Barger for US Senate

Official campaign website of Al Barger, 2004 Indiana Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate

"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows that the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?" - James Madison, Federalist #62

Thursday, July 15, 2004

My hawkish libertarian apostasy

Even though I am the Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate, I don't believe that the answer to every question is to go to the Libertarian Party Playbook and plug in the relevant quote. My general assumptions might go that way, but the particulars of a situation might not.

Much of my thought this way comes from reading Robert Anton Wilson, who emphasizes again and again that "The map is not the territory" or alternately that "The menu is not the meal."

This comes from a guy named Alford Korzybski, who stated, "A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness."

Often, roadmaps tell me just where I am with my car, and how I can get to where I need to go. Sometimes they just aren't accurate representations of what I actually get on the ground and at the wheel. Sometimes, that picture on the restaurant menu doesn't look like the stuff that shows up on my plate.

It is more important to me to make the best interpretation based on observed facts on the ground in a particular situation rather than having the Correct Libertarian Response. I used to be really bugged by the famous Emerson quote that "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." In this type of context, though, I have come to see the wisdom of Emerson.

This goes to my apostasy from some people's idea of the libertarian playbook in foreign policy. A lot of times, normal libertarian individualist assumptions about human behavior don't fit the particular facts on the ground in some parts of the world.

By the way, my relatively hawkish views may be in disagreement with some of the current Libertarian Party, but how far off I am from the libertarian playbook depends very much on exactly who's playbook we're reading from. Probably the top two modern intellectuals inspiring the creation of the contemporary libertarian movement are Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein. Not that it is a relevant argument in favor of my outlook, but I'd bet both of them would be pretty much in my camp on most of these issues.

Classical liberal or libertarian thought tends to work on the premise that humans will naturally tend to seek their own self-interest. What's in it for me? We design our political thoughts to harness that natural healthy selfishness to the greater good. Thus, Adam Smith's famous observation that the baker doesn't give us a tasty loaf of cheap bread out of the goodness of his heart, but out of his own self interest in wanting to make a buck by SELLING us the tasty loaf cheaper than his competitors.

That kind of thinking seems to describe most human behavior most of the time, but seems less than useful in dealing with suicide bombers and jihadists. In practice, a good many people in the Muslim/Arab world seem to be more motivated by a desire to see US suffer rather than any idea of getting anything positive for themselves. Parents who willingly send their children out to blow up Jews and infidels are simply not motivated by any desire to better themselves.

That tells me that you cannot appeal to some of these people on the basis of self interest. You can't buy them off, or try to offer them a better future. At some point, they're just mentally diseased, and the only thing you can do is put them down like rabid dogs. Hopefully they won't make US take too many other people down with them.

Thus, I supported the Iraq war - though I have some issues with the conduct and the aftermath. Those issues, however, are more often to the side that I don't think we've been harsh enough in some cases, notably Fallujah - which would pretty much be reduced to a parking lot now if I were in charge.

Likewise, I would be willing to strongly consider military actions in other near places to cut down Muslim terrorists and the rat's nest of infrastructure that supports them, most obviously in Iran and Syria. Besides those Muslim jihadists, North Korea may require some unpleasant and destructive action.

I'd prefer that these other regimes see what has happened to Hussein, and take a clue. I'd like to appeal to them in some way so as to avoid the necessity of killing them. War is indeed bad for children and other living things. Maybe North Korea could be appealed to with carrots, like Libya - though it doesn't seem to have done any good so far.

Further, I don't have any desire for revenge over 9/11, nor particularly even for "justice." If it were just those things, I'd say we should let it go. It's not worth us killing people (especially the inevitable innocent casualties), and it's especially not worth getting our own people killed.

That's not the situation, though. People are still coming here to kill us. Besides any deaths overseas, we're still looking at serious terrorist threats here. There are apparently big warning signs of impending attacks intended to screw up our elections. Also, it was just a month ago, in June '04, that Attorney General Ashcroft announced the arrest of an Al Qaeda operative from Somalia busted while plotting to blow up a mall in Columbus, Ohio.

I've got people in Columbus. I've got a three year old niece there. I want to be a nice guy, but I'd turn the entire Middle East into one big paved over parking lot before I'll accept that we're just going to get blown up and anthraxed and such what here and there. I'm far less patient than the Israelis.

Whether we like it or not, we're at war with people intent on leveraging their way up to WMDs to destroy our society. This is not paranoia, nor overstating the point. Under such circumstances, I will favor crushing them - as Brother Malcolm would say - by any means necessary. Or as my other hero Barry Goldwater said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

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