War

Libertarian Party: Stay Out of Ukraine — and Everywhere Else

in Forign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, War by James Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

While the Republicans and Democrats argue about where the U.S. military should intervene next, and how many more billions of tax dollars to spend doing so, the Libertarian Party is singing a very different song.

“Libertarians are lining up to run for federal office in 2014 on a platform to cutmilitary spending immediately by at least 60 percent, close a substantial number of overseas military bases, and bring troops home,” says a news release by the Libertarian Party.

Specific Libertarian proposals to downsize the U.S. military, while keeping America far safer than now, include:

  • Immediately withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and bring them home to their families.
  • Stay out of Syria, Ukraine, and every other foreign conflict.
  • Close unneeded U.S. military bases and outposts in more than 130 countries around the world, and bring our troops home. First on the list are the massive deployments in Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Japan — countries that can, and should, fund their own military defense.
  • Close at least half of the nation’s 4,402 domestic Department of Defense sites.
  • Use 100 percent of operating cost savings to reduce the federal income tax, balance the federal budget, or both.
  • Sell off all foreign and domestic real estate holdings of closed military bases and Department of Defense sites — while requiring that all proceeds be used to pay down existing government debt. Not a penny of this money, stresses the Libertarians, should pay for more government spending.

All of this is consistent with the Libertarian Party’s platform on National Defense, which reads: “We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.”

Plus, said Geoffrey J. Neale, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, it just plain makes sense.

“Reducing and eliminating military bases in foreign countries will remove a major source of hostility towards the United States, reduce the threat of a terrorist attack, and reduce federal government debt by $300 billion,” Neale said.

“Cutting military spending by $600 billion every year will go a long way toward balancing the federal budget and ending the federal income tax,” he said. “This will give back $5,000 every year to each taxpaying family in the United States; stimulate investment in small businesses; and create millions of sustainable, private-sector jobs. Plenty of jobs for veterans and millions of others now out of work.”

Learn more about America’s fastest-growing political party, the Libertarian Party, at their website.

Word Choice: Blowback — Foreign and Domestic

in Communicating Liberty, Forign Policy, Liberator Online Archives, National Defense, War by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Blowback” is a term that originated in the CIA in 1954. It originally referred to the unintended consequences of a covert foreign operation — consequences that are often suffered by the civilians of the nation whose government instigated the covert operation. This “blowback” may take the form of riots, demonstrations, hostage-taking, terrorist attacks, and similar hostile actions. The civilians on the receiving end of the blowback don’t realize that it was their own government’s secret activities that caused the anger and violence being directed against them.

Blowback is a term heard more and more when discussing foreign policy. And its definition is often expanded to include overt as well as covert foreign interventions that have negative consequences.

Ron Paul helped popularize the concept of blowback, as well as the word itself, during his GOP presidential campaign runs. For example, in the 2008 Republican presidential primary debates in South Carolina, he introduced it this way:

“I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about ‘blowback.’ When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages, and that persists. And if we ignore [blowback], we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They come and they attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think… if other foreign countries were doing that to us?”

Scholar Chalmers Johnson also popularized the term in an influential trilogy of books: Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (2000); The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (2005); and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006).

Johnson defines the term and tells about the operation that led the CIA to use it:

“’Blowback’ is a CIA term first used in March 1954 in a recently declassified report on the 1953 operation to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. It is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the U.S. government’s international activities that have been kept secret from the American people. The CIA’s fears that there might ultimately be some blowback from its egregious interference in the affairs of Iran were well founded. Installing the Shah in power brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression to the Iranian people and elicited the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution. The staff of the American embassy in Teheran was held hostage for more than a year. This misguided ‘covert operation’ of the U.S. government helped convince many capable people throughout the Islamic world that the United States was an implacable enemy.”

Blowback is a useful word in describing the unintended, but often terrible,  consequences of foreign intervention.

But it is a very useful term for discussing domestic policy as well.

Just like foreign intervention, domestic government intervention has many unintended negative consequences. As the word “blowback” becomes a familiar, popular, colorful pejorative in foreign policy discussions, it is also beginning to be used to describe the unintended destructive consequences of domestic government activities.

Libertarians — who are very aware of the negative unintended consequences of government domestic policy — can use the word blowback to add power and color to our discussions of domestic issues.

Some examples:

“An increase in the minimum wage would lead to blowback in the form of the loss of hundreds of thousands of desperately needed entry level jobs. This blowback would hit the most vulnerable people in our economy: the low-paid, the unemployed, the under-educated, minorities, and the young.”

“Blowback from the War on Drugs includes crowded prisons and wasted law enforcement resources, overdoses from impure street drugs, the spread of AIDS and Hepatitis B and C from shared needles, drugs peddled to children, loss of fundamental Bill of Rights civil liberties, the enriching of violent criminal gangs, the funding of terrorism, drive-by shootings by warring drug gangs… and more.”

“The blowback from government welfare programs includes the break-up of families, multi-generational poverty, dependence on government, and a weakening of the vital role that voluntarily-funded charities play in our society.”

There are innumerable further possibilities.

Blowback is a powerful, provocative word that quickly and colorfully conveys a vital concept. Many people realize its significance in the foreign policy realm. Their ears will perk up, and they may reach new understanding, when you apply it to domestic policy as well.