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.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Issues 24: Dance with the One that Brought You -OR- Fight your own Wars!

I have spoken before about the dangers of an interventionist foreign policy. In “Issues 19: India, Pakistan, and... Libertarianism?” I discussed the damage that is being cause by one nation defining the borders of another without regard to preference, as well as the violence that has been unleashed against multiple targets so that those in power can maintain tight-fisted control of the situation. These in turn are exacerbated, according to some, by yet another problem caused by intervention—third party war-fighting.


The above article explains how the US supported Pakistan through the Cold War while supporting the strategic containment of communism. We were in essence trying to fight a war without actually fighting one, but enabling others to do so for us. Since then, those others have decided their goals do not match with ours. In return they have continued to support us enough to keep receiving aid, but have used previous help and continue to use recurring help to foster their own agenda, which is harmful to ours.

For this, how can we blame them? They are looking after their own good. The abhorrence of the acts come from the duplicity therein, not from the fact that another country is acting self-interestedly. But the issue is allowed to continue while the US uses third parties to help fight our own wars.

I am of the firm belief that anything worth doing is worth doing well, in the open, and with pride. For this reason alone I would ask the United States to fight her own wars. However, if that is not enough for some, then look at the consequences of what happens when we ask and enable others to do so for us. It never seems to turn out well in the end. We look back with disdain on our actions, such as the containment of a system that collapsed anyway, but never seem to learn. Each threat is new and somehow different from those that came before, making the action different enough this time to not be considered a mistake.

An alternative—non-intervention with a weak military—is equally disdained because we see what happens when a country must rely on the US for military support. The alternative to both of these, then, libertarian non-intervention policies with a strong military capable and willing to defend the country, seems the best option. Experience tells us this over and over again, yet we are loathe to loosen our own control over situations we do not like.

This is a difficult thing to do, though. Human nature would tempt any President to use a strong military to shape the world into one that he liked. That is why I only feel I can trust a President who believes in non-intervention, but why it is even more crucial for Congress to be strong and check the President. This happens so little in our current party-based politics that the remaining answer to solve all of these problems remains a strong military guided by a non-interventionist libertarian.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Foundations 7: Authority and Responsibility

As I sat pondering the nature of various forms of leadership and their relation to the organizations that they run, a thought stunned me. It had to do with the issues of responsibility and authority, subjects on which I have thought before, but never in the context that opened my mind so much this time. Authority and responsibility are opposite sides of the same coin. If you give someone authority over something, you can then hold them responsible for it. Conversely, if you want to hold someone responsible for something, you must first give them authority over it.

As I said, I had thought this before, and have long been familiar with the concept. The turning point came as I reflected on how it applied to various political arguments and the terminology that is hinted at but rarely used. The concept can be used to examine the true motives for many issues, but let me start with healthcare as I think it is the easiest to illustrate.

Many people today claim that healthcare is a universal right of mankind, that everyone should have health coverage, or that healthcare should not be a privilege of the rich. In a word, the country as a whole has a responsibility to provide healthcare to every citizen (or so the argument goes).

My thought then is this: if I have a responsibility to finance a person’s healthcare through Federal taxes, why am I not also granted authority over that person’s healthcare to ensure a favorable outcome? If I am responsible for another person’s health, then I must also be able to tell them that they must run five miles every day and do pushups and yoga. I should be able to dictate their diet, ensuring they eat only oatmeal for breakfast and chicken salads for dinner, and restrict the total number of calories they ingest. I should be able to limit or forbid things like coffee, cigarettes, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and bacon.

All of these efforts would produce better “health care” for a person than merely paying for their angioplasty or lung cancer treatments later in life. Why can we as a nation not legislate these things, if we are so concerned about providing good health to all Americans? As I said, this principle applies to any issue where money from some is redistributed to others. Paying welfare should be paired with telling a person how and when and what job they should work. Paying Social Security should be paired with telling those who receive it where they can live. Not until people as a whole recognize that responsibility goes hand in hand with authority, not until they accept this form of legislated healthcare, will I believe in their good intentions and be disabused of the idea that our government is just forcing some to fund the lifestyles of others.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Issues 23: President Obama's Love of Covert Power

I know it has been a long time since I have written here (over 2 weeks, according to these dates).  While I take the weekend to refamiliarize myself with current events and the outside world, please accept this discussion on covert power and the subsequent philosophical debate on the nature of authority and responsibility.

(covert picture not posted for security reasons)

The President, according to this article, is a big fan of covert hard power. This is one thing that I agree with him about. If your hands are tied by the lack of a declaration of war, the necessity to respect national sovereignty, the constant release of those you capture, and the constant threat to your country by a group of people sworn to bring about your destruction; then kill them covertly.

This covert campaign is essential to the War on Terror, which is in itself essential to protecting America. While it may or may not be an existential sort of threat, it is a very real one that has been killing innocent Americans for decades. Mr. President, I applaud your approach.

That said, there is also a cautionary note deserved. A democracy is not supposed to be covert. A government of the people and by the people cannot be covert. Libertarian principles can be ripped apart quickly by one greedy man with covert power. Is the President entirely good-minded in this use of power? It is necessary to prosecute the type of war we are fighting, but it is also very handy for one who wants to violently affect the world while seeming peaceful at home and in the media.

This is why we have checks and balances and why it is imperative that they operate flawlessly. A President using covert powers under the watchful eye of Congressional committees in prosecution of a declared war is a very powerful tool. A President doing the same without oversight, with a weak Congress that will not declare the wars they fight and will not even hold OVERT military actions within Constitutional and legal bounds is truly frightening. If you have wondered why I am so insistent on declaring war to use military force and “checks and balances” being used properly, especially in relation to the application of violence, then this gives you a window into that rationale.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Issues 22: A War on Terror?

I would like to preface this post by saying that ideas contained herein are still very much in developmental stages, indeed in their infancy. I have not discussed them at length with anyone and welcome discussion to hone or change them.

The friend of my enemy is my enemy… Although I support non-intervention for non-direct threats to the US, once an attack has been made and the decision to wage war has been approved, I support only complete warfare with the goal of unconditional surrender of the offending nation (or similar ends for non-state actors). Terrorism itself has changed how we can prosecute a war. Being attacked by Japan, declaring war on the nation, and waging that war until unconditional surrender has been achieved—that is relatively easy. Being attacked by a group that is not associated with a state is more difficult. What do you declare war against? Who do you attack? What sovereignty do you respect and whose do you trample? These are very difficult questions which have been answered, to the best of my knowledge, by authorizing the use of military force against certain stated objectives. This is similar to but legally different from declaring war.

My elementary analysis of the proper method of executing existing policies tries to mirror the current laws of war. First, declare war against an organization (i.e. al-Qaeda). Second, just as the law of war permits you to kill any member of an opposing military whether they are fighting you at the moment or not, armed or not, in uniform or not; chase and kill or capture any avowed member of that group. Third, treat “detainees” as POWs (do not release them early, do not try them, just hold them away from conflict until the war is over). Finally, assess the individual circumstances surrounding nations interacting with the non-state group. For instance, if firm evidence proves that a state is providing active support to the group with which you are at war, they lose their claim of neutrality.

As I said before, this is similar to what we are currently doing, but different enough to raise issues. Two of the most obvious are detainees and nations supporting terrorism. In my plan detainees would be legitimate prisoners of war, with all the legal implications. Nations sponsoring terrorism would lose their claim of neutrality in the situation and be legitimate targets for attack. That does not mean that every one should be attacked, and I am not using this to say that we attack Pakistan now, as the article and this comment may lead some to believe. We are applying diplomatic pressure at the moment, which may be the best option given the intelligence desired endstates. However, the option should not be far off the table.

This is a complex issue and raises many more questions. What if the member of the group is a citizen of the US? Can you try POWs for war crimes rather than releasing them at the end of the war? How do you determine the level of support from a nation required before declaring them part of the enemy? These are all difficult, but the disheartening problem is that we are not even at the point to deal with them yet. Congress has allowed the President to use force without declaring war against either a state or an organization. Consequently, we cannot treat captured combatants as POWs. They then are released and kill more Americans. We cannot (or have not) used the full power of our national security institutions against even those who help our enemies. There are very ambiguous questions involved in fighting non-state organizations, but to be able to address them properly, we first need to fix the basic functioning of our own governmental institutions.