Visit this site for verifiably accurate opinions on all things political - in contradistinction to the INcorrect opinions you are likely to find elsewhere. I'm an American Libertarian Nationalist Republican. Ponder that one a while. Almost all are welcome, but at the request of management: no vegetarians or soccer fans, please. We have our reasons. Thank you and welcome to: Revealed Truth.
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Sunday, November 10, 2002
I just caught up with an absolutely wonderful piece about anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism that I strongly encourage you to check out. It's by by Josef Joffe, and it's on the web site of Foreign Policy magazine. His observations on the state of nationalism in the First World are particularly astute.
Here's a brief excerpt:
"...For all their multiculturalism-indeed, both the United States and Israel are microcosms of the world-these two countries share a keen sense of self. They know who they are and what they want to be. They define themselves not through ethnicity but through ideologies that transcend class and tribe. Or to use a less charged term, they define themselves in terms of documents, be it the Torah or the U.S. Constitution. Their senses of nationality are rooted in the law, as received at Sinai or promulgated in Philadelphia.
Compare this mind-set to that of the mature states of Europe. It might well be said that the countries extending from Italy via Germany and the Low Countries into Scandinavia are already in a post-national stage. The European Union is fitfully undoing national sovereignty while failing to provide its citizens with a common European identity. Europe is a matter of practicality, not of pride-at least, not yet. As a work in progress, it lacks the underpinning of emotion and "irrational" attachment. Europeans might become all wound up when their national soccer teams win or lose, but the classical nationalism that drove millions into the trenches in the 20th century has vanished.
Finally, because Israel and the United States are still national societies, they do not hesitate to back up their interests with force. Indeed, no Western nation has ever used force as frequently as have those two in the last 50 years. Conversely, post-national Europe cherishes its "civilian power," its attachment to international regimes and institutions. European armies are no longer repositories of nationhood (and career advancement) but organizations that have as much social status as the post office or the labor exchange. Europeans, in fact, pride themselves in having overcome the atavism of war in favor of compromise, cooperation, and international institutions. This view imbues them with a sense of moral superiority vis-à-vis those retrogrades that are the United States and Israel."
The rest is at:
This explains, in part, why I refer to myself as a "libertarian nationalist" rather than just a "libertarian." The problem with many well-intentioned libertarians is that they want to just assume away the nation-state form from their philosophical calculations. A less charitable person might even say they want to wish it away. As a result these folks find themselves perpetually pitting the perfect against the good and finding the latter coming up just a bit short.
Our present situation with respect to the Middle East is an example of just such thinking. Many libertarians have concluded that their principles preclude preemptive strikes against the likes of Saddam Hussein on the grounds that such strikes constitute the "initiation of force" - anathema to libertarians of all stripes; myself included. Such reasoning, though, is beyond utopian, venturing into the realm of dangerously naive. Not only that, it unnecessarily places libertarianism in an ideological straightjacket; albeit one that many libertarians seem to find rather comfortable.
The libertarian believes the proper function of the state is to protect the individual from the initiation of force or fraud. This is why he is willing to cede to the state a legal monopoly on the use of physical coercion. In a world where all governments were operated according to libertarian principles, preemptive strikes would never be justified because there would nothing to preempt. Unfortunately, we live in a world where some nation-states are willing to use the destructive powers and resources available only to governments to nurture and support aspiring practitioners of genocide, and others are, themselves, such aspirants.
What's a libertarian to do?
Do libertarian principles require that the U.S. wait for the inevitable nuclear, biological or chemical attack before taking action?
In a word, no.
In two words, Hell no.
One can certainly question whether a preemptive strike is justified in a particular case. But to assert that libertarian doctrine forecloses upon such strikes in principle - as some have done - is to validate the most damning criticism made of libertarians: that we would leave individuals vulnerable to the violence of thugs. Who but an individual constitutionally impervious to reality would adhere to a philosophy requiring mass slaughter by a power possessing the demonstrated capacity, inclination and iniquitousness to conduct such as a prerequisite to action? Could anyone take such doctrine seriously?
Only slightly less preposterous are the individuals who would apply a maniacally detailed calculus to military preemption. Military action CAN be taken such folks are saying. But only if there are no civilian casualties. After all, the citizens aren’t our enemy, these folks glibly remind us. Saddam is.
So again we confront the utopian desire to wish away the nation-state form. In fact, the proper calculus is this:
- There is a threat to the citizens of the U.S. by a foreign power.
- It is the duty of the U.S. armed forces to protect U.S. citizens from external threats to our liberty and safety.
- The legitimate exercise of U.S. power in pursuit of such protection accrues no obligation to the citizens of foreign nations beyond that of avoiding casualties unnecessary to the objective of protecting American citizens.
There IS a threat. Our Commander-in-Chief has the obligation to protect us from that threat, and to avoid unnecessary tragedy in so doing. There is no reason grounded in a reasonable interpretation of American history - or the history of the present Commander-in-Chief - to believe that this objective won’t be met in the required manner.
Then we all go back to debating how many libertarians can dance on the head of a pin.