Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Are Cato and the LP "warmongers"?

Bill Woolsey and Kevin B. O’Reilly take me to task for my statement yesterday that “the Cato Institute and the so-called ‘Libertarian’ Party and its ‘New Libertarian’ faction, all front groups for the warmongering right-wing, have hammered a wedge into the libertarian movement.”

Woolsey says that both Cato and the LP opposed the war in Iraq and now support an “exit strategy.” He adds: “I have seen no support for an invasion of Iran or Syria [from Cato or the LP].” (Incidentally, Woolsey is an active member of the conservative “New Libertarian,” aka “Libertarian Reform Caucus,” faction of the LP.)

O’Reilly writes: “To call Cato and the LP warmongers is laughable. Is this because both supported the war in Afghanistan?”

Well, yeah...

Both Cato and the LP supported the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan. They may have opposed the war in Iraq and now be calling for exit, but these positions have seemed to me opposition to this particular war. I question their libertarian principles and their antiwar commitment (a major tenet of classical liberalism and libertarianism), and I stand by my assertion that both are warmongers at heart, especially post-9/11. Cato and the LP have both supported Bush’s War on Terror.

In October 2001, Cato Executive Vice President David Boaz offered an outline of “what we should be doing now.” By we, he meant the U.S. government. Here are two of Boaz’s suggestions:

  1. “Go after Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The air strikes are a good beginning, but we must insist that Afghanistan hand Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants over. Failing that, we must go into Afghanistan to find them.”
  2. “Build a new bomber. ... Heavy bombers can carry heavier payloads over much longer ranges than can fighters and can operate from less-vulnerable bases in theaters that are farther away from the fighting or even from bases in the United States. No matter what type of foreign policy the United States adopts in the future, it will need the ability to project power abroad. It’s time to start developing a new bomber.”

Boaz concluded:

“Libertarians usually enter public debates to call for restrictions on government activity. In the wake of September 11, we have all been reminded of the real purpose of government: to protect our life, liberty, and property from violence. This would be a good time for the federal government to do its job with vigor and determination.”

Six months later, Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato’s vice president for defense and foreign-policy studies, wrote a piece for National Review Online titled “Head Straight for Pakistan.” After Afghanistan, Carpenter wrote, “the next stage of the war against terrorism needs to be fought in Pakistan. ...

“The reality is that al Qaeda will never be destroyed as long as it can enjoy a de facto sanctuary in Pakistan. One of the most serious mistakes in the otherwise successful U.S. military operation in Afghanistan was the decision to trust the Pakistani government to seal the border and trap Taliban and al Qaeda troops. It is now clear that Pakistan failed to fulfill that task. ...

Washington should inform Musharraf that we intend to wipe out the al Qaeda sanctuaries in the northwest frontier province, with or without Islamabad’s permission. ...

“But whatever Musharraf’s ultimate decision about granting permission, the United States should not shrink from confronting al Qaeda in its Pakistani lair.”

Likewise, the Libertarian Party National Committee released a statement on the War on Terror and in Afghanistan in October 2001: "It is proper for the government to take forceful action against terrorists. ... Such criminals must be rooted out and destroyed. ... Their training camps and weapons must be eliminated. Their supply infrastructure must be shattered."

For a “party of peace,” the LP has never taken a real leadership role in the antiwar effort. As Justin Raimondo wrote on Antiwar.com in April of last year:

“To read the LP News, you’d never know there was a war on. You’d never know that this has been the bloodiest month of the war so far, with the prospect of more looming as an immediate likelihood. In the literature and public pronouncements of the LP there is scant mention of the most important issue we are all facing, and that is the question of war and peace.”

At a time when American liberties are threatened by the Patriot Act and public opposition to the war is running high, Raimondo added, the LP has “given the question of war and peace no more attention than they would the privatization of garbage collection or the abolition of local sales taxes.” As an example of the LP’s lack of antiwar commitment, he cited the party’s decision to invite warmonger and Bush-defending radio personality Neal Boortz to speak at the LP national convention.

So do I think Cato and the LP have become “front groups for the warmongering right-wing”? Yes, in large part. I think antiwar activists and radical libertarians should look elsewhere for building effective alliances.

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5 Comments:

At 3:11 PM, Blogger freeman said...

heh... you must have published this post while I was commenting on the other post.

I noted there that I thought that CATO must not have an official stance on the war since some of their folks are anti-war (at least in regards to Iraq) while others, like Tom Palmer, are most definitely pro-war.

Your post here seems to make more sense in that any opposition might just be selective and that future wars might recieve a more enthusiastic response from these people.

I personally prefer those who stick to a principled stance against any military action that is not strictly defensive in nature.

 
At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Waumpuscat said...

It is extremely difficult to dismount from the tiger's back. President Wilson mounted Uncle Sam onto the Tiger's Back in 1917. The America Firsters tried to dismount are are still vilified by the LEFT for their lack of a true sense of duty. The Red slogan, "The Yanks Aren't Coming", applauded from a distance by the America Firsters, became, during the last week in June, 1941, "The Yanks Aren't Coming Too Late". The Perfidious LEFT does tend to be selective that way. [The Brown Fascists attacked the USSR precisely 64 years ago today. You could look it up!]

 
At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Carl Milsted said...

Left-Right is not equivalent to peaceful-warmonger. The Left was for peace when the U.S. was a war with communism. The Left was happy to fight the Nazis and was pretty happy to fight in Yugoslavia.

By LP standards, I am both a leftist AND a warmonger.

The Libertarian Reform Caucus is not part of the Neolibertarian Network nor is it right wing. The LRC is about
1. being a bit more moderate/incremental.
2. Having the LP Platform be more neutral in those areas where libertarians strongly disagree.
3. Having some sensitivity to concerns other than non-initiation of force.

Number 2 would indicate that the LP should not take the antiwar.com stance on foreign policy, but neither should it take the Neal Boortz/Neolibertarian stand. Destroying ruthless dictators using war (which does kill innocents) has valid arguments both for and against from a libertarian perspective. Ergo, the LP as a whole should be a bit more neutral.

Individual Libertarians can and should argue their positions on such subjects.

 
At 1:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, they are not, usually.

Intense criticism follows. I'm really tired of hearing anarchists trash minarchists and anarcho-capitalists.

I would really like to know why, exactly you think that anarchism is necessarily left wing. If property is theft, then, in an anarchist society, are you going to use force to take it away from me? I'm not giving it up.

If you claim that it's impossible to enforce property rights in the absence of the state (which I don't think is entirely correct, but then again I don't think an anarchist state of any nature is at all feasible or even desirable), then how are you going to enforce union rights in the abscence of a state? Much less likely.

Why do left-wing anarchists have so much envy of anarcho-capitalism and minarchism? (even if a state is required to enforce property rights, it does _NOT_ take a large state to do so, nothing compared to welfare programs and other stuff that you're not authoritarian enough to force on me) Is it because they resent the fact that they can't always have the high moral ground that they felt they always occupied?

I think that left-wing anarchism, although appearing elegant and orthogonal on the surface is full of contradictions, as much, if not much more so than neo libertarianism / minarchism (which since it isn't completely void of state, could use the state to enforce property contracts) or even anarcho-capitalism, which relies on the simplier and more consistent stance of "abscence of constraints".

I'm absolutely sick of pretentious ideologues trashing right-minarchism because they envy it's pragmatism, which this article seems to be poking at...

Getting back to the article, regardless if the LP or Cato holds these views, any consistent right-libertarians themselves will not be pro war.

 
At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Angela Keaton said...

You mean Bill Woolsey of the Citadel? Please. Him and people like him are why the LP is a garbage bin.

 

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