The Unofficial
Liberty Wire

February 22, 1998


By Harry Browne

When President Clinton put his wife -- who had no commercial or medical experience -- in charge of remaking the health-care industry, his goal was greater political power, not better health care. 

He chose his Cabinet officers for their politics, rather than their knowledge of the areas over which they have so much power. 

And over and over he has lied in the service of his political ambitions. He has lied about minor transgressions, such as his affair with Gennifer Flowers -- and he has lied about important matters, such as whether government is getting bigger or smaller.

And yet many Americans gladly take the word of this habitual liar and his political subordinates that national security requires their sons and daughters to risk their lives in a war against Iraqi citizens. So once again we will march into war on the say-so of those whose only goal is to make the world a better place for politicians.

The freedoms that once made America unique have been sacrificed to what historian Charles Beard called the "perpetual war for perpetual peace" -- a never-ending mobilization to defeat one imagined threat after another, just as George Orwell described in his book 1984. 

While all the great crusades have made government more powerful, none has brought peace to the world. But the politicians keep telling us the next one will do the job. 

In the 1980s the politicians said helping Saddam Hussein would keep Iran in check. But in 1990 they said he was a madman, and we had to get rid of him -- even if it meant killing thousands of innocent Iraqis. So the innocent were slaughtered, and yet Hussein survived.

Neither the 1996 bombing raids nor years of trade sanctions changed Iraq, so now the 1990 horror stories are being recycled. And we're told again, "This war will set everything right."

But every argument for war against Iraq applies as well to China, Syria, Russia, and dozens of other countries. Are we going to bomb them, too?

Enough! There must be a better way.

There is. Like the Founding Fathers, Libertarians know that war is the first resort of political scoundrels, but the last resort of a free people. Libertarians know that government's role isn't to police the world -- or even to win wars. Government's role is to keep us out of wars -- and protect us from foreign enemies, not run around the world creating them.

How would a Libertarian President assure our safety?

1. His foreign policy would be simple: peace and good will toward all -- threatening no one and giving terrorists no reason to try to influence our government.

2. He would make sure we have a defense against incoming missiles -- a defense designed not by foot-dragging politicians (who will never complete the task), but by private firms competing to win a large reward.

3. If, even so, America truly were threatened by an aggressor (unlike today), a Libertarian President would target the dictator -- not his innocent subjects. He would warn the dictator that any aggressive act would prompt the posting of a mega-reward for the death of the dictator -- a reward payable to anyone anywhere, including the dictator's guards and wives. 

Such policies don't appeal to Democratic and Republican politicians who see foreign crises as springboards to greater power, who demonstrate their courage by sacrificing the lives of others, and who see clearly what we too easily forget -- that "war" is just another word for "big government."


Harry Browne was the Director of Public Policy for the American Liberty Foundation, and was the 1996 and 2000 presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party.

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This issue of LibertyWire was published by the HARRY BROWNE 2000 Exploratory Committee 2556 Virginia Avenue NW/Suite 101, Washington, DC 20037

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