Hear the Lament of a Libertarian on Foreign Policy
When it comes to foreign policy, I'm all alone. On the one hand, I tend to be less eager than most to invade or enter other countries (be they Libya, Mali, Iraq or Syria) to achieve our foreign policy aims. On the other, I am less meek than many of my libertarian compatriots. I'm all for bombing the ever-living snot out of countries that attack us (hello Afghanistan post-9/11).
Why is it, then, that all foreign policy arguments are so extreme? I'm exaggerating, but it seems as if my options are to side with people who haven't really encountered a country we wouldn't consider going into or with folks who wouldn't engage the military under any circumstances.
But now that Democrats and Republicans are cheering on the droning of American citizens (including ones not named Anwar al-Awlaki), I'm left with libertarians who strike me as unserious about the threats we face.
Bereket Kelile wrote about this Monday, but Ron Paul responded to the murder of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle with the following tweet:
Yes. A man suffering PTSD kills a Navy Seal hero at a firing range and Ron Paul says the Navy Seal got what was coming.
I think it was the same day that this happened as reported in the Detroit News:
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, blasted [Senator John] McCain, R-Arizona, for a tweet about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. McCain referenced a story the leader "wants to be first Iranian in space — wasn't he just there last week? 'Iran launches monkey into space,' " McCain tweeted to his 1.8 million followers. It was retweeted and favorited more than 1,100 times...
Amash, a second generation Arab American, responded to McCain in a tweet to his 17,500 followers: "Maybe you should wisen up & not make racist jokes." That was retweeted and favorited by more than 150 people.
First off, Detroit News, what the heck does it matter what Amash's ethnicity is? Ahmadinejad is not an Arab. He's Persian. There is a difference. Anyway, Amash is known for being a strong libertarian and foreign policy skeptic. I like this about him. But does that mean we need to defend the loathsome Ahmadinejad from being mocked? This is a murderous tyrant who is part of one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. McCain calling him a monkey is not only fine, it's one of the nicest things he could have said about him (though definitely a horrible insult against monkeys). The space monkey reference was obvious.
I was working at a libertarian outfit on 9/11 and many of my colleagues' biggest concern that very afternoon was that we better not retaliate. It was ... weird. And I say that as someone who is completely willing to at least hear an argument that retaliation isn't always in order.
I can't get over how some people who share my more "stay-at-home" foreign policy views tend to be at least borderline anti-Semitic or defenders of some of the worst regimes around. I don't even begin to understand why that is, but it makes me deeply uncomfortable. Why aren't there more middle-ground perspectives out there to help us navigate the very real threats of Islamist terrorism (or other bad guys who want to do us harm) without excess time, money, and blood spent in other countries?
I don't want a military regime that has either the capacity or desire to be involved in a dozen other countries. But neither do I want to blame Navy snipers for their untimely deaths or defend Ahmadinejad against monkey slurs or any of the other unserious and unseemly approaches to foreign policy espoused by fellow libertarians.