Mission Statement

Mission Statement: This blog is dedicated to both political philosophy and application to current issues based on the ideas of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty. Additionally, this blog strives to create an atmosphere where intelligent discussions based on the principles of logic, no matter the viewpoints expressed in their conclusions, are not only welcome, but also thrive.

To learn more, feel free to read the introduction and subsequent posts which explain the aforementioned philosophy and purpose of this blog in more detail.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Issues 1: Tunisia and Foreign Policy

     When I discuss libertarianism in this blog, I am not referring to a political party, but a principled system of beliefs. As such, the libertarian ideal does not stop at the water’s edge, focusing solely on individual liberty in domestic policy. The ideas also apply to international relations and how a country treats its neighbors. A libertarian society is against both the initiation of force and unrequested foreign intervention, recognizing that the military exists as a defense mechanism, not an instrument of willy-nilly international politics. As a supreme executive, I would not in any way use the military or my political clout to impose my will or ideas on sovereign nations, so long as they are respecting my nation’s sovereignty as well. America’s power is neither a mandate nor an excuse to act as a world police force—in a world of sovereign nations, no political body has the authority to impose that on an unwilling nation.
     The happenings in Tunisia recently give a nice case study on why the above philosophy holds sound for international relations. The Tunisian people, tired of the conditions of their current government, worked to overthrow that government. As John Locke proclaims and the Declaration of Independence paraphrases, the people will inevitably “put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the end for which government was at first erected.” If these great thinkers and the current of world events are to be believed, then military intervention is not necessary to spread democracy—it will arise spontaneously when the people deem the reward outweighs the sacrifices of revolution.
     Tunisia is now at an important crossroads. The government that arises from this distress could be a model for the region, or a despot replacing another. However, American influence in the process will be significantly less than what it could be due in large part to our reputation in the world right now. An Economist article discusses opinions on Tunisia in the Arab press. Most do not mention America, but one can tell that there is dissatisfaction with what America has already done in the region (propping up certain governments) which will, in conjunction with the ongoing struggles in Afghanistan and especially Iraq, limit the amount of help and involvement that people are willing to ask from America (read this article about Pakistan for further evidence of our foreign policy hindering our desired foreign outcomes). If America is seen as too pushy, then people will not trust us to deliver only the assistance requested without going the extra step to impose additional views.
     Not only has the past half-century of American interventionist foreign policy violated principles of Sovereignty and worked us to a point where we are unable to render the help when it is most needed, it goes against the principles that most often predict success. Unrequested intervention in a nation to change government is essentially a fight between two powers both claiming to be legitimate for different reasons. Even if this does not directly devolve into an insurgency, it bears many of the same traits and is likely to in the future.
     In a paper called Victory Has a Thousand Fathers, The Small Wars Journal discusses evidence about what makes for successful counterinsurgency (COIN). Dividing many COIN practices into good and bad, it is easy to see that a foreign government coming to impose a regime change in a country immediately falls prey to many of the bad practices. This is not impossible to overcome, but is difficult. This is further complicated (to put it mildly) if America finds itself trying to “help governments that will not help themselves.” One of the surest ways to know that people are willing to help themselves is to only respond to calls for assistance to causes that have already started to make progress rather than trying to build them from the ground.
     It is easy to see and completely understandable how America’s recent history of foreign policy has degraded rather than strengthened our ability to influence the world. While the most important influence should be a sterling example that the rest of the world can follow or not as they desire, we are unable to do this because of the largely correct perception of American pushiness and cultural insensitivity. A non-intervening state that can be a light of freedom in the world would inspire more events like the one happening in Tunisia. With an unblemished record of libertarian respect for national sovereignty and cultural awareness, America would be much more likely to be not only welcome, but an invited participant in designing a better future. This only holds more true as communication becomes faster and more accessible through technology such as the internet.
     This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, since both parties have made largely similar blunders. Americans understand this, but I believe that most do not see an alternative between trading back and forth between Democratic missteps and Republican ones. A theory of liberty would satisfy many involved parties, increase America’s status and influence in the world, and yield more favorable foreign policy results. While it is important to note that the ends do not justify the means in forming actionable policy, the fact that the core principles of the libertarian philosophy can be uncompromisingly applied in this situation and still predict positive results speaks to the depth and truth of the ideals here espoused.

No comments: