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2001 - Las Vegas August
25-26, 2001 LNC Middle East Non-Intervention Resolution Defeated
(Actual audio can be heard at http://www.dehnbase.org/mav.cgi)
This occurred before Libertarians for Peace was founded in October 2001 but is part of the ongoing defense of libertarian principles. Note: Carol Moore wrote draft; LNC alternate Tom Knapp replaced “Palestinians” with Arabs; Joe Dehn Put in on the agenda)
*Lorenzo Gaztanaga: I believe there
is one more resolution,
with the middle east.
In light of the escalating conflict between the state of Israel and Arabs living in or exiled from Palestine, the possibility of a larger war involving Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and other Arab and Muslim nations, the Libertarian Party reiterates its position that the United States government should immediately and permanently end all military aid to Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and all other nations in the Middle East likely to be involved in such conflict and to remove all United States troops from the region. This resolution will be repeated and explained in a Libertarian Party press release sent to all local and foreign media contacts and duly reported in the LP NEWS.
*Seconded: by Ed Hoch
*Deryl Martin Asks Gaztanaga: Are you are the author?
*Lorenzo Gaztanaga: No Carol Moore is. But I’m behind it.
*Elias Israel: “I need to speak to how this motion strikes me. There was no call for a motion like this for the months and years that Palestinians attacked Israelis. When Israelis turned the tables, a motion like this comes up. In my mind, that gives, I won’t say anti-Semitic, cause we’re all semites, but an anti-Jewish tinge. The timing is horribly, horribly bad. And I’m actually a little offended.”
*Steve Dasbach: I’m sensitive to Mr. Israel’s concerns on timing, but having this body take stands on public issues is good. Something we need to do. Objects to committee resolving to have them send out press releases since that’s micromanagement.
*Lorenzo Gaztanaga: Willing to delete that last sentence. I’d like to ask one thing. If there is no objection to the body I would like Mr. Knapp to address the body?
*Tom Knapp: I’m perfectly willing. This resolution was drafted by Carol Moore pursuant to an argument we had had. I’m adamant for the defense of Israel. Carol Moore always said nonintervention is wrong there, so timing is not an issue. We disagree on who is right or wrong about whether Israel’s actions right or wrong. We agree US should get out. But timing is not anti-Israel but more is pro-active against interventionism. And this is good resolution! I have not problem with getting rid of the last sentence about implementing it.
*Jim Lark: Is there an objection to excising the last sentence (regarding the press release). No objections.
*Mr. Scherry: “As Mr. Winter reported yesterday, our releases regarding foreign policy are the ones that have the least positive feedback. I agree with sentiment of that feedback because our belief as to how we exercise our libertarian principles regarding foreign policy, I think needs to be studied, because I find that I am often in conflict for what I feel are libertarian reasons with what people are saying are libertarian positions. There is no question at all that if we achieved what this resolution purports to propose that the state of Israel would disappear off the face of the earth within the next three months. And we have a responsibility because we helped form the state of Israel, right or wrong, and I believe that they have a right to exist and that we should actually give military aid to Israel and I have libertarian reasons for that which I’ll be glad to discuss on our time some other time.”
*Dr. Martin: The consensus of the body at the April 21st meeting was that Bill Winter not issue a press release on China and I don’t think things have changed.
*Steve Dasbach: Not saying whether or not should pass resolution. But passing one actually increases the chances it will be picked up.
*Ken Bisson: Has question or concern about some of the wording. Thinks that we remove should aid to all nations likely to be involved
*Lorenzo Gaztanaga: Also I have problem with the fact that the word Palestinian has been replaced by “Arabs living in or exiled from Palestine.”
*Jim Lark: someone calls questions.
Nay: everyone else
September 2001 - Libertarians for Peace Yahoogroup Formed
Knowing the Bush administration would use the September 11th terrorist attacks as an excuse to attack other nations, libertarian activists start the Libertarians for Peace yahoogroup http://groups.yahoo.com/group/libs4peace
October 2001 - From War on Drugs to War on Terrorism -- We're All Terrorists Now!!
Unfortunately, some drug legalization groups actually support the War on Terrorism, because they hope the government will put their energies into tracking down alleged terrorists, not drug users. This is the "don't bust me, bust him" strategy. Inevitably, these oppressive laws will be used against drug legalization activists who will be defined as domestic terrorists.
October 2001 - White House Employees Go for "Protect America - Bring the Troops Home"
Libertarians for Peace member Carol Moore lives in the District of Columbia and leaflets the White House employees entrance during wars and other outrages, but usually doesn't have much luck getting White House employees to actually take her leaflets. Her verbal calls to "Stop Killing Women and Children" and "Stop World War III" motivated few to take the leaflets. But after September 11, there is a new consciousness. Her home- made leaflet reading "Protect America" and listing libertarian positions and web pages went like hot cakes when she started calling out "Protect America - Bring the Troops Home!" (They even took them when she'd add "Vote Libertarian!") She got about 30 leaflets in side the White House on her first try and will be back again soon, subverting President Bush's employees with the message of Liberty and Peace. If Bush's boys can go for it, can the rest of America be far behind??
October 2001 - Libertarians for Peace Member Organizing "Veterans Teaching Peace in Schools"
VTPS was created by Libertarian Party of CT former Chair, current Secretary, James Madison on October 31, 2001 in direct response to President George W. Bush's request for veterans to speak in schools from November 11, 2001 to November 17, 2001. Of course, Mr. Bush intended the veterans to speak from a pro-war stance, but the veterans of VTPS offer to speak from a pro-peace stance. James has, a Gulf War veteran, has been getting local and national publicity for his effort. This photo was on his original yahoogroup.
VTPS seeks both veterans willing to speak, and non-veterans willing to coordinate opportunities for veterans to speak. To volunteer as either a speaker or coordinator send an e-mail to James Madison. <firstname.lastname@example.org> As of 11/11/01, VTPS had 68 veterans and 55 coordinators operating in 29 states. For more information see http://users.erols.com/madjim/
October 2001 - LNC Hawks Pass Pro-Bombing Resolution -- Libertarians for Peace Organize!!
On October 14, 2001 the Libertarian Party National Committee passed a resolution written by LP Communications Director Bill Winter and promoted by LNC member and self-described "hawk" Elias Israel which defacto approved of the U.S. government's bombing of Afghanistan. The resolution was discussed with little reference to the Libertarian Party principles or platform. And it was passed despite the fact that the U.S. government had not provided conclusive proof that Al Queda or Afghanistan were involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and despite the fact the US Congress had not approved an official declaration of war, something the Libertarian Party platform specifically requires. (More information on the resolution, the debate, and the negative reaction to the resolution is below.)
Libertarian Party Press Releases
October 15, 2001
Original Subject Line
Posted on LP.ORG
15] The following statement was adopted by the Libertarian National
at its meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on October 14, 2001:
Atlanta October 14, 2001 LNC Pro-War Resolution Debate
(Actual audio can be heard at http://www.dehnbase.org/mav.cgi)
moves for adjournment of LNC meeting and there is
Libertarian National Committee member Joe Dehn moved that the LNC, at its December 2001 meeting in Washington, DC, adopt a non-intervention resolution to make it clear that the Libertarian Party remains a firmly non-interventionist party, in part by defacto calling for bringing home US troops from Afghanistan. However, Steve Givot, Scott Leiberman and Deryl Martin argued we should have troops in Afghanistan; others argued that "our enemies" could use such a resolution against the LP; others said the staff was doing a good job explaining the non-interventionist positions. The final vote was Yes 3; No 10; Abstain 5.
Those LNC members voting against the December resolution were: Dan Karlan, Deryl Martin, Scott Leiberman, Ken Bisson, Jim Turney, Don Gorman, Mark Rutherford, Elias Israel, Ed Hoch, Steve Givot. Libertarians for Peace will work to replace most of these members with pro-peace and non-intervention who respect libertarian principles. And we will work to pass a strong resolution against the war on terrorism and for non-interventionism--and for repeal of the Patriot Act!!--at the March LNC meeting.
Washington, DC, December 9, 2001 LNC Non-Intervention Resolution Debate
(Actual audio can be heard at http://www.dehnbase.org/mav.cgi)
LNC member Joe Dehn submitted the resolution below. Notes on the debate about the resolution and the actual votes follow.
Debate on Resolution (from audio tape):
(2004 Note: As of November, 2004 only three of those who voted NO are still on the national committee; three of those who voted yes or abstain are as well.)
- November 2001 - Op Eds and Comments on Libertarian Party Resolution
October 17, 2001
Wartime Resignation or Endorsement? by Alan Bock
I can understand a libertarian deciding that the war we are in is virtually inevitable, and that to argue against any kind of retaliation in the wake of the terrorist destruction of September 11 is fairly fruitless right now. I can understand a decision to pick and choose one's propaganda targets of opportunity as the war heats up, and choosing to criticize aspects of the war that are likely to resonate with most Americans rather than indulging in reap-what-you-sow/America-deserved-it rhetoric.
I have a hard time, however, with the official statement of the Libertarian Party's National Committee, passed at a meeting this last weekend in Atlanta, that endorses the military action now underway in Afghanistan. The statement did take some pains to say it favored only a "measured" military response against Osama bin Laden's network, involving "clear, measurable and finite goals for this War on Terrorism." It does try to distinguish between an attack on bin Laden and an attack on the Taliban regime (although perhaps for the wrong reasons). It does call for a new, noninterventionist foreign policy.
But the statement avoids some hard choices and accepts certain of the War Party's premises that are unproved or clearly counterfactual. Perhaps it is unfair to criticize a statement that is so clearly a result of committee deliberation. But it doesn't strike me as evidence that this is really a party of principle.
MISSING THE REALITY
Understand that this statement was composed over the weekend and released Monday, October 15, during the second week of the U.S. bombing campaign. It should be clear to almost anybody by now that the bombing campaign has not been directed specifically against Osama bin Laden and his henchmen, but against the military infrastructure of the Taliban regime. Indeed, certain US spokesmen have been rather clear about this. They acknowledge that bin Laden has not been hit, killed, and perhaps not even personally targeted yet. Part of the stated objective of the campaign has been to do damage to government military targets in hope of "smoking out" some of bin Laden's network, either through attempted communication or though personnel movements.
Clearly, the US does not know for sure where bin Laden actually is, despite several leaks to the effect that special operations forces have been in and out of Afghanistan fairly often since September 11 (and perhaps sporadically for years before that). The current bombing campaign is not directed against Osama bin Laden and his group. (Well, a few alleged training camps might have been hit.) If it has any purpose other than creating panic, demonstrating "will" and satisfying a psychological need to retaliate, it is to try desperately to cause bin Laden or a few lieutenants to panic and reveal themselves so the real retaliation can begin.
One can understand such an action from the US military, which has certain weapons and knows how to use them. Perhaps it will even succeed in smoking bin Laden and some of his associates out. But it is clearly not, as the LP statement would have it, "forceful action against terrorists who have already killed thousands of Americans, and who have threatened to kill more."
The US military knows how to do state-against-state military action and that is what it is doing. (To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail.) If it gets an actual bin Laden-linked terrorist during the current wave of bombing it is as likely to be incidental to the main targets as the Afghan civilian casualties have been.
If anything should be characteristic of libertarian thought and ethics, it is that responsibility is individual rather than collective. Treating people as members of groups rather than as individuals is supposed to be anathema. Punishing one person, or a group of persons, for the actions of another, is not justice but injustice. Viewing people primarily as members of groups rather than as individual persons is unfair, unjustified and socially corrosive.
If you want to take that kind of analysis to the limit, those who perpetrated the terror of September have already been punished (or rewarded, depending on how you interpret certain somewhat ambiguous verses of the Koran). Those who actually did the terrible deeds died in the doing of them. Even the all powerful State cannot reach them now. It may be frustrating to acknowledge this, but we can't punish those directly guilty.
AIDING AND ABETTING
That doesn't preclude the likelihood, of course, that the actions of the 19 terrorists who shocked the world September 11, were planned, aided and abetted by others. Most codes of law can hold those who aid and abet a crime as bearing some responsibility and deserving of some punishment, and an individualistic ethic can do so as well.
The question is, who exactly did the aiding an abetting? Was there a mastermind who planned and financed the outrages? Although there is certainly a good deal of circumstantial evidence pointing to Osama bin Laden or to people in his network, even now, more than a month later, the precise identities of those behind the terrorism are somewhat unclear. The LP National Committee finally gets around to acknowledging this in its fifth paragraph, after it has already explicitly endorsed the bombing campaign. There it "call[s] on the United States government to publicly reveal the evidence that conclusively links bin Laden and his terrorist network." The statement acknowledges that most of the evidence released to date is circumstantial and "the US government has an obligation to conclusively demonstrate that he is guilty of mass murder."
CART BEFORE THE HORSE
That's an interesting inversion of priorities. You would think that if you were endorsing something as destructive and so certain to cause collateral damage including the death of at least some innocent civilians as a bombing campaign, you would demand proof first. But the LP endorses the bombing a campaign clearly aimed at people other than the alleged guilty party or parties before demanding the proof.
And let us be clear, while the proof of bin Laden's guilt may well be available, it hasn't yet been made public. The UK government did put out a white paper of sorts on the Internet. However, the Independent's Chris Blackhurst ["Missing: crucial facts from the official charge sheet against Bin Laden," October 7] calls it "a report of conjecture, supposition and unsubstantiated assertions of fact," and backs it up reasonably well.
You can't analyze a 21-page report line by line in a newspaper article. But it is true that the UK report dwells almost entirely on previous bin Laden actions – the African embassy bombings, Cole bombing, public declaration of jihad – and doesn't really tie bin Laden directly and indisputably to the September 11 bombings. The most important paragraph ends: "There is evidence of a very specific nature relating to the guilt of bin Laden and his associates that is too sensitive to release."
Well, perhaps there is. Certainly much of the circumstantial evidence is suggestive and there aren't a lot of other potential suspects who seem to have the resources, hatred and resolve required. But what has been provided so far is much less than would be required to convict bin Laden in a court of law.
Whether there's enough evidence to justify killing agents of a government that has harbored bin Laden though it may have been ignorant of and not directly implicated in the specific acts of September 11 is a question worth pondering.
SOLICITUDE FOR A STATE
The LP statement actually acknowledges some uneasiness, noting that military action against the government of Afghanistan is somewhat more difficult to justify than direct action against bin Laden and the boys. Its reason is a little curious: "But it is a sovereign nation, and a military strike against it is an act of war."
Well, the LP is a political party which is presumably dedicated to achieving elective office in a sovereign nation, though there's some evidence that its real purpose these days is to provide fundraising lists to candidates and campaign managers past and present. But this solicitude for the dignity of a "sovereign nation," while it might be consistent with certain brands of limited-government libertarianism, is hardly the most essential first principle of a freedom philosophy properly understood.
Some of us think the nation-state is a phase – and a not especially healthy one – humankind is passing through just now. I fully recognize that the nation-state rules, and I share the preference that if the government that rules me wants to go to war with another government it would be nice if it formally declared war, if only to precipitate discussion. But some governments are less legitimate than others. None, in my view, deserves automatic special recognition by virtue of being a "sovereign nation," whatever that rather amorphous concept might be.
The LP statement does, toward the end, assert that a noninterventionist foreign policy in the future "would reduce the chance that terrorists will ever again want to strike a bloody blow at America." And it expresses concern that unnecessary civilian casualties would create future enemies for America. It doesn't take fully into consideration, however, the very strong likelihood that the present campaign – even if conducted without mistakes and with scrupulous regard for avoiding civilian casualties, which is virtually impossible in the real world – will create enemies for the United States who will haunt us for years and decades to come.
President Bush and his men can insist all they want to that this is a campaign against terrorism, not Islam, and I happen to think it's true in the main. But it's too late to convince a substantial number of Muslims. They may be wrong, they may be misguided, they may be jumping to unwarranted conclusions, but more Muslims now believe that the United States bears a special hostility toward Islam than did before the bombing started. We can deplore it, but it would be foolish to deny it. The bombing is a powerful symbol that will never be erased in the minds of many.
ACKNOWLEDGE, NOT ENDORSE
I have known since early in the day September 11 that Afghanistan was likely to be bombed sooner or later. But I don't know that bombing is necessary to take out bin Laden. Indeed, US authorities have hinted or even stated that removing the Taliban – a "sovereign" government if you will – was one of the objectives of the campaign. (A few even hoped the regime would collapse without bombing.)
I acknowledge the virtual inevitability of this bombing campaign – another undeclared war to feed the apparently insatiable hunger of the state for more power. But I don't have to endorse it or try to make a case that it is a good thing. Too bad the Libertarian Party thought otherwise.
Alan Bock is a long-time libertarian and a columnist with the Orange County Register in California.
November 1, 2001
Desperately Seeking Libertarians by Karen De Coster
The Madonna movie was entitled Desperately Seeking Susan. Here, Madonna plays Susan, a wild woman of adventure who switches cloths and identities with a bored housewife who is the total opposite of her. Madonna goes from liberal to conservative in a sense. Rosanna Arquette plays Roberta, the bored housewife who goes from conservative to liberal.
That brings me to the point, here, of libertarian switch-a-roos, a common sight these days, post-September 11th. The cloths and identities are being peeled off, and the switches are becoming clear. We see many Libertarians, paleolibertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and others û who claim to abhor the State and its freedom-robbing edicts û switching to the other side while claiming to remain libertarians. By "other side", I mean the side that supports the centralizing State and its war, folks.
I always find it mirth-provoking that those writers who claim to be such great proponents of libertarianism can identify so readily with the warmongering crowd, lead by the statist Left and the neocon Right. A favorite tactic of such switch-a-roo types is to usurp the quote words of great libertarian, anti-war thinkers, and somehow use those words in a dialectic fashion to support the war position. Meaning, if a writer who calls himself a libertarian can in some sense convey û however mistakenly û that Mises or Rothbard were actually pro-war, then they have successfully û in their own mind û satisfied their self-created requirements for libertarian club membership. This, I suppose, allows them to skate around the notion that they have sold out their principles and values during a most trying time. And indeed, these are the times that try libertarian's souls, as Thomas Paine might say, were he alive.
Another favored tactic is when a "libertarian" writer interviews anyone considered even remotely pseudo-libertarian ¡ knowing that person has some acclaim value among general libertarians for a given piece of work ¡ and the writer attempts to show the rest of us "evil non-interventionists" that yes, here we have an historian respected by libertarians and whatnot, who also thinks as he does, so therefore, his contentions must not be the sell-out position. The problem is, one or two respected pieces of work do not make a libertarian, nor typically does the interviewee claim to be such. It's a tactic to save face at the embarrassing loss of principle. It doesn't work, because we know who the sell-outs are.
Who do I consider the sell-outs? Start with the "libertarians" who get all caught up in the war fever and concur with the use of total military might against an undefined enemy. Can those holding libertarian principles philosophically commit to total war against "terrorism", when terrorism is not a specific, defined enemy?
Then there are those "libertarians" that refuse to blame the hatred of the U.S. on a long history of empire, bombing innocents overseas, sanctions against foreign peoples, covert operations propping up puppet foreign governments, choosing sides in the Israel-Arab world, and military occupation around the globe. After all, as Murray Rothbard states, "The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else." Non-aggression is the central axiom, or core belief if you may, of libertarian philosophy. That means unprovoked foreign intervention is not tolerable to any libertarian, at any time. What part of this is not understood by those who purport to be libertarians?
These libertarian postulants still insist that Americana Apple Pie-ism is the central target of terrorists. And even when the terrorists tell us exactly why they attack us, well, they say we can't believe that either, even though the whole point of terrorism is to bring attention to the perceived problems and demands of the terrorists.
And there are the centralizing "libertarians" who basically say, I am a libertarian, but I support the State and its greater centralization for the added security it will provide for us. And also, we have the "libertarians" who claim that freedom requires safety, and that safety can only be provided by government, and that obviously then requires that we support the State against any and all of its declared enemies, even when that enemy is its own citizenry. Hence, real "libertarians" like them support the Terrorism bills because it means more freedom!
Murray Rothbard also had this to say on security and foreign policy: "Far beyond fear lies collective security, and the playing of the supposedly destined American role upon the world stage."
September 11th turned up the heat in the kitchen, and the most compelling tragedy that our generation has ever faced is slowly separating the men from the boys, the women from the girls. It remains to be seen who else will lay down their libertarian guns and jump ship when the fire gets too hot.
Hey, no problem, the neocons are always looking for dedicated converts.
Karen De Coster, CPA, is a freelance writer and graduate student in economics, and works as a business consultant in the Midwest.
Libertarian Splits in the War on Terrorism by Jacob G. Hornberger, October 2001
Responses to the September 11 attacks have split the libertarian movement like no other issue I have seen since I discovered libertarianism almost 25 years ago.
Limited-government libertarians have always maintained that one of the essential functions of government is to protect the nation from invasion or attack. The corollary to that duty is the government's power to wage war against those who invade or attack us.
So what is the problem? On September 11, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with hijacked airplanes carrying civilian passengers. What better example of an attack against the United States? The U.S. government has the duty to go after those who are responsible for the attacks. And if a foreign regime supported the attacks or participated in them, then our government has the duty to wage war against that nation.
That's why some libertarians are endorsing military strikes in Afghanistan to get at Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organization (who are suspected of conspiring to commit the September 11 attacks) and the military attack against Afghanistan, a nation-state that is suspected of harboring or supporting the terrorists.
But is the situation so straightforward?
Evidence and trust
Everyone agrees that the people who actually committed the hijackings and the September 11 attacks are dead. So, the remaining issue is whether Osama bin Laden, the members of al-Qaeda, and the Afghan government (the Taliban) conspired to commit the attacks.
So far, the U.S. government has refused to publicly disclose the evidence supporting the existence of such a conspiracy, instead asking the American people to "trust us" because releasing the evidence would supposedly jeopardize "national security."
Yet U.S. officials supposedly permitted the head of the Pakistani government to see the evidence of the conspiracy. He's an army general who took over Pakistan in a coup and who had previously helped the Taliban take control of Afghanistan. If a former, close personal friend of the enemy nation can be trusted with the evidence, why can't the American people be trusted, especially since we have a much larger stake in the matter than the Pakistani general does? After all, if the evidence really threatened to jeopardize the security of our nation, would our public officials really have shared it with a Pakistani general who took over in a coup and until just recently was a very close friend of the enemy?
Libertarians have always maintained that a commitment to freedom dictates a severe distrust of government. Why the switch now, especially when the stakes are so much higher? After decades of telling people that freedom lies in a healthy distrust of government, isn't it incumbent on those libertarians who are now telling us that freedom lies in trusting government (at least this time) to explain to us why.
What would be sufficient evidence to justify going after bin Laden? That would depend on whether the September 11 attacks are considered criminal acts or acts of war.
A criminal offense or an act of war?
Within one or two days of the attacks, some libertarians immediately jumped to the conclusion that the attacks constituted acts of war rather than criminal acts. But it is difficult to understand how they arrived at that conclusion, especially without even knowing who committed the acts and why they committed them.
It would seem difficult to distinguish the September 11 attacks from Timothy McVeigh's attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City. And keep in mind that McVeigh asked to be treated as a prisoner of war rather than a common criminal suspect. Do libertarians who take the position that the September 11 attacks constitute acts of war, rather than private acts of murder, also believe that McVeigh's terrorism was an act of war and that he should have been granted his request to be treated as a prisoner of war?
It's true that McVeigh's attack was on a government building while the September 11 attacks were on both a government installation and civilian buildings (and involved planes with civilian passengers), but does that difference determine whether an act is a criminal act of murder or an act of war?
Another possible distinction is that a much larger number of people were killed on September 11 than in McVeigh's attacks. But should the number of the victims in a crime really determine whether the act is criminal or an act of war? If so, which number would provide the dividing line? What about the fact that McVeigh's victims included several children? Should that factor in the determination?
Of course, bin Laden is a foreigner while McVeigh was a U.S. citizen. But foreigners are indicted for common crimes all the time -- the fact that they are not U.S. citizens does not preclude them from being accused and convicted of criminal offenses.
If bin Laden were to be captured alive, U.S. officials would have to choose between indicting him as a common criminal and treating him as a prisoner of war. If they indict him, they might not have enough evidence to convict him. If they treat him as a prisoner of war, bin Laden (or his lawyers) would undoubtedly take the position that soldiers in war cannot be held responsible for killing the enemy. In this regard, it should be noted that a few years ago, bin Laden published an open declaration of war against the United States.
Consider, for example, the Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor. If any of them had been taken prisoner, they could not have been tried for murder. And they would have had to be released at the end of the war.
If the September 11 attacks are treated as acts of war and not criminal acts of murder, then does that mean that U.S. officials would have to indict bin Laden for war crimes arising out of his targeting noncombatants during war in order to avoid having to release him when the war is over?
Equally important, a disturbing question arises: By treating the September 11 attacks as acts of war and then proceeding to wage war against both Afghanistan and bin Laden and al-Qaeda, has the U.S. government effectively legalized acts of terrorism here on American soil. Let's assume that a terrorist bombs a U.S. military installation here in the United States, which causes the deaths of hundreds of military personnel and civilians. When arrested, he raises his hands and says, "I am a member of the Taliban army. I surrender. I am your prisoner." Under the rules of war, a soldier cannot be held legally responsible for murder. He becomes a prisoner of war, to be released at the end of the war. Of course, the U.S. government could argue that he is a spy since he's not wearing a uniform (Taliban soldiers do not wear uniforms) and execute him on the spot. But would treating the bomber as a common criminal (subject to the death penalty) or a war criminal (also subject to execution) affect the way American POWs are treated by the enemy?
If the September 11 attacks are treated as criminal acts of murder (rather than as acts of war), then another problem arises: How does the government bring the accused into the jurisdiction of a U.S. district court when he is physically located in a foreign country?
One option is to send federal agents or bounty hunters into the foreign jurisdiction to kidnap him and bring him back to the United States. This actually does happen from time to time, even without the permission of the government where the accused is residing. For example, several years ago, U.S. agents entered into Mexico and, without the authorization of the Mexican government, kidnapped Mexican citizens who were suspected of conspiring to kill DEA agent Enrique Camarena and brought them back to the United States. Under U.S. law, the accused is not legally permitted to challenge the manner in which he was brought into U.S. jurisdiction in the subsequent federal court criminal proceeding.
The other option is extradition, which is the legal method by which an accused is brought from one country to another country for trial. Extradition usually requires a treaty between the two countries. If there is an extradition treaty, then the host country is supposed to send the accused to the requesting country after all extradition procedures in the host country have been followed.
That is what happened in the case of Ira Einhorn, the accused murderer from Pennsylvania who jumped bail many years ago and left the country. Einhorn was discovered living in France, and extradition procedures were initiated, which Einhorn resisted. After extradition procedures (including appeals) were exhausted, the French authorities forcibly returned Einhorn to the United States for trial.
What would have happened if the French authorities had refused to return Einhorn? Presumably nothing, because the decision of the host country is final in extradition matters. That is, there is no international court of appeal. Recently the Chinese government has demanded that the United States return Falun Gong members to China, claiming that they have violated China law by committing common crimes. There is no extradition treaty between China and the United States, and the U.S. government has refused to return the Falun Gong members to China. There isn't anything that the Chinese government can do about it.
Thus, when there is no extradition agreement between two countries, the decision to return the accused is at the discretion of the host country. Since there is no extradition treaty between Afghanistan and the United States, there is no legal requirement for the Afghan regime to extradite bin Laden. However, they could do so if they wished.
The burden of proof
If the September 11 attacks are treated as criminal acts, then bin Laden and his cohorts must be indicted for murder (or conspiracy to commit murder). The amount of proof required for a criminal indictment is "probable cause" that the accused committed the crime. The amount of proof required to convict him would have to satisfy the "beyond a reasonable doubt" burden that has been long-established in the American criminal-justice system The U.S. government's refusal to publicly disclose its evidence linking bin Laden to the September 11 attacks is causing some people to wonder whether there actually exists sufficient evidence to convict him of conspiracy should he in fact be captured. This might cause some people to suggest that bin Laden should be killed at all costs, even if he attempts to surrender, since a trial might prove to be embarrassing in the absence of sufficient evidence to convict.
Yet despite the horrific nature of the crime and the large number of victims, isn't it incumbent on libertarians to continue a steadfast allegiance to both the rules of warfare (if the attacks are treated as acts of war) and the principles of due process of law, including the presumption of innocence, that stretch all the way back to Magna Carta (if they're treated as common crimes)? If a enemy soldier is surrendering, then under the rules of warfare, he must be taken captive and not executed. If a criminal suspect is surrendering, under the principles of our criminal-justice system, he must be taken captive and not executed. If we permit our government to abandon those principles, then don't we in the process fall to the level of the barbarian and the criminal?
The declaration-of-war requirement under the Constitution
Let's assume that the September 11 attacks are treated as an act of war. The next hurdle that libertarians must face before endorsing the waging of war against bin Laden is a constitutional one: the requirement for a declaration of war, which libertarians have always held is a critically important part of our Constitution.
Did the Congress declare war against bin Laden (or against Afghanistan)? No. All it did was grant Caesar like powers to President Bush to wage war against anyone the president believed committed the terrorist acts anywhere in the world. The vesting of such powers is not a declaration of war and the granting of such dictatorial like powers is not even authorized by the Constitution. So, how can libertarians endorse the U.S. government's waging of war against bin Laden (and Afghanistan) in the absence of constitutional authority? Doesn't the rule of law dictate that the Constitution be followed, even when the consequences of doing so are unsatisfactory to people?
"But once the shooting starts, then we've got to forget that constitutional provision and support the president," some libertarians might argue. But if that's the case, then how does that constitutional provision ever get enforced, especially given that the Supreme Court has abrogated its responsibility by refusing to declare any acts dealing with foreign affairs unconstitutional? Is the solution a new constitutional amendment that requires the declaration of war and that includes a parenthesis saying, "This time we mean it"? What if the president then ignores both the restriction and the parenthesis? Isn't the only way for the citizenry to restore compliance with the Constitution to oppose any and all wars waged by the president in the absence of a constitutional declaration of war? To support any presidential war that is being waged in the absence of a declaration of war effectively reinforces and supports a governmental decision to ignore the Constitution.
What is the required legal burden of proof for a declaration of war? There is none; the issue lies solely with Congress. The president might decide to provide some evidence or he might decide to withhold it and ask to be trusted. Either way, Congress could weigh the matter and then decide to declare war or not, evidence or no evidence. However, it would be ironic that the Congress would use a lesser burden to declare war than a federal grand jury would use to indict a person. Or it might even be asked why Congress should not apply the same burden of proof required to convict a person of a crime ("beyond a reasonable doubt") to deciding whether to declare war against the person.
Let's assume that a declaration of war against bin Laden (but not Afghanistan) is secured, possibly a problematic matter because of his status as a private person. Would such a declaration justify an attack within the borders of a sovereign nation where the person is located? It is hard to see how it would if the government is totally innocent of the conspiracy and if the accused is simply residing within the territorial jurisdiction of that nation. Again, we're back to the problems associated with extradition. After all, how would the U.S. government respond if China conducted military attacks on the Falun Gong members who are now living in the United States?
But what if the nation where the terrorist is located is "harboring" him? Under the criminal law, a person can be held liable for "harboring" a criminal in his house or on his property. But it would seem that that's a difficult standard to apply to a nation in which the a suspected criminal is residing. (The case of Falun Gong members that the Chinese government accuses of crimes and who are residing in the United States comes to mind.)
But it's entirely possible that the Taliban (or some other nation-state) assisted or supported the September 11 attacks or even knowingly permitted the terrorists to use Afghan territory to plan the attacks. If so, then it would seem that that would constitute an act of war by the nation-state of Afghanistan. In that case, it would be understandable if libertarians endorsed military action against the regime. But they must face up to two important matters: first, that the U.S. Constitution requires that Congress declare war before the president can wage war, something that the Congress has not done; second, libertarians, who historically have counseled people to be wary of trusting government, would find themselves in the awkward position of renouncing that counsel in view of the president's request to trust him that the evidence really is there.
Let's assume though that the Congress did declare war against both Afghanistan and bin Laden. Would that mean that all libertarians would then unite behind the president and endorse military strikes against bin Laden and the bombing of Afghanistan?
Not necessarily. The debate would turn to how the war should be waged, i.e., would the bombing of Afghanistan be in the long-term interests of the American people? Obviously different answers to that question are possible, but what's important is that the inquiry be made rather than that we simply blindly endorse whatever the president does under some misguided sense of "patriotism."
It's entirely possible that someone, after analyzing and reflecting, could come to the conclusion that the attacks would be in the best interest of the American people, in which case he would endorse them.
On the other hand, a person might conclude that the attacks would actually make the situation worse and recommend against them. As Sheldon Richmond has pointed out, citing Randoph Borne, war is like riding a wild elephant -- you don't really know where it's going to end up but usually it's a long way from where you intended to end up. That's one important reason that war should always be a last resort, not a first one.
But there's another important reason that libertarians might view the military strikes as a last resort: we know (as our Founding Fathers knew) that a free society is impossible during war -- government gets bigger and stronger and ever-growing infringements of liberty are the natural outcome despite the best efforts of people to stem their tide. And once the war is over, the government never returns to its size before the war.
Does this mean that those of us who have misgivings about the war against Afghanistan are pacifists? Of course not. Sometimes war is absolutely necessary but within that context it is sometimes best to plan one's strategy with the long term in mind. We simply believe that the bombing of Afghanistan will be likely to have long-term adverse consequences, including the production of an even greater number of terrorists who are motivated to attack Americans. And it should be noted that according to an article in the October 20 issue of the Washington Post, several Pentagon officers are also expressing reservations about whether the attack on Afghanistan is in the long-term interest of the United States. Thus, whether the military strikes will prove to be in the best interest of the American people is not a cut-and-dried matter.
Does this mean that libertarians who have serious misgivings about the bombing of Afghanistan would do nothing to bring bin Laden and his al-Qaeda associates to justice? Of course not. We simply advocate a different strategy -- one that we believe is in the best interests of the American people and that is based on the Constitution: specifically the provision dealing with letters of marque, which our Founders specifically designed for going after foreign criminals. This provision authorizes the president to commission people to go abroad in search of bin Laden and his associates with the intent of bringing them to justice.
Foreign policy and terrorism
Finally, for decades libertarians have been arguing that the roots of terrorism lie in the U.S. government's interventionist and imperial foreign policy, including foreign aid to brutal dictatorial regimes and taking sides in foreign conflicts, all of which tends to anger people who are on the "wrong side." In other words, those interventions, as libertarians have long pointed out, will ultimately produce terrorist retaliatory measures.
Therefore, almost all libertarians have argued that in order to end terrorism in the long term, it's necessary to pull the weed out by the root by putting a stop to the U.S. government's interventionist policy. Yet, since the September 11 attacks, some libertarians have become totally silent about the relationship between U.S. interventionist foreign policy and terrorism. Why? What better time to argue the validity of a principle that libertarians have maintained for decades?
Moreover, even if a libertarian assumes that the September 11 attacks were motivated by blind hatred of Western values and culture (as some libertarians are maintaining), that is no reason to abandon the position that libertarians have long held that the U.S. government's interventionist foreign policy breeds terrorism. For it is entirely possible for libertarians to support the attacks on bin Laden and Afghanistan and still call calling for an end to U.S. interventionism overseas.
In other words, the two positions are not mutually exclusive -- it's theoretically possible, for example, that the September 11 terrorists were motivated by blind hatred of Western values and culture and that another group is motivated by hatred arising out of U.S. foreign policy. Wouldn't Americans be better off by at least being rid of the second group and if so, shouldn't libertarians continue calling for an end to U.S. foreign intervention, even during the current crisis?
There's a final question of a pragmatic nature that arises for those libertarians who are now embracing and endorsing the president's military action against Afghanistan and bin Laden. Why didn't they call for it sooner? That is, why didn't they call for military action (including attacks on Afghanistan or any other country that was hosting bin Laden) after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, after Osama bin Laden's open declaration of war against the United States, after the attacks on the two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and after the attack on the US Cole? Why weren't those acts of war against the United States? Why the change in position now?
Let me conclude by addressing the "war on terrorism," which is a separate issue from military action against bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and Afghanistan. First, it is possible to endorse military action against Afghanistan and bin Laden without endorsing an indefinite and nebulous "war on terrorism." Second, everyone needs to recognize a fundamentally important fact: It will be impossible to achieve a truly free society within the context of "a war on terrorism," which will entail an ever-growing array of infringements on individual liberty, despite the best efforts of libertarians to stem the tide.
Therefore, any libertarian who endorses the "war on terrorism" is resigning himself to living in an unfroze society, very likely for the rest of his life. As a libertarian, he will spend the rest of his days trying to limit the tide of infringements on liberty and advocating minor reforms. He will have given up on achieving a free society in our lifetime. I repeat: There is no possibility of achieving a free society in the context of a "war on terrorism," which is perhaps the most important reason for advocates of a free society to ardently and fervently oppose such a nebulous and indefinite "war."
Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and co-editor of The Failure of America's Foreign Wars.
Why the October 14, 20001 Libertarian National Committee Resolution Violates Libertarian Party principles and platform, by Carol Moore (November 2001)
Below are the offending portions of the October 14, 2001 LNC Resolution, with explanations of why they are a violation of the Libertarian Party principles and platform:
“While the Libertarian Party has been a consistent voice against reckless foreign interventionism by the U.S. government, we support action against the perpetrators responsible for the terrorist attacks.”
This section gives the false impression that the Libertarian Party is only against foreign interventions that are too expensive, too costly in human lives or doomed to failure. It gives the impression that we support military interventions that favor American economic or political interests. However, the only position the Libertarian Party takes on foreign intervention is that we should end it totally and speedily and engage in war against other countries only after attack on our soil by another nation state and Congressional declaration of war.
“A fundamental role of the United States government, as defined in the U.S. Constitution, is to protect American citizens against foreign attack.”
This gives the false impression that the Libertarian Party principles and platform are based upon the U.S. Constitution, as opposed to the libertarian proscription against force and fraud. Many libertarians do believe that the U.S. Constitution, properly interpreted and stripped of certain pro-state Amendments, is a libertarian document. Others believe it is an inherently flawed document which must be replaced with new constitutional experiments. Others believe that only private contracts between individuals have any legal binding authority.
The Libertarian Party believes that protection of Americans against foreign attack is a proper role of government, when such governments exist. The United States government failed in preventing the September 11th attack by refusing to take heed of years of warnings that destructive attacks (including by airplane) attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon had been contemplated by terrorists in the Phillipines in retaliation for U.S. intervention in Middle East nations’ affairs. Moreover, it has continued Middle Eastern policies that it knows infuriate hundreds of millions of Muslims, a small percentage of whom turn to terrorism as a way of protesting U.S. military interference. The U.S. has shown little concern about whether such military intervention leads to terrorist attacks against Americans--at least until this dramatic attack showed just how incompetent they were. Just to make sure that none of us too energetically protest their incompetence, their main domestic response has been to hide more government informaiton from the public view and to pass the Patriot Act which so broadly defines terrorism that half the loose talking libertarians in the party could be arrested after a few beers!
“Therefore, it is proper for the government to take forceful action against terrorists who already have killed thousands of Americans, and who have threatened to kill more. Such criminals must be rooted out and destroyed before more innocent people die. Their training camps and weapons must be eliminated. Their supply infrastructure must be shattered.”
The Libertarian Party believes the rights of the criminally accused in the United States, and worldwide, are paramount. Nothing in the principles or platform supports the government taking action against alleged terrorists, without its providing proof of their crimes, without exhaustive negotiations with any nations allegedly harboring them, and without a declaration of war against nations harboring them. It should be noted that anti-death penalty nations like Canada and many European nations would not release such suspects even with convincing evidence, unless the United States government promised not to execute them.
Furthermore, this paragraph infers that it is the proper role of the United States role to defend Americans living in foreign countries. In fact, the platform explicitly insists that the United States government should have no such role: Americans venture abroad at their own risk. Nothing in the principles or platform supports a worldwide war against terrorism against any group or country that merely insults or verbally threatens America, especially when those threats are motivated by anger and frustration over United States military intervention in their nations’ affairs.
“At the same time, the United States' response must be appropriate and measured. Every precaution must be taken to minimize injury or death to innocent civilians and non-combatants -- in Afghanistan and in other nations. To do otherwise is not only a violation of America's ideals, it would also create future enemies for our nation and continue the cycle of violence and revenge.”
Again, the Libertarian Party platform does call for minimizing civilian injury and death should the United States engage in a constitutionally declared war after attack by another nation on our soil. Moreover, our principles are not based on any vague concept of “Americas ideals” but on the very specific concept of opposition against public or private force and fraud.
“The United States government should also announce clear, measurable, and finite goals for this War on Terrorism. Any military action must not be allowed to turn into an endless, global war against numberless, shadowy targets. America's best interests will be served by decisive action that targets the guilty, spares the innocent, and ends as quickly as possible.”
This again gives the false impression the Party principles and platform support an unconstitutional series of search and destroy missions against alleged terrorists without proper presentation of evidence and without negotiations against those allegedly harboring terrorists and without declaration of war. Miscellaneous Libertarians Speak Out against the Resolution on LPUS listserve
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 16:22:59 -0700
From: Joe Dehn <email@example.com> (National Committee member)
As I think I made clear at the LNC meeting, I think we should be reaching out on the basis that we are the party of peace. I wanted to see the LNC pass a resolution that emphasized our _dissatisfaction_ with the sort of military action that our government seems to be planning (along with the negative domestic consequences likely to flow from that). Unfortunately, the person who said he was going to draft a resolution didn't bring it to us in time, and we ended up having to work at the last minute from Bill Winter's draft statement (which, although it was almost a week old, had not been shown to the LNC until that moment, as we were about to end the meeting).
I was not comfortable with the overall balance, but given the lack of time to come up with something totally new and the obvious eagerness of everybody to have _something_, I went along with it and limited my comments to a few minor points. I didn't think it was too bad because the text _did_ make clear that we supported military action only for a limited purpose, and the same resolution _did_ make clear that we do not support other sorts of military action (which appear to be what our government most likely has in mind).
I am NOT happy to see this resolution announced to the world with the subject line "LNC endorses military strikes". Yes, I know that the subheading and the text provide more information, but it seems to me that the first impression given by a subject line like that is that we support the government's current policy, which is NOT what I saw as the intent of the resolution. It was certainly not the impression that I want us to be conveying.
As Libertarians, we can support _some_ uses of force by governments; if we are going to have governments at all, that is presumably one of the few useful purposes that they serve. As I saw it, the purpose of this resolution was, while acknowledging that, to make clear that we cannot support all of the ways of using force in which our government is now engaged, and is likely to engage in the future. But a subject line like "LNC endorses military strikes" fails to convey that idea at all -- if anything, it gives the opposite impression, since the first thing a person is likely to think of when he reads "military strikes" is whatever military strikes are now going on -- which the actual language of the resolution may OR MAY NOT support, depending on what our government is actually doing and trying to do, which is not yet completely clear
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 20:05:47 -0400
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 23:30:01 -0500
Date: Tue, 16 October 2001 7:14
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:59:29 -0400
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 19:25:28 EST
Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 05:44:07 -0800