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Friday, November 21, 2008

The libertarian case against the war in Afghanistan

In “The libertarian case against the war in Afghanistan,” David Henderson, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and previously a senior economist with President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, asked this question:

“Should Canada’s government remove its military presence from Afghanistan in 2011, remove it earlier, or keep it past 2011?”

By way of an answer, Henderson makes three arguments against the war:

1) The costs are too high, in terms of the loss of human life, to justify invading Afghanistan on the grounds that the Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden. Besides, the US has refused to extradite a suspected terrorist to Venezuela to face prosecution for an airline bombing -- would an invasion be appropriate in this case? Also, Bush refused to comply with international law in providing evidence to the Taliban of bin Laden’s guilt.

2) It’s hard to keep an eye on government behaviour in a foreign war. Here Henderson relies on the public choice principle of “rational ignorance.” If voters don’t pay attention to their government’s behaviour at home, they are certainly less likely to pay attention to its behaviour abroad. This creates the conditions for the abuse of government power.

3) There will be “unintended consequences” for Canada’s part in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Here Henderson looks at US foreign policy missteps in the Middle East from the 1963 CIA-supported overthrow of the government of General Abdel-Karim Kassem in Iraq that put Saddam Hussein in power, to the 1980s US-supported Afghan resistance against Soviet invasion that brought bin Laden to prominence in the Muslim world.

Henderson concludes his column with another question:

“Wouldn’t it be better simply to regard the 9/11 attackers and those behind them as criminals and to mount a serious attempt to bring those criminals to justice?”

He left this question for Western Standard readers to answer.

(This article originally appeared on C2C: Canada's Journal of Ideas.)

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on November 21, 2008 in Military | Permalink

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Comments

Stay until the job is done.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-21 4:42:48 PM


“Wouldn’t it be better simply to regard the 9/11 attackers and those behind them as criminals and to mount a serious attempt to bring those criminals to justice?”

This first part was answered on 9/12 when the world declared OBL and Al Qaeada to be a serious threat to international security. They ceased to be criminals that day.

The second part is insulting to the some 1,000 NATO soldiers who have died in Afghanistan or in support of the mission, and sacrifices the hundred thousand or so made to that mission. What did you think we've been doing? They've been looking day and night for Al Qaeda and Taliban, often paying a heavy price in the process.

Whoever posted this question should abandon being a conservative and join his NDP buddies in Toronto.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-21 4:50:53 PM


The writer makes some excellent abd very valid points. The US has been ass deep in manipulating foreign governments to its own ends for so long now...its almost as if they think its "right and just". It isn't.
As for our involvement in Afghanistan, I don't feel we have legitimate reason to be there.
Other than maybe to help the US look justified in its actions. You know, like their "little buddy".
As for the troops, God bless and keep them, and bring them home.

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-21 5:39:59 PM


The current administration in Afghanistan was established by the UN, and recognized all over the world as legitimate. Hardly "manipulation."

Canada's reasons are quite valid and not merely window dressing, like Canada's covert involvement in Iraq (Canadian generals commanding US troops there, C-17 pilots using the place for training, and goodness knows what else Chretien did). We're there as part of the NATO Alliance and supporting the legal self-defense measures taken by a friendly country. It doesn't get more legal than this.

I thought libertarians were all about personal responsibility. I guess even you have your limits, just like Ontario "socialists".

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-21 5:56:52 PM


Mr Henderson is factually-challenged. He writes:

"The first major wave of Canadian troops arrived in Afghanistan in February 2002. The Canadian troops’ major mission was to keep order in the Afghan capital of Kabul."

Hardly. The CF were in the Kandahar area in the first half of 2002 on a combat mission as part of US Operation Enduring Freedom. They then left Afstan, to return in the summer of 2003 as part of ISAF (just then coming under NATO) in Kabul.

Idjit.

Mark
Ottawa

Posted by: Mark Ottawa | 2008-11-21 6:18:59 PM


I thought libertarians were all about personal responsibility. I guess even you have your limits, just like Ontario "socialists".

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 21-Nov-08 5:56:52 PM

You really don't make much sense at the best of times do you Zeb?
EVERYthing is about Ontario isn't it?
And you know absoluteky nothing whatsoever about Libertarianism, it takes a bigger brain to "get it".

Good God man get some wider perspective.

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-21 6:23:13 PM


Canada's involvement in Afghanistan will persist so long as Ontario's armaments industries continue to profit off of it; the Iraq War too.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-21 6:33:37 PM


Terrorists plow planes into buildings and what is the libertarian response? Answer is issue arrest warrants. If Americans are attacked, JC's reply is well they had it coming. Hey JC, when you watch the movie Saving Private Ryan do you root against the Americans? Would your response to terror have been the same if the targets had been in Canada? Highly doubtful. The Obama supporters believe his election means that Canada and other countries will increase their involvement in Afghanistan and other theatres. However, I know that Afghanistan has worn out Canada and that the Canadian people have had enough. I know that further Canadian and Western European help is very limited. Therefore, it is largely up to America alone to defend itself. You know the same evil Americans that liberated Europe in WW 2 and held the line against worldwide communist aggression for over 50 years. So, keep blaming us and we'll do the necessary heavylifting. American boys will put their lives on the line to deal with a global menace that threatens the west. Meanwhile, JC can sit around and try to figure out how the U.S. is responsible for every evil on the planet. Here's a thought JC next try to found out how the U.S. was responsible for the Spanish Inquisition.

Posted by: Dan | 2008-11-21 7:39:31 PM


Canada's involvement in Afghanistan will persist so long as Ontario's armaments industries continue to profit off of it; the Iraq War too.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 21-Nov-08 6:33:37 PM


I think that's probably a fair statement Zeb.

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-21 9:27:50 PM


Here's a thought JC next try to found out how the U.S. was responsible for the Spanish Inquisition.

Posted by: Dan | 21-Nov-08 7:39:31 PM


Ya know what Dan, Screw you. I've lost more relatives in more wars than most people even have.
In both Canadian and American uniforms.
Those were righteous wars though. Not corporate wars for oil. If the US is so damned righteous where's the cavalry in Somalia, the Sudan and places like that....oh Yeah! No Oil!
You just go ahead and judge away....I could care less what people who want war for the sake of war think about anything. Canada has no business getting itself involved in US corporate wars.
None!

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-21 9:31:29 PM


If the US, after the attempted destruction of the WTC in 1993, closed its doors to, in particular, Muslim immigration, the twin towers would still be standing. The its not "all Muslims" cry doesn't cut it. Clearly they did not have the resources, nor the inclination, to do the tough sort of profiling to eliminate the threat. Astoundingly, the catastrophic destruction that political correctness portends, despite the horror of 9/11, still overrides common sense. Immigration restriction would have saved the lives of the 9/11 victims and the soldiers that have died in the PC cause.

Posted by: DJ | 2008-11-21 9:42:10 PM


"Those were righteous wars though. Not corporate wars for oil. If the US is so damned righteous where's the cavalry in Somalia, the Sudan and places like that....oh Yeah! No Oil!"

The US - and many others - already tried Somalia without success. Right now the EU and others are trying in Darfur with little to show for it. It's not like people are ignoring them; it's just a lot to ask, and the rewards never come easy. It's easy to lose faith.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-21 9:45:56 PM


JC-Sudan has quite a bit of oil. Too bad Bush hadn't sent in some security before Talisman got forced out. I wonder how they're liking their Indian masters?

DJ- Wishful thinking eh? Maybe Obama won't be saddled with so much political correctness.

Posted by: dp | 2008-11-21 10:31:52 PM


osama bin laden is not being charged with the 911 attacks because there is not enough evidance that it was him. i dont know if they have enough evidance to charge anybody with it at this time. if they knew who it was then of course they would have to bring them to justice. we need to bring our troops home from afganistan now.

Posted by: lovilla | 2008-11-21 10:37:58 PM


See what drugs do to your brains, kids?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-21 10:56:54 PM


zeb, try answering a question for once. do you think bin laden has been charged with 911? what do drugs have to do with anything?

Posted by: lovilla | 2008-11-21 11:08:46 PM


afstan has never submitted to force. if we stay until the job is done, zeb you babbling know nothing with a weird facination for ontario, we would be there forever. thats fiscally responsible you [email protected]#ing meat head. stop trying to waste my money. i know, its ok because we will just go to the bank of canada and print some more.


Posted by: lovilla | 2008-11-21 11:18:02 PM


But we're not fighting Afghanistan - we're fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda IN the country, at the invitation of their government. It's an important distinction lost on Ontarians and other twisted individuals.

OBL hasn't been charged yet because he's still at large. But his involvement has been conclusively proven many times over. Hopefully he will be captured alive and brought to justice.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-21 11:39:40 PM


you are factually wrong. he has not been formally charged because there is not enough hard evidance that it was him. on the fbi most wanted list, he is on there for his involvment in 1998. nothing about 911.

Posted by: lovilla | 2008-11-21 11:45:33 PM


regardless why we are in afstan, we need to leave right away. canadians should not get involved in military welfare.

Posted by: lovilla | 2008-11-21 11:48:07 PM


There is no military solution possible in Afghanistan. Those who want to stay there until the "job is done", in effect will have our soldiers there until the end of times, or until they've bled to death, whichever comes first.
Last year, I was lambasted for daring to suggest the war in Afghanistan was a quagmire. I still hold that opinion.
The military leaders underestimated the resistance in Afghanistan. Throwing more tropps into harms way will not bring back the fallen ones, and it would be especially futile with a strategy that is obviously not working. Want to honour the troops? Bring them home!

Posted by: Nothing New Under the Sun | 2008-11-22 5:29:08 AM


"Also, Bush refused to comply with international law in providing evidence to the Taliban of bin Laden’s guilt."

Not true. No such obligation existed. Moreover no one was in a mood to negotiate with the Taliban. The problem is that in this case, international law is whatever Bush said it was. In his Sept 20, 2001 speech to Congress, he offered no room for compromise or negotiation, demanding that the Taliban:

-Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land. (Applause.)

-Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned.

-Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country.

-Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities.
(Applause.)

-Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating.

These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. (Applause.) The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.

They refused and shared Al Qaeda's fate. Of course they never would have complied. Their narrow view of the world through Islam forbade any such action. What a pity they didn't, it could have saved a lot of trouble.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-22 9:09:48 AM


Lets be realistic, Zeb. The goal was, and is, to kill as many of them as possible. They'll always be a threat to civilized cultures. You can't make them into decent people, especially by force.

The same applies to the semi-civilized ones, like the Saudis. The only reason to keep them alive is to keep order in the oilfields. Once the oil (or the demand for the oil) is gone, they might as well be contained and left to their own devices.

Posted by: dp | 2008-11-22 9:32:56 AM


dp: one war at a time.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-22 12:46:58 PM


According to this kind of thinking we should have considered the Nazis and Japanese of Imperial Japan as criminals and simply sought to try them in a criminal court. Can anyone image what the outcome would have been?

If this is libertarian thinking then all the American leftists including their judicial activists are really libertarian in disguise. They have declared that enemy combatants (jihadists) are simply criminals, no different from American criminals, and are entitled to be tried as such in regular American courts. This is a sure path to defeat.

As to our troops in Afghanistan they are there under NATO. If we wish to withdraw from NATO, then we are under no obligation to keep our troops there. Please spare us the liberal mantra that we are only peacekeepers, for you demonstrate total ignorance of our history. The same goes for the silly and childish claims that bin Laden has not been proved guilty for 9/11. He himself openly boasted about it. Oh, sorry I forgot it was really carried out by Bush and the Jews.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-11-22 2:56:46 PM


As libertarians lets compromise, 1.) We withdraw all international troops from Afghanistan and then 2.) we get the U.S. to drop nucs on Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Its a win win for everybody! The countries are destroyed as terrorist havens and the libertarians should like it because its cost effective and means that we won't have to pay for the deployment of troops there. Also, it definitely quickens the wars end and prevents the government from making further inroads into the free speech zone. Thus, victory is achieved(makes the hawks happy) and big brother government is stopped in its tracks(makes the libertarians happy).

Posted by: Zell | 2008-11-22 3:41:02 PM


Guess what? Osama did 9/11 and admits to it. Why Afghanistan? Because that was where his camps were situated with the approval of the Taliban. Why aren't U.S. forces involved in Sudan and Somalia? Because U.S. troops are currently spread thin. 140,000 in Iraq + 30,000 in Afghanistan + over 60,000 guarding South Korea against invasion(25,000 in South Korea and 35,000 in Japan) + 17,000 troops in Alaska facing off against Putin + possible further deployments to the Mexican border + additional forces in Kosovo and Bosnia + additional forces in Europe fulfilling NATO obligations + the forces in the U.S. guarding key installations and make that new troops are trained and that supplies are transported to the troops in the various theatres as quick as possible. Also, the U.S. tried to help Somalia in 1992 by securing areas for the distribution of aid. The result was "Blackhawk Down". Somalia is a land of tribes and local strongmen. They act out of self interest instead of the common good. U.S. forces left Somalia because the only other option was to raze Mogadishu in the process of exterminating the gunmen. The same situation exists in Darfur; the man with the bigger guns rules. You have to hunt them down and exterminate them. The only problem is that todays suffering tribes will in turn turn on the families of the killers and slaughter their wifes and kids in turn. Will Canadians really support the U.S. if it goes into either place and uses airstrikes, special forces and whatever measures are available to stop the killing? Will Canadians be so accepting if American troops are forced to kill large numbers of militants on all sides to prevent these groups from waging campaigns of extermination?

Posted by: Jethro | 2008-11-22 4:02:33 PM


Since we have already put a timeline on leaving Afghanistan you can pretty well kiss any chance of victory goodby. We will be winning right up to when the last chopper leaves and then it will all revert back to pre 2002. We are measuring that war in months and years and they measure it in lifetimes and their sons lifetimes. The Russians were winning too until we started supplying the Taliban with Stinger missles and other goodies but if history teaches us anything, eventually they too would have left. Canada and the US have the best troops in the world over there but it is really difficult win when you never know who the enemy is. If the enemy had uniforms they would have been defeated long ago. As it is now, they will nickel and dime us until our monetary and political will is gone. Going fast.

Posted by: peterj | 2008-11-22 4:23:36 PM


As it is now, they will nickel and dime us until our monetary and political will is gone. Going fast.

Posted by: peterj | 22-Nov-08 4:23:36 PM

Good points peterj. And I might take it a step further....
If we go broke fighting these wars...but kill all the taliban...have we won or lost?

I think they know exactly what they are doing....bleeding us to death economically and winning that way.

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-22 4:27:35 PM



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