Where Libertarians Should Really Stand on Crimea

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John Glaser’s blog post on Crimea is typically American – i.e. it is bathed in unconscious albeit ferocious nationalism.

He starts out by accusing me of excusing “the crimes and misdeeds of foreign regimes that Washington sees as antagonistic.”

The crimes of foreign governments are the responsibility of the people who live in those countries: my critique of their actions has no power to effect any change as far as they are concerned, and it would be pointless for me to tilt at those particular windmills. I live in the United States, which is currently the main danger to peace and freedom in the world. Glaser admits this later when he writes that Ron Paul is “correct, in my opinion, to place criticism of U.S. foreign policy as a priority over that of other governments.” Therefore my criticism is directed at Washington, and yes I do admit – nay, proclaim! – my “grave bias” against the undisputed champion of death and destruction worldwide. The “invasion” of Crimea produced zero casualties: compare that to what happened when we “liberated” Iraq.

The rest of Glaser’s piece consists of hand-wringing over the presence of Russian troops in Crimea – a presence agreed to by Ukraine. If “nobody knows exactly how many” came in after or before the vote, as Glaser puts it, then how do we know there are any “extra” troops present? Glaser doesn’t know, as he admits, yet he uses the word “extra” so as to sound like all the other Washington pundits who sanctimoniously condemn the “invasion.”

But this is just splitting hairs. The underlying reality is that if some past President of the United States had handed over,  say, Maine to Canada on a whim – as Nikita Khrushchev handed Crimea over to Ukraine in 1953 – would anyone in the US dispute the results of a referendum reintegrating it back into the Union?

Glaser whines that some voters weren’t sent mysterious “vouchers” enabling them to vote in the Crimean referendum, but this hardly invalidates the vote. Crimeans have voted repeatedly – when they’ve been allowed to do so – in favor of reunion with Russia, which has held Crimea since the days of Catherine the Great. The last referendum, called by the Crimean parliament in 1992, was stopped by Kiev’s threat of force. The recent referendum was Crimea’s revenge – and good for them!

Glaser continues:

“Crimeans do have a right to self-determination. And they very well may have voted to rejoin Russia even without Moscow’s meddling and military incursions. But it is just a fantasy to believe this is anything other than an interventionist power grab by Russia. Obviously, this doesn’t mean one ought to support U.S. intervention of any kind. But I think it does mean libertarians, when asked directly, should not defend Putin’s regime.”

This paragraph conflates several different issues. Defending the referendum as legitimate has nothing to do with defending “Putin’s regime.” This accusation is a typical smear tactic designed to discredit arguments that cannot be answered by any other means. Putin is a typical statist, but that doesn’t mean his every action on the world stage is to be condemned. For example, he opposed Obama’s plan to bomb Syria: is giving him credit for that “defending Putin’s regime”? By Glaser’s standards – yes. By rational standards – of course not.

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