July 16, 2015
“The non-aggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another. That is, in the free society, one has the right to manufacture, buy or sell any good or service at any mutually agreeable terms. Thus, there would be no victimless crime prohibitions, price controls, government regulation of the economy, etc.”
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When applied to foreign policy, the non-aggression principle means one state may not commit an act of aggression against another state unless the first state was attacked. Why? Because an unprovoked attack destroys the property of others. Moreover, state aggression expands state power, which is the opposite of small and minimal government that libertarians cherish. As Murray Rothbard noted,
“The libertarian position, generally, is to minimize State power as much as possible, down to zero, and isolationism is the full expression in foreign affairs of the domestic objective of whittling down State power. In other words, interventionism is the opposite of isolationism, and of course it goes on up to war, as the aggrandizement of State power crosses national boundaries into other States, pushing other people around.”
No one carried the standard of non-aggression in foreign policy more forcefully than former Representative Ron Paul from Texas, a libertarian icon. When he was in office, he consistently voted against almost every unprovoked foreign intervention the U.S. waged. He even called the U.S. sanctions on Iran for its alleged building of a nuclear bomb an act of war, doing so in the midst of the 2011 Republican presidential primary elections in Iowa. He was a fearless statesman and not just another politician.
The big news of this week has been the agreement between the P5+1 countries (the permanent five U.N. security council members plus Germany) and Iran to radically scale back Iran’s nuclear research program in exchange for the removal of crippling economic sanctions against Iran.
As expected, all of the Republican candidates lined up against the agreement. Even libertarian Republican candidate Senator Rand Paul perplexingly opposed the agreement, thereby violating the main libertarian principle of non-aggression. Not only that—he flat out lied about the content of the agreement. As Politico reported,
…”the Kentucky senator said his three concerns were: 1) sanctions relief precedes evidence of compliance, 2) Iran is left with significant nuclear capacity, 3) it lifts the ban on selling advanced weapons to Iran…I will, therefore, vote against the agreement,”
First, sanctions relief does not precede evidence of compliance. Sanctions relief comes after the IAEA inspectors verify Iran’s implementation of the agreement. It should take until mid-December to verify compliance by IAEA inspectors. As the text of the agreement states,
“The EU will terminate all provisions of the EU Regulation, as subsequently amended, implementing all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions, including related designations, simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation of agreed nuclear-related measures by Iran as specified in Annex V, which cover all sanctions and restrictive measures in the following areas, as described in Annex II.” [emphasis added]
Second, Iran is not left with significant nuclear capacity. The agreement reduces the number of centrifuges Iran is permitted to have from the current 20,000 to 6,100. That is a 69.5% reduction in the number of centrifuges, making the country’s capabilities insignificant. Furthermore, Iran must use first generation centrifuges (IR1), which will further reduce its capacity to enrich uranium. According to NPR,
“The agreement also calls for Iran to give up most of its centrifuges. Under the deal, Iran would go from having 20,000 centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, to having 6,104 for the next 10 years. Under the deal, Iran also agrees to give up its most advanced centrifuges and use only their oldest models.”
Third, the agreement does not immediately lift the ban on the sale of advanced weapons to Iran. It will take between five to eight years to lift the ban. As the Washington Post reported,
“On conventional weapons and ballistic missiles, negotiators split the difference between lifting current U.N. prohibitions and keeping them indefinitely in place. The new U.N. resolution will include an ongoing eight-year missile ban and continuing prohibitions on most conventional weapons sales for five years.” [emphasis added]
One would expect a libertarian to adhere to the non-aggression principle by supporting an agreement that would lessen the likelihood of a war (which would inevitably damage private property) between the U.S. and Iran. One would expect the son of principled statesman Ron Paul to walk in his father’s footsteps. One would expect a statesman not to lie about the contents of an agreement that is now public record. Alas, Rand Paul is not a statesman and he is not his father. He is simply another lying politician.
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