November 27, 2014

Non-Aggression Is Not Pacifism (Libertarians Hit Back)

Heading into “Super Tuesday,” many conservatives lament that they do not like any of the remaining Republican candidates for president. Romney is too moderate, Gingrich too much a “Washington insider,” and Santorum both an insider and a guaranteed loser against Obama thanks to his willingness to bare his soul about some of his more outlandish socially conservative views.

That leaves Ron Paul, who would seem to be the ideal conservative candidate. Paul’s Plan to Restore America actually cuts $1 trillion from the federal budget in his first year as president, including eliminating the Department of Education that Ronald Reagan promised to abolish.

Paul is the only candidate that actually disagrees with President Obama in principle on “spreading the wealth around.” Paul doesn’t just nibble a few pennies away from financially insignificant welfare programs. He actually has a funded plan to let young people opt out of Medicare and Social Security. This is really a plan to responsibly end these programs. Government-mandated programs only survive because people are forced to participate. If conservatives really do oppose socialism, they should agree with Paul on this. Where do they think Social Security got its name?

For a large group of conservatives, they are with Paul right up until he explains his foreign policy. Suddenly, not only does the courtship end, they stop taking calls and change their phone numbers. That’s unfortunate because most conservatives make this decision upon a completely distorted view of Paul’s foreign policy.

All of Ron Paul’s policy decisions are based upon the same underlying principle: the libertarian principle of non-aggression. As he stated during my own interview with him last year (about the 7:30 mark here), “That’s the moral principle. The legislative principle is really in the Constitution.” Based upon this principle, the government is never allowed to initiate force against the innocent. That means that it cannot redistribute wealth, it cannot stop you from harming yourself with drugs or other vices, and it cannot start a war with another nation.

This is not some new age idea from the early libertarian movement of the 1970’s. This is the foundation of the founders’ philosophy of government. Thomas Jefferson made it explicit when he said, “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”[1]

Jefferson’s first order of business upon reaching the White House was to cut military spending dramatically. His goal was a military establishment adequate to defend the nation but inadequate to the imperial designs of Federalists like Alexander Hamilton. However, when the Pasha of Tripoli declared war upon the United States, Jefferson did not hesitate to send in the Marines for a quick and decisive win.

The confusion starts when Paul’s policies are described as “dovish” or “soft” on Iran or other supposedly belligerent nations. People unfamiliar with libertarian ideas may honestly misunderstand them. Others deliberately distort them. Let there be no confusion. Non-aggression is not pacifism. Libertarians hit back.

Indeed, Paul has said that if the people really do want to go to war, then he would ask the Congress for a declaration of war. He rarely gets time to explain why this is important. The declaration of war involves a debate about whether a state of war already exists. That’s why it’s so important. The declaration of war power doesn’t authorize Congress to start a war. It allows them to direct the president to end it. Check the language of every declaration of war that Congress has ever made. They all support this interpretation.

Active duty military seem to understand this implicitly, which is why they overwhelmingly support Ron Paul. They are ready to risk their lives for their country, but only when their country is truly in danger. Why don’t most conservative voters agree with them? They decorate their vehicles with stickers saying “Support Our Troops” but do not support the candidate that the troops want to be president.

It is no accident that the United States has never really won a war since Congress stopped declaring them. Instead, we send our troops into some far-off land for decades at a time with no clear definition of victory. Their hands are tied with confusing rules of engagement that keep them from winning and prolong the war. This is good for those who profit from war but bad for the troops who risk or lose their lives.

None of this happens in a Ron Paul presidency. Instead, war is far less likely to come at all, which is a good thing. If it is forced upon us, Ron Paul will have it properly declared by the Congress and then will fight it to win. Make no mistake. Of all of the Republican candidates for president, only Ron Paul will win the next war.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 


[1] Jefferson, Thomas Letter to Francis Walker Gilmer June 7, 1816 from The Works of Thomas Jefferson edited by Paul Leicester Ford G.P. Putnam’s Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1905  pg. 533-34

Comments

  1. Thank you Tom,

    What is missing in this country is the essence of why we became independent in the first place. We did not agree with aggressive Governments at all and the choice was a British Rule way of Life or A Republic way of life which is not aggressive at all. I wish all people would ask themselves why we became independent of such a Government and then answer this question to each one of them by themselves with an honest answer.

    But we have the media influence telling lies, pushing numbers that don’t even exist yet and again influencing our election process to fit their agenda.

    A Vote for Romney is an Obama Presidency because that is what the establishment is doing and what is troubling is a vote for Ron Paul is an American Presidency where the people rose up against such an aggressive Government once again. Most informed know putting Romney in office would change nothing so they would be no worse off with him or Obama and Obama will continue.

    There is the truth so many supposed conservatives don’t even investigate why and take their media circus lies and run like the wind in poor decision.

    We should dig in our history ourselves and find why we freed ourselves from such barbarism in the very first place and remind ourselves exactly why we became a Republic and then make the correct choices to support that idea and all the sudden there would be a spot light on Ron Paul because it would be clear the principals that support a republic.

    We can all thank the lack of education we received and not the abundance, some did not want us to be in the know so they assured it by their education practices. Welcome to American the land of I will not become informed because I believe everything I am told by media and stupidity has never grown larger. Fools are only the ones that never research where they came from to know exactly where they are going and those pretending we are not going to socialism will get a reality check and they will all have to live with that choice because they made it and the rest of us will die in our attempt to refuse it, but at least we were honest with the direction in life we have chosen and that is worth my life. I am sure those that achieved Independence in the beginning had the very same mind set, there are some things worth fighting for if we are honest with ourselves.

  2. H.U.S. says:

    I can’t agree with much what you state here, but there are very interesting points on Ron Paul’s agenda, that are so unique that even liberals/progressives like me find not at all at the current President (who supossedly is so liberal/socialist leaning). Ron’s standing on thee roll of the military is something that cannot be stated better from anyone. Same goes on the drug on wars, that costs >20 Billion$$ each year with nothing in sight for a better society through these dollars. His stance on the Pariot Act – 1000% – it’s ashame for a lot of the so-called liberals in Congres not to be as outspoken agianst this law. A man of his age has some incredible forceful concepts that seem to be simple, but necessary. On some of his social issues I question Ron’s thinking as inconsequential – how can the intimate area of interpersonal relationship be bettered by laws dividing between “good” marriages (man and woman) and “bad” marriages (homosexual partners). If marriage is defined betwenn two persons, then it should never matter what type of sexual relationship those two persons have -Government has really nothing to look for in the bedrooms!
    On other points his views are more sincere (because they are in muy opinion at that point non-religious again). But for one example, the left thinks still that a responsibly run government can & does add value to the country. As big as the US is, completely decentralizing for instance the education by dissolving the Federal Edu.Department, seems really a more a gimmick for catching some cents, but loosing dollars. In the global competition of education, the US is not comparing as well with other countries then it should (given the money spend)- and there is crediblity argue for change the education departments, specifically the buerocratic ways, that have be taken the neccessary curriculum off track. So as a whole this article again leaves me a bit confused about the character of libertarians – so much true concepts and then murky turnarounds to irrational rejection of government as a whole.
    Government needs to be checke daily to make sure, that this institution serves the people from whom and for whom it is elected – indeed a difficult task that has been (completely?) lost in Washington – but doesn’t depend on the electorate to get the right representatives to do the job?

    • Tom Mullen says:

      Ron Paul supports gay marriage. He says that the government should be out of the marriage business completely.

      To understand libertarians, you have to do two things: 1. Face reality and 2. employ logic.

      1. Face Reality: all government action is backed up with a threat of violence. That is the purpose and nature of government. It is the propensity of violence of the whole community pooled. You have to follow the edicts of government and pay what it demands, or violence will be done to you. If you cannot reconcile yourself to this indisputable fact, then you cannot go on to #2.

      2. Employ logic: Once you understand #1, the question arises: When is the use of violence, or the threat of violence justified? The only logical answer is that it is only justified in response to an aggression (self defense). If I kill someone or steal from them, the use of violence or threat of violence is justified to make me answer charges and make restitution.

      However, the use of violence is not justified in forcing me to pay for someone else’s education, or healthcare, or housing. It is perfectly acceptable to ask me to contribute, but not to point a gun at me and force me to under the threat of violence. Yet, that is most of what government does these days, when it isn’t murdering brown people.

      That’s it in a nutshell. If you browse my blog you’ll find much more on this. Thanks for the comments.