The Republican Partys ascendant libertarian wing has introduced a new vitality into the sclerotic and increasingly aged GOP. In recent years, the party has slouched under the weight of its own contradictory approaches to questions of public policy. A party that rails against government intervention into private affairs yet defends social engineering like federal incentives to marry and have children confuses its would-be supporters. A GOP that rages against President Barack Obamas application of drone warfare in an ever expanding list of battlefields around the world yet defends the principle of an unconstrained global war on terror cannot long avoid reconciling those contradictory viewpoints. The ongoing internal debate in the Republican Party is healthy. Opponents of the GOP who celebrate what they derisively mock as a civil war are celebrating a pyrrhic victory as Republicans rapidly become the new agents of change.
Libertarianism as a governing philosophy does, however, have its limits. The nearly two-year-long humanitarian and geopolitical nightmare unfolding in Syria has exposed one of those limits. The brand of libertarianism that rejects Americas role in the world cannot be adopted by the Republican Party writ large. Why? Because it is incumbent on the United States to maintain the stewardship of a global order which has resulted in relative peace and stability since the end of the Cold War. The bulk of this great responsibility, which rests on the shoulders of Americas lawmakers, cannot be shrugged. Libertarians outside the closed-door classified security briefings, to which the nations elected officials are privy, do not have to confront the sobering reality of the many threats to global security. As such, they are free to proselytize for the most amoral, egocentric form of non-interventionism couched in the moralistic language common among pace activists.
The charge that chemical arms were used in Syria is not without precedent, but the recent revelations are the most detailed and have come the closest to being independently confirmed. 26 people were killed in in the Syrian city of Aleppo when a rocket allegedly containing a chemical aerosol agent exploded. Both the rebels and the Syrian regime are blaming each other. Whether that aerosol was a nerve agent continues to be debated, but it is an academic debate. The use of pesticides and herbicides in military conflicts is also prohibited by international humanitarian law.
White House Press Sec. Jay Carney said Tuesday that there is no evidence chemical weapons were used. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland echoed Carney when she said there is no reason to believe the allegations that weapons of mass destruction were used in Syria.
Those assertions were, however, contradicted by bipartisan members of Congress. On Tuesday, both the chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees told the press that there was a high probability that chemical weapons were used. We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used, said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI).
The White House has to make some decision in this. I think the days are becoming more desperate. The regime is more desperate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) added. We know where the chemical weapons are. Its not a secret that they are there, and I think the probabilities are very high that were going into some very dark times, and I think the White House needs to be prepared.
It is understandable why the White House would seek to make equivocating statements regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria. If acknowledged and confirmed, the pressure to act in the defense of Syrias civilians caught in the line of fire of these indiscriminant weapons would be irresistible.
Prohibitions against the battlefield use of chemical weapons have a long history. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 as well as a slew of United Nations resolutions prohibiting their use against sovereign powers during an armed conflict are clear, but international law is far murkier regarding the use of chemical weapons against a nations own citizens. Legal opinions are divergent when it relates to whether the use of chemical weapons justifies foreign intervention, but the international legal code designed to preserve maximum sovereignty is distinct from the moral imperatives that such a humanitarian crisis presents.
And what is the libertarian response to this imminent and rapidly unfolding crisis? If one were to peruse the preeminent libertarian intellectual publication Reason Magazine as of this writing, the answer is nothing. Save for a few aggregated news reports regarding the disaster in Syria, that magazines stable of bright, capable, and deductive authors have yet to weigh in. Doubtless, like the intellectuals on the left, when they do get around to addressing the crisis, their focus would be on the potential pitfalls that Western intervention in Syria would present for the intervening power, and not the suffering inside Syria and the threat that nations civil war poses to the region as that conflict spills over Syrias borders.
It is not just the Syrian conflict that has presented Libertarian thought leaders with a moral conundrum. Across the globe, the international order hashed out at the end of the Second World War has begun to unravel. An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday by Eliot Cohen details some of the global conflicts smoldering today that threaten global stability.
Originally posted here:
The GOP Must Not Adopt The Moral Vacuity And Historical Ignorance Of A Libertarian Foreign Policy