...“libertarian” meant “favoring freedom above other political ends,” and nothing else.
...libertarians were as patriotic as other Americans, and were acknowledged to be so.
...libertarians deemed freedom the natural right of all men, even non-Americans.
...and thus, libertarians had no philosophical problems with a war of liberation.
Time was, I thought well of Sheldon Richman:
The only reason [American Sniper Chris] Kyle went to Iraq was that Bush/Cheney & Co. launched a war of aggression against the Iraqi people. Wars of aggression, let's remember, are illegal under international law. Nazis were executed at Nuremberg for waging wars of aggression. With this perspective, we can ask if Kyle was a hero....
Excuse me, but I have trouble seeing an essential difference between what Kyle did in Iraq and what Adam Lanza did at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It certainly was not heroism.
Good God Almighty. If you have a strong enough stomach, you can read the rest for yourself. I shan’t excerpt more here, for fear of driving away my more sensitive Gentle Readers and inciting some of the others to acts unlawful in these United States.
Reason, at one time regarded as the “flagship” publication for American libertarians, allowed this piece to appear on its website. What appalling judgment...if, indeed, judgment was involved.
I’ve styled myself a libertarian (or a libertarian-conservative) for a long time. I was once a state-level official in the Libertarian Party. Yet I’ve disassociated myself from organized libertarianism, and I understand full well why the moniker is considered unattractive by many persons who agree with me on almost every political subject. Quite simply, the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
It comes as a surprise to me that Sheldon Richman, a long time pillar of the Future of Freedom Foundation, should have leagued with the lunatics. He’s written a great deal over the years. What I’ve read of his oeuvre I’ve enjoyed. In the main, I’ve agreed with his arguments. I can’t recall having seen his name on anything even remotely comparable to the cited article. Perhaps I never had an accurate sense of him.
The current of libertarian thought that deplores wars and argues for the reduction of the American military has become cancerous. Its emergent absolutism comes up hard and shatters against a compelling truth:
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." [John Stuart Mill]
The Iraq War may have been a mistake geostrategically. There are arguments for and against it even today. But it was not a “war of aggression against the Iraqi people,” as Richman styles it. It was a war of liberation.
We went to Iraq seeking nothing for ourselves. We spent most of a trillion dollars there and shed the blood of thousands of young Americans. When we believed a stable elected government had arisen to replace the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein, we relinquished sovereignty to that government, struck our tents, and departed. Our forces brought nothing back from Iraq but corpses, wounds, and war stories.
The men and women Chris Kyle targeted and killed were weapons-bearing enemies, themselves trying to kill members of a liberating force: a force sent to Iraq to relieve its people of the yoke of one of the most brutal dictators ever to appear on this ball of rock. Comparing him to psychotic killer Adam Lanza, who walked into an elementary school and slaughtered two dozen perfect innocents, is a moral crime of a magnitude I lack the words to define.
The one obscenity missing from Richman’s piece is a statement that the psychotic ex-Marine who murdered Chris Kyle served justice by doing so. Perhaps Richman’s vestigial conscience kicked in at the last moment to prevent it. Or perhaps he realized that that would be a “bridge too far” even for him.
I can no longer bear the “libertarian” label. The dictionary meaning of the word has been swallowed by a heap of malevolent connotations, among which an absolute and unreasoning hostility to the American military is perhaps the worst. I maintain my pro-freedom stance and the policy positions that flow from it, but I reject the label and its implications of association and agreement with such scum as Sheldon Richman. Those who retain the label must henceforth defend themselves against the implication that they agree with Richman, or argue for his odious stance. And so yet another honorable word is colonized by dishonorable men.
I have come to understand all too well why so many persons who share my views prefer to call themselves “constitutional conservatives.” Though there’s some fuzz on that peach, at least it doesn’t dishonor the very best Americans of all: those who have gone forth over and over, wisely or not, to succor the oppressed of other lands, at great risk, and frequently the ultimate price, to themselves.
“We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in.” -- Colin Powell