The Massacres In Syria Debunk Popular Libertarian Anti-War Rhetoric

syriaIf you follow my Facebook page, “Right Off A Cliff,” you probably know there’s a “love/hate” relationship between me and Libertarians.

Well “love/hate”—without the love.

I think most of them are narrow-minded individuals who lack the ability to see the “big picture” on much of anything and cling to a overly simplistic ideology which often ignores reality, history and facts.  And they think I’m an ignorant jackass who has no clue what I’m talking about.  Usually because I refuse to debate with any of them unless they can provide me the answer to this simple request:

Provide me with a society, either in human history or present day, that’s been successfully built on Libertarian ideologies.

*And no, the United States doesn’t count.  We still had slavery when this nation was founded, women couldn’t vote till the early 20th century and homosexual couples still can’t get married in most states.  Freedom has seemingly always been a “fluid” concept since the founding of this nation.

Though I don’t oppose all Libertarians (I have a few friends who side with the party) the majority I’ve run across have always annoyed the hell out of me on most of the issues for which they stand.

War being one of the biggest.

See, I’m neither pro-war or anti-war.  I believe war is sometimes necessary, but should be used as a means of last resort.  I believe war is horrific.  And I also understand war means good people will die, children will die, innocents will die and controversy will almost certainly dominate many of the headlines.

It’s war, and there’s no such thing as a “clean war.”

Libertarians are almost always fiercely anti-war.  Seemingly with this naive isolationist belief that, “if we leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone.”  How well did that work out for us in the 1940’s as Hitler rose to power?  We mostly stayed out of it until Pearl Harbor, and by then things were well out of hand.

Take the Libyan Civil War of 2011.  Libertarians were up in arms over any U.S. involvement.  My Facebook feed was filled with pictures of dead civilians, many of which were children, with Libertarian friends and Facebook pages claiming they were “killed by U.S. bombs.”

This was apparently their attempt to show what “the United States does to innocent people when we participate in war.”  As if innocents and children don’t die when we don’t get directly involved.

Well, have these Libertarians seen the massacres happening in Syria?  Because I have.

I’ve seen pictures of dead children on the street, slaughtered by pro-government militias.  I’ve seen piles of bodies on street corners, with children missing limbs searching for their parents.  And let’s not forget about the recent developments where Bashar al-Assad has apparently used chemical weapons against his own people.

It would seem these horrific events happen with or without U.S. involvement.

Now don’t take this as my endorsement that we should directly get involved in Syria.  I’m still not sure—nor do I believe the United States should be the world’s police.

My point is only to expose this naive, and narrow-minded, approach Libertarians often use in their anti-war rhetoric as complete garbage.  It’s popular for them to vilify the United States government, and military, as this unabashed killing machine that often sees enemies and civilians as one in the same.

But the philosophy I often use when it comes to war is this (because again, all war is horrific):

If war is inevitable (or already occurring) and diplomacy stands no chance at ending the conflict—a decision needs to be made.  And no matter what the choice, the loss of innocent lives will be a result.

If we were to get involved, would that involvement lessen the overall loss of civilian life by expediting the eventual end result?  Or if we stay out of it, are we okay with even more innocents dying while we do nothing?

Now, no two wars are the same, nor are Libya and Syria countries which I can make any real scientific comparison.  But let’s look at their civil wars for just a moment.

The Libyan civil war lasted 8 months, resulting in 25-29K dead—with a population of about 5.7 million people.

The Syrian civil war is still ongoing (since 2011–2 years and 3 months) resulting in an estimated 97-120k dead—with a population of about 22 million people.

So while it’s popular for Libertarians to act as if any U.S. involvement in war is the American government indiscriminately killing innocent people, what Libertarians often fail to comprehend is the bigger picture.  That while U.S. bombs and missiles might result in the deaths of some civilians, it might also lessen the overall death tolls by shortening the length of the war.

It’s the hypothetical cliché question of, “Are the deaths of 1,000 worth it to save 1,000,000?”

The answer is never easy, and I sure as hell don’t know it.

But what I do know is this — innocent people will die in every war.  And while the United States doesn’t need to be the “world police” (getting involved in every conflict), it’s naive and ignorant for Libertarians to parade pictures of dead or mutilated children around the internet so they can support their anti-war cause, while trying to convince themselves these horrific tragedies only occur when the U.S. gets involved.

Because I hate to break it to them, but there are thousands of dead children in Syria that the United States didn’t have a thing to do with.

The difficult question I ask, that I don’t have an answer for is—could we have possibly saved some?

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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