Libertarian at Home, Conservative Abroad

I have always been, and will always be, at core, a libertarian. I used to be an idealistic libertarian. The first time I ever voted was in 1980, for Ed Clarke. (Anybody remember Ed Clarke?) I was a purist then, in favor of non-intervention and no foreign entanglements. But that was before we were attacked on our own soil, killing thousands of civilians, in a clear and compelling act of War. Now I’m a pragmatic libertarian.

I understand the standard Libertarian argument that, if we just leave everybody alone, they’ll leave us alone too. It’s very nice and neat and rational. The problem is, it assumes everybody else in the world is nice and neat and rational, too. It doesn’t account for terrorists who want to destroy us because we’re infidels and our Western culture is an abomination to Allah.

I’m still a libertarian, albeit a conservative one.  But I’m not a pacifist or a non-interventionist. The Monroe Doctrine just won’t work today. Back in the day, there was an entire ocean separating the eastern hemisphere from the western hemisphere, and it took months to cross it, at great peril, and we felt pretty secure from whatever they were doing over there. Today, we have satellites that traverse the globe (Iran just launched one),  and nuclear weapons that can decimate entire cities at one pop. (And Iran may soon have those, too.) Back in the 1800s, everything ran on coal or wood, and we had all the coal and wood we needed right here. We had no dependencies on resources controlled by others on the other side of the globe. Today, our entire economy would grind to a halt and people would starve and freeze to death if our oil supply were cut off.

In a rational world, with a free market ruled only by the laws of supply and demand, that would not present a problem. But, when you have ideological enemies who are determined to see your culture brought to its knees, and they control the supply of your economy’s life blood, you have a very different situation. We need to protect our access to the vital fluid that sustains our economy and culture. I’m not suggesting that we have a right to take it just because we need it. We’re willing to pay – but we can’t afford to be cut off entirely.

That’s the world we live in today. It’s a lot more complicated than it used to be. With satellites and nuclear weapons, and the ease of transcontinental transportation, our neighbors are no longer just the countries in our hemisphere. The whole world is our neighbor. And some of them are nuts.

When it comes to domestic policy, I’m still a libertarian. I’m for minimizing government and maximizing individual freedom and responsibility. But when it comes to foreign policy, I’m a hard line conservative. We can’t change the world. But we can preserve our own sovereignty and, within our own borders, we can maintain a free society. And people who share our values, and revere the principles on which our nation was founded, and have something to contribute to our country and our economy, are welcome to come here and carve out their own niche in the land of liberty. And I believe we should make it easier for those people to become citizens. But open up our borders, grant entitlements to aliens, increase our exposure to terrorism, or compromise our sovereignty by entering into binding agreements that let other nations dictate our policies? No way.


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  1. I respect the idea that “if we just leave everybody alone, they’ll leave us alone too.” The problem is that we haven’t been leaving the Middle East alone…we’ve been neck deep in it for decades helping to mess it up IMO. I don’t think anyone that died on 9/11 deserved it, but you’re again simplifying the reasons why we’re involved in this mess in the first place.

    The only ones who could cut off “our oil supply” at this point is us if we screw things up even more. Who do you think they’ll sell it to (or even refine it) if they don’t sell it to us? This isn’t the 1970s anymore.

  2. You’re correct; we haven’t left them alone. Considering their oft-avowed intent to wipe the soverign state of Israel off the map, we cannot leave them alone without abandoning our only true ally in the Middle East.

    “Who do you think they’ll sell it to (or even refine it) if they don’t sell it to us?”

    Well, let’s see, there’s Europe, and there’s Asia… The rapid rate of industrialization in China is already increasing their demand, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue to increase in the future. I don’t think they’ll really have much of a problem finding customers…

  3. Israel has been in the process of doing just about everything to ensure that they’ll never have peace though.

    We & our allies own a plurality of the oil refinery capacity in the world. Most of the Middle East can’t even refine it’s own oil at this point.

  4. And if we lose Isreal as an ally, we lose … what exactly?

    Sure, we import and export a little from Isreal, but that’s really not a big deal. If they stopped trading with us, we would be just fine.

    They’re not going to be a military asset anytime soon. Even when we do get into one of these idiotic military adventures (from which we also gain nothing), we can’t let them help us (which I’m sure breaks their hearts), because they have made so many enemies through their treatment of the Pals.

    So if we don’t get anything economic or anything military, what’s left? We could get intelligence from them, but considering they’ve been caught several times spying on us, and their interests do NOT entirely coincide with ours, we have no reason to believe that whatever intelligence they provide us with is true.

    OK, economic, military, intelligence. Hmmm….

    Maybe it’s the religious fanatics who think that the end of the world will come when Isreal has enought land, because God is a Cosmic Real Estate Agent? Could they be the ones who are so convinced we’d be screwed without an ally who takes just fine, but lacks either the willingness or the resources to give anything back?

    I don’t understand how somebody who argees with me that welfare for people creates unhealthy dependency, destroys giver, receiver, and victim (he from whom what the giver gives was taken), can possibly think that eternal welfare for a socialist government can somehow be OK.

  5. Well, let’s see, there’s Europe, and there’s Asia… The rapid rate of industrialization in China is already increasing their demand, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue to increase in the future. I don’t think they’ll really have much of a problem finding customers…

    Even if every oil producer in the world sold their oil to Chinese or European companies, and refused to sell any to Americans, that just means that Americans would pay a *SLIGHTLY* higher price for oil. It would be a little more than the cost of transporting it from the middleman to the final consumer. It’s call arbitrage. And if the original producer doesn’t like it, what exactly can they do? The thought of Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan invading a real country with a real army and navy is so absurd it reminds me of “The Mouse That Roared”.

    Nope, I’ll let you quasi-libertarians who have suddenly learned to fear every known phenomina worry about that. I’m more concerned about whether you people have already driven us off the economic cliff.

  6. Maybe if the dems would let us drill for oil off shore and in Anwar, we could leave the Middle East alone.

  7. Rich, Isreal provides us with a very necessary strategic presence in the Middle East. If you can’t see the necessity for that, then I assume you’re in the isolationist camp?

    No country in the modern world can exist without allies. We have too many interdependencies all over the world. If we were to abandon Israel now, and sacrifice it to the Arab states that desire its destruction, not only would we lose our strategic presence in the Middle East, but what other nation could ever trust us as an ally, knowing how faithless we are to our friends, and how easily cowed into submission by terrorists?

    If we were to allow that to happen, we would deserve the contempt we would engender. And the terrorists would revel in their victory, not only over Israel, but over us as well. They would see our withdrawal as defeat, and it would confirm their conviction that Allah is against us. Do you really think they would not pursue their perceived advantage in the larger war against the infidels and Western culture, in which we represent the Great Satan?

    Like it or not, we are a superpower and the world depends on our military strength as a deterrent to would-be dictators with dreams of world domination. We can’t afford to show ourselves weak, and the rest of the world can’t afford for us to do that either. It’s a different world than it was 100 (or even 50) years ago.

    As for Israel’s military intelligence, do you suppose we don’t spy on them as well? Personally, I think we would have done better if we had actively solicited and leveraged their military intelligence from the beginning. With the help of the Mossad, we might have even been able to take out bin Laden. But we’re too squeamish for the methods they use and, consequently, we’d rather engage in long drawn out wars, at enormous cost in money and lives, than violate the tender sensibilities of those who feel it’s beneath us to use the terrrorists’ own tactics against them.

  8. “Maybe it’s the religious fanatics who think that the end of the world will come when Isreal has enough land”

    Unfortunately, a lot of people on the Religious Right are even more “pro-Israel” than the Israelis are for just the above reason. Just watch some of the televangelists…it’s crazy.

    “Maybe if the Dems would let us drill for oil off shore and in Anwar, we could leave the Middle East alone.”

    Maybe if you got your head out of the sand and realize that oil is a finite reasource, and that it’s waaay past time for us to switch to alternative, clean sources of energy…we could say screw the Middle East. Their power would go down to zero immediately, but so would the oil companies’ power. No one that is serious is asking that we abandon Israel, period.

    “how easily cowed into submission by terrorists”

    Tell that to Reagan and his buddies that traded arms to Iran for hostages from Lebanon. It’s obvious to me that nobody in the Bush Regime actually *wanted* to catch Bin Laden…we had him cornered and let him go so we could continue to use him as a boogeyman IMO.

  9. Where will these alternative, clean sources of energy come from? The left is against hydro, nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. That leave wind farms and solar, which are no where near ready to meet our needs. Bio fuels waste more oil producing them than they save, and drive up food prices.

    I keep hearing about alternatives, but I never hear what these magic alternatives are. The bottom line is, we use oil and we have untapped domestic sources. It’s time to drill at home.

  10. No one that I know on the Left that is serious about alternative forms of engery is against hydro. “Clean coal” is a pipedream right now…the technology doesn’t exist and may never exist. Holding that out there is like holding the carrot of hydrogen fuel cells out there…it’s going to be a looooong time before the research and infrastructure is built and completed before that becomes a real alternative. Using bio-waste products to produce fuel works now. In a lot of cases, you don’t even have to convert a diesel car over to use it either. Who killed the electric car not that long ago? Big oil, big auto, and GWB’s administration did, period.

    One of my former co-workers built a house up along the Canadian border where he was off the electrical grid (not necessarily by choice either), and he generated all of his power by wind and solar and then some. His insulated his house well, and he did this OVER TEN YEARS AGO. There is no reason why wind and solar can’t be a much higher part of our energy porfolio right this second. The govt. needs to get behind these technologies and encourage their wider use. This will bring down the cost of these sources of clean energy.

    Oil is finite resource that we will run out of within 100 years, even if we drill everywhere for it…including in your backyard. Wake up…

  11. After 9/11 I became determined to not give the Saudis (where the madrassas are) another dime I didn’t absolutely have to.

    I sold my McMansion. (in reality, a one bedroom shack). I moved into a small town. I got rid of my cars. I got a cargo bike. I bought an old airstream and rehabbed it.

    I stopped buying anything new made in China. I lowered my heat signature. (A cute name for carbon footprint).

    This is not about being a hippie or liberal or global warming. It is about the disgust I have for allowing a belief system that condones the beating and jailing of rape victims a vote in how I live my life.

    They will bleed us dry, send money to terrorist groups set up like charities and give shelter to our enemies all because we are incapable of doing without their oil. Instead of talking about it, I got out.

    What started as a simple desire to simplify my life and reduce my energy consumption has resulted in becoming a kind of incubator for as much freedom from oil as I can find.

    I am not retarded. I understand that almost all my food and perishables are trucked in. I am thinking about how to avoid as much of this as possible.

    Progress report:
    I’m 56 and haul everything – food, supplies, laundry, by cargo bike. Last year I spent 50 bucks on gasoline. I aim to do better this year. As a side effect of this, I sent the auto insurance racket exactly zero dollars, I sent the auto finance companies zero dollars.

    Add up how many work hours are spent paying for transportation, insurance and energy to drive to the Costco and prepare to evacuate.

    Oh, yeah. I lost 30 lbs of fat I look like I did when I was 30. My blood pressure is down and I eat all I want to.

    I still have to use propane for heat and cooking but am working on building a rocket stove – look it up – zero carbon footprint, uses deadfall to heat your house, burns more efficiently than just about anything out there. Sustainable without the expense of Solar. We have hydroelectric for electricity where I am, and I believe in Nuclear power for the coal burning areas of the U.S.

    As a nation we are going off the oil teat. We can do it now, or we can do it later. Now is less painful.

    I started with zero knowledge in these matters. I live on UNDER 5% of the expense for energy that I used to. Oh, yeah, and I am NOT giving the enemy of America one more dime than I have to. If I could starve them all into Hell itself, I would.

    Let’s see. There is a figure floating around about fuel economy that goes something like this:

    If every car in the US got 30 miles per gallon, we wouldn’t have to import oil.

    And the figure isn’t really 30mpg, it’s more like 20……..

    Don’t say you cannot do at least some of these things. Almost anyone can. You just have to want to separate your life and the future of this country from the whim of the oil producing scumbags of the world.

    As long as we are dependent upon OPEC or Venezuela for ANYTHING we are NOT a free nation. The more dependent we become, the less free we are.

    I’d like it if everyone got mad enough to fight our real enemies. They aren’t Liberals or Conservatives. Although I enjoy our banter, the true battle for our future is going to be waged in the way we all live our lives. I’m living my life in this particular way and I think I am better for it. Your mileage may vary.

    In nature, critters either adapt or go extinct. We are not immune from this fact. Ask Rome. Or Greece.

    You don’t have to agree with anything I believe, but if you wanted to, you could learn to walk the talk and become conservative in every meaning of the word.

  12. Good for you, scumby. I’ve always admired self-sufficiency. (If you got a goat and some chickens, and grew your own vegetables, you wouldn’t need to have your perishables trucked in, either.)

    That doesn’t obviate the country’s current need for oil, though, to sustain our industries and agriculture. Nor does it mitigate the threat from ideological terrorists who want crush our culture and grind it under their heel.

    But, as a personal lifestyle choice, it’s nice to see someone living their values.

  13. I’m working on the goats and chickens ;~)

    I know we are too dependent on oil for fertilizer…..and I see nothing on the horizon that will adequately substitute.

    Locally I can get enough manure and compost to grow enough to eat, but the economy of scale to feed the cities is very troubling. We could be in for a very rough time if Kunstler.com is right.

    As far as ideological terrorists….well…That’s what the second amendment and veterans like me are for, isn’t it? :~)

    My real name, incidentally, is Clifford
    I am an American energy radical.

    (I just made that label up. I think I like it.)

  14. […] presents Libertarian at Home, Conservative Abroad posted at Government is not your Daddy., saying, “I understand the standard Libertarian […]


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