The Dissection of the Libertarian Party platform enters the final section, which will be comprised of three Acts. Here are some tougher topics that I look forward to the conversation around. National Security and Individual Rights are the topics in this section, which means that some of you are going to have really strong opinions. But I find that this section gives me a lot of unanswered questions.
As always, be respectful. Also as always, the highlighted orange parts are what I copied directly from the Libertarian Party official Site.
3.0 Securing Liberty
The protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of government. Government is constitutionally limited so as to prevent the infringement of individual rights by the government itself. The principle of non-initiation of force should guide the relationships between governments.
I am really unsure about this first statement. The only purpose of the government? Perhaps in some ideal world this is true, but that is not what the beloved Constitution lays out for us. Certainly individual rights are important. According to Article I Section 8, the Congress is given the right to tax us in order to “provide for the common defense and general welfare” of the citizens as well, right? So does that imply that the government is supposed to provide those two things?
Now the second sentence is a little more in line with my thinking. The government is supposed to be limited in that it is not supposed to infringe on the individual rights of its citizens. Now this certainly brings up the tax stuff again, because we are supposed to pay taxes to fund these two things that government is supposed to be doing for us, but that certainly is infringing on my rights, especially in today’s world.
More importantly, the real question I have here is the rest of the stuff the government is doing. For example, in providing for the common defense and general welfare, the government has taken it upon itself to give us the Patriot Act and a multitude of other “rules” that 100% inherently infringe on our rights. How can we rectify this?
Finally, I like the non-initiation of force talk but I don’t think it is realistic in today’s world. I know some of you are going to disagree. I see this as a serious disadvantage if we take it too literally. So I question how literally the Libertarian party is meaning it when they say it. I am more of a realist. I would like to see us not initiate any conflict with other countries. But should they begin to threaten us or pose a serious threat, I don’t think the smart move is to wait for them to act.
3.1 National Defense
We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.
I also support a sufficient military to defend against aggression. I only question where we draw the line for aggression. Again I point that aggression is not always in the form of making the move completely. We should have enough force to move aggressively in face of an imminent threat. If Iran drops a Nuclear Weapon on Israel and starts telling the world that the US is next, I see that as aggression and I want to deal with it.
This is an aspect of this we haven’t seen before. We took the non-initiation thing literally in World War II. We let the world fight things out and stayed out of it until Japan decided to sink our ships in Pearl Harbor. Then we entered. Its cool, it worked out. But should we have, perhaps, been more aggressive against Germany after they took Poland and started gathering Jews and aiming for our allies? Where do we draw the line at what constitutes aggression?
I do agree that we should stop trying to be the world police and that we should avoid entangling alliances. What constitutes an entangling alliance though? I get that supporting Israel qualifies in most people’s minds. But what about all the other countries? Should we not have any alliance with anyone? It is kind of like saying that you shouldn’t make any friends at your school because you might one day have to stop a school bully from beating up your friend. Alliances are good things. We are now in a global economy with global impacts. Shouldn’t we be forming alliances with everyone we can?
The compulsory national service is a no brainer. It is interesting to see this one after writing the post a couple weeks ago about the Obama/Emanuel plan to create a Compulsory Civilian National Security Force. I don’t like a draft in any form. Part of what makes our military great is that everyone who is there is a volunteer. We have maintained that especially well in our Special Operations forces. The Ranger motto is “Sua Sponte”, meaning “Of Their Own Accord”. An all volunteer group that accomplishes their tasks without prompting. How many of you knew that?
3.2 Internal Security and Individual Rights
The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. This requirement must not take priority over maintaining the civil liberties of our citizens. The Bill of Rights provides no exceptions for a time of war. Intelligence agencies that legitimately seek to preserve the security of the nation must be subject to oversight and transparency. We oppose the government’s use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law.
Amen. We have to be able to protect ourselves. To that end there are going to be intelligence agencies that work towards that end, such as the CIA, FBI, and NSA. I am glad to see that the Libertarian Party sees the need for that to happen.
I am equally glad to see that the LP believes that this should not take priority over individual rights. Oversight and Transparency is the key. No change in a time of war or any other time. Be either transparent in your dealings immediately or at least have an oversight authority that can see what is going on at all times.
So where does this leave me on the issue? The Patriot Act is the prime example again. It basically gave all government agencies license to infringe on our privacy and personal freedoms. This is unacceptable and should be stopped. I know the arguments from those who say sometimes we have to act secretly to not tip our hand. However I think this can be accomplished without violating transparency and oversight.
Perhaps we don’t tell the public everything. But we can still have a requirement for a court order to get a wiretap regardless of situations. We could set up a civilian oversight court that is always available to review a case and issue a court order.
Finally I want to see a much shorter period for what is kept secret. I know that the general rule was that the “top secret” stuff was classified for 50 years. Way too long. As soon as a conflict is over, there is no longer a reason to hide it from the public. By the time things are viewable by the public under the current system, those to be held responsible for bad actions are dead. That is not a system that lends itself to personal responsibility for one’s actions.
I could talk about this last section for hours and write much more. But I will leave it for the discussions below. I think that this Act was fairly straightforward with what it said, but there are an awful lot of questions that I had to pose up there, so I need to hear some opinions.