A Libertarian, if Controversial, Response to Consulate Attacks
I’m going to say something that is highly controversial amongst libertarians. It may even lead me to be cast out (particularly among one “part” of the movement). If that is the case, then so be it. It is my suggestion to the United States government to deal with the rash of attacks on our diplomatic missions throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East: send in our forces. Find the people who have done these terrible deeds.
Bring them to justice. And then leave.
This flies in the face of generally accepted libertarian foreign policy, at least as construed by many “rank and file” libertarians. We’re not supposed to be in other countries. We’re not supposed to be out there getting ourselves involved. And if American personnel are hurt, we shouldn’t get ourselves involved more.
This, however, is dangerously short-sighted and naive. Yes, we shouldn’t be in foreign countries. On that I completely agree. But we should not, when we are attacked, simply throw our hands up in defeat and pull out. Or do what President Obama did, and “apologize” for one man using his right to free speech. That does not keep us safe, and that does not fix anything.
Giving in to bullies and madmen does not stop them, it emboldens them, as Britain learned so painfully after Munich. There is also no room for it in libertarian philosophy. If someone aggresses against you, if they attack you and destroy or take your property, and worse if they actually kill you and your comrades, they have violated your liberty. That is not something that libertarianism condones.
Say what you will about Chris Stevens being an agent of the state and a government employee. He still has rights, he still has liberties. He is still—or, lamentably, was—a human being. No one had the right to barge in, attack his consulate, and kill him. For that, his murderers—for that is what they are—must be brought to justice.
This is not a case of a war for independence. All we had in Benghazi was a bloody consulate, which was allowed by the interim government. That’s not invasion, that’s not occupation, that’s diplomacy.
So we find these attackers, and we bring them to justice. We capture them, if possible, and bring them before a court. We lay out the evidence, we give them an honorable trial. If we can help it, we don’t just kill them; then they become martyrs, and in the process we dishonor ourselves. No, we give them a fair trial. And if they’re found guilty, into the mines with them.
But then we leave. Then, once we have finished this up, we start pulling troops and facilities out of other nations. We close down our 100+ overseas bases and bring our forces back to the US. We downsize. We stop getting involved. We stop being the world’s police force. We start doing what Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson suggests. We do this not only because the alternative is madness, it is also the right thing to do.
This sends a powerful message to other nations. First, it establishes that if folks in other countries want to mess with the bull, they will get the horns—good and hard. It will establish a deterrance against future attacks. But second, the pull out will also establish that we don’t want to bother with them anymore. They can live their own lives and make their own decisions, without having us intervening. They can get what they want and deserve: a life without American meddling. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved: we keep ourselves protected, they get to have their own lives again.
We shouldn’t be getting involved in other nations’ business and mucking about with their lives. But, at the same time, we should not be allowing vandals and murderers to escape justice. That is not libertarian. Either we uphold the rule of law that protects one’s property and life, or we have nothing.