Libertarian message is ‘problematic’

I would like to applaud the Smith Center for bring a speaker of such note as former Congressman Ron Paul to CSU East Bay.

That being said, the Libertarian message espoused by Congressman Paul is problematic in certain ways. Libertarian policies are at times a mishmash of contradictory ideas. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of foreign policy.

The United States’ disengagement from foreign affairs that Congressman Paul recommended in his address is based on three assumptions. Firstly, that ceasing intervention abroad would prevent Americans from being entangled with the problems of the world. Secondly, that our nation’s legitimate interests stop at our borders. Finally, that freedom of trade is a guarantee of peace between nations.

To the first point, America’s abdication of post-war leadership by pursuing Isolationist policies after World War I resulted in a failure to create a global consensus strong enough to contain the dangerous ambitions of the Fascist powers.

The end result of this policy of disengagement had the Fascist powers choosing to force forward their version of global consensus by starting World War II against the Democracies.

We can also see the negative consequences of maintaining a policy of “leading from behind” in recent events. In particular, the harsh Russian backlash against Ukraine moving towards the West.

In regards to the second point, an economy dependent on the unimpeded global transit of goods prevents Americans from defining our nation’s geographic limits as the line where our interests end.

From the Barbary Wars of the early 19th century to fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa today, a proactive foreign policy enables us defend our interests from those desiring to hold our prosperity hostage.

In regards to the final assumption, it is important to note that Imperial Germany and Great Britain were respectively each other’s largest trading partners prior to World War I. Yet when both perceived their national interests at stake they did not hesitate to trade blows across the battlefield. The presence of trade between nations in and of itself is no guarantee of peace.

By any metric, Americans are not better off now than they were four years ago. Leaders in Washington are more interested in winning elections than leading the nation. The Obama Administration stumbles from one self-inflicted foreign policy wound to the next, with disastrous consequences for America’s clout on the international stage.

Failure in achieving immigration reform and the poorly constructed Affordable Care Act has left millions of people in limbo. Revelations about violations of privacy through permissive government surveillance have shaken the public’s trust in transparency.

The fall of State Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat who campaigned on gun regulation while allegedly moonlighting as a gunrunner for separatists in the Philippines, exemplifies the dysfunction prevalent with California’s current generation of policymakers.

In this environment it is only natural that the American confidence in our democratic experiment is at a low point.

What is necessary for the survival of our republican form of government is not “opting out” from outcomes one might disagree with. Elections like it or not, do have consequences.

Unlike Congressman Paul, I do not believe the ills that afflict our nation come from too much consensus or too much bipartisanship but from a woeful lack of both.

Mark Laluan
CSUEB Alumnus ’10, History