Monday, January 10, 2005

Libertarianism and Iraq

Some people think that being a libertarian means that you should have opposed the war in Iraq. Such was the official position of the Libertarian Party.

I believe that national defense is one of the key functions of government. I get mad when I think about things like the No Child Left Behind Act or authoritarian "just say no to drugs" laws. But hearing that we have a military, and our military attacked another country, doesn't by itself make me mad about anything.

Most of the opposition to the war in Iraq came from liberals who hate the United States and think our country is so bad and evil that we have no moral authority to take any military action. Liberals think we're really not much better than Iraq.

I disagree strongly with the liberal "hate the United States" viewpoint. Although I am extremely disappointed with our nation's increasingly authoritarian and socialist agenda, we are still a nation of freedom, and our nation was founded on freedom. Through freedom and free market capitalism, not by conquest or evil, we became a great superpower.

With the philosophical stuff out of the way, analysis of whether we were justified in invading Iraq rests on a practical analysis of Saddam Hussein's behavior and the threat he might have posed to us. This is too huge a topic to blog about completely in one post, so I will leave further discussion of Iraq to future posts.

13 comments:

John Norris Brown said...

If more Libertarians shared your views on national defense and security, more people would become Libertarians. As it is, far too many Americans just don't believe libertarianism can keep us safe, which is unfortunate, because libertarian philosophy is the most liberty oriented philosophy in the world.

Steph said...

I know many liberals that do not, in fact, hate the United States. As such, I treat such claims as Republican propaganda to ensure their dominance in American politics for quite a while. In fact, they (and I, as a libertarian) can even justify why going into Iraq, as we did, was a bad idea, but that's another post.

I know that conservatives have their reasons too, and they make sense too. (Though many that support the war believe falsely that Iraq had something to do with 9/11, and this justifies the war, a pet peeve of mine.)

However, when we begin to justify torture "because they started it," I *do* begin to wander how we can claim to have the moral high ground that we have had in the past.

bob d said...

Steph, that liberals hate America is more than just Republican propaganda. There is a large kernel of truth to be found there.

Brian said...

It's kind of ridiculous to say liberals hate the United States. I mean, come on!

Is it that they hate what the United States stands for? Would that be things like free speech? and freedom of religion? and a democratic society where people can criticise their country?

So does that make any sense at all?

Mr. X said...

I believe that national defense is one of the key functions of government. I get mad when I think about things like the No Child Left Behind Act or authoritarian "just say no to drugs" laws. But hearing that we have a military, and our military attacked another country, doesn't by itself make me mad about anything..

You're trying to equivocate national defense with a pre-emptive strike on a sovereign nation and it won't wash. Iraq took no belligerent action towards the United States, making the war a war of aggression, not a war of defense.

.

Most of the opposition to the war in Iraq came from liberals who hate the United States and think our country is so bad and evil that we have no moral authority to take any military action. Liberals think we're really not much better than Iraq.Here you attempt to avoid the criticism by claiming that all of the critics are "evil America haters". Aside from the fact that it's not true, it makes no difference; the criticism is either valid or invalid based on the facts, not the identity of the critic. I'd expect better logic from a purported Objectivist.

The question is not whether America pre-emptively attacked another sovereign nation. The bigger question is whether those of us who love America believe that this what we want America to be. Aggressing against smaller nations who have done nothing to attack you is the act of a bully. If you want America to be a bully, that's your choice.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...liberty lover...

Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey said...

"Some people think that being a libertarian means that you should have opposed the war in Iraq. Such was the official position of the Libertarian Party."The pledge we all sign upon joining the LP: "I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals."Given that Iraq never attacked us, how is invading Iraq anything other than an initiation of force????

Jeremy said...

Although I am extremely disappointed with our nation's increasingly authoritarian and socialist agenda, we are still a nation of freedom, and our nation was founded on freedom.So basically what your saying is that the actions of the government are beyond reproach for the simple reason that, 200 years ago, we were "founded on freedom"? If I said that it was hateful towards America to question the domestic policy of Bush (such as the steel tarrifs, the increasing role of the feds in education, or the gay marriage amendment) you would balk, and you would be right to. Why then does your attitude change when the subject is foreign policy?

It's not just you - a lot of libertarians and objectivists hold this belief that America can do no wrong outside its boundaries, and I think its ridiculous. There are very good reasons for the current state of the world, and since we've been the 2 ton gorilla in the world for the past 60 years, it's entirely likely that a lot of the world's problems are indeed "our fault". And that doesn't mean you hate America - that means you disapprove of its foreign policy. It's quite a simple dichotomy that I know is not too difficult objectivists and libertarians to envision.

I hope you will address the issue of preemptive military action because it is an area where too little public debate is occuring.

Jeremy said...

Actually, Mr. X, you have hit precisely on the difference between the pro and con sides of the Iraq War. Either might makes right, or might needs justification. And those who support preemptive action either reject the need for justification at all, or they approve of such a sorry excuse for intelligence and defense planning that it renders the attempt useless.

And this ignores the fact that Congress should be declaring war before we are actually at war.

bahiabob said...

Oh my God! We agree again! What is this? Let's do something together on this topic. You're right. One blog won't do it justice. I too am not thrilled with the official Libertarian position on the War on Terrorism and Iraq. I feel that we need to be a bit more pragmatic and realistic when the Libertarian idealism doen't fit the necessity or properly address the problem. I argued with ol' Harry on this point to ad nauseam and all he could come up with is the idealistic litany of why we shouldn't be there. But in fact we ARE there. So now we need to support our troops and insure we win. Our freedom, whole way of life and the lives of our children are at stake. Let's be real on this topic.

D said...

I think that everyone will agree that national defense is key, but what were defending ourselves against by going into Iraq? There were alleged WMDs, then alleged al-Queda links, but we found out that none of the was true, and the current administration knew it. I'm sure that you have heard of plausible denial; this war is not about terrorism, and Bush had no illusions that it was. Now the administration uses the excuse that Saddam was an evil person and I agree, BUT his regime was not unique. Its happening in N.Korea, Syria, Africa..the list goes on, but we're not invading them. The reasons for war were neither moral nor sound and that is why this administration has to keep qualifying it. Liberals don't hate America, and we want to defend her at all costs, but the key word is DEFEND.

Jeremy said...

But what if we cannot win? That, as I understand it, is Harry's position. We cannot and will not win this war.

Your rebuttal is like saying that since we're getting more and more socialist in this country, we need to become good socialists ourselves - to support our fellow citizens and vindicate the people who died in defending this country. It's not about idealism at all - in fact, your position is just as idealist as his (this notion of "support troops" at all costs).

I think you would find more libertarians onboard for this war if there was more thoughtfulness and adherance to consitutional procedure in this war and less "we did it because we can and we wanted to" mentality. The fact that billions a day are being spent on a losing proposition should make LG more than indifferent about attacking another country, if nothing else.

Steph said...

Supporting the troops != (does not equal) blindly supporting every aspect of American foreign policy. That's where the supporters and opponents of the war differ; supporters claim that if you disagree with us, you want all the troops to die and oh, by the way, you're anti-American. Or that's what it seems like.

Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey said...

"So now we need to support our troops and insure we win."

So we support the troops even when they torture prisoners, kill unarmed civilians, and commit other war crimes?

"Our freedom, whole way of life and the lives of our children are at stake."Please explain how if we don't "win" (and how do you define "win"?) the Iraq War that we will lose our freedom, our way of life, and our children's lives?