At heart I’m a libertarian. The concept of “less government, more freedom” sums up my overall political outlook.
But there’s something wrong with the current, raw libertarian doctrine as espoused by, among others, Ron Paul. What’s wrong is an isolationist, pacifist view of the world we live in, a world that is, and will probably continue to be, absolutely un-libertarian. By that I mean that the libertarian principle of tolerance is completely absent in most of the world. So even if we Americans build a libertarian society based on tolerance, responsibility and not stepping on one-another’s toes, the rest of the world doesn’t work that way, and probably never will.
As long as there are nations with diverse systems of tribe and government, there will be leaders who use their powers to do dirty deeds such as oppressing their own citizens, attacking their neighbors, restricting trade, infiltrating instigators into neighboring countries, behaving as obstructionists in international bodies, and generally being bad neighbors. Pacifism simply won’t work against these threatening neighbors, who will consider it an invitation to attack. Isolationism might keep the bad guys at bay for a while, but at the expense of limiting our freedom to trade and travel the world, i.e., losing a freedom we should have and protect.
Libertarians believe that a strong economy based on principles of individual freedom will be such an example to the world that we’ll gain respect, even love, sufficient to protect our interests. Oh that it could be true! But it’s a completely idealistic and naive assumption.
In recent history we’ve faced true threats from communism and fascism. The libertarians preach that the fascists could have been beaten by volunteers and the communists simply ran out of steam economically. But isolationism and pacifism in either case would probably have led to an unimaginably ugly outcome for America. Had Hitler conquered all of Europe and Japan all of Asia, and then combined to invade America, we’d truly have had the rest of the world to fight. And had we not been muscular when confronting the communist nations the same fate might have befallen us — the rest of the world to fight.
As a nation, America does, indeed have international interests, both economic and political. Currently, oil is a concern we can’t deny or hide from. How would it be for us if the majority of the world’s oil were controlled by Islamic extremists? It’s bad enough for much of it to be controlled by OPEC. Sure, we could say the Arabs have a right to their beliefs or their religious folly, or whatever. But we do have an interest in this, and turning our backs on that interest simply insures that we’ll get the worst of it. So involvement, including some muscle, makes a lot more sense than isolationism.
Another little matter we need to contend with currently is Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Again, we could assume that by turning our backs, checking out from participation in the world’s politics and commerce, and becoming an “example of tolerance” we might avoid exposure to terrorist acts. An assumption based on what? But that’s not really the nut of the problem. The problem here is that no individual can protect himself from a terrorist with a bomb strapped around his waist or control of an airliner. Further, no police force can defend against such attacks. The only way to eliminate terrorism is to eliminate the terrorists, and that means by international actions of one kind or another. It includes measures from pressuring foreign governments to going out and killing the terrorists where they live. Nothing less will solve the threat of terrorism. Those measures take international diplomatic and military capability on a national level.
So what do these examples, world war, cold war, terrorism tell us? They tell us that a mighty military is necessary for the survival of a free and prosperous America. And in my opinion, a necessary component of a mighty military is a citizenry that considers it the patriotic duty of every male citizen to at least train for possible military service and to serve if called. This individual responsibility should be embedded into the libertarian doctrine. So, to “less government, more freedom ” should be added ” more responsibility.” I’d call this muscular libertarianism and would support it wholeheartedly.