The Case For Libertarian Nationalism, Part II: Defense

 

armed-porcupineEarlier this week, I argued that libertarianism is wholly compatible with a nationalist policy on immigration, despite many (if not most) libertarians believing that national borders are arbitrary abridgments of the inherent right to travel, work, and settle freely. Today, I argue for why a certain kind of hawkish foreign policy is, similarly, utterly congruent with libertarianism.

It’s worth remembering that libertarianism is a political philosophy regarding the nature of the relationship between citizens and states with whom they are in political compact; a philosophy that places a high premium on individual autonomy and the enforcement of negative rights. As such the government of the United States exists for the benefit of its citizens, not those of other countries. While foreigners have the same inherent, inalienable rights as Americans, their protection is simply outside of the responsibility of the United States government.

With regard to other civilized nations — i.e., those nations who have at least a semblance of the rule of law and whose values are sufficiently in concert with our own — our federal government should seek to maintain peaceable, honorable, and open relations. Our citizens should be allowed to trade freely with theirs, and are obliged to follow their laws when visiting abroad, just as their citizens are obliged to follow our laws when here. We should seek non-aggression pacts with all who will treat us honorably, and alliances with those of good reputation whose interests align closely with our own and who can carry more than their own weight militarily.

With regard to nations that lack civilization, seek conflict with us, or simply wish us harm, however, a nationalist libertarian policy should have one overarching principle: if you lay a finger on one of our citizens — or otherwise violate their rights as we understand them — it will end badly for you. The nature, degree, and timing of your punishment will be of our choosing, and we will be less concerned about inflicting collateral damage or injustice on those around you than we will be in seeing you suffer for your wrong. Indeed, the harder you make it for us to punish you, the more likely it is that we’ll have to get sloppy about it. If that concerns you, we encourage you to reconsider your actions and refer you to infographics such as this for calm reflection.

It is of paramount importance that we avoid any policy that contradicts, impedes, or confuses this message. For instance, while the United States heartily approves of the spread of our small-l liberal principles, doing so is not a core function of our government (as John Derbyshire has put it, our government is entrusted with ensuring libertarianism in one country). Again, the United States government is not in social compact with the citizens of other nations and, therefore, does not have attending duties to them in the way it does to its own citizens.

Punitive campaigns against nations who harm their own citizens but do not otherwise affect the United States’ interests should, therefore, be avoided, unless cogent arguments can be made that failure to intervene will harm the United States. To take a recent example, consider the 2011 US bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi, which led directly to his overthrow and death. Stipulating that — in addition to being a world-class weirdo — Gaddafi was a wicked man whose actions against his people were in opposition to our values, and that he roundly deserved the ignominious death he soon found, libertarian nationalism would have argued strongly against our taking military action against him. Why? Because Gaddafi had been scared straight since the invasion of Iraq, dumped his weapons programs, and had, by and large, been behaving with regards to the United States and its allies ever since. This is behavior we should encourage, especially in a region where so many continue to wish us harm. Bombing Gaddafi showed others that there’s little to be gained by reforming one’s relationship with the United States, and that mistreating your own citizens is more important than threatening ours.

“Okay, Tom,” I imagine some of you may be saying. “This is all well and good, but how is it different than various strains of conservative hawkery?” First, I would say that it’s not that different; indeed, my point was less to delineate the differences between conservative and nationalist libertarian foreign policy, than to describe how the latter might work and what it would look like. That said, libertarian nationalism is a bit more cold-hearted, less interested in policing the world for its own sake, and less prone to messianic missions to bring civilization and/or freedom to the world, as typified by President Bush’s second inaugural address.

More simply, our foreign policy should be motivated solely by our interests and limited only by our morality, rather than the other way around. Judeo-Christian notions of charity, justice, self-sacrifice, and the general equality of man should be encouraged as much as possible, but cannot be the starting point in how nation states deal with belligerents and barbarians.

There are 31 comments.

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  1. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    I can’t think of a time in my life when “in our national interest” didn’t make me feel queasy, and I’ve been every sort of political persuasion.

    It still rings hollow whenever I hear someone use it as an axiom. It feels soulless and unthinking.

    “Libertarian Nationalism” sounds like a doctrine of maximizing liberty within our borders at nearly any expense to the liberty of people outside of it, as long as it’s not too morally repugnant.

    It also sounds like you’re defining things in a way to get the answer you want rather than hold a consistent philosophy.

    • #1
  2. J Flei Inactive
    J Flei
    @Solon

    Sounds good to me.  However, the only prominent libertarian I’ve heard address defense is Ron Paul, and I don’t think he shares these views.

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  3. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    J Flei:However, the only prominent libertarian I’ve heard address defense is Ron Paul, and I don’t think he shares these views.

    Rand’s better, but still a bit squishy/inconsistent. But my point is that dovish libertarianism is not the only — or natural — conclusion.

    • #3
  4. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Tom,

    Gaddafi was a wicked man whose actions against his people were in opposition to our values, and that he roundly deserved the ignominious death he soon found, libertarian nationalism would have argued strongly against our taking military action against him. Why? Because Gaddafi had been scared straight since the invasion of Iraq, dumped his weapons programs, and had, by and large, been behaving with regards to the United States and its allies ever since. This is behavior we should encourage, especially in a region where so many continue to wish us harm. Bombing Gaddafi showed others that there’s little to be gained by reforming one’s relationship with the United States, and that mistreating your own citizens is more important than threatening ours.

    Isn’t is so very interesting that the man who jumped up and down on George W. Bush’s back from 2002 on over Iraq relentlessly making the argument you are making and who won himself a two term Presidency as a result of this relentless political meme is the same man who then made the massive mistake in Libya.

    Turned out BHO was just a political opportunist that was happy to play fast and loose with real American interests. That, by the way, is the best one can say about him. If one were to look more closely at the grand pattern of his misdeeds then you might see something more sinister. Accepting your libertarian analysis then he is only a clumsy hypocrite.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
  5. Herbert E. Meyer Contributor
    Herbert E. Meyer
    @HerbertEMeyer

    This essay goes a long way toward helping me understand how Libertarians approach foreign policy and defense.  More precisely, it helps me to articulate just what it is about the Libertarian approach that worries me:

    Libertarians always have explanations for why the US shouldn’t use our military power.  That’s fine.  But I simply cannot come up with any instance in which Libertarians would use our military power.   Nothing — absolutely nothing — seems to meet their high standards for the use of force.  It’s never in our national interest, if I understand them correctly.

    Should we use force if Russia invades Ukraine?  How about Estonia, or Poland?   Do we get involved if Iran attacks Israel, or if China launches an attack on Taiwan?

    Libertarians talk about using military power the way environmentalists talk about increasing the supply of energy — they’re for it under the right circumstances, but these right circumstances never quite happen…..They’ve always got some explanation for why in this instance — whatever that may be — we should do nothing.

    If history teaches us anything, it’s that sometimes the way to avoid big wars is to fight little wars….but no “little” war ever meets the Libertarian standard, or so it seems.

    I’m open to further discussion of this, please.

    • #5
  6. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Herbert E. Meyer:

    I’m open to further discussion of this, please.

    Let’s start here:

    And here.

    This is especially important.

    What Tetlock really shows is that experts are overconfident if you exclude the questions where they have reached a solid consensus.

    This is still an important finding. Experts really do make overconfident predictions about controversial questions. We have to stop doing that! However, this does not show that experts are overconfident about their core findings.

    War outcomes tends to be controversial among experts. It turns out predictions tend to be only slightly better than chance, but we don’t go to war saying “I’m 55% sure this is the right thing to do.” They talk about it with certainty, and there’s not enough disincentive for being wrong.

    • #6
  7. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    It’s worth remembering that libertarianism is a political philosophy regarding the nature of the relationship between citizens and states with whom they are in political compact….

    Tom, I agree with this.  But, there are libertarians, here, who don’t.  And, even though I agree with you, I haven’t found what I consider a detailed, ironclad libertarian argument that leads from libertarian principles to this conclusion you and I agree on.

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  8. Herbert E. Meyer Contributor
    Herbert E. Meyer
    @HerbertEMeyer

    Hi, Mike H,

    Okay, I’ve watched that video — it was excruciating — and read the two linked articles.  But I’m no closer than I was before to understanding the Libertarian approach to using military power.  It’s more theoretical than applicable; so “intellectual” that it winds up nowhere.

    Let’s imagine that I’m walking down the street one evening and some thug jumps out of an alley and attacks me.  Two passers-by — one a liberal, the other a Libertarian — happen to see what’s happening.

    The liberal says: My heart goes out to the mugger.  I can only imagine the miserable socio-economic conditions that have led him to take this inappropriate response to his career frustrations.

    The Libertarian says: Not my problem, dude.  For all I know the guy getting beat up voted for Romney.  I’m not getting involved.

    The upshot is that neither one of these geniuses comes to my rescue.

    Let’s get practical, and perhaps that will help me understand: Of all the times the US has used military power since the end of World War II, which ones do Libertarians support?

    Can you name three?  How about two?  Okay, I’ll settle for one….

    • #8
  9. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Herbert E. Meyer:Hi, Mike H,

    Okay, I’ve watched that video — it was excruciating — and read the two linked articles. But I’m no closer than I was before to understanding the Libertarian approach to using military power. It’s more theoretical than applicable; so “intellectual” that it winds up nowhere.

    I’m sorry it was hard for you. I think it’s mostly an applicable philosophy, but you’re probably not going to like the conclusions.

    Let’s imagine that I’m walking down the street one evening and some thug jumps out of an alley and attacks me. Two passers-by — one a liberal, the other a Libertarian — happen to see what’s happening.

    The liberal says: My heart goes out to the mugger. I can only imagine the miserable socio-economic conditions that have led him to take this inappropriate response to his career frustrations.

    The Libertarian says: Not my problem, dude. For all I know the guy getting beat up voted for Romney. I’m not getting involved.

    This isn’t at all true for someone like me, but this helps explain a lot how you see libertarians in general.

    The upshot is that neither one of these geniuses comes to my rescue.

    Let’s get practical, and perhaps that will help me understand: Of all the times the US has used military power since the end of World War II, which ones do Libertarians support?

    Can you name three? How about two? Okay, I’ll settle for one….

    I should start by saying I’m strange even among “libertarians.” I’m also still trying to figure this thing out. It might be that the application of common sense morality to war leads to such terrible outcomes that it’s better we intervene whenever it’s “in our interest,” but I doubt it. The other potential problem with libertarian passivism is it seems much less likely it would recomend war in a WWII type of situation, but on the other hand, arguing in it’s favor is that it wouldn’t have gotten into WWI either, which could have avoided WWII in the first place.

    I think the key moral intuition that applies to war is the organ donation analogy.

    For a war to be morally justified, then, its (innocent lives saved/innocent lives lost) ratio would have to exceed 5:1…

    And unless you’re willing to bite the bullet of involuntary organ donation, “good overall consequences” are insufficient to morally justify war.

    The other part of my version of libertarian philosophy that irks conservatives (and “libertarian nationalists”) is the radical notion that foreigners are equal humans and we shouldn’t hold a native stranger to higher regard as a foreign stranger. Which leads to the terrible consequences of trying not to kill an innocent foreigner as much as we try not to kill an innocent native, and also allowing them to live and work where they wish. These moral presumptions can only be overcome by very large negative consequences and an dispassionate unbiased assessment of the data show that the negative consequences to natives are mostly small while the benefits (which yes, would disproportionately go to poor foreigners) are massive.

    Hopefully this helps you understand where I’m coming from quite a bit more and show that it’s not an unthinking “not my problem” type of thing.

    • #9
  10. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Herbert E. Meyer:Let’s imagine that I’m walking down the street one evening and some thug jumps out of an alley and attacks me. Two passers-by — one a liberal, the other a Libertarian — happen to see what’s happening.The liberal says: My heart goes out to the mugger. I can only imagine the miserable socio-economic conditions that have led him to take this inappropriate response to his career frustrations.

    The Libertarian says: Not my problem, dude. For all I know the guy getting beat up voted for Romney. I’m not getting involved.

    The upshot is that neither one of these geniuses comes to my rescue.

    The big issue is that you reduced this to the level of an individual.  And while in a free society individual choices are important, you can’t reduce national defense about an analogy about an individual.  It’s about a government going to war.

    For what it’s worth, I, personally, would come to your defense, Herb.  But that’s me making that choice individually.  I’m not committing other people, I’m not making a collective choice involving using force on millions of people, and I’m not making a choice about spending other people’s money.

    You ask for an example, Herb, you’ll be hard pressed to find one in US foreign policy.  We’re a nation with two gigantic oceans on each side, and we’re bordered by friendly nations to the north and south.

    • #10
  11. Herbert E. Meyer Contributor
    Herbert E. Meyer
    @HerbertEMeyer

    Hi, Fred,

    Thanks — in advance — for coming to my rescue.

    Tom has done a superb job working through the concept of Libertarianism.  It seems to me he’s articulating a more muscular version than I’ve seen before, and I find this attractive.  So I’m really interested in seeing this conversation continue.

    If I understand correctly, there hasn’t been one instance of our country using military force since 1945 that you would have supported.  Is this correct?  Really?

    Tom is trying to separate Libertarianism from pacifism, or at least draw a distinction between the two…….That’s interesting to me, and as I say it’s attractive….Is he out there on his own?

    • #11
  12. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Herbert: “Should we use force if Russia invades Ukraine? How about Estonia, or Poland? Do we get involved if Iran attacks Israel, or if China launches an attack on Taiwan?”

    Well, this libertarian thinks the answer to those questions is yes.

    • #12
  13. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Salvatore Padula:Herbert: “Should we use force if Russia invades Ukraine?How about Estonia, or Poland? Do we get involved if Iran attacks Israel, or if China launches an attack on Taiwan?”

    Well, this libertarian thinks the answer to those questions is yes.

    For what it’s worth, I wish it was that easy for me.

    • #13
  14. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Herbert E. Meyer:Libertarians always have explanations for why the US shouldn’t use our military power. That’s fine. But I simply cannot come up with any instance in which Libertarians would use our military power. Nothing — absolutely nothing — seems to meet their high standards for the use of force. It’s never in our national interest, if I understand them correctly.

    Of all the times the US has used military power since the end of World War II, which ones do Libertarians support?

    Well, even by the absolute strictest possible reading of my piece, action against the Taliban in 2001 was not only justified, but mandated.

    • #14
  15. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Herbert E. Meyer:Should we use force if Russia invades Ukraine? How about Estonia, or Poland? Do we get involved if Iran attacks Israel, or if China launches an attack on Taiwan?

    Fair challenge. Like Sal, I believe the United States should fight in the event that Poland, Israel, or Taiwan are attacked.

    I clearly did not give nearly enough attention to discussion of coming to our allies’ aid, though I did say:

     We should seek non-aggression pacts with all who will treat us honorably, and alliances with those of good reputation whose interests align closely with our own and who can carry more than their own weight militarily.

    This presupposes that one is obliged both by honor and interest to come to the aid of our allies when they are threatened or attacked. In this sense, our allies — and their citizens — should (essentially) be treated as being within our social contract.

    • #15
  16. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    That said, I think we need to be stingy with regard to whom we make formal alliances. Specifically, I’m highly skeptical of making alliances with countries who have very little to offer in return for our promises of blood and treasure beyond their decency and niceness. If Americans are pledging to fight and die on your behalf, we should damn well expect the same of you. This is why countries like the U.K. and Australia — who have the resources and will to deploy combat units oversees, and who consistently do so along side our soldiers — are first-rate allies in a way that other countries are not.

    (Israeli is sort of weird in this way because their domestic situation — and anti-Semitism — make it very difficult for them to deploy. On the other hand, Israel is often in combat with groups we’re fighting — or ones allied with those we’re fighting. So I think Israel passes the test of our getting more out of our alliance with them than we put in, which is what we want).

    With regard to Poland, and Taiwan, however I think there’s an independent argument to be made that protecting them is in our interest as a check on Russian and Chinese hegemony, which is decidedly in our interest. I admit I did not discuss this topic at all in my piece, and it’s a failure of it.

    • #16
  17. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    By the way, I’m all for drone assassinations when there’s a reasonable certainty that you’re nabbing a bad guy.

    Also, I don’t know what the deal with ISIS is on the ground, but I can imagine it’s possible that engaging them meets passivist libertarian requirements.

    • #17
  18. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Herbert E. Meyer:

    If I understand correctly, there hasn’t been one instance of our country using military force since 1945 that you would have supported. Is this correct? Really?

    Tom is trying to separate Libertarianism from pacifism, or at least draw a distinction between the two…….That’s interesting to me, and as I say it’s attractive….Is he out there on his own?

    See, that’s the thing about libertarians, Herb, ask four libertarians a question you’ll get five answers.  Tom, Mike, and Sal are all more hawkish in this regard than myself.  So clearly among libertarians, there’s a wide variety of opinion.  So don’t take my (admittedly extreme) libertarian position to represent most or all libertarians.  I speak only for myself.

    Other than responding to 9/11, which required some kind of forceful response (though not what we did), I don’t know which post-1945 US military interventions I’d support.  The Wikipedia lists 131 of them, most of them are obscure, and most of them I don’t know enough about to give an intelligent opinion.  But with regards to Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan (the occupation, not the initial air strikes), I’d probably be opposed to all of them.

    Now, I have to disagree with your use of the term “pacifism.”  I may be anti-interventionist, but I’m no pacifism.  Maybe we disagree on our terms though.  I understand pacifism as not hitting someone back, even if they hit you first (the Amish are a good example of that).  That doesn’t apply to me.  I’m happy to answer force with force.

    • #18
  19. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Fred Cole:

    Other than responding to 9/11, which required some kind of forceful response (though not what we did), I don’t know which post-1945 US military interventions I’d support.

    So, in answer to my dad’s question Mike, Sal, Fred, and I — who, I think, represent a pretty good spread of libertarian thought — all agree that 9/11 warranted some kind of military response. Beyond that, there is disagreement among us.

    I think that’s a useful response.

    • #19
  20. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Owen Findy:Tom, I agree with this. But, there are libertarians, here, who don’t. And, even though I agree with you, I haven’t found what I consider a detailed, ironclad libertarian argument that leads from libertarian principles to this conclusion you and I agree on.

    Is there anywhere in particular I was deficient?

    • #20
  21. Yudansha Member
    Yudansha
    @Yudansha

    I’ll chime in and say that for me, military actions should be confined to purely punitive expeditions.  We should rain fire on those that attack us, then we should immediately leave.

    That, combined with a smattering of targeted assassinations is entirely muscular enough.

    As for a military action taken since WWII that I find meets my standard?  I’ll go with the 1st bombing of Libya, by Reagan.  He specifically targeted Qaddafi himself (even though he missed), in response to the murder of Americans.

    • #21
  22. Herbert E. Meyer Contributor
    Herbert E. Meyer
    @HerbertEMeyer

    If I may, a couple of more points to ponder:

    Yudansha, you write that “we should rain fire on those that attack us, then we should immediately leave.”

    When World War II ended in 1945, we stayed in Japan and in Germany.  If we’d pulled out after the armistice, and in 1947 a bunch of neo-Nazis had tried to grab control of, say, Munich, I doubt the new German government could have stopped them.  (And all the deep thinkers would have started squawking that this proves we shouldn’t have fought Hitler, but cut some sort of deal with him….)  But we stayed, and nothing like this happened.  That’s been among the greatest successes in world history.  Sometimes, pulling out too fast is a huge mistake — e.g. Iraq.

    Tom writes that :

    For instance, while the United States heartily approves of the spread of our small-l liberal principles, doing so is not a core function of our government (as John Derbyshire has put it, our government is entrusted with ensuring libertarianism in one country).

    I agree that helping to spread small-l liberal principles isn’t a core function of our government…..but sometimes it’s the smart thing to do.  We’re less likely to find ourselves at war with “modern” countries.  Isn’t learning from history — and thinking ahead — a legitimate function of government?

    • #22
  23. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:That said, I think we need to be stingy with regard to whom we make formal alliances. Specifically, I’m highly skeptical of making alliances with countries who have very little to offer in return for our promises of blood and treasure beyond their decency and niceness. If Americans are pledging to fight and die on your behalf, we should damn well expect the same of you. This is why countries like the U.K. and Australia — who have the resources and will to deploy combat units oversees, and who consistently do so along side our soldiers — are first-rate allies in a way that other countries are not.

    Just to elaborate on this, I don’t want America put in a situation where we’re always expected to be Bronn while our “allies” are always Tyrion:

    Bronn: But one misstep [in a duel against the powerful Ser Gregor on your behalf] and I’m dead. Why should I risk it?

    Tyrion: Because you’re my friend.

    Bronn: Aye, I’m your friend. And when have you ever risked you life for me?

    Now, obviously, there can’t be any expectation of pure reciprocity. But if, for instance, Europe and South Korea are going to outsource their military to us, we should expect something significant back in return.

    • #23
  24. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Owen Findy:“

    Tom, I agree with this. But, there are libertarians, here, who don’t. And, even though I agree with you, I haven’t found what I consider a detailed, ironclad libertarian argument that leads from libertarian principles to this conclusion you and I agree on.

    I’m with you Owen, but I think the conclusion is pretty clear.  Libertarianism ends at the water’s edge.  If one accepts Tom’s principle, which I do, then libertarianism has nothing to say about how we deal with other countries.  Neither those countries, nor their citizens, are subject to the libertarian compact.  They are not entitled to the benefits of that compact.  One may validly hold any view whatsoever on foreign policy, without betraying one’s libertarian principles.

    There is a caveat to this.  Some people are libertarians because, as a matter of philosophy, they love and value freedom.  Such people want to spread freedom around the world when possible, and they favor a muscular foreign policy.  On the other hand, it seems that some people are libertarians simply because they are cheapskates, and don’t want to spend any money on collective endeavors including foreign policy or national defense.  (Yeah, I’m looking at you Ron Paul.)  I happily count myself in the former group.

    • #24
  25. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    BDB- “Libertarianism ends at the water’s edge.”

    I agree that libertarianism doesn’t apply to a lot of foreign affairs questions and that a state only has an obligation to respect the rights of its own citizens, but I do think there are some areas of foreign-policy where libertarianism does dictate a specific policy position. Wars of aggression are incompatible with libertarianism. Free trade is required by libertarianism.

    • #25
  26. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Salvatore Padula:BDB- “Libertarianism ends at the water’s edge.”

    I agree that libertarianism doesn’t apply to a lot of foreign affairs questions and that a state only has an obligation to respect the rights of its own citizens, but I do think there are some areas of foreign-policy where libertarianism does dictate a specific policy position. Wars of aggression are incompatible with libertarianism. Free trade is required by libertarianism.

    Sal & All,

    I haven’t participated since my first comment on this thread. What your comment and the whole thread demonstrates is what I had assumed. Libertarian arguments are very useful and interesting but have a problem with international affairs.

    This is the reason that, however much trouble, Kant is important. Private Right, Public Right, National Right, and Cosmopolitan Right. Private Right is chiefly property right and Public Right exists to protect Private Right. National Right then exists to protect Public Right and finally Cosmopolitan Right exists only to protect National Right. This system of Right would allow Libertarians to convert their investment in libertarian analysis to the international sphere without any corruption. Kant’s Right also provides the basis for a rational use of force. In fact Kant’s Right requires a rational use of force as a duty.

    Here is a link to my old post Understanding Perpetual Peace. Sometimes if you want more out of something you’ve got to put more in.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #26
  27. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    James Gawron:

    Sal & All,

    I haven’t participated since my first comment on this thread. What your comment and the whole thread demonstrates is what I had assumed. Libertarian arguments are very useful and interesting but have a problem with international affairs.

    Jim, I believe Sal said that he would support military intervention in defense of countries such as Taiwan, Ukraine, and Israel (as would I). I’m not sure what the disagreement is between us on this.

    • #27
  28. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Herbert E. Meyer:I agree that helping to spread small-l liberal principles isn’t a core function of our government…..but sometimes it’s the smart thing to do. We’re less likely to find ourselves at war with “modern” countries. Isn’t learning from history — and thinking ahead — a legitimate function of government?

    But then you can use this to justify anything.  It can be used to justify a coup against a popularly elected government because the “wrong” party got elected.

    • #28
  29. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Jim,

    I don’t think that libertarian arguments have a problem dealing with foreign affairs. Libertarianism simply doesn’t address most questions involving the relations of one state to another. Libertarianism is a political philosophy fundamentally concerned with the relationship between a state and its own citizens. Saying that libertarianism has a problem dealing with foreign affairs because it doesn’t claim to address them is akin to criticizing Catholicism because it doesn’t have much to say about monetary policy.

    All the best,
    Sal

    • #29
  30. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    James Gawron:

    Sal & All,

    I haven’t participated since my first comment on this thread. What your comment and the whole thread demonstrates is what I had assumed. Libertarian arguments are very useful and interesting but have a problem with international affairs.

    Jim, I believe Sal said that he would support military intervention in defense of countries such as Taiwan, Ukraine, and Israel (as would I). I’m not sure what the disagreement is between us on this.

    Tom,

    No disagreement whatsoever. However, there isn’t much in the pure libertarian position to ensure this. I take it as the common sense libertarian position and you and Sal have a lot of common sense. The problem arises when we are dealing with a more doctrinaire libertarian.

    Please don’t take my comment as a criticism but as a suggestion.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #30

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