The PJ Tatler

No Doves Among Us: For Anti-War Libertarians, Neither Cruz Nor Paul Will Do

Rand Paul, Ted Cruz

We really ought to rethink what constitutes being anti-war. In the meantime, the conventional definition of not liking wars and opposing their prosecution will have to do.

Among anti-war libertarians anticipating next year’s Republican presidential race, much ado has been made of the increasing hawkishness apparent from presumed candidate Senator Rand Paul. Writing for The Week, author Michael Brendan Dougherty lays out the underlying problem:

Some of what bothers libertarians is just politics itself. Ron Paul was an elected official, but was hardly a political figure. Part of the senior Paul’s appeal to his libertarian fans was his absolute purity. He was “Dr. No.” He would not vote for anything that did not meet his strict ideological standards. He did not engage in politics as a means of acquiring power or advantage over adversaries… Ron Paul didn’t ever let the work of coalition building or policy formation get in the way of a good argument. Rand Paul is not like this.

Indeed, he’s not. If his activities to date are any indication, Rand’s presumed run at the presidency will prove far more serious (as in far more geared toward actually winning) than any of his father’s campaigns. Part of that seriousness entails an alignment of foreign policy posture with the mainstream. Whether most libertarians like it or not, that means acknowledging existential threats to American citizens and acting like – as commander-in-chief – he’d actually do something about them.

That leaves libertarian Republicans to look at Rand’s colleague from Texas, Senator Ted Cruz, as a possible alternative. On that topic, Rare contributor W. James Antle III wrings his hands:

… even with all the libertarian criticism of Rand Paul lately…, my sense is that Cruz is far too hawkish on the Middle East at this point to pry the liberty vote away from his colleague from Kentucky.

Will libertarians hold the line on foreign policy and abandon their would-be candidates at next year’s caucuses and primaries, all but ensuring the nomination of a candidate even more hawkish? Or will a somewhat ironic form of libertarian practicality kick in to secure domestic policy gains?