By Austin White
January 9th, 2012
I consider **** ********* to be a friend, a great fighter in the cause for liberty, a brilliant economist, and I have much respect for him. However, when an influential libertarian fails in promoting a pure, consistent definition of liberty, fellow libertarians simply can't sit on the sidelines and allow this to go unchallenged.
Unfortunately, I do not know if or where his specific foreign policy model can be found in his own writings. So I will be retelling it as he explains in his economics classes. I'm confident in my precision, having had additional discussions with him on the subject in his office.
Professor *********courses are about 70% economics and 30% libertarian philosophy. Not only will he explain why the actions of the state are economically destructive, but also why they are often immoral and undefendable. For example, students are required to read The Law by Frederic Bastiat for the first exam. So you can easily get the picture that ********* is heroically attempting to bring young people away from statism.
For one particular class, ********* took the class discussion to foreign policy where he immediately gave a quick history lesson of the U.S. government's actions in the middle east, starting with the 1953 CIA-led coup in Iran, then explaining how terrorism against the United State is blowback from an imperial foreign policy, and then bookending everything with an explanation of the foreign policy he thinks the American government should adopt.
The ********* Foreign Policy pitch starts out as a great case for non-interventionism. He says we should end the wars, refrain from starting new wars, close the 900+ foreign U.S. imperial bases in 130 countries, and have free trade and free immigration with all.
So far, so great. But then he ruins it all.
********* says that if after fully adopting this humble, non-interventionist foreign policy that America is attacked in any way at all the American government should respond by literally obliterating the country behind the attack.
"If so much as a foreign fire cracker goes off within our borders, we nuke the country it came from."
To make sure I understood right, I spoke with him about later on in the semester and he defended this part of his foreign policy, calling it "the most efficient."
This is why utilitarianism is inferior to natural rights libertarianism: efficiency is considered a higher end than morality.
The problem with a nuclear response to any attack on America is that 99.99% of the people killed by the nuclear bomb are innocent civilians who have and never would have harmed any American person during the entire course of their lives.
The sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to mass murder civilians; therefore a libertarian can't support the use of nukes under any circumstances. It is impossible to discriminate with who the nukes will kill. There is no way of preventing the innocent neighbors of the bad guy from perishing if the bad guy is nuked - and the neighbors harmed would span for miles. A quick Google Image search of "depleted uranium Iraq" will show you how even minor amounts of radiated residue can ruin the lives of an entire future generation of people (those people certainly having nothing to do with an attack on America).
Only the specific individuals responsible for the planning and carrying out of the attack can be punished, and even then they are entitled to a trial. The ruler of the country, the military commander who devised the attack, and the lowly privates left to carry out the attack are the only people who should pay. Punishing anyone else simply because they live within some arbitrary borders makes no more sense than the mayor of Orlando nuking all of Tampa because a Tampa cop attacked an Orlando citizen, but this is what the ********* Foreign Policy proposes.
It is the height of collectivist thinking to hold normal citizens responsible for the actions of their government. As if 100% of all the people of a country are in complete agreement that they want to start attacking America and that all 100% of them are willing to drop everything to defend their dictator. As if the ruler of that country (just another sociopathic politician like you find at the head of any government) can be considered the precise representation of the sentiments of those people.
For a deeper elaboration of a libertarian foreign policy read Murray Rothbard’s timeless essay War, Peace, and the State.