Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kubby on Iraq

A letter worth reading (and feel free to pass it around!):

Dear fellow Libertarians,

Since I declared my candidacy for our party's 2008 presidential nomination back in August, one of the most frequently asked questions of me has been "where do you stand on the war in Iraq?" Some of you have found my answers unsatisfactory. I apologize. I've been thinking through a problem and haven't found an answer ... so I'm just going to bring it to you. We need to talk about it.

First, let me make my own position on the US war in Iraq crystal clear: I oppose it. I opposed it when it was proposed, I opposed it when it began, and I oppose it now. If the American people put me in the White House, I'll end it immediately with a unilateral and unconditional withdrawal of US forces from that country.

But that's the easy part. The hard part is re-uniting a country and a party that's been divided by this war, and that's the part that has to start NOW. If you haven't found my previous answers satisfactory, please understand that I've been giving a lot of thought to the hard part.

It's easy to be against the war now. A majority of Americans oppose it, and it's even possible -- although I admit that the possibility is slim -- that America will be out, or on its way out, of Iraq before the next presidential election. But it wasn't always that way. The majority supported the war at the beginning. They regarded it as necessary and proper. Opposition to the war has been the majority sentiment within the Libertarian Party from the beginning, but majority and unanimity are two different things. A number of Libertarians also regarded the war as necessary and proper.

Over the past three years, it has become increasingly obvious that the war in Iraq is a doomed project. It can't be won. It can't be salvaged. It can only be abandoned. Unfortunately, those of us who realized this at the beginning have, all too often, hanged ourselves with our own rope. We gloated. We used the issue of the war as a political bludgeon to beat our fellow Americans and our fellow Libertarians over the head with their errors.

When I say "whatever you think of the war in Iraq ..." (this seems to have been the problematic part of my previous answers), I'm not saying that all points of view on the war are or were equally defensible. What I'm saying is that it's time for Americans -- and most of all Libertarians -- to unite and move forward instead of beating each other up over past mistakes. I'm not saying that we shouldn't learn from our mistakes. Far from it. The war in Iraq validates the non-interventionist ideals which our party has long held high, and in the future we will point to it when we say "never again." But ...

I know many Americans who supported the war at the beginning but who now understand that it's a lost cause. I know many Libertarians who regarded it as necessary and proper, but who have since become persuaded otherwise. These people are GOOD Americans and REAL Libertarians. Were they mistaken? I think they were, but I don't hate them for it. We all make mistakes. We need those good Americans and real Libertarians with us now ... and we won't have them with us if we insist that they come on their knees, wearing hair shirts and vocally denouncing themselves. As Ben Franklin said, "we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." And we must hang together as equals, not with some portion of us designated second-class citizens on the basis of an argument that is, or at least should be, over.

In the early 1970s, it became de rigueur among Democrats to "grade" each other, and especially primary candidates, on the question "when did you come out against the war in Vietnam?" That habit persisted long after the war ended, and it cost the Democratic Party dearly. I don't want the Libertarian Party to fall into the same trap. As a candidate for our party's presidential nomination, I will do my best to clearly articulate our opposition to the war in Iraq -- and to any expansion of that war to Iran, Syria or any other country -- and to offer a sound non-interventionist prescription for the future conduct of American foreign policy. What I will not do is subject my fellow Americans or my fellow Libertarians, including my opponents for the nomination, to a "just when did you get right on this issue?" litmus test.

Our party and our nation face critical challenges in the coming years. Among those challenges are disentangling ourselves from a disastrous foreign military misadventure; reclaiming our civil liberties from a White House and Congress which has spent them even more wastefully than it spends our tax dollars; securing each and every one of our rights as Americans and as free human beings; and making America once again a beacon of liberty toward which the world turns -- and to which many of the people of that world come to live in freedom and are welcomed. We must face these challenges together, as a party and nation united in purpose, not divided by past quarrels.

Let freedom grow!
Steve Kubby

You can find out more about Steve Kubby's campaign -- and support it -- at

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