The LP's Battle of the Boortz

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Should the Libertarian Party have invited pro-war radio talk show host Neal Boortz to speak at their 2004 presidential nominating convention? This site gives a resounding "no!" in answer to that not-very-musical question, calling to "Boot Boortz."

The LP–of course, of course, yadda yadda–should be free to pick whoever it wants to speak at its most prominent public display of what it stands for. (This event is frequently picked up by C-SPAN, giving the LP the largest national TV audience it ever gets for its message.) But it would be wise to think twice about how it might be blunting its major comparative advantage on the most pressing policy issue of our time by giving Boortz–who does portray himself as libertarian–this slot.

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  1. Basil Fawlty said it best: “Don’t mention the war!”

    I think Boortz’s pro-war rants on his blog are horrible, but if he agrees to leave that issue out of his speech, I’m all for it.

  2. Boortz seems like more of a right-wing republican than libertarian (although he is pro-abortion which obviously isn’t republican). I can’t see why the libertarian party would get someone who has a completely opposite view of the war. Seems like they’re just setting themselves up to be laughed at.

  3. If the LP wants to remain a small party, this is precisely the way to do it, folks. Drive off any person whose views don’t fully coincide with those of the party. I find it mildly ironic that a party founded on liberty deals with outliers this way. Personaly, I would rather attract a whole bunch of people into the party because they generally like what the party is saying: there’s plenty of time to argue over the specifics later. If people feel that they’re going to be attacked because they don’t fully follow the dogma, how the hell do you expect them to be comfortable with the party, and have the party grow as a result? It’s time that many LPers become a lot less fickle and work with those who show an interest in what the party has to say.

  4. It’s the Gov. Casey moment all over again. Casey was probably the party’s most prominent elected pro-life Democrat and was famously denied the ability to speak at the convention.

    Frankly, I think that people who would like to discriminate against me because of my religious beliefs, kill me if I try to speak up on them, kill atheists whether or not they speak up, and put my wife even further away from equality with their elite deserve to get their butts kicked, preferrably with a battlefield as far away as possible from my house and my family.

    If the LP has a practical method for going about this without wars pretty much like the Iraq invasion I haven’t heard it yet.

  5. “major comparative advantage”, hahahahaha

  6. Besides who says a libertarian must necessarily be against the Iraq War?

  7. Ron,

    I could have sworn that there was something in the Libertarian plank that says something about not “initiating force.” And if the Iraq war is anything, it was a war that the US “initiated.”

    Regards,

    Steve

    :-

  8. You’re fooling yourself if you the LP’s idiotarian foreign policy is a “comparative advantage.” Quite the contrary, it’s anything but that, and it’s one of the reasons that many small-l libertarians, myself included, will not consider voting Libertarian at the national level.

    Standing up for genuine libertarian principles is one thing. Standing on “principle” to defend an idiotic party plank that has nothing to do with libertarian principles is quite another.

  9. Steve,

    You’re no doubt right about the LP platform. I was speaking more broadly about small “l” libertarians. Though, of course, “initiating force” is an interesting question–if someone initiates force against your neighbor, should you just ignore it? That then raises the question of who your neighbor is. I’ll drop it there since I’ve already been afforded the opportunity in Reason to express my relatively unpopular views on the war.

  10. Is the LP REALLY looking for comparative advantage? How about stating that it’s the only party against McCain-Feingold, or expanding Medicare, or getting the government out of education? How about beating the drum about respecting state decisions on whether to legalize marijuana? How about shouting that it’s the only party that has been consistently against the USA PATRIOT Act? The Democrats bleat about it now, but many of them voted for it without reading the damn thing. If we’re looking for comparative advantage, there are a lot of examples to choose from.

  11. “Besides who says a libertarian must necessarily be against the Iraq War?”

    The LP and its adherents. I’m always mystified by the inability of people here to understand that simply holding liberty as a first principle does not lead everybody to the same conclusions.

    As for initiation of force, here’s another, even more problematic thing to think about – if my neighbor is dying in a ditch, and I need your phone to call him, I’m going to use your phone with or without your permission, and not lose any sleep over it. Most people think the same way, whatever their concerns about liberty.

  12. Besides his position in support of the war, Neal Boortz also supports the FBI spying on antiwar groups, and has stated that if a citizen resists arrest, the police have a right to kill him.

    Boortz spends alot of time criticizing or ridiculing “liberals” but rarely deals with the statism pushed by conservatives.

    I watched his performance at the last LP national convention on CSPN, and he is booring too. After all, the first 4 letters of his name spells “boor.”

  13. err… should have said “and I need your phone to call him an ambulance”

  14. You really think being anti-war is a comparative advantage in U.S. politics? Let’s see how Dean does with it in the general election, then we’ll talk.

    I think libertarians should oppose dictators and support any measures to remove them, anywhere in the world. Obviously the LP disagrees. Which one of us is “more libertarian”? Who cares?

  15. i’m a big believer in the self defense of others.

    i don’t believe in initiating force, but in the face of violence to others, well i’m not initiating force. LP was also against afghanistan, when it was an action against someone who had the avowed aim of killing all heathens and was the de facto ruler of the country.

    so between the smurf, the druid, and the pacifist, how exactly is the LP going to win the votes of the people that agree with it on almost everything, never mind those who are more skeptical?

  16. I’ve often argued on this forum that libertarians, both small-l and big-L, should be willing to accept just about anybody who generally favors smaller government even if we disagree on specifics.

    I’ve also argued against the war in Iraq.

    I don’t like Boortz, I don’t like what he says, and he’s too right-wing for my tastes. But he is a guy who knows how to get an audience to listen, and on a lot of things he has fairly libertarian stances (yes, yes, I know, not on everything). So overall he’s an asset to the party.

    Now, I’ll grant that if he spends his entire speech lambasting the left without a single word against the right (i.e. fails to make the case for voting LP instead of GOP), or if he concentrates almost entirely on the places where his views diverge from the LP platform, or if he’s condescending toward anybody who disagrees with him, then he shouldn’t be invited back. But if he makes a case for why people should vote for the LP, and if he makes it in an upbeat manner, then he’s an asset to the LP.

    Otherwise we might as well change the LP slogan from “the party of principle” to “purists of the world unite–you have nothing to lose except a few more voters!”

  17. That libertarian principles inevitably yield an anti-war (Iraq) position seems self evident to me. But I’ve trampled that ground enough already.

    The problems with Boortz go beyond his being pro-war. It isn’t just that he is anti Saddam, he has a love fest with Israel. He takes several other conservative stances that are incompatible with libertarian principals. I usually don’t care for the “more libertarian than thou” arguments, but Boortz is my exception. I have a real Northern Baptist vs. Southern Baptist problem with him.

  18. This whole argument only helps reinforce my belief that a Libertarian (political) Party cannot help but be too much of a contradiction in terms to ever accomplish anything truly worthwhile and lasting.

    Yes, compromise will gain you ground. Compromise enough, and you actually start “winning”. Too bad that you’ve compromised away almost everything you were trying to win in the first place.

  19. Sure, it seems that it would often be good to fight a Fascist or Stalinist dictator on foreign soil but to force others to do so (that’s the government way) is explicitly not libertarian (fair) and therefore not good.

  20. I should have said that it would often “turn out” well to do so. Which is why it should be up to individual choice; there can be various outcomes to these foreign liberation endeavors.

    Also, the feed back that would be necessitated in a free market, private foreign policy, for the sake of engendering the continued patronage of the people who want to contribute money would make it more efficient and less prone to the ongoing uncorrected mistakes we see in government run foreign endeavors.

  21. I am a member of the Libertarian Party, and I have been in favor of the war in Iraq. I know of many others who are as well.

    I know that I’m in the minority of the party on this. The party was also split (but more evenly) over Afghanistan as well. However, to define the party only by the louder, more vocal “purists” is a mistake. The evidence being: That Boortz was slated to speak in the first place!

  22. There are two issues for me in the whole Boortz affair:

    1. Should he be “disinvited” or otherwise not allowed to speak at the LP convention?

    2. Should be be taken as representative of the Libertarian Party?

    The answer to #1 is a no-brainer for anyone who really believes in liberty. The views that most need protection, and often, those that most need to be heard (if only to provide balance) are those that are most despised by the majority or the elites in control. Boortz is a dissenter from the main LP view, as far as I can see. By inviting Boortz and lending him the podium, the LP upholds free speech. If others see fair treatment for the “loyal opposition” within the LP, then perhaps many outside our party, who don’t think of themseleves as libertarian and who disagree with many of our positions, might still decide to work with us where our interests intersect. We need to be the party of straight shooters, in my opinion. Hell yes, he should be able to state his views.

    Still, in answering #2, the appearances of Boortz or anyone else who supports pre-emptive war must be framed as instances of expressed dissent from a primry tenet of libertarianism: the idea that it is wrong to initiate force against another, though force in self-defense or retaliation is OK. I would like to see Boortz challenged to justify the Iraq War, for example, as a defensive operation, or to explain how true liberty can be spread through aggressive military action throughout the world. I’d like to hear his answers, but we won’t unless we afford him an opportunity to speak.

    And by the way, when I say “challenged,” I don’t mean the sucker punching I often see on CNN or FOX News, or even Prime Minister’s Question Time! Let’s just see whether Boortz comes by his views based on any principles we might recognize as libertarian, or whether, like many self-proclaimed media “libertarians,” he has simply collected a grab bag of loosely interrelated (or unrelated) positions, which he has labeled libertarian because they involve the reduction or restriction of government for the most part. I’d love to see Boortz debate, or be interviewed by, Harry Browne, for instance. Mr. Browne has been very articulate on the subject of war as viewed through the lens of principled libertarianism, and would certainly be able to challenge Boortz on several levels, without descending into mudfighting.

    Remember, the antidote to noxious speech is not restriction of speech, but rather more speech!

  23. But it would be wise to think twice about how it might be blunting its major comparative advantage on the most pressing policy issue of our time

    The Libertarian Party’s opposition to the Iraq war is the reason I left the party for good. I know I’m not the only libertarian who felt that way, either. Maybe they gained new members to make up for us, but I doubt it.

    The LP’s major competitive advantage is that it’s the only party in favor of reducing the size of the federal government. Pity it’s incapable of being serious about what the remaining, smaller, federal government needs to do.

  24. The LP suffers from brain-fart. It wants to be for the individual, yet is trying to overcome its pitiful national showing by enforcing a party platform. And doing so at the expense of the individual. The LP’s “comparative advantage,” to this party member anyway, is its embrace of individual liberty; not opposition to the war in Iraq. The LP party powers should never have even taken an LP stance on Iraq. There are so many party members on either side that angering a large number was a certainty. Better to have said that support or opposition was each individual’s decision, and that each such decision should be predicated on that individual’s understanding and application of basic LP principles.
    In my case, applying LP principles led to support for the war. I truly felt and feel threatened, and even an LP government is to defend our nation. Attacking Hussein was, for me, defending the nation. Defining this position as being anti-LP was and remains stupid. It’s simply my position and belief – and aren’t I entitled to it?

  25. I could have sworn that there was something in the Libertarian plank that says something about not “initiating force.” And if the Iraq war is anything, it was a war that the US “initiated.”

    Or it was the continuation of a war started in 1991 and “interrupted” with a ceasefire whose terms & conditions have been violated repeatedly over a 12 year period.

  26. John,
    No, I am not an anarchist, but I wish them luck since we need to move in that direction and we are now moving the opposite way with great velocity.

    To reiterate my position, which I think is easily, fairly called the “libertarian position”:

    Helping people who live under tyranny in other lands can turn out to be a good thing. But, the questions of; if a peoples particular situation is deserving of help, and what kind of help is best to render, is a subjective one. So these matters must be left to individual choice and private initiative.
    It is just as unfair to force someone to provide for another’s freedom as it is to force some one to provide for another’s welfare.

    In your post you have argued for a modifying of that position; which is fine to do of course. I don’t no if Boortz favors this modification as well. If he does, and wanted to advocate it in an LP speech widely viewed by the general public, I would think the LP would be justified in being concerned, to say the least.

    You wrote:
    “Human beings do not have a natural right to food, clothing, shelter, cable TV, etc. They do have a natural, inalienable right to life, liberty, and property, or at least I think I read that somewhere.”

    You might also recall reading something about providing for the “common defense”. It is evident that the founders certainly meant the defense of residents of the US, and not the whole world. “Property” was changed to “the pursuit
    of happiness” because the founders of our republic thought that the right to property, although vital, might construe to narrow of a meaning of liberty. Human beings have a right to acquire, via voluntary consent; food, cable TV and all other property. Also, the founders saw no need for much direct taxation, certainly no income tax. they wanted a government small enough that it could be financed by small tariffs.

    “If you believe in a limited government that protects individual rights against violation, you must believe that if a relcitrant citizen refuses to offer such aid to another, refuses to pay taxes to fund police and military, he can be compelled to do so. It is a moral obligation, not just a question of free choice.”

    “if a recalcitrant citizen refuses to offer such aid to another,” Right, another citizen not another inhabitant of the whole world! Also, were not really talking about “offering”, were talking about complying.

    “Why is it moral to force me to finance the defense of Alaskans from aggression but not to finance the defense of Cubans?”

    Interesting question, but it’s resolution might just as well lead to the conclusion that it’s not moral to force you to finance either. In the case of Alaskans, at least they have been paying for your defense as well. So they have an ethical/moral claim the Cubans do not have. We can always finance the defense of the Cubans with out coercion. A superior method, on a number of counts.

    In the case of the Iraq war, the application of the libertarian foreign policy position seems to be: (to reiterate)

    The only government wars that are justified are those that protect Americans from imminent and real harm. If the Iraq war can be shown to have done so; I will change my mind and support it. But instead, the case seems to be that the government engaged in a lot of duplicity to convince us that the threat from Iraq was real and imminent when it was not.

    The libertarian case for the Iraq war seems to have weakened over time (WMD, terrorist connections, not to mention terrorist connections that might have been a direct threat to us) So Boortz might not be the best choice to convey the LP’s message to the general public. As Brian pointed out in the prelude to the thread; there are the considerations of “comparative advantage”. But, I think that if Boortz desires he should be given great opportunity to argue the case for the Iraq war at some point during the convention.

  27. Thorley:
    “I think that libertarians ought to work for a voluntarily-financed government (sort of like Rand outlined in ?The Virtue of Selfishness?) but that?s a long term goal after we?ve have created a competitive option for the Nanny State to make its dismantling politically viable.”

    That seems like a very strong idea. But why must it be “long term”? We just had a huge increase in the nanny state in the guise of the prescription drug bill, which was politically viable to resist and only came about because our Republican president supported it. Give great credit to the conservative Republicans in congress who bravely voted against it.

  28. John,
    How can the consideration of the liberty of a foreigner, being under no constitutional obligation to protect my liberty, possibly justify violating my liberty?

    Our constitution provides no leeway for the government to force us to make other peoples free.
    Also, although in some instances, in the early days of our republic, we did see a violation of the founders wise admonition against foreign entanglements; they didn’t occur for reasons of liberating foreigners. Not that, non-coercive efforts in this regard aren’t deserving of praise and support.

  29. Rick:

    OK [sigh] let’s go another round or two.

    Sure, it seems that it would often be good to fight a Fascist or Stalinist dictator on foreign soil but to force others to do so (that’s the government way) is explicitly not libertarian (fair) and therefore not good.

    Are you an anarchist? Otherwise, I don’t understand this statement. Governments are inherently coercive. That’s their definition. If you believe that government should exist at all, then you believe that free citizens can be forced to do something against their will. In a libertarian republic, that something would be strictly circumscribed, limited to law and justice (and possibly some public goods, an interesting debate but probably not worth pursuing here).

    If you believe in a limited government that protects individual rights against violation, you must believe that if a relcitrant citizen refuses to offer such aid to another, refuses to pay taxes to fund police and military, he can be compelled to do so. It is a moral obligation, not just a question of free choice.

    If you then agree with this proposition, I find it difficult to conclude on a moral level that only the rights violations of people who share my nationality matter. Why is it moral to force me to finance the defense of Alaskans from aggression but not to finance the defense of Cubans? Many libertarian friends (including some at the major institutions) have responded to this question by referring to obviously collectivist or statist antecedents, discussing the national sovereignty principles of the Treaty of Westphalia that ended the 30 Years War, for example. Huh? Who cares about a treaty between unelected and illiberal monarchs?

    Let me hasten to add that I don’t believe the proper foreign policy of a libertarian state is to treat the violations of the rights of everyone in the world equally. I do believe that a representative goverment must consider the interests of its constituents first, and there are many prudential reasons not to try to intervene everywhere and act as globocop. But I don’t see any moral principle that prohibits a free republic from acting (with coercively acquired taxes) to spread freedom outside of its borders, particularly when this end coincides with the interests and security needs of the republic’s citizens.

    Human beings do not have a natural right to food, clothing, shelter, cable TV, etc. They do have a natural, inalienable right to life, liberty, and property, or at least I think I read that somewhere.

    Bottom line: libertarians can disagree about foreign policy. Boortz can be a libertarian and favor the campaign in Iraq. And the Libertarian Party can exercise its freedom to exclude Boortz and alienate what I believe to be the majority of small-l libertarian-leaning voters in the country by doing so.

  30. Besides who says a libertarian must necessarily be against the Iraq War?

    Quite a few of us supported Operation: Iraqi Freedom and still do.

    Unless the LP is content to poll at single digits in nation-wide races, it would be foolish of them to make foreign policy their litmus test.

  31. But I don’t see any moral principle that prohibits a free republic from acting (with coercively acquired taxes) to spread freedom outside of its borders, particularly when this end coincides with the interests and security needs of the republic’s citizens.

    I think that libertarians ought to work for a voluntarily-financed government (sort of like Rand outlined in ?The Virtue of Selfishness?) but that?s a long term goal after we?ve have created a competitive option for the Nanny State to make its dismantling politically viable.

    Frankly I think it is arguable though from a social contract theory (the contract being our Constitution) that citizens do have an obligation to pay for the things which we have agreed (via the Constitution) to grant the federal government and one of those is the military. There is nothing in there which obligates it to wait until we are attacked before using it especially when we live in a world of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and in which some States act through proxies, i.e. terrorism as the Saddam Hussein regime was known to do.

  32. Gene Berkman wrote:

    Besides his position in support of the war, Neal Boortz also supports the FBI spying on antiwar groups, and has stated that if a citizen resists arrest, the police have a right to kill him.

    Really now, please provide a link to these alleged remarks so we can see what he actually said in its full context rather than the interpretation of someone with a rather obvious axed to grind.

  33. If libertarians were of the same mind, there would be no Hit and Run. Boo!
    Get Jiggy with Boortz.
    Still don’t get hopes up for doing big things politically. I’m an anarchist so I’m convinced political parties are all barking up the wrong tree anyway.
    The right tree is named “truth and justice.”

  34. If our government followed the libertarian’s advice, it wouldn’t continually be making the mistake of supporting thugs as it did with Saddam and is doing with Sharon’s occupation.

    The LP presidential candidate might do much better this time since many libertarian oriented Republicans are so fed up with that big spending liberal, Bush.

  35. While questioning their reasoning for inviting boortz to speak, I am glad to see that they came out against the war. Personally, I don’t see how a true libertarian, in the Rothbardian tradition at least, could have been pro-war in Iraq. Some here call it “purity”, but I call it principle. If the LP wants to remain the only party with any somewhat conherent principles, they must come down against aggressive wars, even at the cost of their own popularity.

  36. John,
    Concerning my 6:31 post: Would I be any more obligated to defend the liberty of a foreigner if his government was forcing him to defend mine? If I say “no”, which is what I think, the power of the first paragraph of my 6:31 post is, at least, mitigated. Hmmm; back to the drawing board.

  37. There was a recent post on this blog pointing out that some from the left (Hitchens, et. al.) support the war for leftist reasons.

    I don’t necessarily agree with them, but reasonable minds can disagree about whether or not fighting a Fascist or Stalinist dictator on foreign soil is a Libertarian good.

    The LP should be big enough for reasonable minds.

  38. If our government followed the libertarian’s advice, it wouldn’t continually be making the mistake of supporting thugs as it did with Saddam and is doing with Sharon’s occupation.

    If our government followed the libertarian’s advice, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America would currently be divided up among the USSR, the People’s Republic of China, and the Third Reich.

    Setting aside the moral stupidity of identifying Sharon as the “thug” in the Middle East conflict, you’re overlooking the fact that following “the libertarian’s advice” on foreign policy during the last century would have left the United States in a far more dangerous world than we live in today.

  39. Dan,
    First of all, I must point out that you wrote nothing to refute the paragraph of mine that you quoted. Of course, to do so you would have to refute historical reality itself.

    “If our government followed the libertarian’s advice, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America would currently be divided up among the USSR, the People’s Republic of China, and the Third Reich.”

    That is just speculation since our government got in the way of the Soviet Union and the Nazis from taking each other apart. Also, since the Soviets were a real threat to us, libertarians were among those that counseled that they should be confronted. see: Reagan’s War by Peter Schweitzer

    Also remember:
    The Soviet Union was made a more menacing threat to the US by the aid which was afforded it by our government. Libertarians and conservatives are against this kind of thing. see: National Suicide and the Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development series, both by Antony Sutton. He also has a volume on the assistance that Hitler’s ascendancy received from our government.

    Of course, I didn’t imply that Sharon was the only thug in the Middle East conflict. (there are plenty of them)And, you should be careful when you use the word “moral” and Sharon in the same sentence.

  40. Rick:

    Helping people who live under tyranny in other lands can turn out to be a good thing. But, the questions of; if a peoples particular situation is deserving of help, and what kind of help is best to render, is a subjective one. So these matters must be left to individual choice and private initiative.

    To argue that if policymakers ever have to make subjective judgements, they shouldn’t make such judgements and should leave them to individual choice, is to argue that government itself is inadviseable. I can’t imagine a governmental program where those carrying it out don’t have to make tough decisions among alternatives, where there isn’t disagreement among the population about what to do, and where a purely mechanistic decision rule is impossible to devise. This is an argument for anarchy, though I take your point that you don’t consider yourself to be an anarchist.

    It is just as unfair to force someone to provide for another’s freedom as it is to force some one to provide for another’s welfare.

    Surely this isn’t true. Even if I am incorrect, it can’t be “just as unfair” for a government to fight for freedom as for what amounts to slavery.

    You might also recall reading something about providing for the “common defense”. It is evident that the founders certainly meant the defense of residents of the US, and not the whole world.

    You are crucially mixing up two different documents with two different purposes. I was referring to the Declaration of Independence, which stated the rationale for revolt and the inalienability of certain natural rights. All human beings have the same natural rights, nationality is irrelevant.

    You are referring to the preamble to the Constitution, a document that is about clarifying the role of the federal government and the alienable rights its citizens are granting to the state. The principle that American power should not be used simply to liberate other people overseas is a correct one, but a prudential one that stems from decisions made by the representatives of the people. I never argued that America should be a globocop; when our (republican) national interests (territorial defense, freedom of the seas, free trade, the maintenance of alliance relationships that enhance our defense, etc.) coincide with the liberation of non-Americans, we should do it and celebrate its effects. It just so happens that the spread of freedom is itself as least modestly of value in enhancing those aforementioned national interests, though the pros and cons have to be weighed in individual cases (on purely pragmatic grounds, the birth freedom in some countries is more valuable to us, in a national-interests sense, than freedom in others).

    the founders saw no need for much direct taxation, certainly no income tax. they wanted a government small enough that it could be financed by small tariffs.

    True at the federal level, not at the state level. And the armed forces of the United States at that time essentially consisted of a conscripted militia not financed by federal revenues.

    On Alaska, you are missing part of my point. It isn’t just proximity (though I stand by my argument that there is no difference in the natural rights each group enjoys.) How did Alaskans come to be considered “Americans”? How did most of the continental U.S. become a part of the American constitutional republic? Hint: it didn’t happen through purely voluntary action and American isolationism.

    The only government wars that are justified are those that protect Americans from imminent and real harm.

    This may be a matter of definitions. If you truly mean that the only legitimate military action by the government is to respond to a direct attack on our territory, or to forestall what is obviously an impending attack on our territory, I cannot agree. That sets up a situation of grave risk to us and to our interests, it exposes us (in today’s world) to the risk of massive casualties through the use of WMD, it precludes our developing treaty relationships with allies who could prove to be immensely useful in future conflicts, it prevents us from ensuring that the statist equivalent of pirates don’t hijack our property and obtain forceful monopolies of key positions, trade routes, or commodities.

    In short, the principle you articulate has no relationship to America’s actual foreign policy, ever, and no relationship to how American freedom was birthed, expanded, and protected over the centuries.

    I have no doubt that many LP members agree with your principle. That’s my experience, too. But I also have no doubt that most libertarians, with a small “l,” who (one hopes) represent a far larger group of Americans than just the tiny percentage in the LP, are closer to my position than yours. If the LP wants to have any impact on the public policy debate in the country, it will at least recognize this and allow for various views on foreign policy to be expressed within it. Otherwise, as is already evident, it will continue to lose the support of even more libertarian-leaning voters (who, I agree, should be angry about the Bush administration’s domestic profligacy) and gain only a few good words on websites from otherwise odious left-wing collectivists.

  41. “To argue that if policymakers ever have to make subjective judgements, they shouldn’t make such judgements and should leave them to individual choice, is to argue that government itself is inadviseable.”

    But, relieving a foreign peoples tyranny is an area where the government should be not be making judgments at all unless we are threatened by the situation. The government should stay out of all most all aspects of our lives but my point was that this issue is so subjective in all elements from start to finish that our government has no place at all to force it’s reading and remedy of the situation on the rest of us. This type of thing is way outside of the governments constitutionally granted purview anyway. Unless our security is threatened it’s just a case of the state imposing it’s values on the rest of us.

    “Surely this isn’t true. Even if I am incorrect, it can’t be “just as unfair” for a government to fight for freedom as for what amounts to slavery.”

    I meant that it is just as unfair for those of us who are forced. But things can turn out tragically for those being “helped” in both types of situations. Remember all the sanctimonious talk from the government about helping the people of Iraq deal with the threat from Iran as that butcher collected our tax dollars.

    “You are crucially mixing up two different documents with two different purposes.”

    No, I wasn’t. I brought up the “common defense” quote because I was making a point about whom they intended should be defended.

    “The principle that American power should not be used simply to liberate other people overseas is a correct one, but a prudential one that stems from decisions made by the representatives of the people.”

    What? I thought that’s what we were arguing about!
    There is less difference between our two positions than I was supposing. I could have sworn that earlier in the thread you took the opposite position but I’m not even going to go back and check. I’m just glad to hear you say it!

    On Alaska…It isn’t just proximity (though I stand by my argument that there is no difference in the natural rights each group enjoys.

    I agree, but Alaskans at least they have been paying for your defense as well. So they might have an ethical/moral claim the Cubans do not have.

    “This may be a matter of definitions. If you truly mean that the only legitimate military action by the government is to respond to a direct attack on our territory, or to forestall what is obviously an impending attack on our territory, I cannot agree.”

    Even, a not so obviously impending but at least REAL threat of attack as a criteria would be an improvement.

    “…the principle you articulate has no relationship …to how American freedom was birthed”

    You gotta be kidding me:

    “Exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free ones…”
    James Madison, Second Inaugural Address, March, 1813

    “Keep the U States free from political connections with every other Country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none…. this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home”
    ? George Washington, letter to Patrick Henry, October 9, 1775

    “The safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends…on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war.”
    John Jay, Federalist No. 4

    “There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. ‘Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.”
    ? George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

    “War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses”
    -Thomas Jefferson

  42. John,
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  43. Rick:

    On subjectivity, I understand your view about the proper purview of the federal government, but I still don’t think it can be sustained by arguing its subjectivity. This is a general indictment of government per se, something I don’t think you mean to argue.

    On the Iraq-Iran War, you are right to call the U.S. on its rhetorical blather, should there have been any. The argument for feeding Saddam intelligence and reflagging the Kuwaiti tankers was that an Iranian victory would have been worse for the region and for U.S. interests (including free trade) than the alternative. At the time, I think, this may have been a reasonable supposition. Now, as with most such issues, it is a matter of conjecture.

    On liberation as a principle for U.S. foreign policy, I think you misread my post. I don’t believe we should use our military forces simply to liberate foreign lands, though I think it can be a welcome side-effect and I think that in some situations, Iraq being one, liberation is itself a means of accomplishing an important and legitimate U.S. policy objective, something that enhances our freedom. To argue that we can’t intervene everywhere is not necessarily to argue that we shouldn’t intervene anywhere.

    On Alaska, to make it plainer, Alaskans have been helping to pay for the federal government, and thus for my security, only because of past expansionist foreign policies. Ditto for Californians (ugh!), Texans, and many others. Freedom there came in part from the exercise of U.S. military might, though one might argue that insecurity and tyranny in Mexico — and unclear intentions by European powers in the Pacific Northwest — more directly impinged on American security interests than Middle Eastern tyrannies ever could.

    On the Founders, three quick points. 1) At the time they were speaking and writing, America was very small, very weak, and very tenuous as a country. The means available to U.S. leaders then to advance national interests and freedom were quite different from those available today. 2) Despite their pronouncements, American presidents and leaders quickly got involved in European disputes, at least to the extent they involved the New World or freedom of the seas. 3) They understood that American victory in the Southern campaign of the Revolution was critically related to the deployment of French naval and ground forces, and expressed their gratitude profusely. They couldn’t have meant nonintervention to be a fundamental, moral principle of government.

    Finally, by all means Merry Christmas/Festivus/Feast of the Invisible Sun(Son) to you and yours, as well.

  44. John,

    On subjectivity: The more I think about this, the more that it seems that issues that are laden with a high degree of subjectivity, especially ,value subjectivity, i.e. “Should
    Something be done?” “Is there even a problem?” make amenable targets for laissez fair arguments which are based on considerations if fairness.

    On the founder’s admonitions against “foreign entanglements”: Although it’s true, as you point out, that the US was much weaker at the time; many of their warnings reflected on world history and human nature. I see that general non-interventionist theme as a consistent component of their overall limited government plan.

  45. “Now, I’ll grant that if he spends his entire speech lambasting the left without a single word against the right (i.e. fails to make the case for voting LP instead of GOP),”

    If it’s anything like the last speech you have nothing to worry about. He gets up and simply makes the case for voting the LP above any other party, no more and no less. He is probably the best known person in America who would do such a thing, since Drew Carey, et al. aren’t exactly outspoken on the matter. And some people in the LP want to drop him. They deserve their status if that happens.

  46. EMAIL: master-x@canada.com
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