Saturday, July 02, 2005

LP: Iraq Exit Strategy

The link in the title will take you to an Adobe (.pdf) file which is the LP's Iraq Exit Strategy. It works for me on two levels, both as a serious public policy suggestion and as a sign of the current activities of the national office.

In short, the position paper begins with the premise that American troops have accomplished the main objectives of the war. Iraq is well on its way to becoming a stable and secure country. Our troops should be withdrawn from Iraq over the course of a year and deployed in the Middle East, at home, or wherever the ruling neocons want to be strong in the War on Terror. Some significant amount of foreign aid should be sent specifically for rebuilding infrastructure.

That's basically it. The rest is evidence and detail to make their case. What you don't see in there is too much Libertarian chest beating over ideology. This document is written solely as a practical suggestion.

The reason why it works for me is that this is an external document, not an internal one. The target audience is not other Libertarians. It is a direct message to the President, Congress and those actually running the war, and by extension, to the opinion makers of Washington DC.

We're trying to give them the graceful out. It is not a purely Libertarian solution, but it is one the current administration could undertake right now and save face. It's a step in the right direction that could start right now.

There is one aspect of the proposal that rubs me the wrong way as a Libertarian. I don't like moving US troops from one occupation to another. I want them all home yesterday. And in other places the national party does need to speak to this eventual goal of the United States having a true national defense, instead of the international offense we have practiced since World War II.

Interestingly enough, when I served on the now decommissioned Advertising and Publications Review Committee (APRC), we ruled on this very point. The national party had issued a press release for the Badnarik campiagn where he was quoted as supporting pulling back US troops in Iraq to other Middle Eastern countries. We found that this was in direct violation of the platform and asked that they don't say that again. If the APRC still existed and I was still a member, I'd feel duty bound to reach the same conclusion.

This raises the question of whether the national party is bound to the specifics of the platform in every public statement. I've obviously already given them a pass on that one. It's causing me to think that we need to allow ourselves some flexibility. We need to promote the principled stands enshrined in our platform, no doubt. But we also need to be able to offer practical solutions that move us in the direction of Liberty.

I'm willing to put this document in a context that our staff's continuing public policy initiatives will provide. If they do as good a job of promoting our principles and our goals as they have with this effort, I'll be happy.

If Libertarians are to be political players in DC, we have to be willing to be seen in public with non-Libertarians. Here in NC for example, when we see one of our Congressmen, Walter Jones, standing next to Ron Paul calling for an exit strategy, I say we have to stand next to him. Jones is a true conservative, so sure he takes some stands we couldn't support, but where conservatives and Libertarians agree he is strong. I have to tell you, and I'm not ashamed to admit it, when I saw Jones as one of only four Congressmen who had the guts to say what they said, it made me proud.

My genius wife Pam immediately grasped an essential point about the current debate. She noted that the Republicans were all over Clinton for an exit strategy out of Bosnia, so why is it so darn unpatriotic to have one now?

Ron Paul and Walter Jones put the issue on the table. Now the Libertarian Party has offered a detailed plan. If you've wanted the LP to make themselves politically relevant, here's your chance.

I'm signing in support. Feel free to join me.


Blogger Jim Capo said...

I like the idea of supporting Ron Paul and Walter Jones in some way. Don't you think their plan has more to offer the GOP hard core Constitutionalists than the LP plan has to offer our more classic members?

BTW: Have you seen the LP exit strategy for Japan or Germany or Bosnia? If the LP wants to be pragmatic they should address what our rulers intentions are in building all these new bases in Iraq. They are not tent cities to be folded up and sent to the next country.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Sean Haugh said...

I would agree that the plan would be improved if it did a better job of opposing the permanent bases we are building in Iraq.

I would like to see exit strategies getting us out of those other countries, but that's not the issue we are discussing. I've never been fond of that rhetorical device.

Did Paul, Jones, et al, actually propose a plan? I thought they simply said we need to have one.

3:06 AM  

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