What Does This Have to Do With Libertarianism?

Unlike some people at Antiwar.com, I am a fan of Reason magazine. Perhaps I am just nostalgic for my tenure at Reason, 32 years ago. I have forgiven their attempt to balance the pro-war and antiwar “libertarian” positions. At least the pro-war “libertarians” tried to justify their hawkishness with the intent of bringing liberty to people in other nations.

But even that justification seems to be a thing of the past.

Today’s article by Jonathan Rauch reads like something that could have appeared in any unprincipled newspaper. Rauch explains the difference between pacification and peacekeeping. He implies (incorrectly) that our pulling out of Vietnam is what led to the bloodbath in Cambodia.

Rauch offers no justification for staying in Iraq, other than to continue the “surge” because “it is working.” Rauch apparently does not believe that the surge will result in any sort of long-term success. In fact, he seems to think it’s hopeless: “My reading of the evidence is that Iraqi fundamentals are more conducive to war than peace, and that there is not much the United States can do to change that.”

Yet Rauch says the Democrats will pay a heavy political price if they stop supporting the surge: “If they managed to ram through a withdrawal or timetable on party lines this fall, when most Republicans think the surge is working, they would be flayed for a generation as the party that seized certain defeat from the jaws of possible victory. For years to come, Republicans would insist that Democratic pusillanimity emboldened jihadism, an ugly narrative that some are already rehearsing.” Luckily, says Rauch, it’s not possible for the Dems to stop the war, so they shouldn’t bother trying: “Fortunately, without Republican support, Democrats can’t pull the plug or impose a strict timetable this fall.”

Rauch concludes that our anger over the disastrous war “does not justify impatience. If Petraeus says he needs more time, he should get it. If he fails, a course correction won’t be long in coming. The 22nd Amendment has seen to that.”

One question for the editors of Reason: What has any of this to do with libertarianism?

17 thoughts on “What Does This Have to Do With Libertarianism?”

  1. I agree. It’s completely generic pro war sentiment. dime a dozen and having more to do with beltway political drama than ANY ideology.

  2. One more example that is pushing me closer to a decision NOT to renew my reason subscription come the beginning of the year.

  3. I stopped describing to Reason during Desert Storm when Virginia Postrel stunk up the magazine with her pro-war articles.

  4. I stopped subscribing to “Treason” (as I call it due to their betrayal of libertarian principles) a few years ago. Not only for their muddle-headed treatment of the Iraq War, but for their near total abdication of the libertarian point of view generally. Now they’re just like any other insipid political rag, so screw’em.

    Message to the staff and publishers of “Treason” magazine: YOU ALL SUCK.

  5. Look, if we didn’t have Reason magazine who would be there to push for the legalization of methamphetamines and the other important issues of our times?

  6. Message to the staff and publishers of “Treason” magazine: YOU ALL SUCK.

    That’s a mighty big brush you’re waving around there. Reason is a mixed bag. Rauch (who, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t even pretend to be a libertarian, neo- or otherwise) is a boring centrist in the David Broder mode. Gillespie runs his stuff in a bid for Beltway respectability. Cathy Young, Michael Young, and Michael Moynihan are thoroughly awful; Jesse Walker, Brian Doherty, and David Weigel are very good; the others have their moments.

    Look, if we didn’t have Reason magazine who would be there to push for the legalization of methamphetamines and the other important issues of our times?

    What’s wrong with calling for an end to the War on Drugs? Reason‘s priorities are generally out of whack, I’ll agree, but they’re right to call for repealing laws against victimless “crimes.”

  7. Matt: Perhaps I am being a bit hasty in saying “You ALL Suck” to “Treason.” I do like Jesse Walker. Perhaps I should modify that to say “Most of You Suck.”

  8. Most of the contributors to Reason are thoroughly libertarian most of the time. True, they do allow contributions from those who pervert libertarianism. But misguided hawkishness goes back to at least Rand, and no one can deny her generally good influence.

    I am also surprised to see antiwar.com try to claim the not-so-coveted “most libertarian” prize. While the website does articulate the most consistent and principled antiwar stance, even its self-described libertarians fall far short of consistent libertarianism: Ron Paul’s positions on immigration, free trade, gays in the military, gay marriage and abortion instantly come to mind.

    1. We are not competeting for the “most libertarian” prize. We are the premier antiwar site. Reason claims to be the premier libertarian magazine. As I pointed out in my post, I am tolerant of libertarian arguments in favor of war in the pages of that magazine. Trouble is, Rauch makes no such arguments. He makes a “good government” type of case. If you changed his argument about the “surge” and made it about continuing the war on drugs or regulation of business because it was working a little, I doubt that his article would have found itself into Reason’s pages.

      I really wish people would read more than the headline and the first paragraph before they posted comments.

  9. anger over the disastrous war “does not justify impatience. If Petraeus says he needs more time, he should get it. If he fails, a course correction won’t be long in coming.

    That will be a big comfort to the families of the people who get killed while we’re waiting for the “course correction”.

  10. Justin, unlike “Reason,” Antiwar.com does not bill itself as a libertarian site, but, as its name suggests, as an antiwar site. It presents itself as a critique of the warfare state from a broad range of political ideologies, not just libertarianism. “Reason,” on the other hand, was founded by libertarians, ostensibly to promote the libertarian tradition.

  11. What’s the rush? asks Rauch.

    Oh, 2-3 billion dollars a week, among other things.* Money borrowed from, among others, the Chinese.

    (* “Among other things” might happen to include, oh, dead American servicemen, dead Iraqis, you know. “Intangibles.”)

  12. Thanks for this commentary. I am also debating whether to renew or not.

    I had the pleasure of working with Jesse Walker. He left _Liberty_ when I interned there from October 1996 to April 1997.

    Postrel didn’t help the magazine at all. Her cheerleading for Gingrich in 1995 was just plain sickening.

  13. Well, you all remember what Bob Black said once: “Libertarians are just Republicans who smoke pot.”

    Basically, that’s true. Which is Ron Paul runs as a Republicans, not a Libertarian. Anybody want to claim Dana Rohrabacher is still a Libertarian – or ever was?

    I’m a straight up anarchist myself – and a Transhumanist, which in my view is the “successor” to Libertarianism as the “fringe philosophy” of preference.

    But this Rauch bozo is right about one thing: the Iraq war is a done deal. The Democrats don’t have the balls to stop it, and the Republicans won’t.

    People had also better understand that the Iran war is a done deal. You think the Israeli air strike the other day was against Hizballah? Hah! It as an attempt to lure Syria into a war. Israel and the US intend to attack Iran, Syria AND Hizballah in Lebanon in the near future.

    And the Democrats won’t stop that either, because they’re all on board with it.

    Iraq isn’t even an issue of importance any more, because it’s about to become the “Middle East war”, not the “Iraq war”.

  14. I cancelled my Reason and Liberty subscriptions after 9/11. Both magazines were filled with lousy pro-war/pro-state tripe. Thank god for the internet.

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