Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Why “More Freedom” Isn’t the Solution to the Crisis in the Crimea — Rico

 

Fred Cole’s post, “Thoughts on a Libertarian Solution to the Crisis in the Crimea,” posted yesterday, has sparked an energetic conversation in the comments—a success in that regard and well worth reading. But while libertarian thoughts were aired, *SPOILER ALERT* those thoughts were not woven into a solution.

First, credit to the author for stepping up and proposing a solution in the name of an ideology whose proponents tend to avoid issues regarding the international order.

Second, credit the author for employing the building blocks of capitalism as a solution to dysfunction in the international order.

But, the “solution” isn’t a solution. Parts of it might sound admirable on paper, but the underlying logic doesn’t hold up to scrutiny in the real world. The purported solution is stated as follows:

A libertarian favors free trade and free immigration. The free movement of goods and people across national boundaries, but also the free movement of two other very important things: capital and ideas.

Free trade and free movement of people, capital, and ideas means closer ties between nations. If the United States had unrestricted free trade with Ukraine, not only would Ukraine be richer and therefore in a more powerful position, with the means to defend itself, it would be oriented westward instead of eastward.

It is not exactly clear to what degree goods and services would flow from Ukraine to U.S. but the principle is sound: free trade >>> greater wealth >>> means for improving self-defense. But that doesn’t solve the problem of a belligerent neighbor who is unlikely to wait for the process to play out. In the case of Ukraine, it would take years to scale up to the task. But suppose Ukraine did experience several years of free trade from which greater wealth accumulated. What portion of the fruits of prosperity would be devoted to national defense in a libertarian society? Be honest. Furthermore, the means to defend does not imply a will to defend. The author himself actually suggests this, seemingly as a feature (not a bug):

Free immigration means people would be free to come and go, back and forth, visiting, traveling, teaching, sharing ideas, techniques, technology. And it would mean that, if Ukraine is invaded, they know they can flee to safety and freedom in the United States.

All of this means closer ties with the west and less dependence on Russia. So when Russia shakes its stick in Ukraine’s direction, they can collectively tell Russia to go to hell, and trade and exchange freely with nations and people who respect them and their freedom.

In other words, the answer to invasion is not to defend the country from invasion but to run away. Ukrainians would abandon their homeland, communities, friends, and families and scatter to the United States and other wealthy countries to rebuild their lives, not unlike the way Egyptian Coptic Christians flee to the U.S. or Syrian refugees flee to Jordan. Yes, Ukrainians would certainly raise their fists, shouting “Go to hell!” over their shoulders at the aggressors (another point of commonality with the Copts and the Syrians).

Clearly, libertarianism has not yet provided a solution to the crisis in Crimea, or the general problem of how to deal with “bullies” who choose not to comply with our preferred world order. Just as Obama and the EU designed diplomacy around the post-Cold War progressive view of world order, this libertarian proposal relies on a world order in which libertarian principles and solutions are effective, and accepted by tyrants as well.

This “libertarian solution” wanders beyond the standard non-interventionist argument into a zone of wishful thinking. How is this scheme any less utopian than progressive dreams of world peace? How do its backers rely any less than progressives do on the benevolence of mankind?

We must recognize that libertarian ideals cannot be realized or defended unless we are constantly prepared to deliver judicious use of military force or the legitimate threat of force. There can be no valid libertarian solution that does not recognize this point.

There are 32 comments.

  1. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    [Apologies for the MS Word metadata. I hope to clean it up if/when the “edit” button becomes functional.]
    Metadata has disappeared. Thanks.

    • #1
    • April 4, 2014, at 10:41 AM PST
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  2. Valiuth Member

    I think often Libertarians fail to apply the same common sense that they use with respect to domestic matters to international ones. What is the solution to wanton criminality in a community? It is not only arming individuals likely to be victimized, but actively policing the community. This means that when we see crimes happen we have a duty to help stop them. Alternatively we can create a police force given the authority and means to do this job. The failure to stop and punish criminal behavior leads to a lawless community. In such a community freedom becomes an illusion. In a lawless world the only arbiter of right and wrong is power, and thus some form of tyranny emerges. To have a free community we must have laws and the means of enforcing those laws against criminal individuals.

    • #2
    • April 4, 2014, at 12:16 PM PST
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  3. Albert Arthur Thatcher

    Great post, Rico. as I note in Fred’s thread, the problem with his “solution” is that no one sent Russia the memo that the is no military solution. Russian troops have invaded the Ukraine and the Crimea has been stolen away.

    Fred’s libertarian solution is not a solution to Russian aggression. It’s an ideal that would only be possible with the protection of the US military. 

    • #3
    • April 4, 2014, at 1:31 PM PST
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  4. SkipSul Moderator

    History is littered with “it won’t happen because we’re such valuable trading partners” nonsense. Fred’s original post showed a naiveté of Russian history or mindset. Putin is a throwback to the Tzars, all of the corruption and bullying of Nicholas I (original Crimean War). History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

    • #4
    • April 4, 2014, at 2:25 PM PST
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  5. Fred Cole Member

    rico:

    But suppose Ukraine did experience several years of free trade from which greater wealth accumulated. What portion of the fruits of prosperity would be devoted to national defense in a libertarian society? 

    Okay, I’m done farting around trying to get the block quoting to format correctly, so, sorry this post doesn’t look pretty.

    Speaking as both a United States tax payer and someone who understands history enough to realize that every time the United States goes to war it costs me free in freedom as well in cash,

    If Ukranians were granted free trade, etc., with the US, experianced a dramatic increase in national wealth, and then still refused to use that new national wealth to provide for their own defense (which is what you outlined in what I quoted), why the hell am I on the hook to defend their country?

    • #5
    • April 5, 2014, at 3:09 AM PST
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  6. Albert Arthur Thatcher

    Fred Cole: why the hell am I on the hook to defend their country?

     You’re not. Just ignore them. Let Russia and Ukraine fight it out over there, it has nothing to do with us over here. Nothing that happens over there, matters to us over here. We can just sit tight over here, we’re…isolated…from the worries of the rest of the world.

    • #6
    • April 5, 2014, at 8:36 AM PST
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  7. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    Fred Cole:If Ukranians were granted free trade, etc., with the US, experianced a dramatic increase in national wealth, and then still refused to use that new national wealth to provide for their own defense (which is what you outlined in what I quoted), why the hell am I on the hook to defend their country?

     I am not arguing that you are on the hook to defend their country. I’m arguing that your solution would be ineffective, even under your “best case” scenario.

    • #7
    • April 5, 2014, at 10:57 AM PST
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  8. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    Albert Arthur:

    Fred Cole: why the hell am I on the hook to defend their country?

    You’re not. Just ignore them. Let Russia and Ukraine fight it out over there, it has nothing to do with us over here. Nothing that happens over there, matters to us over here. We can just sit tight over here, we’re…isolated…from the worries of the rest of the world.

     Clever, if one can read between the ellipses.

    • #8
    • April 5, 2014, at 11:00 AM PST
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  9. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    Libertarianism has much to offer in terms of combating the tendencies of government— even in a country as free and open as ours—to expand its authority and encroach on the liberty of its citizens. Libertarianism addresses the role of government in a free society. It applies to the relationship between the governed and their government. But there is simply no sense in attempting to apply libertarian principles in relationships among governments.

    Therefore, libertarians must look beyond libertarianism in forming a coherent approach to foreign policy. The approach taken in Fred’s post has been described as isolationist or non-interventionist (depending on who is doing the describing), and it could also be considered pacifist. But, I don’t see any reason why libertarians should confine themselves to such limited choices once they recognize the fact that libertarianism has no more relevance in dealing with international adversaries than the infield fly rule. Perhaps some of the Ricochet libertarians would like to share their approaches in light of this observation.

    • #9
    • April 5, 2014, at 11:06 AM PST
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  10. Mike H Coolidge

    As a libertarian, I don’t have a problem with fighting bad guys, I have a problem with the violation of the rights of those caught in the crossfire. I’m not comfortable with simply calling it a “tough decision” and then feeling little responsibility for what happens after it starts because “war is hell” and “we must do something” and we’re implicitly sure doing something will deter future aggression and will be worth the lives and property lost because, heck, they’re foreigners and countries should look after their own first and foremost. Cost to those in other countries is unfortunate, but almost an afterthought. We unilaterally decide outcomes for those our acts affect, whether or not they would be willing to live with the world without our intervention. This is my problem with military action, when it recklessly endangers people that have no say in the action, because thinking of the world in terms of counties makes a really complicated world seem far more simple than thinking of it as individuals.

    • #10
    • April 5, 2014, at 1:38 PM PST
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  11. captainpower Inactive

    Mike H: As a libertarian, I don’t have a problem with fighting bad guys, I have a problem with the violation of the rights of those caught in the crossfire.

    Their rights are already being violated by our geopolitical enemies.

    • 1950s China sends North Korea aid to overthrow South Korea. 
    • 1950s-1970s China -> Vietnam. Russia -> Cuba.
    • 1980s Russia Afghanistan/South America. 
    • 2000s Iran -> Iraq/Afghanistan. 
    • 2010s Russia -> Ukraine.

    I’m probably missing some.

    • #11
    • April 5, 2014, at 2:28 PM PST
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  12. Mike H Coolidge

    captainpower:

    Mike H: As a libertarian, I don’t have a problem with fighting bad guys, I have a problem with the violation of the rights of those caught in the crossfire.

    Their rights are already being violated by our geopolitical enemies.I’m probably missing some.

    Their rights are also being violated by their own governments. Still, the greatest violation of your rights is death. Russia isn’t a great country, but neither is Ukraine, and I don’t think the difference is really worth the cost of life. It’s especially not worth giving up your life for some sort of national identity. That’s not what’s important. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is important. Family is important. Not necessarily who’s controlling the government, at least between two quasi-oppressive regimes.

    • #12
    • April 5, 2014, at 5:30 PM PST
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  13. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    Mike H:

    Their rights are also being violated by their own governments. Still, the greatest violation of your rights is death. Russia isn’t a great country, but neither is Ukraine, and I don’t think the difference is really worth the cost of life. It’s especially not worth giving up your life for some sort of national identity. That’s not what’s important. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is important. Family is important. Not necessarily who’s controlling the government, at least between two quasi-oppressive regimes.

    This is an astounding statement. Ukrainians rise up against an authoritarian government, willfully risking lives, and actually costing lives just for the chance to change their society to a society more like one that you believe they should aspire to—life, liberty and pursuit of happiness—and you’re telling them: Nah, it’s not worth it. Give up the dream. Accept your Russian rulers.

    • #13
    • April 5, 2014, at 6:20 PM PST
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  14. Mike H Coolidge

    rico:

    Mike H:

    Their rights are also being violated by their own governments. Still, the greatest violation of your rights is death. Russia isn’t a great country, but neither is Ukraine, and I don’t think the difference is really worth the cost of life. It’s especially not worth giving up your life for some sort of national identity. That’s not what’s important. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is important. Family is important. Not necessarily who’s controlling the government, at least between two quasi-oppressive regimes.

    This is an astounding statement. Ukrainians rise up against an authoritarian government, willfully risking lives, and actually costing lives just for the chance to change their society to a society more like one that you believe they should aspire to—life, liberty and pursuit of happiness—and you’re telling them: Nah, it’s not worth it. Give up the dream. Accept your Russian rulers.

     “Ukrainians” did not rise up. Some subset of the population rose up. That’s fine as far as it goes. If you’re willing to risk your own life, that’s fine. But when you start risking the lives of bystanders because you feel you have some noble goal, now you could be violating their rights. Just because you are oppressed does not necessarily give you the right to recklessly endanger 3rd parties.

    • #14
    • April 5, 2014, at 7:19 PM PST
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  15. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    Mike H:

    rico:This is an astounding statement. Ukrainians rise up against an authoritarian government, willfully risking lives, and actually costing lives just for the chance to change their society to a society more like one that you believe they should aspire to—life, liberty and pursuit of happiness—and you’re telling them: Nah, it’s not worth it. Give up the dream. Accept your Russian rulers.

    ”Ukrainians” did not rise up. Some subset of the population rose up. That’s fine as far as it goes. If you’re willing to risk your own life, that’s fine. But when you start risking the lives of bystanders because you feel you have some noble goal, now you could be violating their rights. Just because you are oppressed does not necessarily give you the right to recklessly endanger 3rd parties.

    Angering the Russians by vigorously opposing a potential invasion could lead to Russian violence arbitrarily applied to the Ukrainian population at large, including Ukrainians who would rather submit to the Russians. Employment of violent intimidation tactics by an invader would be totally in character. By your logic, opposing an invasion would be wrong unless citizens unanimously agreed. What are freedom-seeking Ukranians to do? And, the larger question, how would your approach increase the Ukrainians ability of realizing a more libertarian society?

    • #15
    • April 5, 2014, at 8:02 PM PST
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  16. Mike H Coolidge

    rico:

    Angering the Russians by vigorously opposing a potential invasion could lead to Russian violence arbitrarily applied to the Ukrainian population at large, including Ukrainians who would rather submit to the Russians. Employment of violent intimidation tactics by an invader would be totally in character. By your logic, opposing an invasion would be wrong unless citizens unanimously agreed. What are freedom-seeking Ukranians to do? And, the larger question, how would your approach increase the Ukrainians ability of realizing a more libertarian society?

    Freedom seeking Ukrainians should leave, and they should be guaranteed leave by other countries. There’s nothing sacred about Ukrainian land. And it doesn’t require unanimous consent, but reasonable consideration. You’re allowed to fire a gun at a bad guy even though there’s a chance it will hit someone else. But you should hesitate to throw a grenade into a crowded room to get a few bad guys.Libertarian society is still a long ways off. It unfortunately can’t be implemented before people have established the proper morals. The US isn’t even ready yet, though it’s closest in a lot of ways. Just as you can’t impose good democracy in Egypt, you can’t impose libertarianism on current liberal democracies. All we can do is give Ukrainians as many options as possible through trade in order to nudge them towards a more libertarian society. I wish there was a better option.

    • #16
    • April 5, 2014, at 8:21 PM PST
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  17. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    Mike H:Freedom seeking Ukrainians should leave, and they should be guaranteed leave by other countries. There’s nothing sacred about Ukrainian land. And it doesn’t require unanimous consent, but reasonable consideration. You’re allowed to fire a gun at a bad guy even though there’s a chance it will hit someone else. But you should hesitate to throw a grenade into a crowded room to get a few bad guys.Libertarian society is still a long ways off. It unfortunately can’t be implemented before people have established the proper morals. The US isn’t even ready yet, though it’s closest in a lot of ways. Just as you can’t impose good democracy in Egypt, you can’t impose libertarianism on current liberal democracies. All we can do is give Ukrainians as many options as possible through trade in order to nudge them towards a more libertarian society. I wish there was a better option.

    So, you’re in agreement with Fred’s solution (at least as regards confrontation by a potential invader). Under this approach, what is to prevent aggressors such as Russia, China and Iran from running the table over the next few decades?

    • #17
    • April 5, 2014, at 9:00 PM PST
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  18. Mike H Coolidge

    rico:

    Mike H:Freedom seeking Ukrainians should leave, and they should be guaranteed leave by other countries. There’s nothing sacred about Ukrainian land. And it doesn’t require unanimous consent, but reasonable consideration. You’re allowed to fire a gun at a bad guy even though there’s a chance it will hit someone else. But you should hesitate to throw a grenade into a crowded room to get a few bad guys.Libertarian society is still a long ways off. It unfortunately can’t be implemented before people have established the proper morals. The US isn’t even ready yet, though it’s closest in a lot of ways. Just as you can’t impose good democracy in Egypt, you can’t impose libertarianism on current liberal democracies. All we can do is give Ukrainians as many options as possible through trade in order to nudge them towards a more libertarian society. I wish there was a better option.

    So, you’re in agreement with Fred’s solution (at least as regards confrontation by a potential invader). Under this approach, what is to prevent aggressors such as Russia, China and Iran from running the table over the next few decades?

     What would be the real consequence of them running the table? Would they treat those in conquered countries appreciably worse than those in their home countries? What about if they had the option to leave? I don’t want them to do this, but if we’re willing to go to war, why aren’t we willing to really cut economic ties with Russia and China? Is it because war is an easier sell than giving up cheap iPods? It would be nearly trivial for the US is cripple the Chinese economy. At that point, what are the surrounding countries worth to them? 

    • #18
    • April 5, 2014, at 9:29 PM PST
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  19. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    Mike H:

    rico:So, you’re in agreement with Fred’s solution (at least as regards confrontation by a potential invader). Under this approach, what is to prevent aggressors such as Russia, China and Iran from running the table over the next few decades?

    What would be the real consequence of them running the table? Would they treat those in conquered countries appreciably worse than those in their home countries? What about if they had the option to leave? I don’t want them to do this, but if we’re willing to go to war, why aren’t we willing to really cut economic ties with Russia and China? Is it because war is an easier sell than giving up cheap iPods? It would be nearly trivial for the US is cripple the Chinese economy. At that point, what are the surrounding countries worth to them?

    Here’s a scenario: Russia forces take positions in the Gulf of Finland and along the Finnish border. Putin issues an ultimatum to either surrender all of Finland peacefully or face a swift, merciless invasion and occupation. Citizens are given thirty days to emigrate or become Russian subjects. America and Canada offer sanctuary, and the entire Finnish population moves to North America, where they are welcomed. Russia takes Finland, and the same scenario plays out again in Sweden the following year. That would be okay?

    • #19
    • April 5, 2014, at 10:11 PM PST
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  20. SkipSul Moderator

    Why isn’t Ukrainian land sacred? It’s their property. Further, where would they go? Diasporas are messy business. Look at the chaos at the end of WWII ornIsrael.

    • #20
    • April 6, 2014, at 7:18 AM PST
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  21. James Of England Moderator

    skipsul:Why isn’t Ukrainian land sacred? It’s their property. Further, where would they go? Diasporas are messy business. Look at the chaos at the end of WWII ornIsrael.

     I agree. A Libertarian who does not believe that property rights are sacred exposes his movement, and conservatives by extension, to all the mockery that the left heaps upon them.

    I have an absolute right to smoke weed in my garden, derived not from God but from human reason, but Viktor over there has no right to sit in his garden. My right to keep secrets online is sacrosanct, but Li’s right to keep his computer is unimportant. It is offensive to me when the police armor themselves before arresting criminals, but innoffensive when foreign soldiers shoot innocents. Rights are appropriate subjects for outrage when the violator is American, but only for contempt if the offenders are not.

    • #21
    • April 6, 2014, at 9:40 AM PST
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  22. JavaMan Member

    So I guess libertarianism can only be applied to the Ukraines of the world as long as their people can have someplace to flee to that has the means and the will to stand up to the bullies. I suppose that also means the US will have to forgo our conversion to a libertarian foreign policy (assuming there is one) in order to provide such a safe harbor….. And therein lies the rub, libertarianism is always bootstrapping on the existence of someone somewhere that loves liberty AND is able and willing to project power to protect it . A good, free, and strong society may offer protection to conscientious objectors only as long as there plenty of those who are willing to expend muscle and blood to defend it.

    • #22
    • April 6, 2014, at 9:52 AM PST
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  23. Mike H Coolidge

    rico:

    Mike H:

    What would be the real consequence of them running the table? Would they treat those in conquered countries appreciably worse than those in their home countries? What about if they had the option to leave? I don’t want them to do this, but if we’re willing to go to war, why aren’t we willing to really cut economic ties with Russia and China? Is it because war is an easier sell than giving up cheap iPods? It would be nearly trivial for the US is cripple the Chinese economy. At that point, what are the surrounding countries worth to them?

    Here’s a scenario: Russia forces take positions in the Gulf of Finland and along the Finnish border. Putin issues an ultimatum to either surrender all of Finland peacefully or face a swift, merciless invasion and occupation. Citizens are given thirty days to emigrate or become Russian subjects. America and Canada offer sanctuary, and the entire Finnish population moves to North America, where they are welcomed. Russia takes Finland, and the same scenario plays out again in Sweden the following year. That would be okay?

     None of it would be “OK.” It would be a terrible situation, but so is war. Also, there’s nothing morally wrong with intimidating them. It would be quite easy to amass military around Norway. It’s the hot war where things become sketchy (though there are still situations where force is warranted, especially when it’s unlikely to recklessly endanger noncombatants.) Plus, the economic response to Russia threatening to invade a rich western country would be orders of magnitude above Crimea.And this goes both ways. If the US were to invade somewhere the ideal response would be no resistance, right? Most countries would become far better if we were running their government. Change in management is (usually) not worth bloodshed.

    • #23
    • April 6, 2014, at 10:01 AM PST
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  24. SkipSul Moderator

    Ukraine v Russia is not a “change in management.” It is a change in culture, with the “Greater Russians” continuing a centuries long cultural and economic oppression of the “Little Russians”.

    • #24
    • April 6, 2014, at 10:16 AM PST
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  25. Valiuth Member

    I’m sorry Mike I find your position flaberghasting, avoiding confronatation with naked beligerents like Russia mearly gurantees that when war comes it will always be on a worse footing. The beligerent is always preparing for war, and as they recieve conseccions their possition only grows stronger. 

    • #25
    • April 6, 2014, at 10:23 AM PST
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  26. Mike H Coolidge

    Valiuth:I’m sorry Mike I find your position flaberghasting, avoiding confronatation with naked beligerents like Russia mearly gurantees that when war comes it will always be on a worse footing. The beligerent is always preparing for war, and as they recieve conseccions their possition only grows stronger.

     I understand. I really enjoy defending unconventional positions. I’m obviously still working out some of the bugs on this one, and I appreciate everyone’s civil responses.

    • #26
    • April 6, 2014, at 11:47 AM PST
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  27. Umbra Fractus Lincoln

    James Of England: I have an absolute right to smoke weed in my garden, derived not from God but from human reason, but Viktor over there has no right to sit in his garden. My right to keep secrets online is sacrosanct, but Li’s right to keep his computer is unimportant. It is offensive to me when the police armor themselves before arresting criminals, but innoffensive when foreign soldiers shoot innocents. Rights are appropriate subjects for outrage when the violator is American, but only for contempt if the offenders are not.

     You may not realize this, James, but you just described actual Neoconservatism (as opposed to the “Woohoo! Who can we bomb today?!” caricature promoted by leftists and libertarians) perfectly.

    • #27
    • April 6, 2014, at 1:06 PM PST
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  28. rico Inactive
    rico Post author

    Mike H:

    rico:

    Mike H

    What would be the real consequence of them running the table? Would they treat those in conquered countries appreciably worse than those in their home countries? What about if they had the option to leave? I don’t want them to do this, but if we’re willing to go to war, why aren’t we willing to really cut economic ties with Russia and China? Is it because war is an easier sell than giving up cheap iPods? It would be nearly trivial for the US is cripple the Chinese economy. At that point, what are the surrounding countries worth to them? 

    Here’s a scenario: Russia forces take positions in the Gulf of Finland and along the Finnish border. Putin issues an ultimatum to either surrender all of Finland peacefully or face a swift, merciless invasion and occupation. Citizens are given thirty days to emigrate or become Russian subjects. America and Canada offer sanctuary, and the entire Finnish population moves to North America, where they are welcomed. Russia takes Finland, and the same scenario plays out again in Sweden the following year. That would be okay?

    None of it would be “OK.” It would be a terrible situation, but so is war. Also, there’s nothing morally wrong with intimidating them.

    If the US were to invade somewhere the ideal response would be no resistance, right? Most countries would become far better if we were running their government. Change in management is (usually) not worth bloodshed.

     Most Americans believe that the people choose their “management”—not the other way around. I’m having dificulty finding libertarian principles in all this, but I’m patient, and I understand that you’re still working this out. Perhaps a few others with libertarian views would like to jump in.

    • #28
    • April 6, 2014, at 2:26 PM PST
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  29. Vice-Potentate Member

    There is a wicked tendency for the libertarian position to sink into work-arounds rather than confrontation. For instance, if Russia invades Ukraine Ukranians should be free to flee. But, there are a good number of people with libertarian tendencies, myself included, that realize a strong defense structure, with strong property law extending to both domestic and international affairs, is necessary to secure the basic freedoms that come from the free flow of goods and people between cooperating partners. Whenever a nation, like Russia, attempts to supplant these values with brute force rather than cooperation they should be opposed. It is not an antilibertarian position to demand that nations who have power, such as the United States, should use it in favor of ends that guarantee free cooperation over direct or indirect tyranny.

    • #29
    • April 6, 2014, at 10:28 PM PST
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  30. James Of England Moderator

    Umbra Fractus:

    James Of England: I have an absolute right to smoke weed in my garden, derived not from God but from human reason, but Viktor over there has no right to sit in his garden. My right to keep secrets online is sacrosanct, but Li’s right to keep his computer is unimportant. It is offensive to me when the police armor themselves before arresting criminals, but innoffensive when foreign soldiers shoot innocents. Rights are appropriate subjects for outrage when the violator is American, but only for contempt if the offenders are not.

    You may not realize this, James, but you just described actual Neoconservatism (as opposed to the “Woohoo! Who can we bomb today?!” caricature promoted by leftists and libertarians) perfectly.

     No. Actual neoconservatism believes in spreading rights. It started as an anti-communist movement that argued for liberating people from communism and moved on to The End Of History and the like. We’re all safer without rogue states, and rogue states exist where people lack rights. Between those positions, Kirkpatrick argued that we failed to appreciate the benefits of living in an authoritarian state. There has never been a time that neoconservatism has sunk to the racist depths of the “human rights, but only Americans are human” libertarian fringes.

    • #30
    • April 7, 2014, at 9:22 AM PST
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