What Does This Have to Do With Libertarianism?

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Unlike some libertarians, I am a fan of Reason magazine. Perhaps I am just nostalgic for my tenure at Reason, 32 years ago. I have forgiven their attempt to balance the pro-war and antiwar “libertarian” positions. At least the pro-war “libertarians” tried to justify their hawkishness with the intent of bringing liberty to people in other nations.

But even that justification seems to be a thing of the past.

Today’s article by Jonathan Rauch reads like something that could have appeared in any unprincipled newspaper. Rauch explains the difference between pacification and peacekeeping. He implies (incorrectly) that our pulling out of Vietnam is what led to the bloodbath in Cambodia.

Rauch offers no justification for staying in Iraq, other than to continue the “surge” because “it is working.” Rauch apparently does not believe that the surge will result in any sort of long-term success. In fact, he seems to think it’s hopeless: “My reading of the evidence is that Iraqi fundamentals are more conducive to war than peace, and that there is not much the United States can do to change that.”

Yet Rauch says the Democrats will pay a heavy political price if they stop supporting the surge: “If they managed to ram through a withdrawal or timetable on party lines this fall, when most Republicans think the surge is working, they would be flayed for a generation as the party that seized certain defeat from the jaws of possible victory. For years to come, Republicans would insist that Democratic pusillanimity emboldened jihadism, an ugly narrative that some are already rehearsing.” Luckily, says Rauch, it’s not possible for the Dems to stop the war, so they shouldn’t bother trying: “Fortunately, without Republican support, Democrats can’t pull the plug or impose a strict timetable this fall.”

Rauch concludes that our anger over the disastrous war “does not justify impatience. If Petraeus says he needs more time, he should get it. If he fails, a course correction won’t be long in coming. The 22nd Amendment has seen to that.”

One question for the editors of Reason: What has any of this to do with libertarianism?

3:47 pm on September 11, 2007