Saturday, November 04, 2006

Libertarian Candidates need to stress Pragmatics

There are some Libertarian candidates in some states who have done something that Libertarians have never done before--played politics to the polls. In response to polls, Gubernatorial candidates in several states have declared that they would order "their" National Guard units home from Iraq and Afghanistan, on the premise that they are their fighting an "illegal" war, and that they are not there in direct defense of the United States.
I understand, and support the basic Libertarian tenet that US armed forces should be used only for the direct defense of our nation, but to say those troops are being used for purposes other than the defense of our nation is naive. It is by the words of our enemies, those who are sworn to the destruction of the United States, that we know that their victory in Afghanistan and Iraq will be used to strengthen their ranks and resources. Having control over a nation would not only bring us back to the situation that brought about the attacks on 9/11, but would give them even greater resources than they had in 2001. As long as we are still dependent on foreign oil--a situation that cannot be remedied over-night, no matter how much research on alternative resources is being done--a jihadist monopoly on oil is all they need to devastate the economy of Capitalism throughout the world. There would be no free enterprise, one of the Sacred Cows of Libertarianism. It isn't one of the leaders of the United States saying this; it is the leaders of the radical Jihadist elements who are saying this. If we withdraw our troops from either of those countries, leaving a failed state behind, our enemies will declare it a victory, just as Nasrallah considered the ruination of Beruit and the deaths of hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians by his actions a victory. Victory for the Jihadists will strengthen that movement, and make it even more dangerous to our national security. You have to look at the big picture, look at the future and the results of our actions, and get out of the 2003 frame of mind.
It is hypocritical of a Libertarian to ignore "innocent until proven guilty," another Libertarian principle. We cannot say that the war is illegal until we can say for sure that the intelligence that led Clinton and Bush to believe that Saddam was an immediate threat to our national security was known to be flawed. That will be hard to prove, considering that the UN weapons inspectors were denied access to certain facilities in Iraq on their final tour in November 2002, and left without ever inspecting those facilities. It is even harder to prove now, since it has been discovered that plans for building nuclear weapons were included among the documents posted from Saddam's portfolio on the US government website until November 2nd. Are we really calling the former Iraqi Air Force Generals al Tikriti and Sada liars when they swear that they shipped what they took to be wmd and nuclear materials to Syria aboard Russian cargo aircraft in February 2003? It still, to this day, is very hard to prove that, right up to D-day, Saddam didn't have stockpiles of weapons that he had said he would use against US interests. The people of Iraq were not forced to vote. They voted in spite of violent pressure not to. We cannot relegate those people back to imprisonment by a tyrannical government. That would be against Libertarian principles
I'm not saying that invasion and war is the best solution. There were a lot of mistakes made, and rectifying those mistakes is even harder. Paul Bremmer mismanaged the interim government, and even anti-jihadi, pro-American Muslims, Egyptians, and Arabs criticize the coalition forces for not initially sending enough troops to prevent disaster, and not paying enough attention to creating jobs and repairing the infrastructure.
Another criticism of the coalition forces is that they didn't overthrow Saddam in 1991, or support the insurgency against Saddam, as we should have in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Clinton wanted to do that in 1998, but he was stymied by the unnecessary, frivolous, and costly impeachment proceedings. We can't go back in time to rectify the situation, but we can do it now. It's just much more costly and difficult now, especially the way it is being done now.
I like the suggestion that some pundits have made that there should be a program for jobs similar to the WPA in 1930's America. But that is the responsibility of the Iraqi government, not the American taxpayers. I would take that several steps further--Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Intel, and the like should be encouraged to set up shop in Iraq. I know, you'll say that they would be targets for anti-American violence, but they don't need to do business in the violent areas of that country. Start in Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been peaceful since April of 2003. Stay away from Baghdad, Tikrit, and the Anbar province--there are eleven other Iraqi provinces that are not experiencing violence. The poor and the jobless will move out of Sadr city to get jobs. They will loose their incentives for violence against the Iraqi government as they become part of the work force. The insurgency forces would be diluted, divided, and diminished. In order for that to work, Iraq needs a better police force. I say that the training of the police force be privatized. Let companies that deal with law enforcement and security contract with the Iraqi government to do the training and recruitment of the police force.
We should, perhaps, diminish the number of actual trigger pullers in our forces in Iraq, and concentrating more on logistics, air support, intelligence, and training. We need to encourage the new Iraqi government to tell us what exactly they want or need from us, and we need to work with that government on what they could do to help us develop an exit strategy. In a nutshell--the conduct of the operation is not up to politicians, it is the job of diplomats, entrepreneurs, and generals.
The Libertarian candidate should stress his or her strong points--the points of Libertarianism that cannot be rationally argued against. Personal responsibility, charity from the smallest possible community rather than welfare from Federal bureaucracy, an end to Big Government spending, states' rights, individual freedom, the Fair Tax proposal from Neal Boortz and others, the repeal of the Federal payroll and personal income tax laws, an end to Federal micromanagement of our daily lives, the repeal of laws creating victimless crimes, a level economic playing field, equal rights for everybody, strict constitutional limits on the Federal government--these are all strengths in the Libertarian principles.
As far as foreign policy, trade policy, and diplomacy goes, Natan Sharansky's The Case For Democracy should be required reading for all Libertarians. Sharansky was a voice for the dissidents in the old Soviet Union, and is still a voice that should be heard in the foundation of international liberty. One of his main points is that there is no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship. His argument on this point is very compelling, based on the fact that a dictator must create unstable situations in order to not be overthrown himself. Sharansky is a good example and a strong voice for international Libertarianism.
The Libertarian Party needs to be able to capitalize on its successes. Gary Johnson, for instance, was a Libertarian who got elected twice as the Governor of New Mexico, running as a Republican, but practicing Libertarian policy, somewhat successfully. He did not practice politics-as-usual during his tenure. Instead, he repealed the Blue Laws in New Mexico, reducing DWI violations in that state by 42%. He successfully. challenged the Federal Government over the right of the sovereign Native American nation in New Mexico to operate a casino. He reduced taxes and government spending, and made the economic environment in that state conducive to economic growth. Johnson held the highest elected position any Libertarian in America has held since the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. Libertarians should have taken that and run with it, instead we dropped the ball. We had the highly respected and widely read National Review on our side--during Johnson's tenure, Libertarian and Libertarianism were words often seen in that publication, but we failed to take advantage of that. It was an audition that the Libertarian philosophy passed, but failed to capitalize on.
Alan Greenspan held the highest post that any Libertarian has ever been appointed to in US history. As head of the Federal Reserve Bank, an entity Greenspan philosophically opposes, he virtually did nothing to control money supply, and created an economy strong enough to withstand an enemy attack on American soil, natural disasters, and high gasoline and fuel prices. There are now more jobs, and higher trading volume than ever, and the credit goes not to any Government administration, but to Greenspan. This is another audition that Libertarian principles passed. Libertarian candidates should really try to capitalize on it.
Politics-as-usual is not the Libertarian way. Libertarian candidates should be able to stress this point in a positive light. We are the only party for which "Vote for me, because I'm not the other guy," can effectively work. Pragmatics, not politics” should be our catchphrase.

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