. And after the war is started, if you have the strong military to begin with: the strong standing army – you will have troops stationed in harms way in forien lands shortly after. We didn’t start either of the two World Wars with a huge build up of troops in France or Okinawa initially.
At best, if you have enough troops on forien territory, they’re an advance projection of force – a forward army [which doesn't quite describe our concentrations in Europe at the moment]. At worst, a small concentration is a tripwire for hostilities: what in the bush you’d call an “LP” or listening post. If the LP gets shot up, you know it’s time to move in the heavy troop concentrations.
Having a forward LP in otentially hostile territory is a standard part of doctrine, but no good commander I’ve ever seen views it as anything but a dangerous and provocative stance: when hostilities break out, your tripwire is the first thing that gets shot up.
There’s nothing in what I’m reading Mark saying that excludes the US from having both a strong military and the capability of an extremely strong Projection of Force, and having the LP’s in certain areas isn’t a prerequisite to that. We have different tripwire capabilities now than we did in 1939.
The current war in the middle east wouldn’t have been obviated if we hadn’t had troops and bases elsewhere. Our response would have been the same to 9/11, only the mechanisms of getting there would have been a bit different, along with the logistics.
And, it’s entirely possible that a military defense policy based on something other than advance bases over the past 30 years would have required concentration on the other logistical aspects to achieve the same projection of force. That’s a “might have been”, and those can be argued futilely all day long.
Doesn’t change the fact that there are other ways to achieve the same ends within practical military doctrine. Some ways might be better, some might be worse.
I am going to note that having a strong presence of troops in forien lands didn’t prevent a rather noticeable hole in the NYC skyline. Tripwires can be bypassed.
Plus, we’ve already paid a month’s rent on the battlefield
Two blog posts are mingling in my head this morning. While each, on its own, makes a good point…I think the most important point is best made by the two, together. Billy Beck writes… This man has a grip on…
Doctrinaire libertarianism boils down to: I want the world my way, I want it now, and who cares if 5,000 years of human history are against me.
Doctrinaire libertarianism boils down to: I want the world my way, I want it now, and who cares if 5,000 years of human history are against me.
And this differs from most legislation how?