Jacob Hornberger: Justin Amash, LP Interloper, Parts 4 & 5

2020 Libertarian presidential candidate Jacob Hornberger, whom the readers of IPR previously interviewed, has started a series on his campaign blog about Independent Congressman Justin Amash.  Amash is reportedly considering a bid for the Libertarian presidential nomination.  Parts 1 and 2 of Hornberger’s series were posted here.  Part 3 was posted here.  Parts 4 and 5, published yesterday and today, are posted below:

Part 4 – The Evil of Sanctions on Iran

Among the most evil foreign-policy weapons of the U.S. government are economic sanctions imposed on foreign countries. Sanctions target the populace of a nation with economic impoverishment, sickness, and death as a way to secure a political goal. That political goal is usually either regime change or to force a recalcitrant regime to comply with the dictates of U.S. officials. 

Not surprisingly, the concept of economic sanctions is endorsed by both Republicans and Democrats. It is only we Libertarians who stand squarely against this evil weapon of U.S. foreign policy.

Among the best examples of this phenomenon is Iran. Even before the coronavirus crisis, the Iranian people were suffering horrifically from U.S. sanctions imposed by both Democrats and Republicans, not only in terms of economic privation but also death.

Today, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the situation is much worse. According to the New York Times, “Iran, a global epicenter of the virus, has confirmed more than 47,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths, although public health experts estimate the real toll to be several times higher.” Healthcare workers are among the hardest hit. According to an article in Foreign Policy, “The Trump administration’s sanctions have made it impossible for Iranian medical personnel to keep themselves safe amid the pandemic.”

On January 9, 2018, Congressman Justin Amash joined 232 of his Republican colleagues in voting to support House Resolution 676, which stated in part as follows:

Resolved, That the House of Representatives urges the Administration to use targeted sanctions and work to convene emergency sessions of the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the Iranian regime and establish a mechanism by which the Security Council can monitor such violations.

Previously, Amash told Reason magazine that he supported sanctions on Iran as a way to prevent it from securing “weapons of mass destruction” and to bring the Iranian regime to the negotiating table. 

Amash’s WMD rationale, of course, brings to mind the 11 years of economic sanctions that the U.S. government and the United Nations enforced against Iraq, when U.S. officials were justifying those sanctions under the WMD rubric. The Iraq sanctions ended up contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright’s infamous statement that the deaths of half-a-million children from the sanctions were “worth it.”

But the intentional infliction of death and suffering on innocent people, including children, is never worth any political goal, at least not to libertarians.

Amash also supported sanctions on Iran during the Obama administration. According to a September 10, 2015, article in Reason magazine, “Amash supported sanctions against Iran, and say it’s likely they helped bring Iran to the negotiating table.”

Interesting, in August 2017, when a bill came up that combined Russia, North Korea, and Iran together with a request for strengthened sanctions, Amash voted against it. 

Why the inconsistency? That was explained by Amash’s “Freedom Club” ally Republican Congressman Tom Massie: He said that he wanted to avoid another “Cold War” with Russia. 

Thus, the following year, when Iran was singled out in House Resolution 676, Amash voted in favor of sanctions on Iran, along with 232 of his Republicans colleagues.

It is important to keep in mind that while Iran is oftentimes labeled an “opponent,” a “rival,” an “adversary,” or an “enemy” by both Republicans and Democrats and the mainstream press, all that is the classic lingo of empires. The fact is that Congress has never declared war on Iran. The U.S. government has no legitimate authority to be targeting Iranian citizens with death and suffering, either with bombs or with sanctions.

We Libertarians must continue standing four-square against the evil of U.S. sanctions on Iran and every other country in the world.

See: “Donald Trump’s Banality of Evil” by Jacob Hornberger.

Part 5 – LP Presidential Debates

Tonight I will be participating in my 10th debate in the race for the LP presidential nomination. It will be sponsored by the Kentucky Libertarian Party. 

This Friday and Saturday, I will be participating in two more presidential debates. That will bring to 12 the number of debates in which I will have participated.

This will also be around my 19th state convention I have attended since I announced my candidacy for the LP presidential nomination last November 2 at the South Carolina Libertarian Party convention.

How many LP conventions has Congressman Justin Amash attended in the last year? 

None.

How many LP presidential debates has Amash participated in? 

None.

In fact, the very obvious reason that Amash has not attended LP state conventions and participated in LP presidential debates is that he does not want to subject his conservative positions to scrutiny, examination, and challenge by LP members and the other candidates for the LP presidential nomination.

Keep in mind that Amash secretly suspended his campaign for reelection to Congress in mid-February. At that point, he could have formally entered the race for the LP presidential nomination and begun attending LP state conventions and participating in LP presidential debates.

He chose not to do that. Instead, he kept the suspension of his congressional campaign secret for two months. By leading people believe that he was still running for reelection to Congress, he was able to avoid delaying entry into the LP presidential race and participating in LP presidential debates during the time of the secret suspension. 

From mid-February to mid-March, when the coronavirus hit, I attended around 10 state conventions and participated in presidential debates at some of them. I was trying to attend every convention I could. And I was loving it!

There was probably about 15 LP state conventions from mid-February, when Amash secretly suspended his congressional campaign, and mid-March, when the shutdown happened. Amash could have participated in at least a few presidential debates during that period of time. He chose not to.

In fact, just last week, Amash told the mainstream press that he planned to announce his presidential intentions within a few days. But then he obviously learned that there were 3 more presidential debates this week — tonight, Friday, and Saturday. Thus, he has obviously postponed his announcement until these debates are over.

Some of Amash’s supporters are upset with me because i am pointing out his conservative positions in this video series. 

But what choice do I have? Should I simply sit back and let Amash succeed with his plan to have the LP presidential nomination simply handed to him on a silver platter at the last minute without having his conservative positions identified, examined, challenged, and scrutinized in a long series of LP presidential debates? 

If Amash had entered the LP presidential race months ago and participated with the rest of us in the extensive debate process, this video series would not have been necessary. This video series is extremely time-consuming. It takes me from other things I need to do. But given his strategy to announce as late as possible precisely to avoid the debates, this video series is really just a substitute for what would have happened during those debates.

Why should Amash be exempt from the LP debate process? Because he is a lifelong Republican? Because he receives national publicity from the mainstream press? Because he is a member of Congress? 

Why should any of those things give him a pass?  If he chooses to finally, after some 10 years of being outside our party as a Republican and an Independent, come into our party and seek our presidential nomination, why shouldn’t he be expected to be participate in the crucible of LP presidential debates, just like the rest of us?

After all, why does practically every state LP want a presidential debate? Why not just one overall debate? It’s because LP members all over the country want to see how their presidential candidates operate under fire — what their positions are — and how they are going to defend libertarianism to the American people.

These debates are not an easy process for LP presidential candidates. They are an arduous process. Each candidate must carefully prepare for them. Each candidate has to be constantly on his toes.Each candidate is being questioned and challenged by moderators, LP members, and his opponents. Each candidate knows that if he misspeaks, everyone will pounce.

Nothing worse can befall a good cause than to have it ineptly defended. Before they vote, the delegates to the LP national convention have a right to know what exactly their presidential candidate is going to be saying to the American people in his role as the party’s standard-bearer. No LP member should be saying in September, “I can’t believe our presidential candidate just told people that. That’s not what our party stands for.” 

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