The National Libertarian Party (LP) has proposed what it calls a "common sense" exit strategy for Iraq which can be found in pdf format here. The plan was posted on the LP website along with a press release on June 29, 2005 and over 700 persons have signed a petition supporting the plan as I write this.
The LP, along with "supporting organizations and individuals", proposes this exit strategy for use by the Bush administration, according to the plan's introduction. The supporting organizations and individuals are not named. However, Matthew Dailey is credited with being the principal author and acknowledgment is given to Pere Garlinghouse, J. Daniel Cloud, Sam New, Shane Cory and the entire staff at LP Headquarters for their contributions to the project.
The plan, in a nutshell, calls for withdrawing American troops from Iraq over a one-year period, relocating 30,000 troops to other Mideast countries (such as Turkey, Bahrain, Egypt and Oman),
and implementing a direct aid program for Iraq. The plan states that this will bring the troops out of harmís way quickly, preventing more unnecessary loss of life. At the same time, the plan acknowledges that the continuing American military presence is, in fact, fueling the continued resistance by Iraqi citizens.
The plan states that by relocating 30,000 troops in the Mideast and returning 100,000 back to America, the strain on military reserves would be reduced and military resources would be freed up for the "War on Terror". The plan also asserts that a direct aid program will give Iraq the best chance of becoming a stable, democratic, free-market-oriented country.
It is unfortunate that the leadership of the LP did not see fit to speak out against the war in the six month period before the official start of the Iraq War when it became apparent that the war was imminent. It is also unfortunate that LP leadership has not called for an end to the war during the past two years. Even worse, the LP leadership implicitly endorses the war on terror in the plan instead of calling for an end to the open-ended war against undefined enemies that engage in a vaguely defined technique.
The plan obviously has more to do with political strategy than libertarian principles. Waiting two years for a majority of Americans to turn sour on the Iraq war shows a remarkable lack of leadership and unwillingness to stand up for libertarian principles. Good leadership requires being out front on issues. While the exit strategy may appeal to those who favor continued interventionism, it contradicts several applicable principles contained in the LP platform.
I am unaware of any poll of LP members regarding this plan and the minutes of the most recent Libertarian National Committee (LNC) meeting make no mention of this plan. It is also odd that the LP does not name the "supporting organizations and individuals" that also endorse this exit strategy. What I find most troubling is that LP leadership saw fit to ignore principles set forth in the LP platform.
The proposal to relocate 30,000 troops to other Mideast nations is particularly disturbing since the military presence in the Mideast was one of the reasons cited for the 9/11 attacks. This also violates these two principles contained in the LP platform:
People have the right to govern themselves as they see fit, without fearing that a large nation will simply take control of them.
Any U.S. military policy should have the objective of providing security for the lives, liberty and property of the American people in the U.S. against the risk of attack by a foreign power. This objective should be achieved as inexpensively as possible and without undermining the liberties it is designed to protect.
The proposal to fund a direct aid program violates the following principle:
Individuals should not be coerced via taxes into funding a foreign nation or group.
The year-long withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, as opposed to a more immediate withdrawal, violates the following principle:
The United States should not inject itself into the internal matters of other nations, unless they have declared war upon or attacked the United States, or the U.S. is already in a constitutionally declared war with them.
A rapid withdrawal would save even more lives than a one-year withdrawal, according to the LP plan that acknowledges that the occupation is fueling the resistance. Security is not rocket science and Iraqis may be able to best determine how to secure their own nation - especially if the removal of American troops will reduce the incidents of violence.
The notion that Iraqis must be "trained" before America can pull out is misguided and assumes that Americans know better than Iraqis how they should proceed. The situation that exists in Iraq now demonstrates that Americans are not particularly knowledgeable on providing security in Iraq.
America should leave Iraq as soon as the Iraqis adopt a constitution - this may be as early as August 2005. Instead of relocating 30,000 troops to other Mideast locations, all American troops stationed at over 700 overseas bases should be brought home. The debate on interventionist foreign policies must be brought to the forefront in American politics - something the Republicans, Democrats, and their special interest supporters refuse to do.
The notion of direct aid to Iraq should be abandoned. However, a single lump-sum reparation payment to Iraq may be in order to pay for the damage inflicted upon that nation by the illegal and unjust war waged against it. Part of this money could come from those individuals who knowingly provided false information to Congress and the American people to promote the Iraq War. Those who might be found liable include Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, and Powell, and might also extend to their propagandists in the media.
No libertarian would reject the idea that those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, whoever they may be, should be brought to justice, but the idea of a war on terror should be rejected. Anyone who favors limited government should understand that such a "war" is incompatible with limited government. We have witnessed the creation of the huge Department of Homeland Security, the spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, a reduction in liberty, and a loss of international goodwill since September 11, 2001.
The PATRIOT Act, the Real ID, the idea of administrative warrants, indefinite detention for suspects without sufficient review of evidence, the use of torture or abusive interrogation techniques, the suspension of Geneva Conventions, suspect lists, government and private databases, dubious security measures at airports, and many other government intrusions have resulted from the war on terror. The very idea that LP leadership would implicitly endorse this "war" is appalling.
LP Executive Director Joe Seehusen owes the members of the LP an explanation of how this "common sense" exit strategy came about and why the libertarian principles contained in the LP platform have been abandoned. He should also identify what "supporting organizations and individuals" were involved in the creation of this plan. I hope the LNC will hold Mr. Seehusen accountable for his role in this matter.
I am sure that many neolibertarians will accuse me of "rejecting the good for the perfect". I have come to expect that whenever I stand up for libertarian principles. But, I would suggest that the National LP has no authority to discard long-standing libertarian principles stated in the LP platform in order to partner with unknown "supporting organizations". There is a process for changing the platform and it should be adhered to.
The LP is often called the Party of Principle. I have often been told by persons of all political stripes that they respect the LP because of its principled stand on issues. As evidenced by the public's rejection of the Iraq war, eminent domain abuse, the prohibition of medical marijuana, and useless government programs, public opinion is slowly becoming more libertarian - even as the unprincipled politicians that inhabit the beltway remain steadfast statists.
The LP should not abandon libertarian principles. To do so by amending the LP platform is shortsighted. To do so by fiat is completely unacceptable.
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.