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The War in Iraq

The War in Iraq is a failure, and the U.S. government should never have waged it. As your president, one of my first tasks will be to begin the orderly process of bringing our troops home as quickly as can safely be accomplished.

More and more Americans are coming to oppose the war, the war hawks and high government officials are beginning to distance themselves from the president, and the U.S. seems more willing than ever to pull out of Iraq.

But this is not enough. We need to learn how this disaster happened, so we can prevent future disasters from happening.

First, allow me to dispel a myth. People in the Middle East do not hate us for our freedom. They do not hate us for our lifestyle. They hate us because we have spent many years attempting to force them to emulate our lifestyle.

The U.S. government has meddled in the affairs of the Middle East far too long, always with horrendous results. It overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran and replaced him with the Shah. After making Iranians the enemies of Americans, the U.S. government gave weapons, intelligence and money to Iran's mortal adversary, Saddam Hussein. The U.S. government also helped Libyan Col. Qaddafi come to power, propped up the Saudi monarchy and the Egyptian regime, and gave assistance to Osama bin Laden.

Most Americans have forgotten these events. But the people of the Middle East will always remember.

It was because of American troops in Saudi Arabia, lethal sanctions on Iraq, support for states in serious violation of International Law, and siding with Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians to the tune of more than $3 billion per year in taxpayers' funds that terrorist leaders were able to recruit those individuals who caused 3,000 Americans to pay the ultimate price on September 11, 2001.

The proper response would have been to present the evidence as to who committed the heinous act both to Congress and to the people, and have Congress authorize the president to track down the individuals actually responsible, doing everything possible to avoid inflicting harm on innocents.

A Libertarian president would not have sent the military trampling about the world, racking up a death count in the thousands, wasting tax money on destroying and re-building infrastructure, creating more enemies, and doing the kinds of things that led to 9/11 in the first place.

We cannot undo history, unfortunately.

The U.S. government has never succeeded in establishing freedom and democracy in any of its foreign adventures in the last fifty years. Freedom and democracy are blessings any people must establish for themselves.

Here at home, war leads to a decline in civil liberties, higher taxes, and wartime economic measures that blur the line between business and state, allowing politically favored corporations to profit at the expense of taxpayers.

Libertarians understand the importance of adhering to the Constitution, because it is designed to limit the power of the state here and abroad. And we especially understand the danger of war, which expands the power of the government far beyond its constitutional limits.

The founders of this country knew that war should not be initiated at the president's whim, and so the constitutional authority to wage war rests with Congress.

James Madison, father of the Constitution, said, "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." He also said, "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare..."

In short, a libertarian foreign policy is one of national defense, and not international offense. It would protect our country, not police the world.

The Draft

Coerced military conscription also known as the draft is perhaps the single most anti-freedom action governments regularly take against their own citizens. The draft, represses indiscriminately by directly stealing not only the "treasure" of our citizens, but also by taking years of their precious time and in many cases their lives. The draft has been justifiably resisted throughout American history because it is inherently unfair, unjustifiable, and un-republican.

If a free America were ever subjected to attack, most Americans would be more than willing to defend themselves, their homes, and their families against the foreign aggressors. The very fact that too few Americans are volunteering to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan illustrates that too few Americans view the actions being taken by our government as integral to the preservation of our freedoms. This is simply the free market working.

Of course, some draft advocates would claim that the only reason America needs a draft is because we don't pay our military personnel adequately. Regardless of what the market rate would be in a "free market" for military personnel probably closer to what the private security forces in Iraq are making than what America's military men and women are making the draft would only lead to more military adventurism abroad. After all, the draft is nothing more than the government stealing services from its citizens because it does not want to pay a market rate for them.

Even more disturbing than the draft is the fact that some in Congress would like to expand the draft beyond military service to also include "national service." You see, for many of our leaders, bringing back the draft has less to do with providing needed soldiers for combat—America has hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in peaceful nations from Japan to Germany—than it does expanding the size and power of government.

As Congressman Ron Paul has said, "To many politicians the American government is America and patriotism means working for the benefit of the state." Thus, on a crude level, the draft appeals to patriotic fervor. This, according to Congressman Paul, is why the idea of compulsory national service, whether in the form of military conscription or make-work programs like AmeriCorps, still sells on Capitol Hill. Conscription is wrongly associated with patriotism, when it really represents collectivism and involuntary servitude.

Ronald Reagan said it best: "The most fundamental objection to draft registration is moral." He understood that conscription assumes our nation's young people belong to the state. Yet America was founded on the opposite principle; that the state exists to serve the individual. The notion of involuntary servitude, in whatever form, is simply incompatible with a free society.

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