Reply to Timothy Sandefur
Liberty columnist Timothy Sandefur posed these ten questions in response to "The Pro-war Libertarian Quiz" authored by Reason columnist Matt Welch. As Mr. Sandefur's blog doesn't accept comments, I'm posting mine here.
- When, if ever, is preemptive war is justified?
- When, if ever, is the United States justified in removing a foreign dictator from power?
- Do you agree with the position—recently quoted approvingly on this blog by Dr. Kuznicki—that Islamic terrorism is not a serious threat, but a hobgoblin used by the Bush Administration to increase its authority?
- Precisely what (if anything) do you propose the United States do about the Iranian nuclear weapons program?
- Do you believe that the United States should defend Israel, either militarily, by the sale of arms, or in other ways (please specify)?
- Can you name a specific case in which an American dissenter, not actually affiliated with a terrorist organization, has been jailed or otherwise deprived of civil rights under the PATRIOT Act?
- Do you believe that we ought to remove American troops from Iraq immediately, regardless of the consequences to Iraqis?
- With regard to interrogation or incarceration: do you believe that infringements of religious sensitivities (e.g., mistreating the Koran) or personal sensibilities (e.g., making men wear women’s underwear on their heads) ought to be regarded as comparable with physical torture?
- What, if any, legal consequences do you believe flow from a declaration of war?
- Do you believe that the Bush Administration purposely manipulated intelligence information in order to persuade the Congress to authorize military intervention in Iraq?
When the people are faced with an imminent and demonstrable threat.
However, I think it is important to hold government officials to the same burdens of proof as a private citizen. When is a preemptive shooting justified? As an individual, I am only permitted to use deadly force while facing immediate deadly threat. If I use deadly force, some form of investigation will follow, and if my actions are not justified, I'd likely be standing trial for either manslaughter, mayhem, or murder.
Only during the course of a just war.
Not necessarily. I think that Islamic terrorism is a hazard, however the actions of the administration have done nothing to mitigate the hazard. I also agree that the Bush Administration is using terrorism as a justification for its actions, much in the same way the previous administration used the destruction of the Murrah Building to its political advantage.
Given the absence of "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, I'm not convinced that there is an Iranian nuclear weapons program. And if there is such a program, the United States should treat it like every other country that has such a program.
Why does Israel warrant special treatment?
No, but then again, how would I know?
But it shouldn't matter if someone is an American or not, or if they are allegedly affiliated with a terrorist organization. What safeguards have been put into place to prevent the PATRIOT Act from becoming something more sinister? I remember a caption on my first Social Security card claiming that it was "FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PURPOSES -- NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION". I also recall Senator Hubert Humphrey's offer to eat his own hat if the 1964 civil rights bill led to racial quotas. Or that the federal income tax that was supposed to be only 1-10% tax on the income of the richest of Americans. Or that the "gun control laws" that started with "preventing the Negro from owning guns" had become in effect a total gun ban in some municipalities.
If the only thing preventing turmoil there is a military occupation, then why was Saddam Hussein removed from power in the first place? I do not see the difference between immediate removal of American troops to removing the troops five years from now.
Furthermore, it is likely the Bush Administration is once again exaggerating the problem over there.
No, but I don't find it to be laudable behavior of a people claiming to have the moral high ground.
If the war isn't justified, then the responsible parties should be held accountable. If that involves extradition of senior executive branch officials to the aggrieved nation, then so be it.
Congress hasn't declared war since WWII. Given that the proper legal course of action was not taken for this "war", it does not speak well of the "nation of laws, not men."
I believe that is effectively what happened. I've read accounts of the Bush Administration's refusal to consider contrary evidence.