Ron Paul inspires peace sentiment among Republicans

Chris Berg is probably the best representative of libertarianism at the usually neo-conservative Institute of Public Affairs:

Perhaps one of the most striking attributes of the current Republican field is their dovishness.

Last week’s forum for presidential candidates made clear scepticism about foreign interventionism isn’t limited to the libertarians Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.

On Afghanistan, frontrunner Mitt Romney said, “I also think we’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation”. On the Middle East, Newt Gingrich opined that, “we need to think fundamentally about reassessing our entire strategy in the region”.

If you agree, join the facebook group.

Cut Europe Adrift.

A Washington Post opinion piece by George Will, “Libya and the Potemkin Alliance,” began as a criticism of the refusal of the Obama Administration to abide by the War Powers Resolution with regard to their action in Libya. He then went a lot further in criticizing, not only the war but the lack of judgment in the US policy of propping up Europe militarily when Europe seems to have little desire to accept responsibility itself for its own defense.

When, in March, Obama said, “building this international coalition has been so important,” he meant merely that a minority of the members of a 62-year-old alliance would seriously participate. Eight of NATO’s 28 members are attacking Gaddafi’s ground forces.

Obama, a novel kind of commander in chief, explained in passive syntax that, “it is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions.” These “others” would rather finance their welfare states than their militaries, so they cannot wage war for 10 weeks without U.S. munitions and other assets.

Last month, this column noted that NATO was created in 1949 to protect Western Europe from the Soviet army; it could long ago have unfurled the “Mission Accomplished” banner; it has now become an instrument of mischief, and when the Libyan misadventure is finished, America should debate whether NATO also should be finished. …

… Hence Gates warned that “there will be dwindling appetite and patience in” America for expending “increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.” Already, U.S. officers in Afghanistan sometimes refer to the NATO command there — officially, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) — as “I Saw Americans Fighting.” Continue reading

Rumour false; UKIP / LPUK confusion.

During the last 24 hours reports emerged from the US indicating that the Libertarian Party of the UK was being deregistered and that the United Kingdom Independence Party was inviting their members to join them.

This seems to have been caused by the following notice on the UKIP website:

UKIP Welcomes Libertarian Party Members.

Following news of the proposed deregistration of the Libertarian Party of the UK, UKIP Executive Chairman Steve Crowther has said that the party will extend a warm welcome to former LPUK members who wish to join or rejoin UKIP.

“The values and beliefs of UKIP and the Libertarian Party are very closely aligned,” he said.

“While we may not agree on everything, our shared commitment to freedom, personal responsibility and minimal government interference in our lives is absolutely clear. UKIP is a party making real progress, under a new management team, and is now firmly established as the ‘fourth force’ in British politics. 
”Now is the time for all libertarians to put our shoulders to the same wheel. Former LPUK members will be able to make a valuable contribution to our mission to wrest power from the political elites in this country, and hand it back to the people.”

A check of the LPUK website reveals that there has been something of an upheaval, with three members of the National Coordinating Committee resigning in the wake of an internal inquiry which revealed no wrongdoing but criticized some of the practices as sloppy. While these people have expressed a wish to deregister the party, it is not happening. A posting from the Nominations and Membership Secretary, Simon Fawthrop, states: Continue reading

Republican Presidential Candidates

On Friday libertarian star Ron Paul announced officially that he would throw his hat in the ring to compete to be the Republican candidate for the Presidential election in 2012. Also in the running of interest to commentators here is Gary Johnson, the libertarian former governor of New Mexico. Also business man Herman Cain. I don’t think anybody else important is running but let me know if you think I have got this wrong.

Here is a little bit from the recent debate.

The Case Against the Afghan War

After September 11, the United Nations authorized the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in the hunt to kill or capture Osama bin Laden.

September 11 was to many a clear instance of an “unprovoked” attack. The true facts, of course, are much different. The Americans had for decades been meddling in the Middle East, stirring up hatred by occupying holy land such as Saudi Arabia. Successive retaliatory attacks against American interests throughout the 1990s failed to register with policymakers, who were chock full of hubris and refused to consider an alternative foreign policy – one that doesn’t involve the CIA propping up brutal dictators and torturing alleged terrorists.

Recognizing the role that the U.S. played in unnecessarily provoking its enemy is not the politically correct thing to do, but many such as academic Robert Pape and ex-CIA official Michael Scheur have done just that.

After 9/11 one could plausibly have argued, as does Ron Paul, for a more restrained intervention in Afghanistan. Rather than aiming for all out regime change and nation building that may have created further blowback, there was a legitimate case for an inconspicuous hunt for bin Laden. But emotional public demands for vengeance negated debate over such an option.

Libertarians, however, continue to probe the question of whether the Afghan war is justified. The best piece I have seen in this regard is by David Henderson, who points out that the Taliban actually offered to hand over Osama bin Laden:

The Taliban asked President Bush to present evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks and stated that if the evidence were sufficient, it would cooperate in turning him over to the proper authorities. President Bush refused to do so. Ironically, the Taliban, a disgusting, bloodthirsty regime, agreed to play by the rules of international law, while President Bush, president of a democratic, relatively free society, refused.

Libertarians consider it immoral to initiate force: force is justified only in self-defence. If the use of force were not restricted to situations of self-defence, then the government could start wars willy-nilly. This in turn would demolish the liberties of citizens through the taxation required to finance war efforts, the military draft and so on.

So, libertarians should oppose the invasion of Afghanistan because it was not an act of self-defence. Although politicians claimed that military action was a response to 9/11, those who understand history know that al Qaeda didn’t attack America without provocation.