Opportunities to make a big advances toward liberty don’t come very often. The Afghanistan debacle provides a huge opportunity to do that.
One option, of course, is to make the case that the Afghanistan invasion and occupation were mismanaged. In other words, the case for reforming America’s system of foreign interventionism.
That’s the wrong approach. That’s not going to get us moving toward the free society. That approach maintains America’s system of foreign interventionism and purports to make it better, wiser, and more prudent.
Under the reform-oriented approach, the interventions will continue. So will the enormous and ever-growing tax-funded largess for the military-industrial complex. The assaults on our civil liberties will continue apace, to keep us safe from the terrorist retaliation that interventionism brings about.
How can we know whether people are advocating this wrong-headed approach? Check their articles and their speeches. If they say that the original invasion of Afghanistan was correct notwithstanding the ultimate debacle, that puts them squarely in the reform camp. They are saying that the original invasion was the right course of action and that the only problem is that the invasion, along with the occupation, were mismanaged. If only public officials had followed their plan, they say, everything today would be hunky dory.
But they are wrong. What interventionists, including libertarian interventionists (often called liberventionists in the libertarian movement), fail to realize is that it is interventionism itself that is the problem. No matter whose plan is adopted, it will not only fail, it will also produce severe adverse consequences in terms of death, destruction, and loss of liberty.
The other option is to make the case for non-interventionism. That’s the right approach. We would be restoring America’s original, founding foreign policy. It would be much like Switzerland — where the government focuses on how to defend the country in the event of any invasion but engages in no foreign interventions — and, at the same time, liberates the American people to interact with the people of the world.
The Afghanistan debacle is causing people to stop, think, and reflect. The intellectual environment is totally different from what it was immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when most everyone (including, unfortunately, some libertarians) were supporting President Bush’s and the Pentagon’s invasion of Afghanistan (as well as the invasion of Iraq). Today, people are trying to figure out what went wrong and where we go from here.
We libertarians should be leading the way toward non-interventionism. Neither conservatives nor progressives are capable of doing that, given their strong allegiance to interventionism.
In order for people to consider a new paradigm, they have to hear it or read about it. They have to consider the arguments in favor of that paradigm. If enough people become non-interventionists, we can reach a critical mass of people who want to restore America’s system of non-interventionism rather than simply reforming the current paradigm of interventionism.
To reach that critical mass, we libertarians need to raise people’s vision to a higher level — to the level of non-interventionism. If all we do is make the case for a better interventionism, we will have passed up one of the greatest opportunities in our lifetime for moving our nation toward the free, prosperous, harmonious society for which we libertarians yearn.