June 09, 2004

Letter to the Paper XXII

Thomas Barnett's got a review of reviews series going and he picked a negative, pseudo-libertarian one this time. I say pseudo-libertarian because I don't believe that libertarianism is properly about accepting brutal foreign tyranny in preference to the risk of domestically losing our souls. I wrote as much in comments:

There are times when olympian judgment is necessary to judge the morality of a particular war. Then there is now. If you have somebody declare war (Islamists, Osama bin Laden), you should take that seriously and oblige the declarer with a war. The fact that we did not led to thousands dead in NY and DC. The war that was declared was a very old fashioned sort of war, non-Westphalian. We haven't had one of those in a very, very long time.

Non-Westphalian wars are incredibly destructive. That's why we stopped having them after the 30 Years War via non-interference in domestic affairs (enshrined in the Peace of Westphalia, thus Westphalianism). But non-Westphalian wars are the only ones that the Gap can reasonably have a chance at winning.

I'm a libertarian. I believe in reducing government to the maximum extent possible so we're dealing with a campfire, not a forest fire. That being said, when the wolves come out of the darkness, it's time to grab a burning brand and swing away. The scary part of formal Libertarianism has always been the unwillingness of too many libertarians to risk the forest fire to save ourselves. It is raising the forest's health as fetish over the value of our own lives and freedoms.

If we swing our flaming brands too energetically, we may end up lighting a conflagration of tyranny. But baring your own throat to the wolf instead of taking the risk to defend yourself is no solution, not even a libertarian one.

Posted by TMLutas at June 9, 2004 09:37 AM