Liberty and War

Libertarians and liberty conservatives pride themselves on non-interventionism and the avoidance of unnecessary war.   Because of this, I objected to Trump’s bombing of the Syrian air-base, given the lack of evidence of atrocities and our freedom and safety not being directly threatened by any party in the Syrian conflict.  However, seeing that the bombing seems to be the end of the matter (I hope) I can make peace with it.  It did have the benefit of restoring the image of the United States: after eight years of hot gas, we have another four/eight years of (admittedly) more hot gas, but accompanied also by meaningful action.

Like most others I oppose meaningless war.  We ought to oppose involvement in Syria because it’s just not necessary to get involved in someone else’s tribal conflict.  Our interests are not at stake.

There is another matter which really is our business, which is indeed a direct, determined threat to us: North Korea.

Laugh if you will, but they have certainly made their intent clear – and they continue to develop weapons.  Yes, the weapons tests fail hilariously – but someday, they’re going to start working.  At that point, we will have to seriously weigh our options, and considering that sanctions haven’t worked, there will be a greater and greater necessity to do something a little more effective.

And we should not take the military option, and eventually regime change, off the table.

Remember, the Korean war is still technically going on – nothing was ever truly resolved.  Now, these sorts of cycles have been going on for years: an apparent escalation, and then an anti-climatic cooling off of tensions.  The rhetoric remains the same.  However, there iare two new factors in this equation: Donald Trump, and how close they are to developing a nuclear weapon.

Due to the unpredictability of the Trump policy, it is not absurd to suppose that the story may be different.  We might very well see a military confrontation with North Korea.  Honestly, that’s okay.  Here’s why:

  1. It would not escalate into any sort of world war.  North Korea’s “allies,” namely China, would realize soon that there is no benefit to remaining friends to the unproductive, isolated, backward country.
  2. It would result, hopefully, in the defeat of one of the remaining holdouts of totalitarian communism.  In the interests of human rights everywhere, communism ought to be completely eliminated, and the criminals who perpetuate the communism brought to justice.
  3. Although North Korea invests most of it’s domestic produce into military infrastructure, it is still minuscule compared to our resources and can easily be crushed if we act decisively and swiftly.

We’re so eager to intervene and fight in middle eastern countries – why do we hesitate when it comes to North Korea?

Furthermore, this is not my repudiation of libertarian non-interventionist philosophy.  The North Korea matter warrants our involvement, because it directly threatens us.   This is why armies have a place in libertarian philosophy: because sometimes, there are genuine threats that need to be addressed militarily.

North Korea is intent on developing nuclear weapons that threaten our cities – and are we going to wait around until they finish it?  It’s not like the leadership has the restraint that the other nuclear powers have.  If they develop the bomb, they’re going to use it.

In my opinion, war ought to be a last resort measure.  Diplomacy and other solutions ought to come first.  However, if those fail, we can’t just continue “strategic patience” and hope something gives, especially when your enemy is entrenching and weaponize themselves.

When you do wage war, you must wage it decisively.  This Vietnam or Iraq style dilly-dallying is no way to conduct a war.  If we go to war in North Korea, we have to fight the war like we actually intend on winning.

Trump’s Big Mistake

I was among many who was hopeful that the foreign policy practices under Donald Trump would break from precedent.  But with last night’s act, we have been let down.  Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate decisive action when circumstances render it necessary.  It is reassuring that, on the one hand, Trump isn’t afraid to act, instead of just give strong statements.  On the other, it is becoming increasingly clear that he was scammed into this act by the desperate Syrian rebels, at the end of their rope.

It is hard for us to visualize what exactly the Syrian conflict is.  Let’s be clear: the rebels are not majestically fighting for freedom and democracy in Syria.  No, they are fighting a secular, moderate state in the interests of expanding Islam’s power in the country.   Assad maintaining power in Syria means that the region will be stable and moderate.

I say that Trump has been scammed because it makes no sense that Assad, who has practically won the war as it is, would draw the ire of the entire international community by using chemical weapons – just as the war is drawing to a close in his favor.  Nikki Haley says Assad did it because he “thought he could get away with it.”

Assad is not your usual bumbling African dictator.  He would have to know that it would warrant a response from Trump.  But also, the rebels would have to know that any notion of chemical weapons being used would bring automatic sympathy to their cause.  Western assistance to them would have been impossible otherwise.

So then, is it not reasonable to presume that this was staged for this purpose?  And now, the United States has become involved based on a fiction.

Even if Assad was using chemical weapons, that alone wouldn’t be enough to justify our involvement in the conflict.  Emotional responses are not the proper way to handle crisis.

I hope that this is the end of the matter.  But political forces, I fear, will inevitably push us towards a greater commitment of resources.  Assad will be overthrown, replaced with a more “democratic” government which will soon be overtaken by Islam, creating more instability in the region – and more war.  We can see already how this will play out, because the same thing has happened before.