As I sat and watched tonight’s GOP Presidential debate in South Carolina it became clear to me that despite much greater name recognition than four years prior, Congressman Ron Paul’s message of non-interventionism will continue to fall on deaf ears. As a minarchist this phenomena was both infuriating and incomprehensible. As an anarchist, however, it makes perfect sense.
Large swaths of the American public have reason to favor military adventurism abroad. Perhaps they hold evangelical beliefs that the state of Israel must be defended at all costs to life and treasure. Or maybe they legitimately fear nuclear weapons in the hands of suicidal madmen. Regardless of their reasoning, or lack thereof, they genuinely desire to wage war in the middle east and around the globe.
On the other end of the spectrum there are many who favor, possibly naively, diplomacy and trade over sanctions and war. Perhaps they feel that pre-emptive war increases the number of one’s enemies instead of reducing them. They may also feel they can no longer afford the costs of slaying dragons abroad.
But no matter where one finds themselves in the political spectrum concerning foreign policy there will be winners and losers. An either/or decision must be made at the federal level. The problem, however, with this winner-take-all system is that there will always be differences of opinion in the course of action to take. And it will necessarily cause much strife among the populace as it does so clearly today.
What minarchists fail to understand about this paradigm is that even under the most favorable conditions, a popularly elected President Paul, there will be losers in the political system: the individuals who desire to wage war abroad. One must account for the fact that the righteousness of their cause is completely irrelevant in this hypothetical scenario, just as it is when the political losers are the non-interventionists. Such is the nature of representative democracy.
A much more reasonable approach in dealing with conservative hawks would be to offer no resistance to their crusading, but that any attempt to forcefully extract resources or human labor from unwilling participants to wage said war would be viewed as an act of war itself. This ultimatum gives the opposition an out. It allows for a win-win situation for all individuals of a geographical area, such as the so-called United States. Individuals eager to fight can do so, whereas those who do not may abstain.
Attempting to use the political means to convert hawks will always be a fruitless venture. They outnumber the non-interventionists in both major parties, among independents, and even in corporate lobbying power. So long as they have this sort of influence in the halls of Congress they will unabashedly require dissenters to fund their foreign aggression.
But as minarchists are keenly aware of the risks to both liberty and treasure in funding and fighting foreign wars, so too are they ironically unwilling to accept the risks associated with disobedience to the war machine. It is clear to minarchists that the United States is on the brink of bankruptcy and gaining no ground fighting foreign wars. They refuse to admit to themselves, however, that the federal government would be powerless to simultaneously wage an all out war on the very people that are currently financing the losing wars abroad.
Congressman Paul will never be able to convert the mass of conservative hawks, or the liberal spendthrifts, to change their ways. Only individuals willing to add an even greater strain to the already unstable system by withdrawing their financial and moral support can create genuine reform.