The Instigator
cjet79
Pro (for)
Tied
15 Points
The Contender
Klashbash
Con (against)
Tied
15 Points

Libertarianism and Foreign wars are Incompatible

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/21/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,236 times Debate No: 763
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (10)

 

cjet79

Pro

I read through quite a few of the "libertarian" profiles on here and i kept seeing a disturbing trend of libertarians being in favor of war.

War anywhere outside of your own country is inconsistent with a belief in small government. All foreign wars, without exception have expanded the size and power of government. Wars are also one of the most expensive endeavors. Now plenty of people think that the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the possibility of one in Iran are not huge expansions of government power. But it is an irrefutable reality.

(libertarianism for this debate's purposes will be defined as a belief in the efficacy of small government...please no semantic arguments, or "people can call themselves what they want" type things.
Id also prefer a libertarian who has these positions to answer.)
Klashbash

Con

I speak as a fellow libertarian. Your argument is overly simplistic. You must come to terms that wars internally or exterritoriality require an expansion of government. Why is it then you feel the former is justifiable and somehow the latter is inconsistent? Don't you realize war is war? Don't you understand a threatened government in either case has to go beyond police duty? All wars give government an uncomfortable amount of power. This isn't something avoidable nor is foreign wars. Foreign wars are escapable when choosing higher threats over small ones. It is impossible to sweep out foreign wars altogether.

Do you think war ends with the death of enemy soldiers on our soil? Or that we can win each time doing that? Wars conclude when a side can no longer wield a war machine. Foreign wars to stop run-a-muck fanatical dictators are a necessity. Staying isolationist around a Hitler or Stalin is certain doom. History repeats itself. Would you leave your allies to fend for themselves? What makes you think their enemies will stop at the ruins of your former allies? Who'll support you in defending your nation when there's no one left to do so? Without France in the revolutionary war we would be under the British monarchy. Without us in World War II the continent of Europe would have surely belonged to Adolf Hitler. Do you see how this works?

Wouldn't you say a government that can maintain its own survival is a trait of an efficient government? This efficiency is brought about by government enlargement. Is this contradictory? You do not comprehend the concept of a necessary evil. Government in itself is a necessary evil because in order to operate it has to steal from others via taxes. Without a government there is no powerful entity to safeguard the rights of citizens. For a government to sustain itself it must eliminate threats that will be its undoing. There cannot be a small government if it does not exist. Foreign wars are a necessary evil to preserve a small government.
Debate Round No. 1
cjet79

Pro

The argument i present rests on a simple premise but on a lot of complex real world events. All wars expand the size of government...unless you lose and a new government is formed. Most new governments are always smaller then their older counterparts since they have not had time to accumulate a bureaucracy. This is why i mentioned only foreign wars, because there are exceptions to the expansion of war on domestic soil...when you lose the government gets smaller.

Wars on foreign soil are far more costly to a war machine then those on home turf. The swiss have shown very well that a strong defense is an effective deterrent against the strongest offense.

Our interventionist foreign policy in WWI caused the creation of Hitler in the first place. Wilson intervened on behalf of Briton and France tipping the war in their favor and leading Germany to surrender and be forced into a treaty that would lead them to Hitler. Stalin was mostly worried about killing his own citizens until Hitler came along. And since Hitler was the result of this failed foreign policy of foreign wars its silly to invoke him as a reason for having them.

France supported us for their own selfish reasons...more to attack Britain then actually help us. America was long lost as a colony to the British. There wasn't a whole lot of chance that the British would have held onto the colonies. It was too much land, too many people, and they were too angry with Britain. France sped up the process. We then denied them help during the French revolution which saved us from a lot of trouble getting involved with a European country that became universally hated by the other European nations. It also would have started America's involvement in European wars far earlier then was necessary.
So yes i certainly see how a foreign policy of intervention gets you caught up in more conflicts then can be dealt with. But its not a defense for such a reckless foreign policy.

I would rather not have an efficient government...governments adept at maintaining themselves have also been brutally effective at putting down revolts. A trait of small government is that it is limited in its scope and thus does not concern itself with limiting the civil liberties of its citizens.

Enlargement does not mean efficiency. It means the opposite most of the time. The free market is always busy creating more wealth, and the government is always just as busy taking more and more of it away. Often government does not become more efficient it just grows a greater ability to throw money at a problem. Efficiency is doing more with less. Government does more with more.

Your words remind of what Thomas Paine said in "Common Sense". (paraphrasing:) The government is at best a necessary evil, and at worst an intolerable one. His definition of intolerable was a small tax on luxury items. Your definition of necessary evil is an expensive and aggressive foreign policy.

Foreign wars destroy small government and replace it with big government. Foreign wars to protect freedom at home are a misnomer and are often just a politically convenient way for domestic politicians to grab more power for themselves. War is the health of the state, and any advocate of small government know that a healthy state is a big and intrusive government. We cannot afford our foreign adventures overseas without losing our wealth, our freedoms, and our tenuous control over our government.
Klashbash

Con

Your premise remains faulty. The new government formed would be a model of an older one. The victor governs the rules of the conquered. The new government would be small for an insignificant time period. Do you sincerely believe a strong defense over a strong offense should've been the strategy engaged by the U.S. in WWII? That would have gone well wouldn't it? While our allies surrender; we could wait to face the Axis powers by our lonesome.
You're stroking with too broad a brush. Our interventionist foreign policy was not responsible in the rise of Adolf Hitler. The causation was the unfair treaty in itself that would've passed without our presence. The Entente Powers sought revenge and revenge is what the alliance got. If Joseph Stalin was solely concerned with his own affairs would you clarify the artificial Ukrainian famine for us?

My basic point is this: you would let the world be inhabited by renegade dictatorships and feel that somehow we would win out of false financial efficiency. Isolationist " efficiency" is absurd because stomping a troll is more financially sound than waiting to slay it as a monster. Adolf Hitler broke the treaty agreements and was appeased long before the invasion of Poland. Imagine what would've happened if Hitler was stopped then and there. This would be before he could get his war machine to the level capable of conquering Europe. Isolationism was tried and failed.

Let me get this straight. You do not feel governments should be efficient enough to defend themselves? How is it conceivable a government committed to the rights of its citizens would survive? It wouldn't. You would rather see free governments overthrown than risk a wasted dollar. Interventionist foreign policy is expensive but it ended Hitler's conquest and curtailed communism. We've saved our allies from tyrannical oppression.

Enlargement is efficient if its purpose is to maintain survival. Besides that exception it is abnormally rare to declare government efficient by increasing its bulk in an area. Thomas Paine was a remarkable guy. I hate to inform you I'm not him. Nor would you know his reaction to circumstances outside of his own life.

Foreign wars replace a government incapable of defending itself to a government that can protect itself against imminent foreign threats. A small percentage of GDP to cover survival and those of allies is a lot less of a deal than you make it out to be. Freedom is far more important than a few bucks. I wish for the same freedom that gives us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be preserved here and abroad. You're so overly concerned about a big government you're willing to sacrifice everyone to oppression by foreign entities.
Debate Round No. 2
cjet79

Pro

My premise was not faulty, and you said nothing to disagree with it. You only brought up the fact that a government sometimes only remains small for an insignificant time period after losing a war. I never mentioned a time period. I only mentioned this as an exception to the RULE that government always grows during war.

You have no monopoly over the possible outcomes of history. Thinking that Hitler and Japan could have conquered everything without suffering serious financial consequences is just foolish. You place no limit on the possibilities of government. If government worked that efficiently and that perfectly then i sure as hell wouldn't be a libertarian. But it never works that well. Things fall apart. Hitler would have lost in Russia as Napoleon did...we had barely done anything to Hitler when the Russians had turned the war around at Stalingrad.

Japan was massively over extended, and any country with a lot of landmass in a war with them could have eventually won through attrition. Invading other countries is tough and expensive. China with its act together or Australia pushed a bit harder would have stopped Japan. And neither Japan or Germany could have continued a perpetual war. No economy can handle that period.

But this is all aside from the entire topic of this debate. Libertarianism and Foreign wars are incompatible. Period. Libertarianism and government expansion are not compatible. Period. And in the context of this debate where i defined libertarianism as a belief in the efficacy (goodness/efficiency) of small government i fail to see how any of your points actually address this topic.

The goal is never to see government to survive. It is to have a small government. Wars guarantee that there will not be a small government. If those wars increase the survivability of a government then that is inconsequential because that is not the goal of libertarianism. Large government have far more survivability then small ones...i don't see that as a positive trait when government is one of the biggest perpetrator's of its citizens rights.

Your arguments for an interventionist foreign policy rest on a belief in big government. A small government does not force its citizenry to choose sides in foreign conflicts by calling one group our "allies". A small government does not take it upon itself to subvert the freedoms of its own citizens to overthrow the government of another country.

If you want to debate the merits of war and an interventionist foreign policy then that is fine, send me a debate request. But this is about libertarianism and a foreign policy, the two are mutually exclusive. Interventionism requires big government, and there is no getting around that inescapable fact. There is not a single example of things happening in a different way. Calling yourself a libertarian then supporting big government policies is just hypocrisy. It is the equivalent of saying "i don't think government should take my money or freedoms for things i don't like...but when i want something done government needs to take other people's money to get it done". This type of thinking is only acceptable among neo-cons not those who believe in small government.
Klashbash

Con

You're arguing semantics then? That's something you said you wanted to avoid. Or was that only applied to what a libertarian consists of? When you're arguing over something like this it seems to be of desperation. Time exists in reality. For you to negate it in favor of a delusional technicality is questionable. Government either expands in wars or it does not. There may be a temporarily lapse but it is a temporarily lapse. Isn't it about the lasting result? Your "exception" has no merit because it is never what the outcome stays as.

Hitler's Germany consisted of a robust economy and a heightened livelihood of the people because of its war economy. It's interesting you would automatically equate war with an inevitable financial crisis. Check for yourself how Germany looked in comparison to pre-F�hrer and when it came to pass. In a twist of irony it is war production that saved (albeit temporarily because Hitler eventually lost) Germany's economy. Hitler's conquest failed because of outright stupidity in key decisions. Had Hitler not set his scopes on invading the Soviet Union there would be no two-front war to face. He neglected to give Erwin Rommel crucial resources to fend off the British in the N. Africa theater. Agreeing with the Japanese to declare war on the U.S. was a colossal blunder. Hitler could have won WWII.

Are you kidding me? Japan was a force to be reckoned with. Do you sincerely think the Australian navy could've manhandled the Japanese? The U.S. didn't have a grip on Japan until the Battle of Midway. This turn-the-tide battle took place six months after Pearl Harbor. How do you think China and Australia would fare by themselves without a U.S.? Japan proved its capability of taking what it wanted out of China with Operation Ichigo. This engagement opened a pathway from Peking to Indochina. Had the Japanese not underestimated Chiang Kai-shek, and instead sent an overwhelming wave of forces in the initial invasion, China would've surrendered.

The government works effectively in killing and power mongering. If government was as inefficient as you proclaim there would be no worries about government interference besides taxation. No dictatorship could ever exist. The government can be highly efficient with force. Would you like to try and not pay taxes? I didn't think so. Under oppressive regimes dissent can be stifled into a laughable nuisance. Government propaganda has time after time been able to produce a blind and faithful citizenry. The government isn't always inefficient.

Where would you say the government is inefficient? That's when it is providing goods and services with somebody else's money to people it doesn't care about. Social safety nets buy votes and there is no reward for working hard to maintain it. In fact it would be counterproductive to be efficient in these programs because when failure arises the solution is to plead for more funds. Government by this has a cycle of ever increasing growth. On the militaristic side its survival is at stake. See the difference?

Libertarianism and government expansion is not compatible? Not even when it's necessary? With this premise we can conclude anarchy is the non-contradictory solution. How could we conclude otherwise? Government by its mere existence is government expansion. Government by providing law enforcement is government enlargement. Government by operating and maintaining its duties is government growth. Don't you realize it? Your position is absolutely fallacious.

Here's a quote by cjet79 that sums up his thinking perfectly: "The goal is never to see government to survive." There it is ladies and gentlemen. He doesn't see fit a government should be able to sufficiently defend itself against internal or external threats. He believes it should be crippled enough to barely operate and never strong enough to ensure it is maintained. He doesn't care about its survival in the real world. To him the important thing is his version of government in theory. He thinks this way it stays a small government. What it does is give way for a collapse. What keeps a small government is the will of the populace majority. I consider this the trait of a small government: The focus of laws is on self-reliance, personal responsibility and individualist principles that further the advancement of society.

Foreign wars are compatible with libertarianism because a government cannot exist without protection for itself. If we were to decide what small government is we could not take the complete absence of foreign wars into consideration. Why? This is because the policy by default is implemented. To protest otherwise is self-annihilation. To conclude what small government is, is decided after the basic components and before the unnecessary ones. That makes sense. What isn't a sound approach is cjet79's insistence to rid ourselves of a necessary evil (government enlargement for sufficient protection) in favor of a government that cannot sustain itself.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by cjet79 9 years ago
cjet79
Ragner:
libertarianism is a philosophy. Its almost a direct offshoot of Ayn Rand's Objectivist outlook mixed with a bit of US and Libertarian beliefs. Its the live and let live philosophy. That is why if you ever find yourself in a forum full of libertarians and you ask them about their personal beliefs some will refer to themselves as "small 'L' libertarians". libertarianism (uncapitalized)is the personal philosophy of letting others do as they wish as long as it does not harm you. Libertarianism (capitalized) is generally the same belief but only applied to the realm of government.

So a Libertarian (capitalized) could work in a charity organization trying to convince people that drugs are evil and that they shouldn't do drugs...but they wouldn't advocate the government cracking down on drugs. A libertarian (uncapitalized) would believe that it is that person's choice to do drugs, so they would leave the drug addict alone as long as it didn't hurt them.

I wish they just had two different words...i was terribly confused about the whole difference between capitalized vs uncapitalized for the longest time. In short...Libertarianism and libertarianism encompass both political and personal philosophies.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 9 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
Libertarianism isn't a philosophy, it's a political doctrine that can be a part of many philosophies :D
Posted by cjet79 9 years ago
cjet79
If anything most libertarians are more extreme then the Libertarian party. A libertarian is one who lives by and believes in the philosophy of libertarianism. A Libertarian party member is only one who advocates that philosophy through political means. If you cant fit into the Libertarian party then there is next to no chance you will fit in with a libertarian label.

The just war theory was one of the Christian doctrines following the Nicene Creed. It was either Constantine or Justinian that formulated the Just war theory. The Just War theory was an attempt to reconcile the excesses of government with the beliefs in the bible. Obviously they thought war was justified before Christianity. But when you are the emperor and you have a state sanctioned religion that preaches against violence then you have a conflict of interest. The two had to be reconcilled so the just war theory came out of it.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 9 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
There is a huge difference between "libertarian" and "the Libertarian Party."

And whether "just war theory" is a Christian doctrine depends on what you are talking about. There might be some specific system that derives from christianity for justifying wars, but obviously someone else must consider war just, or war would not predate christianity.
Posted by cjet79 9 years ago
cjet79
Just war theory is more of a Christian doctrine. Most anarcho-capitalists will totally denounce the idea of any state function...including war. Left leaning minarchists will prolly also denounce all forms of war. Right leaning minarchists will probably be for the just war theory. I just dont really understand why anyone who supports wars with Iraq and Iran would even bother with the libertarian party. There is a strong coalition in the party against those kinds of wars, and it just flies in the face of many libertarian ideals.
Posted by NeenahLibertarian 9 years ago
NeenahLibertarian
I didn't read the whole debate and thus didn't vote, but here is my perspective. From all of the libertarian authors that I have read, it seems that libertarians make determinations of war based on Just War Theory, which tells us that among other standards, war is justified if it is a last resort and in self-defense. At this point a libertarian certainly could not be in favor of war in Iraq or Iran, but could be in favor of the war in Afghanistan.
Posted by cjet79 9 years ago
cjet79
I have come to wonder why you even bother to call yourself a libertarian...you know there is currently a republican party in power that perfectly reflects your viewpoint on war and government expansion? You really have no need of the libertarian label.
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