In my previous posts, I’ve been writing about the problems libertarianism has today, the difficulties it has trying to work with the American public. First, I talked about rhetoric. Then, I wrote about intellectual property rights. Third, I devoted some time to anarcho-capitalism. Now, in what I plan on being my last post in this series (until and unless a new topic arises that warrants my attention; feel free to send suggestions) I want to focus on foreign policy, and how libertarianism, so far, has been fairly inadequate.
There seem to be two chief positions in the libertarian movement on foreign policy. The first is the view taken by Robert Higgs, who wrote in The Independent Review (from the Independent Institute) last fall that “Warmongering libertarians are ipso facto not libertarians.” In the other corner lies neolibertarians like Jon Henke and* people like Eric Dondero, who wrote on our blog, in a comment, that:
When you say “less aggressive foreign policy,” what you really mean to say is “more girly-manish foreign policy,” or cowardness, or just downright surrendertarianism.
These two extremes, honestly, do not have any place in the libertarian movement. While I agree with Higgs that “war is the health of the state,” and the half-century has shown that this government is largely incompetent when it comes to defending us abroad and we shouldn’t be involved in these expeditions, we cannot completely pull back and have a pacificst foreign policy. War is inevitable; it happens, sometimes by people who don’t like us. And sometimes, there are justifications for executing operations in foreign countries.
Our U.S. Constitution is a remarkably efficient document. It is our only founding charter. Many times changed, rendered, adumbrated. But it’s essence is unshakable. Written in Thomas Jefferson’s handwriting, edited against his will, pored over, discussed, hushed about, while it lay about some small wooden tables in independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Americans believe, that the Constitution is the link between our government and our lives. Congress and the Executive, can not overstep the harmony that exists, by each American following his path of liberty. Unfortunately, too many harmful minds, want too much power in this country. Power never vested in the Constitution. Power never meant to be handled by bureaucrats or officials or committees. We need to change all this. The oath of office should be sworn on the Constitution. In the Capital Rotunda. Among the historicity of remains from past great ages of the United States.
Drones in our night skies. Unelected lawyers interpreting the U.S. Constition. Surveillance. Internet spying. Blackouts and Stasi-like encroachements. Torturing. Deaths and internment of American citizens. Socialization of medicare for the elderly, and healthcare for those in mid-age. Food stamps and deductibles for people who do not work. Taxation over representation. Data-accumulation. Groping at airports. Fumbling and nefarious Justice Department officials. Cronies. Welfare abuses. War and destruction as an industry, like Hollywood and Corporate America! Blame-games. Undermining of basic civil rights. Monetarism-mongering! Unaccountability and state-sponsored fear. Campaigns of division. Solutions disguised for self-created problems.
Republican voters are being put through the pincers. We are back to 2008. Heaps of strong candidates, but no consensus. Great speeches, but no substance. PAC money spent by the millions, but no conclusive results. GOP candidates are even welcoming Democratic voters, to smear each other, to add to their victories, or to just plainly embitter each other. The Republican race is not going to get any more civil. Once, we see these subterfuges, we can ask the real questions: what will it take to unseat Obama in November, and who can best do this?
In America the conservative movement has been changing. Neo-conservatives, who had for roughly two decades (1980-2000) held the strongarm of the party, are gone with the Bush Administration’s doctrine of “pre-emptive strike” and the PATRIOT ACT. We are in the midst of the dregs. Still trying to find out which direction this country will spill it’s spirit of changelessness.
For all his grandeur, Mitt Romney just has not taken his campaign to the next level. Rick Santorum has peaked, but more likely will not hold his miniscule leads. Newt Gingrinch’s populism and Ron Paul’s constitutionalism, so similar to each other, are self-negating. None is in charge. Marginal candidates can’t win delegates, nor the RNC party’s nomination. Mitt Romney, the ever-chameleon like business mogul, can’t strike a human touch to save his life and political prospects.
If Mitt Romney is the front runner of the wolves, ready to flay Obama; what is his version of the American Dream? How does he see this country, through which prism? Is it a legalistic, rigidly technocratic, institutional approach? It seems, his advantage is not his base, his character, anything as much as his warchest. He won’t run out of steam. Even if the delegate count gets close in Tampa, FL this spring; he’ll be able to resurrect himself, make the necessary promises and sail away with the nomination.
Let us make fresh.
The reason why Rick Santorum would not oust Barack Obama in November, is not his faith. It is simply that he is running a ‘social message’ of uniform decency against a ‘social message’ of uniform healthcare. Plainly, Obama’s health plan, is vital: but not more pressing than the economic calamity of bailouts, frauds, money-laundering, spending and public debt. These are focal issues of the 2012 election.
Santorum is the politician everyone can super-impose themselves on. He’s no CEO like Mitt Romney, no renowned speaker like Newt Gingrich, not intellectual like Ron Paul. No, he is a regular Pennsylvania lawyer, who argued some weird World Wrestling Federation cases. Somehow he is unspectacular enough, that he could almost be your town butcher, postal deliverer or stockyard piler. You would think this is a strength. But it is not.
Eventually, while trying to keep your political pronunciations to a minimum, to correspond to the widest social base possible, you hit a tollboth going 160 mph. Santorum is earnest, he surely is: means well to families and the elderly, but he has yet to prove his salt. His record is plain: he has taken massive amounts of Washington D.C. beltway funding, voted to raise the debt ceiling, is in cahoots with the (so-called) ‘military industrial complex’ and dislikes many anomalies of our population: young pregnants, migrant-labor, jobless, gays, blacks. He has been able to entrench his campaign in an atmosphere of rustic humbleness and simpletonness.
The more connected you are, within the Washington D.C. circuit; and on the long-stretch between Los Angeles and New York, the more clout you have as a politician. Especially, if you’ve squandered taxpayer money on “bridges to nowhere” (Rick Santorum), Olympic “Games” (Mitt Romney) or have been kick-backed by Fannie & Freddie (Newt Gingrich).
All these, of course, are fine examples of Capitalist enterprise, of leadership and smart capital-management. But what do all these undertakings reveal, about abilities in leadership, necessary to plug the dam of the 2008-unward recession? Not, much.
Ron Paul is the antithesis. He negates almost in it’s entirety, every other issues brought by his opponents in the GOP presidential race. He is not reported on, because those who indeed try to, fail miserably: the way Gerald Seib did, moderating the Republican Debate in South Carolina. Ron Paul is too honest: clear, succinct, philosophically astute. This makes him a slippery fish, to place in the Republican Party, although he is by far the most consequently, stalwartly arch-conservative since that other Gipper, that slipped his way into the White House: Ronald Reagan!
Being less ‘politicized’, in other words by having put his neck out on an execution-block, or guillotine, to amass money, has meant he has to do with less campaign finance. But what Paul has lacked in initial spending, his patriots have donated in turn. No other US politician has ever raised a sum, close to over 1 million, which Paul’s campaign has been able to do in 2011. What this means, is; people base decision on mass-media, pandered bits-and-pieces of evening chatter, boxed soundbites (often misinterpreted) while heading out the door in the morning. Ron Paul is lucky to get 3 minutes airtime, after a debate platform.
Over at the Cato Institute, Christopher Preble and John Samples are appealing to the tea party movement to embrace defense spending cuts and a scaled back foreign policy:
With a number of tea party-backed candidates victorious and on their way to Washington, there is much speculation about how they might affect foreign policy. “It’s hard to divine because they haven’t articulated clear views,” explains James Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations. “We are left wondering: What exactly would they do?”
The tea party movement has no clear foreign policy agenda. It seems unlikely, however, that the same tea partyers who want the U.S. government to do less at home are anxious to do more everywhere else.
For example, the movement and its new representatives in Washington might prefer to avoid sending U.S. forces into unnecessary and futile wars. Accordingly, they might also realize that substantial reductions in military spending are strategically wise, fiscally prudent, and politically necessary.
It’s absurd to argue that there’s no room for cuts. The Pentagon’s budget has grown nearly 86 percent in real terms since 1998.
Ever-rising military spending is partly explained by the fact that its advocates — the individuals, companies, and politicians who depend on military projects — are highly motivated and adept at maintaining the status quo. These special interests have a right to fight in the American political system, but Beltway hawks should not enjoy a presumption that military spending necessarily advances national security. Much of it does not.
On Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama delivered an address to the American people telling us that combat operations in Iraq had come to an end, though the speech also gave him an opportunity to talk about the economy.
In case you missed it, here it is:
I know you’re not shocked to learn that we still have a vast presence in Iraq as some 50,000 “advisors” (ie. troops) remain in the country to assist the Iraqi government and they are still in danger, as President Obama said. But not every thing he said was accurate as the Associated Press pointed out in a fact check after the speech:
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is encouraging the tea party movement to take a skeptical eye to foreign policy in the same manner that they have with bailouts, ObamaCare and stimulus spending:
As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad. We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world. We cannot talk about the budget deficit and spiraling domestic spending without looking at the costs of maintaining an American empire of more than 700 military bases in more than 120 foreign countries. We cannot pat ourselves on the back for cutting a few thousand dollars from a nature preserve or an inner-city swimming pool at home while turning a blind eye to a Pentagon budget that nearly equals those of the rest of the world combined.
Our foreign policy is based on an illusion: that we are actually paying for it. What we are doing is borrowing and printing money to maintain our presence overseas. Americans are seeing the cost of this irresponsible approach as their own communities crumble and our economic decline continues.
According to Dr. Paul, the United States spends over $1 trillion each year on foreign policy, a claim that has been independently verified. Such is the high price of American hubris.
There was a mild joy among friends who paid attention to politics as the last of American troops left Iraq. There were a few people saying “It’s not really over. The US will be there until 2050,” like my friend Doug Mataconis, but you’d be hardpressed to find anyone who shares William Kristol’s hope for future wars.
Then there is the poll numbers. The war in Afghanistan, once the “good war,” the just war that everyone supported, has an overwhelming negative decline in support:
LAWRENCE, Mass. — A majority of Americans see no end in sight in Afghanistan, and nearly six in 10 oppose the nine-year-old war as President Barack Obama sends tens of thousands more troops to the fight, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
With just over 10 weeks before nationwide elections that could define the remainder of Obama’s first term, only 38 percent say they support his expanded war effort in Afghanistan — a drop from 46 percent in March. Just 19 percent expect the situation to improve during the next year, while 29 percent think it will get worse. Some 49 percent think it will remain the same.
This doesn’t mean America has become pacifist, but when you’re not experiencing large scale terrorist attacks, don’t have connections to the military or family or friends of Middle East or Islamic origin, there really is no reason to pay attention or care either way beyond seeing it as a massive misuse of taxpayer dollars in the middle of a Great Recession. Even Time magazine covers with shots of Afghan women whose noses have been sliced off by the Taliban isn’t quite enough to get the unemployed gung-ho about a war that doesn’t benefit them.
“What the f**k?! We give [Pakistan] billions of dollars of aid. Then Pakistan is funnelling that money to the Taliban. One of the chief financial contributors to our enemy is us? We have ostensibly put a hit out on ourselves. This is insanity.” - Jon Stewart
On Tuesday evening, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, weighed in on the Wikileaks release of more than 90,000 documents pertaining to the occupation of Afghanistan and media coverage of the leak, which largely was dismissive of what was in documents.
And as President Barack Obama and Democrats secured $59 billion in funding on Tuesday, mostly going for our continued occupation of Afghanistan (the Graveyard of Empires), you have to wonder where the anti-war left is.
Here is the video: