Skip to comments.Libertarianism's foreign policy folly
Posted on 02/26/2010 8:13:12 AM PST by caldera599
Libertarians have many good things going for them. They oppose massive federal spending and the growth of the welfare state in America. They support liberty for all Americans. They believe in curbing federal power over the economy by getting rid of the Fed and promoting sound money at home. All essentially good ideas.
Though, as the old saying goes, no one is perfect.
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Their economic and freedom philosophies are sound but their foreign policy ideas are tin-foil hat and looney toon.
What is so wrong with the founder’s foreign policy?
“It is our true policy to steer clear of entangling alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” George Washington
Thomas Jefferson summed up the noninterventionist foreign policy position perfectly in his 1801 inaugural address: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations entangling alliances with none.” Washington similarly urged that we must, “Act for ourselves and not for others,” by forming an “American character wholly free of foreign attachments.”
“What is so wrong with the founders foreign policy?”
When the United States was effectively beyond reach, protected by two oceans and its nearest neighbors were colonial empires that were mostly empty space, this policy made sense. Not to mention the fact that before WWI, the US was militarily impotent- the Monroe Doctrine was mostly underwritten by British sea power, because they preferred to weaken their European competitors.
Since the end of the 19th century, we have not been beyond reach. Technology has made it so that a man on the other side of the planet can launch a missile and it be here in a few hours. Things that happen in remote places can kill people in our country- please use 9/11 as a reference. Sticking one’s head in the sand only results in getting one’s buttocks kicked. Like it or not, we cannot return to that isolation that our forefathers enjoyed.
“Noninterventionism is not isolationism. Nonintervention simply means America does not interfere militarily, financially, or covertly in the internal affairs of other nations. It does not mean that we isolate ourselves; on the contrary, our founders advocated open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations.”
So when an enemy like Hitler or Islam or China puts a 20 or 40 year plan in place to isolate us, cut us off from markets, raw materials, strategic choke points and allies, we should merely watch them? How about as the plan progresses and they set up bases in Mexico and then conquer Canada or a strategic portion of it? Do we just watch and patiently wait?
You think that once their navy and troop transports anchor on the horizon with no more enemies at their back, and their transport planes are dropping paratroopers and their Marines are hitting the beaches, that then we can start our resistance?
What is to keep them from securing our defeat without a shot directed at us by merely coming to control the vital materials and markets and populations of the world, thereby being able to receive tribute from us by merely pulling strings, like the Muslims did against us when we were too weak to fight back under Washington, Adams and Jefferson as the Muslims took up to 20% of the annual American Federal budget?
Are you saying that there is no where in the world that the US could reduce or cut military presence? That we have no choice but to maintain each and every one of the more than 700 military installations worldwide?
Is there no way to reduce our global presence? Afterall, the US is not the world’s police. Those men and women did not sign up to police the whole world, did they?
To answer your question, No one is advocating a weakening of the US militarily. A strong national defense is in everyone’s best interests.
What some question, myself included, is the extent to which the US must be involved in international affairs.
What I was saying is right there in post 6, are you going to answer those questions?
>Thomas Jefferson summed up the noninterventionist foreign policy position perfectly in his 1801 inaugural address>
When Jefferson wrote that in 1801, it tooks weeks for man of war ships to reach America and damage to small areas.
NOW, it takes 30 mins for nuclear missiles to reach America
taking out many major cities and killing millions.
It was easier to be a sitting target in 1801 vs 2010
If we don’t take out the enemy who declared war on us and attacked our buildings and killed 3,000+ people and are
attacking other areas around the world, There won be an
Sounds like a great reason to bring home our missile defense shields from eastern Europe and whereever else we have them. If what you say is true, then we need to protect our own borders. Don’t you agree?
I favor a very strong national defense, not a wide international presence.
You’re worried about suicide bombers - We’re worried about Suicide Bankers!
If suicide bombers suceed you won’t have to worry about suicide bankers as there will be nothing left to finance.
You frame your views by turning on its head a statement.
If you had a football team, you would have a defense but no offence. It takes both to win.
Sorry, but I really hate the analogy of football and war. The two are not the same. One is a child’s game where the winner gets the ball to the goal. The other is a ‘game’ of death.
The bad part is, our defenses, in order to be effective, have to be well beyond our borders- hence, our current incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan. It is better to battle our enemies on the streets of Baghdad than in the streets of New York. I would not disagree that we need to protect our borders better- that is a gigantic hole in our defenses- but I would submit to you that if we did not project power into other countries, they most certainly will do so into ours. In any case, it is usually better to be the one dishing it out than the one taking it. If the world were a better place, we could withdraw from it with few repercussions. Unfortunately, it is not.
I was and still am in favor of killing or captruing OBL. So I still support Afghanistan, but I predict that the general population will become weary of it after 2011 or 2012. At some point we have to wind it down.
Iraq was questionable, but I accept the fact. However, it’s time for the US to change the way we do business with the rest of the world. We need to disengage from the role of world cop, and let the chips fall where they may.
I would like to see this become US foreign policy.
Most conservatives are always saying they are for a Constitutionally limited govt, except for this point. Why is that? There is no specified authority in the US Constitution that allows the Federal govt to change our military into a world police force, is there?
“We need to disengage from the role of world cop, and let the chips fall where they may.”
If you do that the chips tend to land in a shape resembling Chamberlain’s chat with Hitler at Munich. And you wind up having to intervene (at much greater cost in blood and treasure) later anyway. Look at it this way- in a dangerous world, no one is going to look out for the US better than the US. It is safer for us to play world cop than to leave it up to others who neither have our best interests at heart nor are competent enough to do so.
“Most conservatives are always saying they are for a Constitutionally limited govt, except for this point. Why is that? There is no specified authority in the US Constitution that allows the Federal govt to change our military into a world police force, is there?”
Nothing is specified for or against it- the Founders realized that foreign policy has to be mutable (they themselves sustained an alliance with France during the Revolution and up through the Quasi-War in the early 1790s). Conservatives are generally good at spotting the reality of a situation instead of utilizing wishful thinking. Foreign policy is mostly a matter of 1. keeping the boots of others off your neck, which usually requires 2. putting your boots onto someone else’s when it is necessary. If history shows us anything, it is that if you are actively working to gain your own security, you will incur less painful and costly losses and you won’t wind up having to make an amazing comeback after another nation cleans your clock. And you can’t always do that at your own borders- that’s just not being realistic.
That argument only undermines your case. If anything is example of an activist/interventionist foreign policy, it is the British sell out of the Czechs.
Swept up by reflexive war hysteria, I used to “support Afghanistan” too until I realized it was a dishonest attempt to smuggle in a nation building operation. Also, of course, seven years later Obama is laughing in his cave as we overextend ourselves. A better approach would have been to authorize a targeted resolution of marque and reprisal. Had we done that, I’ll wager that by this time Osama would be dead and we’d be hundreds of billions of dollars richer.
Who really gives a toss? The LP never gets more than 1% of any given vote. Why spend so much time talking about them?
Not really. If Chamberlain had done what ought to have been done (which was tell Hitler to go pound sand and if he wanted a fight, he could have one) then the entire Second World War might not have happened... Speculation, I’ll admit, but based on the postwar statements of some of his generals, they might have attempted a coup if something like that occurred. Chamberlain’s big error was that he attempted to do nothing while appearing to do something- compounding two errors, thus creating a greater one.
A war to accomplish what? To keep the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia against their will and maintain the shot-gun marriage of the Czechs and Slovaks (which, of course, ultimately collapsed on its own)? There would have been very little support for such an enterprise from the British people. That is the problem with counterfactuals of that type...especially since the counterfactual was not a very real option at the time.
To elaborate. The problem can ultimately be traced to World War I, more specifically the lame-brained decision of the allies (especially Wilson) to create an unsustainable “country” of Czechoslovakia which forced together three groups who had not common sense of nationhood (the Germans, who wanted to join Austria or Germany, the Slovaks who wanted their own country, and the Czechs who were wrongly viewed (as became even more apparent in the 1990s) as having a common bond with the Slovaks).
Nice of you to overlook the fact that the Sudeten Germans did not start agitating for anything until Hitler’s money bought an active Nazi Party there. And it would have been a war to prevent Hitler from adding all of Czechoslovakia to his Reich. In the face of active aggressors, inaction simply doesn’t work.
Czechoslovakia was created in order to surround Germany with buffer states so as to make further aggression on its part more difficult- another effort which proved futile when the parties who should have acted did not.
“Here is what the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle said, and I think the words apply very much to our treatment of Germany and our relations with her: “All these calamities fell upon us because of evil counsel, because tribute was not offered to them at the right time nor yet were they resisted; but when they had done the most evil, then was peace made with them.” That is the wisdom of the past, for all wisdom is not new wisdom.”- Winston Churchill, debating British foreign policy following Munich.
Sticking your head in the ground and hiding won’t make the world less dangerous, only more so. We have to be prepared to look all over to guarantee our own safety.
If that was the idea, it failed miserably as did the draconian reparations and war guilt clauses which only paved the way for Hitler thus making another war more likely. Had we "buried our head in the sand" in 1917 and let the old empires fight it out, wear themselves out, and make peace there would have been no Hitler and probably no Stalin. Even a traditional victory by the Kaiser would have been much better than that.
As the 1990s showed, Czechoslovakia was completely unsustainable. Its creation also represented an outright repudiation of Woodrow Wilson's wartime goal of self-determination. Neither the Sudeten Germans (who had lived there for centuries) nor the Slovaks were consulted on the creation of this country. In addition, there were many Hungarians in that "country" whose wishes were also ignored.
Actually, IMHO, the creation of Czechoslovakia was less an intentional effort to balance Germany's power as it was the result of an effective lobbying campaign by Edward Benes, the Czech leader who had been in exile since 1915. He took advantage of the misguided decision of the allies to dismember the the relatively tolerant Austro-Hungarian Empire which had created a measure of stability in central Europe. Benes fooled the guliable Wilson into believing that Czechs and Slovaks were "brothers" when in fact they had historically hated each other. A better solution would have allowed the Sudentens to join Austria, let the Hungarians join Hungary, and let the Czechs and Slovaks go their separate ways.
LOL, is right! That describes what Bin Laden is doing now (seven years later !!!) under the policy you recommend. He is laughing at your expense. Sucker.
“He took advantage of the misguided decision of the allies to dismember the the relatively tolerant Austro-Hungarian Empire which had created a measure of stability in central Europe. Benes fooled the guliable Wilson into believing that Czechs and Slovaks were “brothers” when in fact they had historically hated each other. A better solution would have allowed the Sudentens to join Austria, let the Hungarians join Hungary, and let the Czechs and Slovaks go their separate ways.”
Certainly Benes lobbied for it. But the Allies didn’t dismember the Habsburg empire- it was falling apart before the war ended. They merely capitalized on the situation, such as it was. And again, had they done so, they would have created several smaller, no doubt more cohesive, but completely indefensible states.
“Even a traditional victory by the Kaiser would have been much better than that.”
Let us check out the man’s own words:
“After this war is over, I shall put up with no nonsense from America”- Kaiser Wilhelm II, quoted from Robert Massie’s “Castles of Steel”
The Second Reich, while not as brutal as the Third, most certainly had aspirations of a dominant position in the world. They had stuck their noses into several matters in this hemisphere prior to the Great War, and had they been the victors in that conflict, would have probably continued to do so to the point we would have had to fight them anyway, without worthwhile allies, I might add (they would have been defeated.) Again, you can’t just stand aside...
The Second Reich, while not as brutal as the Third, most certainly had aspirations of a dominant position in the world. They had stuck their noses into several matters in this hemisphere prior to the Great War, and had they been the victors in that conflict, would have probably continued to do so to the point we would have had to fight them anyway, without worthwhile allies, I might add (they would have been defeated.) Again, you cant just stand aside...
Not as brutal as the Third Reich? It wasn't even close, Not even in the same ballpark. Please don't be offended but you seem to be implying that the Germans were almost genetically pre-disposed to "dominate the world." and engage in genocide. There is no evidence for this.
Certainly, the the Second Reich wanted to to be a major player on the world stage (given its economic importance that was not unreasonable) but it was a world apart from Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin.
The Reichstag was elected through a semi-democratic proceedure (heck it has anti-regime socialists and social democrats) and the press was relatively free. Despite your attempt to link the brutalties of the Kaiser with the horrors of Hitler, this was a traditional European war and we had no business getting involved. Had we stayed out, the world would have been a better place. I notice that you did NOT dispute my assertation that our intervention paved the way for Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin.
BTW, as of the beginning of 1917, the combatants were so thoroughly exhausted and debt-ridden that none of them could have any hopes of dominated the world, not to mention threatening the U.S.. Meanwhile, the U.S. was prosperous and financially solvent. At best, had the U.S. not intervened, Germany might have been able to gain a dominate position in Belgium. More likely the peace would have been a status quo ante-bellum.
“The Reichstag was elected through a semi-democratic proceedure (heck it has anti-regime socialists and social democrats) and the press was relatively free.”
The Reichstag and the Bundesrat were as King Edward VII noted, the “fig leaf of absolutism.” The Second Reich’s constitution was constructed so that a semblance of democracy existed to cover the fact that the Kaiser, ruling through the Chancellor, could exercise executive power where it really counts- the military and foreign policy sectors. During the war the Kaiser’s generals, with his approval, ran roughshod over the the civilian authorities.
“I notice that you did NOT dispute my assertation that our intervention paved the way for Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin.”
A small oversight on my part- I’ll gladly do so now. I’ll concede Hitler- Germany lost as a direct result of our entering the war, and without that impetus, he would have remained a bum. Lenin and Stalin, though- they came about because of Germany’s defeat of Russia and the resulting civil war afterward. That is someone else’s intervening, Germany’s to be precise...
“At best, had the U.S. not intervened, Germany might have been able to gain a dominate position in Belgium. More likely the peace would have been a status quo ante-bellum.”
Germany had designs on Venezuela, Samoa, and would have snatched the Philippines in 1898. (My source for that: a book about Theodore Roosevelt called “Theodore Rex”.) The victory they sought after in WWI was the same as the one they achieved in 1870- a total collapse of France, the difference in being followed by the defeat of Russia. It would be imbecility to suggest that they would have asked for anything less than all of France’s overseas possessions, and during WWI they actually did take the whole of European Russia...Not to mention, Belgium’s colonial possessions, and those of Italy (a failing Allied power at the end of the war.) As for the British, they probably would have negotiated their way out of it, for a time (your assumption that they would have done so immediately is disputable,) until the Germans had enough strength to dismember the British empire, which would easily have put them in a position to hector and bully us, which they would have. (They had already made some attempts to do so, as I pointed out earlier.) The problem with non-intervention is that it is based on a view that everyone has everyone else’s best interest at heart- which history proves is not the case.
“Not as brutal as the Third Reich?”
I’ll concede that- but not that it was not brutal- the Germans most certainly shot civilians and destroyed non-military targets. During the Boxer Rebellion the Kaiser ordered his troops to make the name German feared in China for a thousand years, and they certainly committed atrocities in North China. A regime such as the Kaiser’s was dangerous for its day. In a dangerous world (then and now) that bears watching, and no amount of wishing it away will make it go away.
In economics libertarians are ok. However, there socialpolicy has reduced itself to sex, sodomy and drug use.
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