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California Libertarians Wimp Out on Iraq War

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In stark contrast to other third parties, the California Libertarian Party mirrors the Republican and Democratic parties on the Iraq War. The 2006 Voter Guide, published by California’s Secretary of State, includes a Political Party Statements of Purpose wherein the various political parties state their positions on the issues. On the war in Iraq, the parties make the following statements:

  • The Peace and Freedom Party says: “stop the killing now and end this stupid, brutal war. Our party saw through the lies and opposed this war from the beginning. Vote for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan!”
  • The American Independent Party says: “Stop the undeclared wars which are daily costing American lives and billions of tax dollars; stop the reckless spending, including foreign aid.”
  • The Green Party says: “discover Green values, among them living wages, affordable health care and housing, and an end to the war in Iraq.”
  • The Libertarian Party says: ” “
  • The Republican Party says: ” “
  • The Democratic Party says: ” “

Thus California Libertarians needn’t fret about scaring voters with controversial positions. Instead, they can breathe easily, knowing the LP’s statement to voters mirrors that of the Demopublicans. The LP has become a very respectable party indeed.

[The Natural Law Party did not submit a Statement of Purpose for the Voter Guide.]
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About Thomas M. Sipos

  • Eric Olsen

    that’s a hell of a look you got going on there, TMS!

    I imagine the Libertarians, like the Dems and Repubs, are divided on Iraq and therefore can’t reasonably make a statement on it

  • Al Barger

    Mr Sipos, I’m a life-long dyed-in-the-goat-fur Libertarian, and I support actually actively defending the country, and the Iraq war specifically. Not that I might not argue about some of the execution of the war, and not that I’m not a little anxious to be done with it.

    Nonetheless, our Dear Leader is correct that there is division in the party on the topic, and they might have wisely considered it better left alone as a group statement. You’re obviously closer to the CA LP than me judging by you bio line, so perhaps you could tell us more about this than simply that there is no statement. You’re in it, what was the internal debate involved?

    For where it would count more to begin with, look to the websites and statements of the specific candidates. I’m sure you can find some misguided Libertarian brethren spewing all the peace puke that you demand to hear.

  • Thomas M. Sipos

    There’s certainly some disagreement, although there’s much internal debate as to the breakdown. The antiwar camp says the LP is majority antiwar. The prowar camp says the LP is 50/50.

    But while it’s partially a matter of disagreement, there’s also a Wimp Factor. Here in California, there are LP officers who are always advising that we must avoid appearing “too radical” and “not scare away voters” with “controversial stands.” Not just on the war, but on all issues. These officers envision the LP as a sort of small govt GOP (now that Bush is ballooning the budget), whereas the Purists want to stick with the platform. “Foreign nonintervention” (which is in the platform) should mean just that.

    Some LP officers worry that the public is divided on the war, so why take a stand? Focus on “winning issues,” things most of us (the party and public) can all agree on (rather than on principle).

    Al Barger: “I’m a life-long dyed-in-the-goat-fur Libertarian, and I support actually actively defending the country, and the Iraq war specifically.”

    I fail to see how intervention in Iraq ever had anything to do with “defending the country.”

    No WMD. Never any evidence of any. Hell, Iraq had been completely contained for 12 years before the war. It didn’t even control its own airspace. It was no threat.

    Then there’s that silly statement: “Better to fight them over there than over here.” Both the Spanish and London bombings prove that fighting terrorism “over there” does nothing to keep terrorism from striking “here.”

    All the Iraq War does is provide a training ground for terrorists and increase popular hatred against us, thus increasing the likelihood of terrorism.

    Libertarians, conservatives, liberals, and moderates all see the folly of this war. The establishment GOP and Dems support the war, but not the people.

  • Al Barger

    Mr Sipos, this is just not correct: “No WMD. Never any evidence of any.” For starters, Bush was absolutely correct in the famous 16 words from the SOTU about Hussein trying to buy Nigerian uranium. But also, there are a lot more reasons for whacking the Baathists than just specifically the WMDs.

    Still, the wisdom of the war effort is certainly debatable. I won’t claim that I necessarily represent a majority position within the party in my support for the Iraq invasion. Hard telling for sure, but my best guess is that I am distinctly in a minority there within our Indiana party.

    I could argue against your statement that basically everyone except for a few congressmen is united in opposition to the war. If they were, the congressmen would not be supporting it, would they? They wouldn’t be congressmen for long like that.

    But I don’t care about that. I’m picking out my outlook based on what I think is right to protect the country from people who are actively trying to kill us. Fighting them over there is in fact sound thinking, and all evidence suggests that it has been so far successful here. Note the lack of follow-up US attacks since 9/11- and you know that it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

  • Thomas M. Sipos

    Al Barger: “I could argue against your statement that basically everyone except for a few congressmen is united in opposition to the war. If they were, the congressmen would not be supporting it, would they? They wouldn’t be congressmen for long like that.”

    The majority of Americans do oppose the war. Yet the establishment leaders (Dems and GOP) support the war, so there is nowhere for most antiwar voters to go. They’re not offered a choice by the major parties, and most voters don’t consider third parties a viable choice.

    Still, I do wonder if the Dems will take over the House or Senate in 2006, not because they offer anything, but merely because so many Americans are disgusted with the GOP (partially, although not solely, because of the war).

    BTW, are you attending the LP national convention in July?

  • Bliffle

    I wonder if the CA LP is in favor of Regime Change in Mexico City? It would certainly make more sense than Iraq because the Mexicans are actually invading us, whereas the Iraqis never went that far.

  • Xerxes

    Well the leading Democratic presidential candidate (Kerry) has hinted that part of his platform will include more isolationist rhetoric regarding Iraq so I doubt the Democrats writ large could be viewed completely in step with Republicans on how they view the middle east situation.

    Does anyone remember how the press labled Bush I as a wimp during the Gulf War? Now Bush II is regarded as Machiavellian because he isn’t. You just can’t win in the press but who would want to?

  • Silas Kain

    I’m a Liberpublicratnist. Very few Americans in the public arena have testicular (or Ovarian as the case may be) fortitude any more. The two major parties suck. And the rest of us are doing all the swallowing. Where’s the justice?

  • Dave Nalle

    There has to be more to this. The LP, even in California, is overwhelmingly opposed to the Iraq war. Even the Liberty Republicans are mostly anti-war. If they aren’t taking a position it’s more likely an oversight than an actual statement of position.

    The standard line of the LP is that we basically shouldn’t even have a standing army, much less use it overseas.


  • Thomas M. Sipos

    Many California Libertarians are antiwar, but others support the war.

    One Orange County LP Congressional candidate who supports the Iraq War told me, “I’m not pro-war. I’m pro-self-defense.” He told me that although the LP platform opposes foreign intervention, it also supports self-defense, and that he sees the Iraq War as defensive. I think his is a minority view, but he’s not alone.

    Last year the Los Angeles County LP passed a resolution condemning the Iraq War, whereas the Orange County LP failed to pass that same resolution.

    A group of libertarians tried to pass an antiwar resolution at the 2006 state convention, but it failed to receive the necessary 2/3 votes to pass.

    Here’s the wording of that proposed antiwar resolution, if you’re curious.

    The war issue (and capital punishment, and immigration) are sometimes (not always) avoided in statements specifically because there’s contention on the issue.

    BTW, I’d be very surprised if Kerry gets the 2008 Democratic nomination. He didn’t even win the popular vote, which Gore, at least, did.

  • Dave Nalle

    You’d be damned hard pressed to find a pro-war Libertarian here in Texas. Clearly something odd is going on in California. Must be caused by Hollyweird.


  • Thomas M. Sipos

    Dave, scroll to Page 3 to read some of the foreign policy resolutions proposed (and defeated) at one of the California state executive committee meetings.

  • Dave Nalle

    Interesting stuff, Thomas. I actually agree with the third resolution, but that’s one of the reasons I’m no longer in the LP – the nice thing about that resolution is that it skirts the Iraq issue neatly. The first seems the most reasonable, and the second is just a snarky version of the same thing.

    But my more or less agreeing with the third resolution doesn’t change the fact that it’s directly counter to the national LP platform and contradictory to the party position on the military and use of force which has been in place since 1972.

    When has THIS ever been true of the LP:

    “Resolved that the Libertarian Party endorses action, including the use of military force when appropriate”

    You seem to live in bizarro world, at least from a Libertarian perspective. Mainstreaming the LP may be the goal here, and that might ultimately be good for the party and the nation.

    But with a libertarian Republican as governor of the state, why don’t these folks just join the GOP and work within it to achieve their goals? There are plenty of us who are doing that on a nationwide basis.