Steve G.

The LP is no longer very libertarian at all

In Libertarian on January 7, 2009 at 11:02 am

In a poll offered at, 52% of respondents answered that the current Israeli military operation in Gaza is justified. 15% answered maybe with 34% voting no.

In a struggle that can be documented as recently as the early 1900s with the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration (which incidentally, occurred before the Holocaust) or as ancient as the Hebrew Bible, who can say that they know enough to judge either side of the dispute?

What I do know is that it’s not libertarian AT ALL to justify a war action that may be unjust.

I have many friends who may blanch at my position here; my friends with homes in Israel certainly have a different interest in these unceasing skirmishes. My online buddy, Eric has written that he sees the Palestinians animal-like. I think if Eric would perhaps set aside his obvious bias- he is of the Jewish faith- and look at this even from the vantage point of conservative politics starting with United Nations Resolution 181, he would have to admit that the matter was meant to be convoluted.

To the people of faith who seem to desire war to facilitate a return to the Holy Land of each of your religions I’d ask, “Don’t you trust your God enough to do it? Can’t you realize that the most recent conflicts in that area were brought about, at least somewhat, by the desires of men and their efforts at imperialism?”

I’m not an expert with regard to religion or Mid-East history but I’m smart enough to know that I don’t have definitive answers. I am smart enough to know that for a libertarian, the only correct answers to the question posed by the LP is maybe or no. Maybe would show that you have really thought about the crisis and have found the humility to recognize that you don’t have all the answers; no would indicate that in the absence of all the answers, you would err on the side of caution and life. The yes answers show the hubris of the current crop of LPers and I guess I should thank my lucky stars that national can only attract 311 voters to its online poll.

Originally posted @ LibertarianLady.

  1. Interesting addition:

    What is your background?
    Libertarian Party member 25% (243 votes)

    Former Libertarian Party member 4% (37 votes)

    Politically libertarian 54% (533 votes)

    Non-libertarian 18% (176 votes)

    Total votes: 989

  2. I answered “maybe,” but I can imagine an L saying Yes. It’d be a simple “Gaza fires rockets into Israel, Israel responds.”

  3. Pollwatcher,
    The poll you linked is from September and the Israeli/Gaza poll closed at 312 votes.

  4. I too was struck by the inane LP poll question. It wasn’t even a relevant question. A libertarian could easily vote any of the three choices, without violating their ZAP/NAP oath. The question was phrased in such a way that a first time visitor might wrongly think there is not currently a Libertarian position.

    Further, the poll could easily be spammed by any pro war group.

    OTOH, the question should have been phrased in such a way that the non Libertarian, visiting the site for the first time, would choose the clear Libertarian response. Perhaps the person would seek more information about the LP.


    “Is Israel’s current military operation in Gaza justified?”


    “Should the US taxpayer be forced to continue subsidizing the mass murder, subjugation and terror of the the people of Gaza?”

    Which question LEADS the first time visitor to choose the Libertarian response?

    Thankfully, Andrew Davis DID provide a fairly good LP opinion “Chaos in Gaza”

    that DOES address these concerns.

    My point is that the poll question should be a “teaser” that pulls in the first time site visitor.


  5. Thanks, Steve, for pointing out the post by Davis which does help explain something of the libertarian position. I’d missed that when I wrote about the poll. I do wish national had gotten a little deeper into the conflict in that area and discussed U.S., European and the UN’s involvement prior (decades prior) to the creation of the Israeli state.

    As to the possibility of the poll being spammed by a pro-war group, I’ll concede with the caveat that one recognize that a pro-peace group spamming was equally likely in an open poll. In other words, in a poll hosted by the LP at the LP’s national site, with only 312 replies, I doubt it was spammed by anybody. I think it’s a true reflection of the current body of the Libertarian Party but I’d be happy to learn otherwise.

  6. I’m as libertarian as you can get and I would say Israel was justified. They were provoked, we fought back. The Iraq war wasn’t justified as we were never directly attacked by that nation. This is a different situation in my opinion.

  7. errr…meant “they” fought back. I was thinking a head a bit to my Iraq thoughts. My bad.

    I do know that this is Israel’s problem and Obama needs to stay the hell out of it when he takes over in a couple of weeks.

  8. The state of Israel may feel justified in protecting it’s inhabitants, but we should remember that it was the Zionist movement which caused this problem in the first place with the terrorist actions of the Irgun and Haganah.

    Talk about chickens coming home to roost.

  9. The poll certainly reflects how uninformed libertarians tend to be these days and it also shows to some extent what informs their world view.

    One has to ignore years of crimes against Palestinians to pretend that Israel has clean hands in the current matter and is merely defending itself. The ceasefire that was recently ended before the invasion had been broken by Israel by an economic blockade of Gaza, shutting the border to all commerce. This is an act of war.

    The Israeli response to the glorified bottle rockets shot into Israel is grossly out of proportion and violates the rules of any just war. The simple fact that so few Israelis have been killed over a period of years that Israel could claim Hamas is a threat to Israel’s existence is absurd.

    America should cut all foreign aid and weapon sales to Israel immediately and cease all attempts to derail a ceasefire agreement in the UN.

    As for the statement that the LP is no longer very libertarian at all – what else is new?

  10. You’re correct, Tom when you mention the blockade. I tried to avoid getting into the details of the lastest massacre and look at it purely as a glimpse into the recent libertarian mindset. Fact of the matter is that before all the imperial mucking around, Jews and Arabs lived in relative peace. (Hence my mention of Sykes-Picot and Balfour.) Even taking recent history, this is a page out of that old “blowback” playbook. Israel’s efforts to weaken the PLO by funding Hamas in the 70s and 80s have come home to roost. Now, Condoleeza Rice is suggesting that Hamas should be disarmed and Gaza should be returned to Abbas. Will anyone ever learn?

  11. I have to agree. If the poll is representative, and 34% of libertarians believe that it is illegitimate to counter-attack those who are attacking you — then the “libertarian movement” is likely not very libertarian anymore.

    I’d also agree that those who don’t know very much about the situation should maintain neutrality. For example, this has nothing to do with “religious faith”, nor the Haganah (!!) . Nor does it have anything to do with UN resolution 181. Where do you get this stuff?

    It has to do with
    – a violent group of terrorists, who cannot accept Jews living among them or near them. Having been given sovereignty over Gaza, they turned it into an armed camp and a series of munitions factories. They tore down the advanced agricultural facilities left behind, and used the parts to make weapons. Having found that blowing up discos and pizza parlors and Passover seders is not sufficient, they started launching hundreds of rockets at civilian targets in Israel. When they kill people, or hit kindergartens, folks like Tom Blanton complain that the rockets are insufficiently damaging.

    It has to do with
    – one of the most humane counterattacks ever seen. Targets are carefully chosen for military value. Israeli strikes are routinely preceded by dropping of leaflets over the target area (there goes the advantage of surprise!), to warn the civilian population and give them time to flee. Those who complain that the Israeli counterattack is “disporportionate” are correct: a proportionate strike would blindly target civilians.

    It has to do with
    – The Israel population, who wanted out of Gaza, and just want to be left alone.

    It has to do with
    – the uninvolved Palestinian population in Gaza, who dare not complain to the Hamas soldiers about stationing rockets and munitions in their mosques and apartment buildings, for fear of their lives; these people now bear the results of the Israeli attack.

    Unless you are ignorant of the facts — like a number of the commenters here — and if you can suggest that the Israeli counterattack is not justified, you simply don’t have the moral standing to comment.

  12. Zin,

    It is you that is sadly misinformed. Israel indeed used a blockade to stop necessities from moving into Gaza. That is indeed an act of war. As for Hamas being a terrorist group, it was one Israel had no problem funding when it served her purpose and it’s an elected government now.

    And, as far as those leaflets go, Israel speaks through both sides of the mouth when she says in one breath that she warned people and in the very next one that she wanted it to be a ‘shock and awe’ surprise. Don’t believe me? Here’s a video for you.

    I didn’t say this was about religious faith for anybody but simply posed a question to those who might think this is at all God’s will. (Check out the comments around the web to see what I mean.) I only mentioned the UN res. when I mentioned my very conservative friend who is also a Jew who supports this offensive. Fuck, do you think this shit started in the 40s? It started with secret deals between the French and English well before there was even an Israeli state. I only thought my conservative friend would see that the UN map only made it more convoluted and contentious- as is the case with most of the things it touches.

    Israeli papers even reported that Hamas changed tactic last year and bombed in response to IDF operations.

    And, here’s a handy little run-up to the current crisis if it’s helpful to you:

    *Shaky Egyptian-brokered six-month truce between Hamas and Israel agreed on 19 June *
    Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli operations in Gaza reduced
    *Violence resumes on 4 Nov as Israel launches incursion which it says targets Hamas tunnel; Palestinians respond with rocket fire
    *Hostilities increase; Israel tightens blockade on Gaza
    Truce expires on 19 Dec; both sides blame each other for its breakdown; rocket fire increases
    *Israel launches major air strikes on 27 Dec

    Is Israel justified defending herself? The libertarian position should be yes. This poll question, however, asked if Israel was justified in the CURRENT action. I think that any reasonable person would have to admit that there are simply too many unknowns to answer yes.

    ****edit to clarify: Any decently informed American libertarian person.

  13. I think that there is too much intermixture, in the original poll, in its description here, and in the comments, between two logically distinct issues. As a political party, the LP can and should comment on government policy. Therefore a question should be asked along the lines of, Should US foreign aid be used to enable the Israeli assault in Gaza? I think that any Libertarian would agree that the answer is no. That question is very different from, Do you personally support Israel’s actions? Not only would that question result in a range of answers, but it is also really not within the purview of a political party (though perhaps in a different organization, such as

  14. perhaps another way to frame the poll would have been: Would you prefer your taxes go to fund hostilities in Gaza and the Middle East generally, or would you prefer to keep your money to be spent, invested or donated to charities of your own choosing?

  15. Perhaps the poll was spammed by AntiWar groups? Perhaps the actual number of libertarians who are Pro-Defense is actually higher than the poll reflects, or the extremely leftwing America-hating libertarian media presents?

    It’s refreshing to see the Libertarian Party returning to its Pro-Defense roots.

    Let’s recall that the LP was founded by Pro-Defensers including Dana Rohrabacher, John Hospers and diehard Pro-War in Vietnam/Anti-Communist Myrna Culberson of Star Trek fame.

    It was only in 1973/74 that the LP was hijacked by black arm-ban wearing leftwing Anarchists.

    Then the Girlie man contingent took over for decades, and white-washed LP history to reflect the notion that the “LP has always been non-intervenionist.”

    Not true at all. And now that some are exposing this lie, the leftwing Anarchist America-haters are crying bloody murder.

    Let them soak all they want. We Pro-Defensers will be laughing our asses off at their silly rants.

  16. Hilarious!

    Jason Gatties above states:

    The Iraq war wasn’t justified as we were never directly attacked by that nation.

    Looks like Gatties doesn’t know his history that well.

    In 1987, Saddam Hussein’s Armed Forces fired a series of missiles at a fleet of US Ships in the Persian Gulf. One of them, the USS Stark was hit, killing 37 US Sailors.

    Mr. Gatties should explain to the family members of those 37 sailors just how it is that “Iraq never attacked the United States.”

  17. Dondero,

    We don’t agree on much, let alone the difference between defense and preemptive war but thank you for pretty much confirming what I thought about the poll- that it indeed reflects the mindset of the current body of LPers.

    (BTW, I’d only offered up the anti-war spammers as a response to those who thought the poll was spammed by non-libertarian warmongers.)

  18. So by the Great Clueless Swab Dondero’s reckoning, a missile strike on the USS Stark in 1987 is grounds for invasion in 2003.

    Sure, right, whatever. Shall we go invade Britain next for them burning the White House in the War of 1812?

    One of these years Dondero will learn that “pro-defense” does not mean “pre-emptive first strike on every nation that looks at us cross-eyed.” In fact it means a strong defense that is based in and defends the homeland and doesn’t go sticking it’s nose into every nook and cranny around the globe, unless it is necessary to directly defend American lives. You know, that non-interventionism thing that Washington guy mentioned in his farewell address.

    But I doubt it, since Dondero incorrectly thinks he’s smarter than the Founding Fathers.

    Wage peace, stupid!

  19. Mr. Dondero, Dana Rohrabacher was not involved in founding the LP. And my experience is that most libertarians are now, and have always been, pro-defense and not pacifists. Even most of the “Girlie man contingent” was pro-defense. (About the only prominent libertarian who wasn’t was Bob LeFevre who once claimed he wouldn’t break his jailer’s chains because they were private property.) Mr. Seebeck’s statement is dead on: pro-defense does not mean going abroad seeking monsters to destroy.

  20. Zinzindor,

    I suggest going and reading some history on this situation instead of parroting AIPAC talking points.

  21. Slightly off topic, but in reply to Mr. Dondero.

    Mr. Dondero I grew up as a navy brat and spent four years in the military myself. I am of the opinion the U.S. should bring all the troops stationed abroad home. The political leadership of this country, if you can call them that, has a poor understanding of the cultures of the world. Committing the military to circumstance that they, the politicians, don’t understand is foolish and suggest a high degree of incompetence. It is also cowardly, not to mention treason. In doing so they undermine the safety and security of the citizens of this country as was shown on September 11, 2001.

    The men and women of our military are required to follow their orders. The President and Congress have their orders to follow. Those orders are contained in the Constitution. A Declaration of War is required before the military is committed unless the country is attacked. While George Bush and the Congress failed to follow their orders as contained in the Constitution they none the less expect the miltary men and women to follow theirs

    Let me remind you that the Israeli military attacked the U.S.S. Liberty while the Liberty was in international waters and killed 34 members of the crew. Contrary to the Israeli claim that this was an accident many believe it was deliberate and then covered up in the investigation.

    Never forget the U.S.S. Liberty!

  22. I would have voted for the current Israeli military operation in Gaza is dumb.

    Israel as a country is approaching the point that South Africa reached not long before the white government fell. A popular boycott against doing business with their companies or companies that do business with them.

    Israel as the military force violating international law by occupying sections of the west bank and by blockading both the Gaza strip and the west bank. While the Palestinians have launched rockets into Israel so has Israel launched rockets into Gaza.

    As Libertarians we each have a real vote we can cast. We can buy Israeli goods or not. I do check the made in lables.

  23. Mr Seebeck,

    No we shouldn’t invade England for the war of 1812 we have settled that issue. We should do it for their cultural interference in the US by sending us loads of monty python shows. We should invade and occupy England and make them speak proper english!

  24. It’s interesting to me that Eric Dondero calls those who don’t agree with his aggressive take on foreign policy “girlie men.”

    Radicals often call moderates “wimpertarians”.

    It’s ironic that people who resonate with terms like “anything peaceful” castigate those who advocate peace are somehow weak. It seems to me the opposite is true: Those who advocate peace in an unraveling, violent world are the STRONG ones. And those who engage the world as it is vs. a theoretical construct advocate meaningful peace. Holding high the banner on obscure websites seems an ineffective strategy…but then ya never know…

  25. I’m surprised it took so long for Dondero to show up in this talkback.

    I am not surprised that he supports his argument in part with the classic “appeal to authority.”

    I am surprised that the purpored authority is a Star Trek actor (presumbably a guest star) so obscure that even I haven’t heard of him.

  26. Hey Robert. It is four in the morning out here. I got up specifically to answer your post. 😉 Calling someone a wimpertarian is just as ill mannered as calling them any other name. Especially when it is meant in a derogatory manner. And being something of a radical I’ll be sure to criticize anyone I hear doing so. I’m not accusing you of doing this. Just pointing out that it needs to stop.

    Sticking a label on someone is just a poor way of dismissing their point of view. Trying to get both sides to stop and especially those who think they are in a position of leadership would be a benefit to the movement.

  27. Michael, yes, it DOES need to stop.

    Labels seem unavoidable; “Libertarian” is a label, after all.

    Some labels are descriptive; others are pejorative. I actually feel bad for those who feel the need to employ pejoratives, for I’ve studied the concept of psychological projection, and it suggests that those who use them are suffering from pronounced self-loathing or some such.

    I’m still inclined to start the Rodney King Caucus. 😉

  28. It shouldn’t take a poll question on a conflict between two gangs of terrorists to illustrate the “recent libertarian mindset” in the LP. Portland, platform, Denver, Barr. Hello?

  29. Ohm,
    I guess I hoped that some of the Barr people (the ones who might have stuck around post-election) would have done a little bit of reading by now.

    My husband does say I’m sometimes too optimistic though.

  30. Some quick responses, (cause my time is very limited worrying about my own blog Libertarian Republican):

    1. DANA RORHABACHER WAS ABSOLUTELY, MOST CERTAINLY AND WITHOUT DOUBT A CO-FOUNDER OF THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As a matter of fact, Gene Berkman who there at the time just said so a few weeks ago, in a comment he posted on one of the blogs.

    2. Myrna Culberson, also a Co-Founder of the LP, was the Author of the Star Trek series of paperbacks in the 1960s, NOT an Actress in the series. In that same comment – btw, I believe it was at IPR, Berkman raised her name and described in detail how she was there at the LP’s Founding, and insisted that the LP take no stance on foreign policy, cause she was Pro-Vietnam War.

    3. USS Liberty? That was like, 40 friggin’ years ago? It’s amazing how non-interventionist always love to bring up that Liberty incident, but they neeeeeeeeeeeeeeever seem to want to talk about the USS Stark and Iraq’s attack on the US Ship in 1987. It’s forgotten down their memory hole.

    Just like the pacifist Libertarians love to throw out every conspiracy theory in the book about 9/11, but mention Saddam Hussein and Iraqi Intelligence being behind McVeigh and Nichols and the OKC bombing in 1995, and they clam up.

  31. Michelle, we must agree on one thing, at least.


    Eric Dondero
    Houston, Texas
    (Shouting out to my fellow Texan Michelle Shingalle in Dallas)

  32. Roscoe & Mike, what you describe as Pro-Offense is America invading other countries for territorial expansion and extraction of natural resources.

    I don’t see the US doing any of that.

    In fact, the exact opposite is true.

    In the 1990s, the United States under Clinton gave away millions of nautical miles of Maritime territory, and at least 12 Islands that were possessions of the United States for over 100 years.

    Clinton’s State Dept. gave away:

    5 Alaska Islands to Russia despite the unanimous resolution of the Alaska Legislature against the move.

    5 tiny islands to the tiny island Nation of Kirabati in the Pacific, including the largest of the islands that contained an old WWII US Marines cemetary on it.

    Allowed Columbia to land troops on and occupy Seranilla Banks and Bajo Nuevo in the Caribbean (100 miles south of Jamaica). Both islands had been given to the US in the 1857 Guana Islands Act.

    And we almost lost Navassa Island too, (off the coast of Haiti), to the Haitians. Though, my intervention as Senior Aide to US Congressman Ron Paul at the time, with the help of another Aide at Cong. Don Young’s office, stopped the turnover.

    We’ve got to be the only “Imperialist” Nation on the planet that willingly turns over our Territory to other Nations.

  33. Eric,
    I’m no longer in Dallas. The hubby and I moved to East Texas (Longview) where I must admit, I’m having a very hard time fitting in. Outside family and my four walls, I find happiness only on the golf course, tennis court or heading to the airport to leave for vacay. ;o)

    I’ll agree that the rest of Texas is damn nice though.

  34. ED: …Saddam Hussein and Iraqi Intelligence being behind McVeigh and Nichols and the OKC bombing in 1995, and they clam up.

    Me: I’ve never heard THIS one. Please expand, although I am generally a conspiracy skeptic.

  35. Dondero I have never walked away from a discussion about the Stark and never will. I did not bring up the issue of attacks on U.S. naval vessels. You did. And if it was forty years ago so what. I guess you are the kind who will walk away from your shipmates when the job gets too tough.

    Robert writes: “ED: …Saddam Hussein and Iraqi Intelligence being behind McVeigh and Nichols and the OKC bombing in 1995, and they clam up.

    Me: I’ve never heard THIS one. Please expand, although I am generally a conspiracy skeptic.”

    I have heard of it and there is a woman writer who has suggested as much, but other than having read something on it years ago I know nothing about it.


  36. Dondero: ask Mr. Nolan what role Rohrabacher had in “co-founding” the LP. I’m afraid Mr. Berkman is mistaken.

  37. The woman writer is question was a Tulsa TV anchorwoman who broke the story and was quickly hushed up.

    The authorities I know of on the LP actual founding are Zell, Nolan, and Jeff Wright, who were all there in Denver when it started.

  38. I’m curious why anyone cares who did and who didn’t found the LP. It strikes me as minutiae and ancient history at this point. The LP was tiny at inception and is tiny now, although there remains are large minority of libertarian-leaners for whom the LP SHOULD provide a meaningful vehicle for political expression.

    If the point is whether there was ever and is now a disagreement on just how “hawkish” or “dovish” Ls were and are, the answer is Yes, there were and are disagreements.

    Personally, I’m pretty darned non-interventionist, but I happen to think Rothbard was extreme about it. It’s a complex world, filled with threats and ancient hatreds that are realities that shouldn’t be oversimplified.

  39. The poll question today is “Was George Bush a good President?”

    Currently the vote is 46%/46%/9%

    I cannot think of a more idiotic question to ask on our LP site. I can only hope the site has been spammed.

    The first time visitor will obviously think the LP is a pro war, pro bailout entity. In which case, why should the LP even exist?

    My response at IPR:


  40. The rockets have killed 20 Israelies in the past year, while 4,000 died in car accidents during the same period. (A war on cars or auto travel anyone?) A total of roughly Twevle Tons of bombs were dropped on Israel in the past 8 years by the one lb Humas rockets, in part in protest to the blockaide (a state of WAR) vs 1200 tons of death dropped on innocent babies, toddlers, children, women and old people in Gaza over the past 18 days dooen’t equal out friends. I don’t watch MSM Network propaganda. I watch alternative media and believe if all American would watch the SLAUGHTER would stop. Decent people wouldn’t tolerate this massacre. Israel broke the ceasefire not the other way around.

    Murdering defenseless babies and toddlers (over 100 so far) will never be justified no matter how hard your heart may now be…

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