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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [August 18, 2005]





[]  While Bushie bloggers are livid over the Libertarian Party's recently released Iraq Exit Strategy (IES) -- which calls for an American pullout from Iraq -- the LP's hardcore peace faction say the IES doesn't go far enough!

Libertarian peace activists -- many affiliated with Libertarians for Peace -- also accuse the LP of betraying its own bylaws in passing IES, and in publishing misleading and one-sided propaganda in its party organ, the LP News.

Explaining his misgivings with the LP's IES, libertarian peace activist David Tomlin told the Hollywood Investigator, "IES states that the U.S. is 'obligated' to create a certain political outcome in Iraq, and that it is 'mandatory' to have a 'strategy for success' at doing so. This conflicts with the principle of not interfering with the affairs of other countries (IV.A.1 in the LP platform).

"IES would keep U.S. troops in Iraq longer than necessary for their safety, and send troops to Afghanistan for 'peacekeeping' and to other countries for no stated reason. All of this conflicts with 'Any U.S. military policy should have the objective of providing security for the lives, liberty and property of the American people in the U.S. against the risk of attack by a foreign power' (IV.B.1 in the platform). IES implicitly endorses Bush's 'War on Terror', which Bush has defined as against 'every terrorist group of global reach'. This conflicts with IV.B.1 in the platform. IES advocates foreign aid, in conflict with IV.C.1."

Libertarian peace activists speculate that the LP's Washington-based officers are embarrassed by the LP's "too radical" image and long for inside-the-beltway respect from pundits, politicos, and party-goers on the D.C. wine & cheese circuit.

Peace activists have accused LP staffers of stifling internal dissent on IES, and they also wonder if staffers railroaded the IES without approval from the Libertarian National Committee (LNC), whose members are elected at the national convention.

According to libertarian peace activist Jeff A. Smith, "The latest issue of LP News contains a blatantly one-sided and misleading account of the LP's IES, disparaging the IES's pro-peace critics without detailing their arguments. LP News also failed to report that the LP's bylaws likely require LNC approval on major policy statements -- which was not done. The article suggests the issue is open to interpretation, and that it was only raised by party members, and even some non-members, and not by LNC members or other party big wheels.

"True, the bylaws don't baldly state that all major policy statements must have LNC approval. But I believe only someone with a pre-existing agenda could read them -- particularly Article 6, which deals with LNC control of the party program -- and think it appropriate that a major statement such as IES be issued without LNC approval. An objective observer would assume this policy statement, one that will likely tower above all others for some time to come, should have had prior or concurrent explicit LNC approval as to its basic content.

"It is stated, in the 5th item of Article 6, that no program proposal (at least tacitly this should govern major policy statements) shall conflict with the LP Platform even with LNC approval.

"One could also make a case on precedent, which I do not think has seen a statement of this magnitude -- let alone a controversial one -- released without LNC approval."

Smith expressed his concerns to an LNC At-Large Representative who is "one of those [LP leaders] thought to be 'practical' rather than 'ideological. He was upset with [recently resigned LP executive director] Joe Seehusen over the IES because it was released without LNC approval. He said the matter would be addressed at the next meeting."

Smith asked the LNC representative it he thought the IES conflicted with the LP's non-interventionist platform. "He would only say he was angry about being put in the position of having to consider that question," said Smith. "He seemed convinced the IES was conceived and released by the staff, without even National Chair Michael Dixon participating."

Smith also accuses the LP News of mischaracterizing the IES's level of support in libertarian peace circles.

Said Smith, "LP News quoted a minor figure from as somewhat favoring IES, even though publisher Eric Garris thinks IES is a disaster and talked to the LP staff about it." [see sidebar].

"LP News is a shameless apologist for somebody," Smith continued. "I suppose one could assume that even after the flak over IES's release, the staff still has balls enough to voice its own controversial views through the party newspaper. 

"One could assume that, but I'm not.

Eric Garris wrote of the LP's Iraq Exit Strategy:

"I called and talked to the new [Libertarian Party] Communications Director, Shane Cory, about the plan. He brought up the Marshall Plan as a good example to emulate in Iraq, since it 'worked so well for Europe.' I mentioned that Nixon had a similar plan in 1971 in Vietnam, and Cory said that [Nixon] would have been successful had it not been for the public interference (i.e., the antiwar movement).

"He also said that this was 'just the beginning,' since the LP is perceived as way too radical and we needed to go after the Bush people. He said other stuff, but I started to go into shock and can't remember it all right now."

"Certain 'hired guns' have tried to show how IES aligns with the platform," said Smith, "yet they can't be taken seriously. Even Dixon, with his long and varied LP experience, including chairing the platform committee, publicly acknowledged the discrepancy early on. LP News itself only made non-specific references to platform-related arguments, perhaps sensing that a detailed look would expose pro-IES arguments to the ridicule they deserve.


Vampire Nation


As for the LP leadership's desire to curry favor with mainstream thinking, Smith said, "It's saddened me to realize how some within the party are capable of arguing any side of an issue; I wonder if the only factor determining which side one picks is how doing so will enhance or diminish their power within the party.

"I've seen much 'means justifies the ends' utilitarianism in the LP over the last few years, even among people I had respected. It's taken a toll on my interest in the party. What a person does cannot be separated from what they are. The LP on the way to losing its soul."

After the LNC meeting Smith's contact spoke of, Smith reported, "It appears some action resulting from IES was taken at the last LNC meeting -- the reinstatement of a committee to oversee advertising and publications. Not enough, since there is no repudiation of the objectionable elements in IES, but it's a positive sign nevertheless.


For more on the IES debate within the LP, see this report in Liberty for All. Jeff A. Smith can be reached at:

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