Friday, March 22, 2013

Ultimately, GOP pundits are right that Libertarian foreign policy views are a deal-breaker

I have friends in the Campaign for Liberty, friends among the Tea Partiers, and friends who insist that they are "small-l" libertarians who stay in the two-party system so as not to be marginalized.

I respect them, often make common cause with them on civil liberties issues, but I firmly believe that if they think they are going to take over the Republican Party and remake it along more libertarian lines, they are simply ... wrong.

I used to believe that the sticking point would be an obsession with regulating other people's morality, that the GOP could not give up wanting to be between the sheets, inside women's vaginas, and sniffing out pot smoke.  Ironically, there is a growing trend to change approach on many of these issues.  Generationally, young conservatives don't really care about marriage equality like their parents did, may be opposed to abortion on theological grounds but aren't picketing the clinics any more, and a lot of them really (at least secretly) yearn to smoke some weed.

(Someday my really die-hard old-line Republican friends should read about The Halfway Covenant among second and third generation Puritans to help them figure out what happened and how the younger generation went wrong.)

But in reality there will be no Libertarian takeover of the GOP because neither the old guard nor large parts of the Tea Party are at all interested in a non-interventionist foreign policy and a scaled-back defense budget.

This week Noah Rothman cautioned Republicans not to take foreign policy ideas from us "vacuous" Libertarians.

First, there's this:
The brand of libertarianism that rejects America’s role in the world cannot be adopted by the Republican Party writ large. Why? Because it is incumbent on the United States to maintain the stewardship of a global order which has resulted in relative peace and stability since the end of the Cold War.
OK not even Ron or Rand Paul reject an American "role in the world."  They'd just like it to be constitutional and economic rather than dictatorial and military.  But aside from that don't you love the incumbency of the US to maintain the global order that has resulted in relative peace and stability since the end of the Cold War.

The Middle East is relatively stable and peaceful, Noah?  Compared to what?  A cage match on SPIKE TV?

All those spun-off former Soviet republics are stable and prosperous?  Thank God.

Africa has entered a new era of stability and peace, with those wars in Mali, and Somalia, and several other places are all simply fantasms of my immature Libertarian mind?  What a relief.

I'm also glad to know that China is not still pursuing genocide (cultural and otherwise) in Tibet, that North Korean is not flinging around nuclear missiles, and that Pakistani nukes are more secure today that they ever were.  Yep, ignore my delusion that the last two decades of American foreign policy--Republican and Democrat alike--have been a flaming f--king disaster from almost every standpoint.

That relative peace and stability is an illusion being maintained by the expedient of doing half the entire world's military spending, which bankrupts our treasury, kills our sons and daughters, overtaxes the middle class, and leaves us to choose between feeding hungry American children or buying more drones.

Ah, but you see, I don't know the truth because I am not on the inside:
The bulk of this great responsibility, which rests on the shoulders of America’s lawmakers, cannot be shrugged. Libertarians outside the closed-door classified security briefings, to which the nation’s elected officials are privy, do not have to confront the sobering reality of the many threats to global security. As such, they are free to proselytize for the most amoral, egocentric form of non-interventionism couched in the moralistic language common among pace [sic] activists.
Leaving aside the fact that, Noah, I've been in more of those briefings and done more work in intelligence analysis over my career than you have, this is utter f--king bunk.  You mean the briefings that assured us there were WMDs in Iraq, that it was essential to demobilize the Iraqi Army and destroy the Baath Party, and that told us that the Iraqi people loved Mr. Chalabi?

God, thanks for the CIA!!

You mean the briefings where they missed the connections between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's revolutionaries?

You mean the briefings where they discussed extra-legal assassinations of people around the world, including teenagers, children, and American citizens?

You mean those briefings where they told our policy makers it made sense to allow Mexican drug lords access to more automatic weapons courtesy of the US government?

Those briefings?

You, sir, are an idiot.

By the way, it is spelled p-e-a-c-e activist, not p-a-c-e activist.  Do you guys who have a finger on the pulse of the intelligence community and America's role in the world ever proofread your own shit?

Unfortunately, Noah is very much in the Republican mainstream, and he and his ilk have have sold this to a lot of the Tea Party leadership.  Here's my favorite snippet of an interview with Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express:
CNN ANCHOR: The next time an American president wants to declare war on some country or wants to carry out a war, will the American people believe him or her?
AMY KREMER: I think that all of our leaders acted with the information they had available to them at that time. And you know, it wasn't that President Bush just went in and did this on his own. Congress had to vote to go in as well. He had support. Like I said, we can never have enough intelligence. So the American people I don't think have any alternative to believe our president. That's why he's been elected. And I certainly hope we don't ever go down this road ever again, because you never want to lose any lives, and there's always unintended consequences. 
CNN ANCHOR: I think clearly, especially from my Facebook comments, Americans have no appetite for war, or very little appetite for war, unless the country comes under direct attack. 
AMY KREMER: I have to agree with you that we didn't want this. No one wanted this. But we had been attacked on September 11. And going into Iraq was not a direct result, but it led to Iraq. And none of us want that. We have to trust our leaders, and I think that's really the only alternative that we have. But also, when we go in and do something we need to have an exit strategy, a plan that we can execute, and have as much intelligence as we can. 
Yep, because we can't handle the truth (thank you, Jack Nicholson), we just have to trust Dubya about Iraq and the WMDs, and Barack about whoever it is he wants to kill and wherever he plans to put new drone bases (like Niger).

The Presidency, it seems, is like a "fire and forget" missile to the Republicans.

Which is why many of us are keeping the Libertarian Party open for business when our friends discover that all the GOP really wants from them is their votes and their money, not their ideas or their principles.

C'mon back when you figure it out, guys.  We'll still be here.

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