Blogs > Liberty and Power > Questions for Pro- and Anti-War Libertarians

Jan 14, 2006 9:34 am

Questions for Pro- and Anti-War Libertarians

Matt Welch's questions for pro-war libertarians (at Reason Online) has provoked quite a debate at my other blog, Positive Liberty. More below the fold.

Tim Sandefur, who supported starting the war (and who seems now to support a number of other things that I likewise do not), has replied in this post. Here are some of the highlights; Welch's questions are italicized, while Sandefur's replies are in Roman:

3) Can you imagine a situation in which the government would be justified in waterboarding an American citizen?

Yes. [Update:] I can imagine a lot. Obviously I am opposed to torture, or its simulacrum, in virtually any circumstance. But I cannot categorically rule out the possibility that waterboarding might be justified under some imaginable set of circumstances.

4) Are there American journalists who should be investigated for possible treason? Should Sedition laws be re-introduced?

This is two questions. Yes, there are probably journalists who ought to be investigated for treason. I don’t have anyone in mind, but I don’t categorically deny the possibility. And no, sedition laws should not be revived.

5) Should the CIA be able to legally assassinate people in countries with which the U.S. is not at war?


My eyebrows were raised, to say the least. In the same post, he also offered a list of questions for anti-war libertarians. I'd already answered many of them in the interminable pro- versus anti- debates that happen regularly at Positive Liberty, but his questions provoked a spirited discussion all the same, with my reply, Sandefur's objection to it, in which he bristles at the idea that his replies were"unlibertarian," and a recap of the debate so far, in which I question the value of these sorts of questions in the first place: I find the reasons behind them to be much more important than any attempt to score points by answering"yes" or"no" at appropriate moments.

Finally, Sandefur's questions have also brought a set of answers from elsewhere in the blogosphere.

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More Comments:

Anthony Gregory - 1/15/2006

I don't know how much the end of Soviet Communism can be attributed to U.S. foreign and diplomatic policy. Some have argued that, if anything, the U.S. prolonged the Cold War. Certainly, in the final analysis, Soviet Communism is mainly what killed Soviet Communism. It turns out that socialism doesn't work too well.

Anthony Gregory - 1/15/2006

Thanks! But Scott Horton reminds me that Nixon was not quite impeached. I knew that. But for some reason I slipped up. I corrected it in the original.

Jason Kuznicki - 1/14/2006

A good one, yes, though I also have no problem with many of the pressures that we applied to the Soviet Union and its client states either. If those pressures (rather than, say, creating our own client states among the dictatorships of the third world) were the reason the Soviet Union fell, then I'd say we did all right there, too.

Jeanine Ring - 1/14/2006

"The last time the U.S. government peacefully removed a dictator from power in a way that I would defend, at least with my current knowledge, was when Nixon was impeached and he resigned."

Ouch. Good one, Anthony.

Anthony Gregory - 1/13/2006

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