Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Not My Kind

Republican candidate for the Presidential nomination, Congressman Ron Paul, presents himself as a libertarian, and is favored by roughly 50% of the Libertarian Party members. He is, however, not my kind of Libertarian.
My kind of Libertarian is pragmatic, rather than a blind follower of the Faith in Libertarian principles. The pragmatic Libertarian is no less a believer in Libertarian principles than is the Ivory Tower Libertarian, but the pragmatic is inclined to apply those principles within the tolerance of the situation in question.
Dr. Paul fails to acknowledge the facts. He tries to shove the Libertarian principles down our throats, without consideration of the situation. He defends his views by citing the crackpot 9/11 conspiracy theorists when talking about his opposition to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is, in fact, a politician, not a statesman, as can be seen in his Wikipedia entry. In fact, he was the only professional politician ever to run for office as a Libertarian. It should be remembered that, when he ran for President in 1988, he received the lowest national vote count in the history of the Libertarian Party. It should also be remembered that, after the 1988 elections, he was heavily criticised by Libertarians for improperly representing the Libertarian principles.
Where would Dr. Paul draw the line of defense against those who do us harm? Would he actually wait until there is another invasion of our sovereignty, in which thousands of innocent citizens are killed? It is true that, if Saddam had been left alone, we would not be fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, but, where would we be fighting them? Our enemy, which is waging a continuing war against us, is not a foreign country. Our enemy is a population of men who follow an extremely radical religious philosophy, in which the only way to reach Paradise is to murder those who do not follow their particular brand of religion. They have no borders. If we were to wait for them to come to us, the toll in human lives would be catastrophic. Dr. Paul's isolationist philosophy would ensure that such a toll would be taken. The pragmatic Libertarian is not an isolationist.
Dr. Paul does not represent all of the Libertarian principles. He is an ardent prohibitionist. On the issue of abortion, he would like to return to the days of back alley butchers.
Libertarian philosophy can not be imposed from the top down--it must work its way up from the individual and the smallest possible community.
Neal Boortz, who literally wrote the book on the Fair Tax Initiative, is my kind of Libertarian. He understands that preserving the future of our way of life is not the "temporary" security of which Ben Franklin spoke. Walter E. Williams, who often writes about the need of the individual to take personal responsibility in order to earn and preserve our natural rights, is my kind of Libertarian.
Gary Johnson was elected Governor of New Mexico in 1994 and served in that office for the full two terms allowed by that state's constitution. As Governor, he was an outstanding example of how the pragmatic Libertarian operates within the practical situation. He successfully repealed New Mexico's prohibition of package liquors on Sunday, which resulted in a dramatic drop in DWI/DUI incidents in that state. After he granted permission for a Native American clan in New Mexico to open a casino on its reservation/property, the Federal government sought an injunction against the opening of that casino. Governor Johnson successfully stood against the Feds, in the name of states' rights and property rights, and the injunction was dropped. He allowed homosexual partnerships to be legally recognized in New Mexico. While not able to repeal New Mexico's income tax, he reduced spending while creating tax incentives for commercial ventures in New Mexico, dramatically improving that state's economy--a policy that was continued by Governor Bill Richardson. Amid severe criticism from both Democratic and Republican politicians, Governor Johnson brought the question of marijuana prohibition to the forefront. Johnson did all this with very little experience in politics. He is not, by any means, a professional politician. Gary Johnson, of course, is my kind of Libertarian.
The Libertarian Party has been trying to shake the image of the "Ivory Tower Libertarian Crackpot" for many years. Dr. Paul has, in the Republican Party Presidential nomination debates, presented himself as just that. Libertarians would do well to ignore his bid for the Presidency.


cxx_guy said...

Non-initiation of force is the core Libertarian principal. We tend to believe that if you don't run around attacking people, they are much less likely to attack you. This has been illustrated again and again in foreign policy, where we have meddled with foreign countries and somebody has paid the price. Frequently, it is we who have paid the price.

Our conflict with Iran, which has been going on since 1953, is a good example. We violated their democratic government and installed the Shah as a dictator. He managed to maintain his dictatorship until 1979, and when he lost control, our embassy was stormed. The hostages were held until Ronald Reagan took office. This is one example, where we have meddled, and we have paid the price.

Then there is Osama bin Ladin. We trained him, we financed him, we armed him. When the Soviets were expelled from Afghanistan, leading to their bankruptcy and collapse, bin Ladin was unemployed. When we decided to interfere in the war between Iraq and Kuwait, and to leave troops permanently stationed in Saudi Arabia, we gave bin Ladin a new goal. To get us out of the Muslim holy lands. Of course, if bin Ladin's goal had been to get us out of New York, or Florida, we would have had to fight him. But that was not his goal. His goal was to get us out of Saudi Arabia. Since we have no reason to be in Saudi Arabia, there was no reason he should not have had his goal.

This is not because bin-Ladin should, in general, get what he wants. It is because we have no business in Saudi Arabia.

If this "conspiracy theory" is too strange for you, you might want to read some history. People who do not control their own homelands do not generally attack neutral third parties they consider "too free". That would be a truly bizarre conspiracy.

RevJim said...

Heartfelt thanks to you for your comment.
The question at hand is not how we got there, it is how we get out. We can't undo what has been done in the past.
With all due respect, the US military was in Saudi Arabia long before the Iraq-Kuwait war--I know that because I was in the Air Force in 1978, and I was stationed with a squadron in Germany that supplied the Air Base in Saudi Arabia. But that has nothing to do with the question at hand.
All Libertarian principles are equally important. Capitalism is a core Libertarian Principle.
Granted, free trade does not include the military conquest of other lands, but the protection of trade routes is a necessary inclusion. Where would we be today if Thomas Jefferson--who is recognized by many Libertarians as being the only Libertarian US President--had chosen appeasement rather than action, and let our trade routes be taken over by highjackers and pirates--all to the benefit of the government in Tripoli? I do read history.
Where will we be tomorrow, if we were to leave our trade routes for oil in the hands of a faction that will not trade in oil? The trade routes would not be closed to the United States, only, but to every nation that requires petroleum to run its economy. As long as we have a government that refuses to allow the oil exploration and drilling that will help us become independent from foreign energy sources--with technology for practical use of alternative energy sources still being twenty to thirty years away--open trade routes will be important to our economy. We are not prepared for land wars and food riots on our own soil, but that will happen as the infrastructure deteriorates and groceries can not find their way to the shelves.
Perhaps your Utopia includes going back to horse and buggy, and every person growing his or her own food, but that is not a practical solution.
Non aggression does not mean isolation. We can't change how we got to Iraq, but we do have to find the best way to handle things now that we are there.