been surprised by the number of libertarians who have supported the
war against Iraq.
two principal arguments I've heard from libertarian war-supporters
Hussein is a threat to the U.S. We must remove him from power before
he attacks us or gives weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.
libertarians should be the first to support the liberation of the
Iraqi people from a cruel dictator.
regard to the first argument, supporting a politician's pre-emptive
attack violates virtually every principle underlying libertarian thought
the simple truths that are taught in Libertarianism 101.
example . . .
Non-aggression: Most libertarians believe you shouldn't initiate
force against someone who has never used force against you. Force
is to be used only in self-defense not used just because you don't
happen to like someone, or because someone doesn't like you, or because
he might become dangerous in the future, or because some third
party has attacked you and you want to prove you're not a wimp. The
same principles must apply to our nation that it shouldn't use force
against a nation that hasn't attacked us.
Credibility of Politicians: The idea that Hussein posed a substantial
threat to America is based entirely on claims made by the Bush administration.
When did libertarians start believing anything politicians say? Politicians
routinely lie about fictitious budget surpluses, "budget cuts,"
drug matters, crime statistics, and almost anything else. Remember
the old joke?:
can you tell when a politician is lying?"
Bush administration has already been caught in numerous falsehoods
. and much more.
if none of these falsehoods had come to light, libertarians should
always be skeptical of any claims made by politicians.
Government doesn't work: The federal government has devastated
what was once the best health-care system in history, it is trashing
our children's schools, its Drug War has pulverized the inner cities,
it has left chaos in its wake in Afghanistan. In fact, you'd be hard
put to think of a single government program that fulfilled the rosy
promises made for it.
would you think the promises of Iraqi freedom and democracy will be
fulfilled? This is the same government that's messed up everything
else. Just because "national defense" is Constitutionally
authorized doesn't mean the government will handle it effectively.
Defense Department is nothing more than the Post Office in fatigues.
beating up a third-world country after disarming it isn't something
any self-respecting country should put on its résumé.
Power will be abused: The President has been given tens of billions
of dollars to spend on Iraq as he chooses. Do you assume he'll use
it wisely, without a hint of corruption?
FBI and other law-enforcement agencies have been given enormous new
powers to jail people without warrant and hold them without trial
or legal counsel. Do you assume they will employ these powers only
against America's enemies?
really want to give government one more excuse to expand its size,
its power, and its intrusions into your life?
programs never stand still: Every other government program has
turned out to be far more expensive, far more intrusive, and extend
into far more areas than proposed originally. Why should this war
prove to be an exception?
really think the regime-changers after tasting the blood of innocents
and the praise of the media and the citizenry will go back to bickering
about farm subsidies and school-lunch programs?
they look for more "monsters to destroy" (as John Quincy
Adams put it)?
is politics: Whenever you turn anything over to the government,
it ceases to be a financial, medical, commercial, educational, or
human-rights matter, and becomes a political issue to be
decided by whoever has the most political influence. And that will
never be you or I.
should military matters be any different? Should we be surprised that
companies like Bechtel and Haliburton have already received hundreds
of millions of dollars in contracts to rebuild Iraq without competitive
you really think this war would be fought with no regard for political
gain or abuse?
don't control the government: You can look at the previous six
items and say you would have handled some things differently. But
who asked you?
no one ever will. You don't make the decisions.
politicians use your support as endorsements for them to fulfill
their objectives, not yours in their way, not
true for health care, education, regulation and it's true for
Sum . . .
is force, and libertarians distrust force.
know it will be abused, they know force won't produce the results
promised for it, they know politicians will lie about the exercise
of force, they know force will eventually be uncontrollable, they
know that power is inevitably abused, and they know that no government
program achieves its purpose and then goes quietly into the night.
count of libertarian principles, we should demand that the use of
force against foreign countries be reserved for response to direct
attacks not to be used for "regime change," not for "democracy-building,"
not for pre-emptive attacks, not for demonstrations of strength.
second argument offered by libertarians is that we should do anything
we can to free other people from a brutal dictator.
even deal with the fact that most of our knowledge of Hussein's brutality
emanates from the U.S. government hardly the place a libertarian
would look for unbiased, authoritative information about anything.
also ignore the point that, while condemning Hussein's brutal dictatorship,
the U.S. government is aiding dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,
Pakistan, and many other countries. We shouldn't be surprised if we're
told someday that we must go to war against those dictatorships,
to free the people our tax dollars are helping to enslave today.
deal instead only with the idea that we have a responsibility to free
people in other countries.
your responsibility to enter someone's home and beat up the
man you believe is abusing his wife?
your responsibility to go into a dangerous section of your
city and protect people from drug gangs that engage in drive-by shootings?
might say the Drug War breeds those gangs and shootings, and thus
you're working instead to end the Drug War itself rather than trying
to alleviate the symptoms of it.
then wouldn't you be working to end the causes of the profound anti-American
sentiment that has swept the globe and provoked terrorist acts rather
than trying to alleviate the symptoms by supporting the attacking
answer to the question "Is it your responsibility?" is simple:
that's for you to decide.
of us must choose for himself what he feels responsible for. If you
believe you have a duty to help those fighting for Iraqi freedom
perhaps even to go fight yourself you should be free to make that
choice, and no one should get in your way.
what gives you the right to make that choice for others?
should you have the power or moral authority to decide which countries
I must free, which countries warrant extracting money from
me by force, which dictatorships warrant provoking terrorist attacks
that put my life at risk?
what libertarian would believe that George Bush should have that moral
authority plus the power to compel all of us to obey that authority?
will face the consequences of your acts and I will face the consequences
of mine. But George Bush won't face the consequences of his
acts; you and I will. Is that the way it should be according to libertarian
thus there is nothing George Bush can say that will make me believe
I should put my faith in him to decide how many innocent Iraqis it's
okay to kill, how many countries it's okay to attack and invade, how
many Americans it's okay to put at risk, or how many libertarian principles
it's okay to violate.