Questions About Going Into Assad’s Syria

Questions About Going Into Assad’s Syria.

[Originally posted at Notes on Liberty]

The question that many of you will assume I am answering was clearly (and emphatically) intended for someone else, so instead of answering it I’ll be making comments that, given the timing and the subject matter, just happen to answer the question anyways. I don’t want to do so directly because I would prefer it if Dr. Delacroix kept pestering Brandon and left me out of it. I do not want to draw his ire. I’m too busy with other things. So, this piece, and it’s similarity to recent pieces by Brandon and Andrew is coincidence and nothing more, I assure you. Just so you are not totally confused by what I am referring to, here is the question (that I remind you I am not specifically or directly answering):

This is for Brandon:

A question: If you were 100% convinced that Assad of Syria had used chemical weapons on civilians, would it affect your judgment about the desirability of American intervention in Syria?

I know it will sound eerily similar to the following question(s), but that sort of thing happens I guess:

So, say there is this country, this regime (you’ll assume it anyways, so let’s call it “Syria under Assad”) that has weapons, perhaps even the chemical variety. It has used them on its own population, threatens to use them again, and likely will make good on that threat. Let’s also assume that Syria under Assad is the chief aggressor and that every victim was either innocent or, if guilty (of inciting mob violence, say), deserving of a far better fate than what their fate ended up being. Should not someone do something to stop the Syrian dictatorship? Should not someone intervene and make it all better?

Brace yourselves. My answer may absolutely astound you. If you think of non-interventionist libertarians (now I’m the one being redundant) the same way most people (including a large portion of non-interventionists and libertarians themselves, I’d wager) do, what is about to follow may leave you even more confused than you were before. That is, until I elaborate.

So, what exactly is my answer? Without any further self-amused prevarication:

Yes: Intervene! Stop the regime! Liberate the oppressed people of Syria!

Now for the elaboration. Before I drive you, my otherwise forbearing reader, stark raving-mad.

In a perfect (but then, how could there be murderous tyrants?) world, this answer, a firm, resolute, indefatigable “Yes: Intervene!”, would need no elaboration whatsoever. One would think that common sense would dictate (not in the same way that Assad does, though) that if someone is harming someone else, and others care about alleviating or ending that suffering, they would attempt to stay the perpetrator’s hand, using violence if necessary. This is “palm, forehead” obvious, right? So why do libertarians, some of the most justice-loving and oppression-hating folks out there, oppose intervention so vehemently, and seemingly without reservation?!

Hold on there! Perfect world or no, they actually don’t oppose it! This is a misconception or a lie, depending on who spouts it. They (non-interventionist libertarians) simply wish that the people doing it wouldn’t force others to do it with/for them! Because the non-interventionists realize that by so doing the interventionists are actually performing a microcosm of the very thing the regime or person they are attempting to stop is doing (using aggression to achieve ends, thereby trampling precious liberty).

The types of rhetorical questions interventionists ask in order to justify their own aggression and support for aggression should be asked of them as well! In the interest of applying their own standards to themselves, let us formulate a few such questions right now! Why should those who, 1) can’t afford to; 2) don’t know how to; 3) don’t particularly care to; and/or 4) for whatever other reason are not able or willing to, topple a brutal regime (necessitating the loss of both blood and treasure), be made to fight for someone else’s rights (at the same time diminishing their own), especially when so many interventionists could simply do it all themselves were they simply to put their money where their mouths are?! Is it because they are hypocrites? Is it because they are inconsistent or illogical? Is it because they are impatient and over-eager? Is it because they are blinded by hatred or ignorance or irrationality or fear? Is it because their motives are not what they claim them to be?

As a libertarian, I absolutely support the rights of individuals and voluntary groups of individuals to take out whichever persons (and destroy their property) they like, provided they are justified in so doing. These persons that could be justifiably captured or killed includes not only Assad and his entire regime, but probably most of the so-called freedom fighters as well.

Even if I think it is the stupidest thing imaginable (which I generally do) for them to involve themselves in something that has literally no effect on them (other than their conscience, or more likely, their ego), and that will likely have harmful consequences, I still view their right to defend others’ rights without violating still others’ rights as not only inalienable, but righteous even (but again, probably not very wise).

To reiterate: Sure, let’s go ahead and intervene. The people who value that intervention can be the ones who pay for it and/or fight and/or take all the credit for the eventual (likely not satisfactory) outcome. Just because this desire of mine is a pipe dream does not mean it is not right. Under the violence and distortions of statism, the right thing is very often impossible or impractical, and hard at times to accept even by the very opponents of statism. But that is not the point at all! If it was then we are in trouble. There’s no telling what other good things we would have to disregard because they inconvenience us.

All I’m arguing for is, if the United States or any of its citizens do get involved, that they model it after the volunteerism that occurred during the Spanish Civil War. This, I believe, has been illegal and/or unnecessarily cost-prohibitive for a very long time. It will continue to be this way for as long as the Military-Industrial Complex remains entrenched in local communities, regional economies, and the national consciousness. This will be the case for a very long time to come, so far as I can tell, because this entrenchment is necessary to prop up GDP, keep the Dollar from collapsing, appeasing the moocher class, and buying votes. How any of these things will ever meet their end I can not even begin to imagine, but as a long-run optimist, I don’t doubt that the events will someday occur.

All of this ties in quite nicely with my promised (and forthcoming) posts on the evils of the standing army, one of the chief evils being that it is usually funded by people who don’t support its goals. This would not be the case for Spanish Civil War style volunteers, or private defense firms, or even necessarily the militia.

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