Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Here is the first half of an essay I have been working on explaining why we have to stand by Israel Taiwan and other democracies even if it means American lives:

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson warned against the United States entering into entangling alliances. This is a core doctrine for Libertarians. Unfortunately, applied to today’s world, this is a is short-sighted belief that could be very costly to the US. The Founding Generation was, arguably (taking the contrary position would be tough), the greatest collection of political minds in human history. Beyond the framework they created(the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Article of Confederation) they expected us to respond to the situations in which we found ourselves, in a manner appropriate to the times. To take as dogma every observation and declaration, beyond the Founding Documents would be suicide. Were we to follow their early proscriptions we would not maintain a standing army. These great men and women (no need to be PC here, Dolly Madison and Abigail Adams found an easy fit with the debates of the day) would not wish us to genuflect blindly to their doctrines while ignoring the barbarians at the gate.

The 18th century was a time when peace and security could be maintained while keeping and isolationist policy. Neutrality was an easy choice, there were no other free Republics to align themselves with. Being too closely tied to a Monarchy could have indeed lead to disaster. For anyone who thinks neutrality is a viable option in today’s world, we need only study what happened in Sweden and Switzerland during WWII. Libertarians will argue that should we face threats to Americans lives because of our alliances with Israel or Taiwan we should hastily withdraw our support from these nations. Their reasoning seems to be that a single American soldier’s life is worth a million of ‘theirs’ (ally and enemy alike). Were a threat to hang over our heads for no other reason than our alliances, withdrawal would be a debatable and defensible position. The reality is, however, that ties we have with these countries will not be what brings our enemies to attempt to harm and threaten Americans - though, it does give them something concrete to focus on.

So, why do they continue to threaten and plot our demise? The President was partly right when he stated that they hate us for our freedom and way of life. But, it is not MTV, scantily clad Brittney Spears, our free-markets, freedom to practice the religion of our choice, the excesses of Las Vegas, McDonald’s, Starbucks or even our representative government that they hate us for. The hate they have for us runs deeper than these. Their hatred is in fact driven by fear, fear of the bedrock from which all of these things spring. It is the Truth that, almost instinctively, we all know. That each human being is an individual with the naturally (or divinely, if you wish) given right to choose their own path through life and not be beholden to a dogma forced on them, nor to be ruled over by any other human. For “We hold these truths to be self evident…”

From this Truth comes the strength and confidence that many outsiders view as a negative attribute. In reality, this confidence is one of our greatest assets. Strength in our common resolve and confidence in our shared Truth allows us to openly discuss debate and determine what path our nation will walk in the future. From the staunchest supporter to the loudest critic all Americans are given a voice and an opportunity to be heard and contribute, without fear of being persecuted or jailed. Newspaper editors, authors and professors that in other countries would be arrested or executed by righteous mobs, here appear on television and have their works published, disseminated and discussed. Those who hate us don’t understand how it is that we choose our leaders from among our own ranks and that these men and women are not our betters but, work in association with others, likewise freely chosen, to better do the things that we cannot do individually. They fear the confidence and strength that these men and women show by not accumulating dictatorial power unto themselves, abolishing laws that may stand in their way.

< email | 6/13/2002 04:26:00 PM | link

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