Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy

A U.S. drone in flightOne of the principle tenets of “small-l” libertarianism is not to initiate force against anyone. One of the many, many misconceptions fostered by those that do not understand libertarianism is that Libertarians are somehow all pacifists or isolationists, which is a very odd opinion to hold, since Libertarians (in the vast majority) support the right to bear arms, granted by our Second Amendment. The reality is, Libertarians will strongly defend their property (and their nation) when attacked.

What Libertarians object to is attacking other countries to achieve political or social goals, without first being attacked. Whether it is landing troops on their shores, or using robot-controlled drones to selectively attack targets in other sovereign nations, it is an abuse of power, and unconstitutional under our system of government.

It is unconstitutional for the reason that under the Constitution, only Congress may declare war. Congress cannot delegate this responsibility, nor can it send troops to attack another nation without either a declaration of war, or authorizing letters of marque and reprisal to a privateer.

One of the very much ignored areas of the Constitution is the fact that the founders did NOT want a permanent standing army. This is demonstrated by the fact that the military is required by the Constitution to receive funding only in a two-year maximum allocation. There is a direct and obvious reason for this. By forcing the funding to be reexamined and voted on every two years, the idea was to keep the size of the military in check. Unfortunately, this restriction has gone by the wayside, and the military receives (as of 2012 budget numbers) about 19% of the country‘s budget, even though we are not currently at war, and have not been, since 1945 (military engagements have been authorized by Congress, even though a strict reading of the Constitution makes clear that such “punishment” would be via letters of marque and reprisal, not direct military action, unless war was declared).

Section 8, items 10-14 of the Constitution reads:

10: To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

13: To provide and maintain a Navy;

14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

as under the power of Congress.

Section 2 starts:

1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

again, clearly meaning, after the Congress has declared war.

Why the specific mention of letters of Marque and Reprisal? Because without declaring a war, there needs to be a lesser means of showing our displeasure, without committing our entire nation to armed conflict (and calling upon the citizenry to rally to the armed forces – remember, we are NOT supposed to have a standing army). Looked at in that perspective, it makes very good sense and logic.

The founders wanted to stay out of Europe’s politics, and their tortured and complex obligations and alliances; witness Jefferson’s inaugural address: “Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none;”. Policeman of the world was so far from their thoughts that they would probably be shocked and disgusted if it was even mentioned.

Only those that are global-level control freaks think that they can dictate to and attack other sovereign nations, and only a fool thinks that it can be done without serious consequences.

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