If you would prefer a more qualified statement, let me offer the following:
Having interracted extensively with a broad swath of libertarians I have observed a haste to condemn U.S. actions and involvement coupled by a lack of knowledge or interest in anybody else involved in the conflict. This leads to statements like “We need to leave Afghanistan so its people can live in peace.” The libertarian making this suggestion seemed wholly unaware of both the prolonged internal struggle that won’t end the moment the U.S. leaves and serious controversy within Afghanistan regarding whether, when, and how the U.S. should leave.
Most tellingly, my post criticizing libertarians for appropriating the banner of pacifism drew outraged responses from libertarians who 1) accused me of hypocrisy, and 2) demanded that I “prove” that there weren’t any libertarians who cared about peace beyond the narrow scope of isolationism. Critically, neither of these moves suggests that I’m wrong in my point—and this is one where it would be extremely easy to prove me wrong … if I’m actually wrong. You could show me the fruits of libertarian peacemaking efforts. You could point to the generous libertarians willing to make sacrifices to pave the way for peace. Really, you could point out anything libertarians do besides call for immediate and unilateral withdrawal, consequences to others be damned. Show me the libertarians working to heal rifts between warring factions or to rebuild war ravaged countries. If it’s happening on any scale, this should be easy to find, shouldn’t it?
What are you going to do for peace? Yes, withdraw from Afghanistan, slash military spending, etc.. But then what? Are libertarians willing to affirmatively promote peace? Or are they just tired of seeing tax money spent on things they don’t like?
I already spend too much time on this damn site, so I’m not going to say much.
Not that I care for the ad hominem, strawman, etc leftist BS, but I’d like to say that I can’t tell what y’all are doing to promote peace, either. I mentored inner-city at-risk middle school girls for two years and have fostered and rehomed 40+ dogs who would otherwise have been killed by the city. I spend a lot of time trying to do right by my fellow human beings and other living things and educating people about constructive charities they can contribute to which actually help alleviate suffering and poverty, rather than perpetuate it.
And I would wager that I know quite a lot more about the intricacies of economic development efforts and the failures of SAPs in West Africa than most leftists know about the entirety of the Middle East. Come at me, Bro.
I’ve hesitated to jump into this conversation, in which squashed recklessly and with only the grounding of anecdotal evidence and personal observations, accuses libertarians (as a group, and in most cases individually) of opposing war merely out of a desire to keep a little more cash in their pockets coupled with a complete disinterest with the welfare of others.
Wow. There are so many things wrong here, and The Cheeky Libertarian has already ably addressed a number of issues. But, let me add my own thoughts.
1. As far as the whole “libertarians don’t care about other people/peace; they just want to save money” thing goes, let me fight personal evidence (squashed’s interaction with a “broad swath of libertarians”) with personal evidence: I give $100 or more per month to provide basic necessities, audio books, medical supplies, and help with household tasks to lepers in China who have been isolated by their government to a remote village, where they are not allowed to leave and have no access to doctors.
Some of the funding I send also provides toys and school supplies to Chinese orphans who have been abandoned by their parents because of China’s one child policy (many suffer from congenital defects, and the [heartbreaking] reasoning is that if you can only have one kid, have a “good” one). Last month I had some extra money, so I sent $500 instead.
Sure, this isn’t an example of a war-torn area, but my giving budget is only so big and it does directly respond to horrible situations caused by (an admittedly extreme case of) the big government I and other libertarians oppose.
2. I also provide monthly support to a church in Minnesota which is redoing its entire building to serve as a homeless shelter at night once church programs are over, and every week I work with children at my own church in an educational/games program in which a large portion of the kids come from the foster care system and/or very difficult home lives. So, if you want to make the case that my whole goal in opposing war is to keep my own money and not have to care about people, you’re going to also have to make the case that I’m really, really bad at accomplishing that goal. Can you make similar attestations to your personal giving habits?
3. Moving on from personal evidence — for surely we all agree that anecdotal evidence from libertarians squashed has talked to online does not exactly provide conclusive proof about an entire philosophy of foreign policy — let’s consider statistics. Do you, squashed, have some credible statistics which indicate that libertarians give less to charity, intentionally divert their giving from war-affected areas, or personally participate less in humanitarian endeavors than people of other political philosophies? I’m very willing to bet that you don’t.
4. But we do have statistical evidence that shows, for instance, that “people who disagree with the statement, ‘The government has a basic responsibility to take care of the people who can’t take care of themselves,’ are 27 percent more likely to give to charity.” Libertarians fall into the more charitable category, in case that wasn’t clear. Presumably some of that money goes to people hurt by war.
5. From the research I’ve done on the subject, there is no academic consensus over whether outside military involvement in genocides, ethnic conflicts, etc. tends to bring peace and reconciliation more quickly or not. Each situation is different, and there is no way to draw an honest conclusion when looking at the military interventions of the last two centuries that remaining militarily involved in Afghanistan, for instance, is going to be the best decision for the safety, health, and progress of the Afghan people.
As David Edelstein of Georgetown has found in his book, only about a quarter of the military interventions of the last 200 years can be deemed successful. There is no such confusion over the effectiveness of private charities like Doctors without Borders, Direct Relief International, or Operation USA (the latter of which was founded to help Vietnamese people in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and has since focused on other areas the government won’t help for political reasons). Involving governments in humanitarian efforts politicizes and complicates things, often making the situation worse and creating mistrust among the actors involved.
So all that to say: Unfounded charges aren’t a good thing to make, as a rule. And whatever else it may be, squashed’s original post is an unfounded charge which is not based in reality.
As for myself, I welcome just about anyone to the peace movement — libertarians who are noninterventionists, right-wingers who have fiscal concerns, left-wingers opposed to the inhumanity of war…and any other combination of those options. We need to end whatever wars we can as soon as we can, and the more people we have on the peace wagon, the better. (I guess if you were somehow antiwar because you were a huge awful racist or something I’d say you shouldn’t be included, but I can’t come up with a philosophical chain to make that option make sense.)
Personally, I am basically a pacifist. I don’t like the word because of its baggage, but I do aspire to nonviolence and peacemaking. At the political level, that impulse finds its best outlet in noninterventionism significantly influenced by a concern for the hundreds of thousands of deaths and high levels of suffering the alternative brings.