Those wacky Libertarians are at it again! Just two weeks after accusing Ronald Reagan of “not being serious about cutting the size of government,” they’re now saying that President Obama falls into the category of “those who make war.”
The party’s weekly newsletter states, “President Obama has utterly failed to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has increased American military involvement in Afghanistan, and appears ready to escalate that war even further.
Is Obama secretly Ares, god of war?
“Instead of a [Nobel] Peace Prize, the president should have received a Fleece Prize — for fleecing current and future American taxpayers to further his bigger-than-big-government domestic and military agenda.”
Libertarians, you’re killing me. And I say this as someone who qualifies as a small-l libertarian. (As in, somewhere between the Republican and Libertarian parties.)
True, Obama is not as much of a dove as I expected…but I originally expected him to be slightly more hawkish than the average 1960s Flower Child.
Read the news, and you’ll see how The Great Apologetic Appeaser has a limited “military agenda.” (Maybe he’d be more decisive about an Afghanistan surge if he had such an agenda.) But this serves as a nice a springboard to a related topic that’s been bugging me:
Idealism vs. Reality.
Between both of these newsletters I’ve brought up, the Libertarian Party leaders demonstrate a stubborn utopian idealism similar to what I’d expect from the far left–even if the idealism leans in the opposite ideological direction.
People on the far left (though not all Democrats, I realize) seem to feel that the world would be perfect, if only we’d listen to them! If only we had impeached George W. Bush, never started the Iraq War, and reasoned with the mindless terrorists–rather than shove them against walls while under a doctor’s and psychologist’s supervision–then the world would be such a grand place…with few, if any, of our current problems.
Meanwhile, the Libertarians seem to feel that many problems would go away if only we’d revert back to isolationism.
Their party platform states, “We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances.”
Isolationism made sense when the country was founded. We had to get our own house in order before we could think about what else was happening in the world. The Washington Administration was absolutely correct not to get involved in other country’s issues.
Back then, the world appeared much larger, so it was easier to steer clear of the Eastern Hemisphere. Today’s world is different, and has been for some time.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that we never got involved in World War II. What if we had just allowed Hitler and his ideology to take over all the rest of the world, until America remained as the last free country standing, with all the world against it? How do you think that would have gone?
Certain threats overseas are big enough that it’s in our best interests to take a proactive stand against them. Yes, it might not be our direct problem today, but that’s no guarantee that it won’t be tomorrow. 9/11 proved that anything can happen here. So did Pearl Harbor.
Or would you rather leave Iran alone to experiment with nuclear weapons?–you know, just wait until they start shooting them our way before we do anything about it?
In a perfect world, it would be nice if we could be isolationists and just worry about our own affairs. It’s a nice vision the Libertarian Party has there, but it ignores our current reality. It’s also a nice vision that Obama has–a world without nuclear weapons–but who’s going to be the first one to get rid of all their nukes and trust that everyone else will follow?
We don’t need to be part of the United Nations, but we need to stay involved on the world stage. I’m all for being an individual, but not an ideologue.
I hate the thought of war as much as anyone. But I realize the alternatives sometimes can be even worse. If I was president and had a willing voluntary army, I’d seriously consider going after any tin-pot, brutal, subject-oppressing dictator with nuclear ambitions–if inaction would likely result in tyrants with nukes. Does this mean I’d be compromising my values?
I’ve read Ayn Rand, too, and like many among the Libertarian Party, I’ve been heavily influenced by her philosophy. In Atlas Shrugged, compromise is presented as an evil, because in the act of compromise, you must necessarily give in–at least in part–to something that you’re confident is wrong.
“There are two sides to every issue. One side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil,” she wrote in Atlas.
That makes good logical sense by itself. But might there be situations in which you’re better off getting some of what you want/need rather than none? Philosophically, she may be right, but in reality, what would you rather have prevail–something completely wrong, or a portion of what’s right?
Please realize, also, that the purpose of her work is all about “the projection of an ideal man,” as she explained in The Romantic Manifesto, where she also said:
“Since a rational man’s ambition is unlimited, since his pursuit and achievement of values is a lifelong process–and the higher the values, the harder the struggle–he needs a moment, an hour or some period of time in which he can experience the sense of his completed task, the sense of living in a universe where his values have been successfully achieved. It is like a moment of rest, a moment to gain fuel to move farther. Art gives him that fuel; the pleasure of contemplating the objectified reality of one’s own sense of life is the pleasure of feeling what it would be like to live in one’s ideal world.”
The wonderful society created by John Galt and the other productive individuals in Atlas Shrugged is meant to provide us with a moment of living in our “ideal world.” (If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.) I agree that that’s an excellent ideal to aspire toward, and we should aspire toward it. But it’s certainly not the world as it is now. We have to arrive there in steps.
But often, you can’t take any steps without compromise. The trick is finding the compromises that serve your purposes better than your ideological opponents (like Reagan focusing on deregulation and ending the Cold War while allowing entitlement programs and unnecessary federal departments to continue–strategically, the right move.)
I’m not saying it’s easy. After all, I am talking about the real world.
What’s easy is clinging stubbornly to utopian idealism so you get to say, “If only we did things exactly my way, the world would be wonderful!”
Doesn’t mean much if you never make anything happen.