Daugherty: “What the Libertarian Party Wants on Foreign Policy”


Lauren Daugherty at the National Interest:

This year, record numbers of Americans voted for Libertarian candidates. The Libertarian presidential nominee, Gov. Gary Johnson, received over four million votes, three times the previous record. For perspective, four million votes is about the voter turnout in a state the size of Virginia. He did this without the tremendous funding and free media attention that Clinton and Trump received.

Notably, Johnson was very popular in multiple polls of active-duty military. One can reasonably theorize that this is because of Gov. Johnson’s stance on the use of military force. Gov. Johnson advocates limiting the use of our military by withdrawing from regional conflicts and focusing purely on defense.

Indeed, after fifteen years of highly active involvement in the Middle East, many of our most devoted military personnel are tired and questioning the effectiveness of our continued involvement in these types of struggles. Fifteen years ago, American leaders thought that the U.S. military could topple a foreign government, clean things up, install new leadership and leave successfully. Our military is very powerful and capable of many things, but leaders overestimated the very complex challenge of nation building.

Now that we have seen first-hand how challenging that truly is, American leadership should and must re-evaluate our military and foreign policy strategy and tactics.

The Libertarian Party defaults to liberty. We want people to be free to make their own decisions without interference from the government and we think that the only proper role of government is to defend people from force and fraud.

Full Commentary by Lauren Daugherty @ The National Interest http://nationalinterest.org/feature/what-the-libertarian-party-wants-foreign-policy-18686

 

37 thoughts on “Daugherty: “What the Libertarian Party Wants on Foreign Policy”

  1. langa

    …Johnson was very popular in multiple polls of active-duty military. One can reasonably theorize that this is because of Gov. Johnson’s stance on the use of military force.

    One can also reasonably theorize that such a position would have seemed much more coherent if his hand-picked “co-president” didn’t spend so much time blabbering about the need for “overwhelming military power projection” and other such neocon crap.

  2. Michael H. Wilson

    It would help if Libertarian candidates put some numbers with this information. We have had troops deployed abroad for 70 some years. While WW II was a necessary fight ( I don’t wish to argue this issue) keeping our forces deployed overseas is not. Today we have something in excess of 700 bases and no one, not even the Pentagon, seems to know the correct number. One estimate puts the costs between $85 and $170 billion annually. Now figure how much that costs over 70 years and keep in mind that we have fewer troops deployed today than we had in the mid 1960s.

    With the largest number of troops in Germany, Japan and South Korea we are defending nations whose businesses compete against American workers in this global economy.

    During the Vietnam War ships carrying war material to Vietnam would call on Asian ports once they were unloaded and bring good back to the states. There is nothing wrong with trade but the war helped spur the import of Asian goods to the detriment of U.S. workers. Steel, motor bikes and cars were the first to feel the pinch. Followed by electronic goods.

    We might argue that American workers are paying taxes that help undermine American workers.

  3. Tony From Long Island

    Sadly, the opposite of what we seek in a foreign policy is likely to implemented by Darth Trump.

  4. Bondurant

    We may have a brief reprieve from establishment foreign policy with the loss of Hillary but I’m not too optimistic. After all, the swamp may be drained directly to the Oval Office.

    I think Americans may be getting tired of world policing but, from conversations I’ve had with people, the author of the article may be putting too much faith in the appeal of Johnson’s foreign policy. Weld muddied the waters and this was an election fit for a record rebellion against the Democrats and GOP who fielded the worst candidates in history.

    Let’s hope the LP can continue to move foward and field an actual libertarian ticket that won’t talk from both sides.

  5. Tony From Long Island

    Americans have been tired of World Policing for a long, long time but keep electing leaders who have no problem with it.

  6. Matt

    “We may have a brief reprieve from establishment foreign policy with the loss of Hillary but I’m not too optimistic.”

    I would say you are. As horrible as Hillary’s establishment foreign policy is, Trump is extremely likely to make us miss it soon enough. Trump’s foreign policy is virtually assured to be a case of jumping from the frying pan into the nuclear fireball.

  7. Just Some Random Guy

    Sadly, the opposite of what we seek in a foreign policy is likely to implemented by Darth Trump.

    I don’t think he’d be any worse than Hillary in this department, though.

  8. Matt

    I think he’ll be much, much worse. And that’s not to dispute in any way she would have been terrible.

  9. Andy

    I find it to be ridiculous that any self professed libertarian would lament Donald Trump being elected over Hillary Clinton. This is not to say that I expect Trump to be a good President, because I doubt that he will. I will not be a bit surprised if Trump does a lot of damage while in office. I will not be a bit surprised if he lets some of his supporters down. Having said this, it should be BLATANTLY APPARENT that Hillary Clinton would have been a DISASTER as President. I am not saying that Trump will be any better, but Trump has not even held office yet, so we do not know for sure what he is going to do until he gets in there. Whatever he does, even if it is bad, it is no reason to lament the fact that Hillary did not get elected.

  10. Matt

    Here we go again. Don’t you ever get tired of repeating the same talking point that have already been answered repeatedly in other threads?

    ” Having said this, it should be BLATANTLY APPARENT that Hillary Clinton would have been a DISASTER as President. ”

    Newsflash – I agree. And it’s just as blatantly apparent that Drumpf will be an even bigger one.

    “Trump has not even held office yet, so we do not know for sure what he is going to do until he gets in there”

    We have a pretty good idea. We know how he had conducted himself as an individual, neighbor, husband, businessman, etc, throughout his life. We know how he ran his campaign. We can the promises he made to get elected. We can see his cabinet and staffing picks. We can see his conduct during the transition. We have an extensive history of other right wing authoritarian nationalists who have come to power in other countries using populism as a cover. It’s not like some blank book where we have no idea how it’s going to go.

    ” Whatever he does, even if it is bad, it is no reason to lament the fact that Hillary did not get elected.”

    I’m not lamenting that she did not get elected. If anything, I’m very happy that she didn’t. I’m lamenting that Trump did get elected, which is, yet again, *even worse*. But let me be clear: if there was any way for neither Trump nor Clinton to be elected, that would have been much better.

  11. Andy Craig

    “Today we have something in excess of 700 bases and no one, not even the Pentagon, seems to know the correct number. ”

    I agree with the sentiment; but the varying estimates cited are over different definitions of what counts as a “base,” and when nearby sites do or don’t count as part of the same “base.” It’s not because of any confusion over what buildings and land the DoD owns in foreign countries.

  12. Starchild

    Lauren Daugherty has done a commendable job setting forth the U.S. Libertarian Party’s stance on the U.S. government’s role in the world and its use of military force in world affairs.

    The only concern I have with it is one I frequently have with commentaries by both Libertarians and non-Libertarians alike, and that is the use of what I call the “nationalist ‘we'”.

    In some parts of her essay, Daugherty uses the personal pronoun to refer to Libertarians, such as when she correctly references the Non-Aggression Principle that is at the core of libertarianism:

    “We want people to be free to make their own decisions without interference from the government and we think that the only proper role of government is to defend people from force and fraud.”

    But in other places, she uses the terms “we” or “our” to refer to the U.S. government or the forces under its control. For instance, she writes, “We have a very powerful military.” In fact of course it is the U.S. government that has a very powerful military. That military is controlled neither by the Libertarian Party, nor by the American people.

    In yet other places, Daugherty appears to use the term “we” to refer to people living in the United States, such as when she writes, “We are… vulnerable to cyber attacks and bio-chemical attacks.”

    Some may ask why this shifting perspective matters, if the “we” being referenced can be determined from the context. The reason it matters is because it is not in the interests of the freedom movement to promote nationalism by using its language. I use the term “nationalism” in a broad sense here – seeing the world in terms of nation-states (rather than seeing it in terms of individuals).

    Those who say that humans are social animals are right – there will be a “we”. But each of us gets to choose that “we” for ourselves. Which of the following types of group-identification do you think will do the most to advance the cause of liberty:

    A) Identifying with the government that claims jurisdiction over the part of the Earth’s surface on which one happens to live

    B) Identifying with the people who happen to live in that same political jurisdiction (country)

    C) Identifying with the movement that is seeking worldwide freedom for all people on the basis of live-and-let-live

    To ask the question is to answer it – although it may not be possible in every situation, as libertarians, we should try to use the third “we” as embodied in statement C above as frequently as we can, while avoiding reinforcing the “nationalist ‘we'” identities embodied in A and B.

    If war is the health of the State, nationalism is the lifeblood of the State – the ideology that binds people to it and enables it to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of the masses.

    Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “A state is called the coldest of cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’”

  13. Tony From Long Island

    Andy Dandy: ” . . . .I find it to be ridiculous that any self professed libertarian would lament Donald Trump being elected over Hillary Clinton. . . . . ”

    Any self-professed AMERICAN should lament Darth Trump being elected President and it has nothing at all to do with his policies (or lack thereof) or any differences he has with Mrs. Clinton.

    It is his lack of dignity, couth, and maturity. It is his 5th grade mentality. it is his reckless use of Twitter. It is his arrogance. It is his penchant for speaking first and thinking later. He is a buffoon and an international American embarrassment.

  14. Tony From Long Island

    Starchild:

    For instance, she writes, “We have a very powerful military.” In fact of course it is the U.S. government that has a very powerful military. That military is controlled neither by the Libertarian Party, nor by the American people.

    Like it or not, the military is made up of American Citizens. It represents the people of the United States. The government is “We the People . . . ”

    I – along with just about every Libertarian – disagree with US foreign policy in almost every respect, but I do not go so far as to say that the military is made up of “we the people.” Politicians are part of the “we” but they often lose their perspective sadly.

  15. Matt

    Starchild is correct. The regime’s claims to represent, much less embody,”we the people” are lies and propaganda.

  16. Tony From Long Island

    If representatives are elected by “we the people” then they represent “we the people” just as the Constitution says.

    What they do when they are In office is another story entirely.

    This is why I can not support term limits. We already have them – elections. You live with the consequences of the stupidity of the American electorate.

    As much as I despite Darth Trump as a person and in the office he will occupy, I can’t use the word “regime” other than sarcastically or tongue-in-cheek.

  17. Matt

    The word regime is entirely applicable and appropriate, and just because we go through the farce of elections it doesn’t magically make the regime or any of its branches or agencies “we” or “us.” If the people were allowed to vote which mafia family controlled their neighborhood every few years it would not make the mob “we” or “us” either.

  18. George Dance

    Very seldom do I disagree with a post by Starchild, since he has an knack for cutting through rhetoric and seeing the root of an issue. And here his analysis is undeniably correct. Daugherty is using the word “we” to equivocate between 3 distinct meanings: We1 (libertarians), we2 (American people), and we3 (the U.S. government. Obviously (at least after it’s pointed out), one can see she’s using the pronoun rhetorically; not as a description, but as a persuasive tool.

    Where I disagree is in his conclusion, that Libertarians shouldn’t be doing that. In this case I think the equivocation is both useful and powerful.

    The use of we1 is unobjectionable, to both Starchild and me: the article is, after all, about what we1 (Libertarians) want. So there’s no need to defend that.

    What about we2 (the American people)? Well, that’s whom Daugherty is addressing; and through this rhetorical trick she’s building an identification: what Libertarians want is what (preferably) the American people want. Addressing them as ‘we’ helps build that – she’s not lecturing, as some above-it-all expert, to her readers, but speaking as one of them; trying to get them to believe that, because they want a strong and safe America, they want an end to foreign meddling, too.

    As for we3 (the U.S. government) — that’s a more contentious use, which Starchild probably won’t accept, since I believe it goes to the psychological base of the anarchist/minarchist divide. Anarchism (both libertarian and not) is based on the idea of alienation: on seeing the government as a foreign body of occupation, which we1 does (and we2 should) simply oppose, attack, and if possible eliminate entirely. On the other hand, minarchists see it as simply doing the wrong things — it’s our2 government, which depends on our2 consent, and therefore it should be doing what we2 want (which should be what we1 want).

    So while both anarchists and minarchists would like to bring we1 and we2 into agreement — we want all Americans to think like libertarians — minarchists also want to bring we3 into the picture: we want we1, we2, an we3 to all be on the same page, playing by the same rulebook. (In contrast, anarchists would reject we3 — to an anarchist, government is always “they” or “them”.)

    Since I also think the LP should be minarchist (for reasons I won’t get into right here), I think the use of we3 is entirely legitimate. But of course I do not expect Starchild, or any other anarchist, to agree with that use; my only hope is that this helps him understand it.

  19. Matt

    I don’t think that’s correct either. Any minarchist worthy of the name should also want a complete separation between the concepts of we the people and “we” the government. Even if minarchists somehow win complete effective control of all branches and levels of government with filibuster-proof majorities, government power still remains a dangerous tool with perverse incentives and temptations, and playing mental tricks on ourselves and others to identify us with government helps only to yield to those temptations and incentives. And that goes double in the real world, where the people faced with those temptations and incentives are not so ideologically disinclined to fully embrace them.

  20. Tony From Long Island

    The word regime is entirely applicable and appropriate, and just because we go through the farce of elections it doesn’t magically make the regime or any of its branches or agencies “we” or “us.” If the people were allowed to vote which mafia family controlled their neighborhood every few years it would not make the mob “we” or “us” either.

    Matt, the only thing about elections that I consider a farce is the Electoral College. Other than that, we live with what we get. Just because the candidates I usually vote for are not elected does not make it a farace.

    We agree on much, but not everything 🙂

  21. Matt

    Elections are a farce on many levels. They are held only at certain times, whereas people may change their opinions much more often than that. They are manipulated by the ability to raise large amounts of money, turn out organized get out the vote efforts, manipulate social and traditional media effectively, etc, etc. Large profiteers and special interests hold a lot of sway over elections. The idea of the “spoiler” or “wasted vote” artificially manipulates people into choosing between very suboptimal choices that don’t necessarily reflect their actual views. Many government agencies are part of a more or less permanent bureaucracy that is not affected much if at all by elections.

    And even if elections were a perfect reflection of the national mood, constantly ongoing, and changing over every part of government at once, you’d still have the problem that the majority – often times a bare majority – gets to impose its will on everyone else. And even that is only counting the people who are allowed to vote and bother to do so, which itself is a minority.

    So, no, the government is not “we” by any plausible stretch.

  22. Starchild

    Tony writes, (December 21, 2016 at 12:33), “Like it or not, the military is made up of American Citizens.”

    Actually Tony, non-U.S.-citizens have been serving in the U.S. government’s military forces since the First American War of Secession, and continue to do so today: https://www.thebalance.com/immigrants-in-the-us-armed-forces-3353965

    You also write (December 21, 2016 at 12:33) that “Politicians are part of the ‘we'”. I don’t think that’s what you actually meant – Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad are politicians, after all. But if you’re saying that only politicians in the U.S. federal and state and local governments (and tribal governments?) are part of your “we”, while other politicians are not, I’m wondering how far you take this.

    Consider two hypothetical politicians. One is an elected Libertarian Party official in another country – Canada say, although it doesn’t matter really, I’m just picking Canada because they have a Libertarian Party and are geographically close to the United States – who expresses appreciation for the principles of the Libertarian Party and of the framers of the U.S. Constitution, and generally acts and votes in keeping with the Non-Aggression Principle. The other is an elected official in Alaska – or any other U.S. state, it doesn’t matter really, I’m just picking Alaska because it has a relatively small population who live further from most Americans than do most Canadians – who openly expresses disdain for the U.S. Constitution, for libertarianism, and for the principles they represent, and while in office has generally voted and acted contrary to freedom.

    Which of these two individuals do you choose to be part of the “we” with whom you choose to identify, and why?

  23. Starchild

    George – Thank you for your kind words (December 21, 2016 at 13:12). I think you make a legitimate point in terms of libertarians semantically identifying with the American people. I recognize the value of “speaking as one of them” (one of us), and I am not opposed to that.

    However when speaking/writing in that manner, I do think it is better for libertarians to identify with, and encourage others to identify with, the American people, and not the American people.

    In other words, what’s important is not that the people in question are American (a status largely controlled, after all, by government, and therefore unreliable as a moral determinant), but that they are ordinary people, as opposed to being part of the elité, the governing class, the regime, the ruling class, those in power, or whatever you wish to call them.

    As for the more serious form of the “nationalist we“, identifying with a government, I have to agree with Matt (December 21, 2016 at 13:21), when he writes that “Any minarchist worthy of the name should also want a complete separation between the concepts of we the people and ‘we’ the government.”

    Even if one believes, as a minarchist, that small, voluntarily-funded governments which limit themselves to protecting life, liberty, and property against aggression can be legitimate in theory, current governments obviously do not meet that test. So even if politicians in a properly constituted and legitimately operating government would be representing the public in such a manner that it could fairly be said, as Tony posits, that “The government is ‘We the People'”, this state of affairs does not currently exist.

  24. Tony From Long Island

    Actually Tony, non-U.S.-citizens have been serving in the U.S. government’s military forces since the First American War of Secession, and continue to do so today:

    Yes, yes, I know this. Anyone who takes the oath to serve becomes part of the “we” in my opinion. Since I am for pretty much open borders and easy citizenship, pretty much anyone who chooses to live here becomes part of my “we” “We the People” does not say “we the citizens . . . .”
    ———————————————————-

    Both of the individuals you describe are part of the “we” of which ever particular country they live in. “We the People” are made up of many many different types of people with diverse backgrounds and beliefs. Do you expect every person to agree on everything?

    I choose to identify with “We the People of the United States.” Maybe I’m just a bleeding heart liberal idealist optimist. My optimism has been shaken lately but not shattered.

  25. Matt

    Tony,

    If I am a US Citizen and join the French Foreign Legion or some other such outfit which “we” am I part of? Both? What about American citizens who join enemy forces during wars or during conflicts such as the one going on now with the Islamic State?

  26. Tony From Long Island

    Obviously if you are fighting for a “we” who has declared themselves to be an enemy of the United States, you sorta kinda give up your “we” status!

    However, I see now reason why you can’t be in more than “we” at the same time. There are many “we”s.

    I use “we” when I talk about sports teams I love, bands I love, alumni of my college (Wagner College – Class of 1996!!!) , my family, my town, Long Island, – and I use “we” when I talk about my country.

    We’re all in this life together 🙂 Isn’t that all happy-clappy! Now . . .if we all just planted a tree and sang Kum Ba Ya!

  27. dL

    The piece is alright. However, it doesn’t really challenge the institutional status quo, only questions the use of it. I would proffer that it represents the respectability politics plea of what libertarians “want” from foreign policy. The result from that it that you keep what you have and expand into the areas suggested by the piece. So you keep the global network of military bases, the foreign occupations, the wars, the drone strikes AND you get the expansion into areas like “fending off cyberattacks.” Of course, the US military is single largest instigator of organized cyberattacks, but that fact is just keeping in line with what the thing is, an offensive juggernaut. It would continue to engage in offensive cyberattacks while its defensive pose would be replacing civilian administration of the internet with a regime of military/government contracts. The enemy would be–the military always needs an enemy–anyone who challenges the regime of military contracts.

    The libertarian appeals to George Washington as the model of the proper use of the Military is a curious one. In that instance the example set would be to use the military domestically to go around quashing tax resistance/dissent and apprehending large swaths of people to put on trial for treason. More Stalin, less Hitler when it comes to American foreign policy?

  28. dL

    Other than that, we live with what we get. Just because the candidates I usually vote for are not elected does not make it a farace.

    The government is “us” is betrayed by the massive internal security apparatus, an apparatus that exceeds even the ones of the historical authoritarian boogeyman regimes(e.g, Stalin and Hitler). It is a paradox that is quite difficult to reconcile unless, of course, you dispense with the premise of the government being “us.” From standard political theory, it is not difficult to see how a democracy can produce such an outcome given the principle-agent problems the structure of the US govt/system incentivize.

  29. Tony From Long Island

    The libertarian appeals to George Washington as the model of the proper use of the Military is a curious one. In that instance the example set would be to use the military domestically to go around quashing tax resistance/dissent and apprehending large swaths of people to put on trial for treason. More Stalin, less Hitler when it comes to American foreign policy?

    True. The Whiskey Rebeillion was quashed when the sitting President of the US got on his horse and made it clear that they were not long on this Earth if they didn’t start paying the tax.

  30. Matt

    Tony,

    Whereas I don’t call things that I am not a part of “we.” I;m not part of the military or the regime that directs them, my dissenting vote every few years that is little more than spitting into a tornado notwithstanding. I can enjoy watching sports teams play, but I never call them “we.” I’ve never even heard of fans calling music groups “we” if they’re not on stage, not even fans who follow bands on tour. My family gets a we, my town… maybe a little bit, and not if we are talking about the mayor, council and city workers, since I am not one. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about police, firemen or trash pickup… I am not one of them so they are not “we.” Planting trees is fine, and I have planted some trees, but I’ve never felt any desire to sing Kumbaya.

  31. dL

    True. The Whiskey Rebeillion was quashed when the sitting President of the US got on his horse and made it clear that they were not long on this Earth if they didn’t start paying the tax.

    Well, it was a bit more than that. Sitting president and slave master Washington, rudely interrupted from beating on own slaves at the Mount Vernon slave detention labor camp, proceeded to raise a federal militia to go find some more slave to beat on, kill or round up for enemy of the state charges. All the while serving his own duty as a compliant dupe for the power whims of the “unelected” Alexander Hamilton.

    All due respect Tony, the sentiment you expressed above, comply or die, is the bottom of the barrel of rank authoritarianism. If you think democracy legitimizes that, well no it doesn’t. At least not liberal democracy. Frankly, if the LP is not pissing you off or alienating you, it is obviously doing something very wrong.

  32. Tony From Long Island

    DL, I “described” it. I did not ENDORSE it! If you have followed any of my posts, you would notice I am more than just a bit of a pacifist and wish we could bring back pretty much all of our overseas troops.

    Wow. Are you wound just a bit tightly today? Relax!

    However, I have never read anything about Washington ever beating his slaves. Not saying that he didn’t, but I have not read it in my years of reading history books.

  33. Tony From Long Island

    I often use the word “we” when talking about my sports teams. So do many of the callers to sports talk radio.

    There are a few bands that fans refer to themselves as “we.” Dream Theater for example. They have a very dedicated following of loyal fans. We often describe ourselves as “we.” I’m sure there are others.

    Ok, so maybe not KUM-BA-YA . . . . how about “I’d like to teach the world to sing . . . ” Come on . . . you know the words . . . . 🙂

    maybe not? Alright . . . umm how about “Anarchy in the UK!!??” That one would work fine on this board! There’s a Motley Crue version of Anarchy in the USA!! Andy would love it! 🙂

  34. dL

    DL, I “described” it. I did not ENDORSE it! If you have followed any of my posts, you would notice I am more than just a bit of a pacifist and wish we could bring back pretty much all of our overseas troops.

    Yeah, well one doesn’t necessarily follow from the other. One can have a anti-imperialist view while simultaneously holding a comply/die view of things at home. We libertarians might refer to that as the Mao Tse Tung/Stalin wing of authoritarianism.

    However, I have never read anything about Washington ever beating his slaves.

    Well, i imagine they weren’t sticking around the ole plantation voluntarily for the fringe benefits. Large slave plantations were pretty brutal in enforcing the discipline.

  35. Tony From Long Island

    Look, slavery sucked. I can’t think of one positive thing to say about one of the worst things in human history, but I don’t think every single slave owner beat his slaves.

    My post about the whiskey rebellion was what is called irony. The average American doesn’t know about the Whiskey rebellion or how the beloved “father of our country” quelled it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *