Debate: The Libertarian Foreign Policy

Below are excerpts of my debate on foreign policy issues with recording artist Barry Donegan, a self-described “Ron Paul Republican”. His website is at and he calls himself a non-interventionist. I am glad he supports free trade, but like many libertarians I still believe they are best described as isolationists. The discussion began because of my support for staying the course in Afghanistan.

Barry Donegan: Remember that genius strategy Zbigniew Brzenzski had of making the USSR waste so much money that their empire collapsed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan? In fact, name an empire and it pretty much fell because it was printing money chasing people through the Afghan mountains. And why are we there again? Protect our own borders and secure our economy. Let the UN pay for its own adventures. If we want to lower spending and stop the coming bath of inflation, we have to make some hard cuts. Afghanistan should be one.
Gregory Hilton: You have eloquently stated the isolationist arguments. We discussed this yesterday regarding Pat Buchanan’s most recent column. He cited the same reasons for staying out of WW II. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is the right candidate for you but he is alone in the GOP Caucus. Similar to Buchanan, you focus on empire. The only foreign territory the United States has are the military cemeteries for our war dead . They liberated other nations and we asked for nothing in return.
Barry Donegan: If you are going to make the interventionist argument against non-interventionism, it is folly to call it “isolationism”. Isolationism has a definition, and it involves a protectionist trade policy which I do not endorse. I never mentioned an American empire, I mentioned how other well established empires fell chasing rural people through the mountains of Afghanistan. Once again, how does this make economic sense as something to spend money on when our entire economy is collapsing and China is buying our debt. We don’t have a charge card for these adventures anymore. We need to focus our military funds on buildup, not expended rounds, we have a real enemy who can cancel our monetary system at will who is building up and not expending rounds. China.
Gregory Hilton: You can use whatever definition you want, but I am glad the United States has not adopted the Ron Paul/Pat Buchanan foreign policy. I made several trips to the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s where there was genocide, ethnic cleansing, rape camps, 200,000 dead and 1.8 million refugees. We wish the UN or the EU could have solved this crisis, but it was necessary for the United States to intervene, and all Americans can be proud of our role. Serbia was not attacking America, and they were not a threat to our security. Nevertheless, I am glad we stopped the fighting and brought peace.
Your economic arguments made far more sense during the Great Depression. The Greatest Generation rejected them, and we are all better off because of their sacrifices.
Barry Donegan: The greatest generation did NOT reject them. They did not enter World War II until they were attacked and once they did, we did a full Declaration of War. Even Robert Taft supported that and I agree with the way they conducted themselves. We don’t have the money for this stuff.
You guys who believe in global governance had a good run the past decade or so steering the ship, but you’ve driven our economy off the cliff. Its time to trim up our budget. We literally can’t afford it. Japan elected a government who ran on getting out of the US Dollar. Do you want to raise taxes in a deep recession with inflation on the way and high unemployment? The GOP has tried being Democrat-lite and it has not fared well at the polls. The American people rejected it. You can now add George Will to the list of people who want our ground forces out of Afghanistan.
Gregory Hilton: Robert Taft was always an isolationist. Eisenhower said he did not want to run for President in 1952 but he could not let the Republicans nominate someone with such dangerous views on foreign policy. Taft completely rejected collective security and led the opposition to the NATO Treaty. How he could feel that way after learning about the Holocaust is amazing to me. Republicans such as Senator Arthur Vandenburg (MI) apologized for their earlier isolationist views, but Taft was proud of them. He is one of Pat Buchanan’s heroes.
A Declaration of War is very rare, and it was last used in December of 1941. Under a Declaration of War, Congress gives the president a great deal of power. It is hard to take that power back, and that is a major reason it was not used in Korea, Vietnam or the two Gulf wars.
Barry Donegan: I did no endorse the foreign policy of Taft, he was an isolationist. I was just indicating that even he, an isolationist, supported World War II. Do you really believe that having a war guarantee with Georgia to go to war with Russia is good for the USA righe now? The cold war is over. If we don’t stop pretending its not we are going to be banana republic. But, globalists don’t have any national allegiance anyways. If this absurd deficit spending toilet papers our money I guess we can just beg the UN to do some vulture fund “debt relief” for us and Bono can have a Save America concert to funnel more money to the European central bankers.
Gregory Hilton: Yes, I do believe in NATO and collective security. The old system gave us WW I and WW II. We have 68,000 troops in Afghanistan and our allies have 32,000. For the cost of one American soldier we can have 7 Afghans. That is why our strategy is based on training and building the Afghan army. It has worked in Iraq and it will work in Afghanistan.
Barry Donegan: The old system did not give us World Wars I and II. You can’t say that a lack of international government causes war. War has not stopped, it is just constant now.
We are in a state of perpetual war now. The only period of peace we had was the Reagan presidency. The death tolls, worldwide, are still horrifying. What is the objective in Afghanistan? Prop up another dictator? How does it even make sense that we spread “democracy” by the barrel of a gun. If were so worried about it why don’t we just mail them copies of Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law” translated into their language. Do you even believe in the sovereignty of the individual prescribed by classical liberalism? Do you really think rural Afghanis are going to appreciate foreigners who are a different ethnicity and speak a different language running their election for them?
Obviously not. What will happen is it will CREATE a political interest for a Muslim nationalist fundamentalist leader to rise up. And in the end, well realize that he has the support of the people, and, when we fail 15 years later, well just pay him hush money like we do everywhere else. Send him weapons like we did With Saddam Hussein, which he can use for brutal tyranny against his own people. If they want a constitutional republic, they will have to make their own. I’m a little more afraid that we lost ours in the process. Look not long into the abyss, for the abyss looks back into you.
Gregory Hilton: I regret that the United States did not belong to the League of Nations and I wish the League had power to stop aggression. The main point is that we did not have a system of collective security and that led to the world wars. WW II would have been easy to stop if Britain, France, America and other powers had reacted during the nightmare years of the 1930s. You are back to using isolationist arguments once again. WW II resulted in Germany and Japan becoming our allies. Our relationship with Afghanistan will also improve in the years ahead. I do not agree with your comments about Iran and I believe free and democratic Iraq will also be an excellent ally of the United States.
Barry Donegan: The same Iraq we are still in? The one where homosexuals are murdered and women have no rights? Once again, isolationism has a definition and you are not using it correctly. Answer this question, if you’re such a fan of democracy, do you actually believe in the sovereignty of the individual. Do you believe that all people have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and self defense and possession of property that are given to them by God and should not be infringed by government force? Do you believe in that, the very principle that was the foundation of our country?
Gregory Hilton: I am proud of America’s role in Iraq, and while you do not call yourself an isolationist you continue to use all of their arguments. They wanted us to allow Saddam Hussein to keep the oil riches of Kuwait. They said it was not worth fighting for because the ruler of Kuwait had many wives. Isolationists will always find an excuse.
The sovereignty argument is another crutch of the isolationist movement and it was used by all of the racists in the deep South. They wanted to continue lynching blacks and to deny them the right to vote. They said we had to respect state sovereignty. I am very glad the government infringed upon them, and I wish we had done it much sooner.
You may be confusing Iraq and Iran. Homosexuality is legal in Iraq, even under Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi militias under Muqtada al-Sadr have committed human rights abuses against Iraqi gays and transgender people.
Barry Donegan: Calling my points “isolationist” and following it with “people like you advocated for this or that thing” is a string of logical fallacies and has nothing to do with the security of the USA. I am talking strategy about current events. if Iraq has “freedom” and roving militias run around executing homosexuals, then I compel you to consider that maybe the type of freedom you aspire to is not a very comfortable society to live in.
Gregory Hilton: Your argument is similar to saying America is racist because we have KKK members and rednecks. Tremendous progress has been made in Iraq and it will continue. A Muslim society will not be like ours, but we never intended that. I continue to believe that the sovereignty argument is used by racists and isolationists.
The good people of the United States are reluctant to intervene but when we do it is for the peace of mankind, not for Empire. Providing for our national defense has not been an issue in over two decades. It is broadly supported by both political parties. America is a unique nation with global responsibilities. We want to share that burden with others, but we are not going to put our head in the sand in the face of evil.

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