Whenever statist polices produce crises, libertarians are inevitably asked what the libertarian position is to resolve the crises. Two recent examples involve the refugee crisis in Europe and the terrorist crisis in Paris. “How would you libertarians deal with these two crises?” People ask us.
Libertarianism, however, is not a philosophy that purports to fix the problems that arise from statism. Instead, it is simply a philosophy of individual liberty, free markets, and limited government. In other words, we libertarians tell people: If you want a society of freedom, prosperity, and harmony, here is what you need to achieve it.
Oftentimes, that just isn’t satisfactory to people. They want answers now to the crises that are staring them in the face. They want to know what libertarians propose to resolve the refugee crisis in Europe and the terrorist crisis in Paris.
Okay, here are some libertarian proposals for resolving these two crises.
- At the end of the Cold War in 1989, dismantle the national-security establishment and end all U.S. interventionism around the world.
- Don’t intervene in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, which will end up killing tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens.
- Don’t bomb the water-and-sewage treatment plants in Iraq because that will only end up causing people to get sick and to die from infectious illnesses.
- Don’t impose sanctions on Iraq, which will end up killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.
- Don’t station U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands.
- Don’t impose no-fly zones over Iraq.
- Terminate all foreign aid to Israel, Egypt, and all other Middle East regimes.
If the United States had adopted those libertarian positions, there never would have been a 9/11 crisis in the United States, which means that there wouldn’t have been invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, which means there wouldn’t be an ISIS.
Keep in mind, after all, that when the terrorists struck on 9/11, they were retaliating against the United States for the death and destruction that the U.S. government had been wreaking on the Middle East since the end of the Cold War. That’s something that many people just don’t want to face. For them, confronting, questioning, and challenging the legitimacy of federal governmental policies, especially those of the Pentagon and the CIA, is akin to heresy. “You hate America,” they say whenever we libertarians question U.S. foreign policy, as if the national-security establishment and the country were one and the same thing.
Throughout the time that we libertarians were recommending those policies, the statists cried, “Don’t listen to those libertarians. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Empire and interventionism are the keys to America’s future. As the world’s sole remaining empire, we can remake the Middle East into a paradise of democracy and freedom. We’ll do our job. You just keep thanking the troops.”
Once it was clear that the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan had failed miserably in bringing a paradise of freedom, prosperity, and harmony, we libertarians made the following proposal:
Bring all the troops home, discharge them. End all foreign interventionism and foreign aid. Dismantle the Cold War-era national-security establishment.
Once again, however, the statists cried, “Don’t listen to those libertarians. Even though Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be disasters and horror stories, let’s not give up now. Otherwise, the troops will have died and killed in vain. And national honor and credibility are at stake. Let’s double down with interventions in Libya, Yemen, and Syria. And by all means, let’s continue providing armaments both to the Israeli government and to the military dictatorship in Egypt.”
The result? Mass chaos and crisis, just like in Iraq and Afghanistan — and just as we libertarians said would happen.
The most amazing part of all this is how people just will not permit themselves to confront the root cause of all this horror.
Look at any mainstream newspaper in the land. They devote several pages to the refugees who are fleeing the Middle East in a desperate attempt to save their lives and the lives of their families. They talk about the reaction to the refugee crisis, among both Europeans and Americans. The big question of the day, insofar as Americans are concerned, is whether to admit refugees from Syria, a country that is mired in crisis, in large part because of the U.S. government’s interventionist determination to effect regime change there.
But hardly anyone focuses on the root cause of these crises: The U.S. government, as well as the French government, both of which have been bombing Syria to smithereens for months, killing countless people in the process.
Many Americans are railing against the idea of admitting any Syrian refugees into the United States owing to the possibility that a terrorist might sneak into the country posing as a refugee. But not a peep of protest against the U.S. government for putting the refugees and well as the American people into this spot. There are no demands to stop bombing Syria, to stop assassinating people in Yemen, to stop supporting brutal dictators in the region. It’s as if such Americans just assume that the U.S. government has the “right” to kill people over there and that it’s the job of the citizenry to just keep thanking the troops for their service and for keeping us safe and secure by killing ever-increasing numbers of people over there.
The reaction among the French citizenry is no different. There is obviously tremendous anger and outrage against the Islamic State for killing innocent people. But what I find fascinating is that there is no anger or outrage against the French government for producing the conditions that motivated the terrorists to retaliate against the French citizenry. Like many Americans, the French seem to view their national government as a deity, one that can do no wrong. Just support the troops and don’t ask any uncomfortable questions regarding French foreign policy. Don’t ask what motivates people to be so filled with rage as to commit suicide in the hopes of killing large numbers of innocent people. Or, even worse, just blame it on their religion or their so-called hatred for America’s or France’s “freedom and values.”
Let’s not forget, after all, that this isn’t a chicken and egg problem. The French government, like the U.S. government, started the killing of people over there, which was followed by the retaliatory terrorist attacks on 9/11 here in the United States and recently in Paris. That point was made by Ron Paul seven years ago, when he quite correctly pointed out in that famous Republican presidential debate: They came over here to kill us because we (i.e., the U.S. government) went over there and killed them.
It is quite possible to be angry and outraged over both matters — to be angry and outraged over the terrorist attacks and also the government policies that then motivated people to engage in the terrorist attacks. But that has not been the mindset of most French people, just as it wasn’t the mindset of most Americans after 9/11. Instead, the standard mindset, which is nurtured and encouraged by the mainstream press, is: “We now have to retaliate for these terrorist attacks. We need to double the number of bombs we were dropping before the terrorists struck.”
But that’s precisely what the U.S. government did after the 9/11 attacks. It doubled down by doing more killing — much more killing in fact— than it was doing before the attacks. Wouldn’t you think that the French would at least ask U.S. officials: “How is that working out for you?” They would learn that ever since 9/11, the U.S. government has been the greatest terrorist producing machine in history. Every time they kill one person, five more join the opposing forces, ready to retaliate by killing innocent human beings with a suicide bomb.
When does it all stop? It all stops when people finally stop responding to the Siren song of the statists and begin listening to us libertarians.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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