Two words that seemingly refuse to go together. On the whole, libertarians are against any foreign intervention, regardless of circumstances. They are ideologically stubborn, refusing to concede any ground or waste their time with pragmatism.
They believe in their principles, which is partly to be admired, but on the whole, very annoying. I have principles, political and non-political, if I can I stick by them I will, but don’t get me wrong I’m willing to be flexible with them – unlike libertarians. For them, (and yes, I am generalising) you have to stick to every principle you choose.
I’ve asked many libertarians what they would do about the problem of regimes like Assad’s in Syria. In reality, I haven’t received a decent, convincing response. Freedom and liberty is crucial for libertarians of course, and they protest to the hilt against any infringement against our liberties here in the UK. So I find it very hard to understand why they are not as passionate when defending the rights and liberties of everybody. Why are our rights superior to the people of Syria? Why should they be foaming at the mouth about Government plans to read our emails, but not protecting the lives of people being persecuted in Syria and other places?
Now I am not advocating a policy stance whereby the UK should intervene at the drop of a hat, we have to look closely at the details and the effects of any intervention. We should not get involved, replacing one murderous dictator and allowing another to take their place. We have to be strong with economic sanctions, embargoes and diplomatic pressure. If this continues to fail though, intervention may be necessary, protecting the lives of persecuted minorities should not be something the UK should be ashamed off.
Libertarians argue that Government cannot give you freedom, and that you can only free yourself. Whilst ideologically this is fine, in reality its impossible. I’d like to see a libertarian tell a family in Syria that armed with their words and ideas that they can free themselves from the oppressive Assad regime. Because after all, words are more powerful than weapons. Maybe in the fantasy ideal world that libertarians place themselves in, but in reality, they are simply killed for protesting.
What I find wholly uncomfortable is the idea that we cannot fix every problem in the world and that we in effect, simply accept that people will be killed worldwide whilst we stand by and watch. It is a very cold, inhumane approach to take and it is deeply concerning. As Edmund Burke so eloquently put it “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
I hope, and I really mean this, that somebody reads this and tries to convince me that I’m wrong about libertarians, and that they do have some solutions, because right now I’m yet to hear one.