March 29, 2011

The false promise of "Responsibility to Protect"

Life is not simple, although I wish it were. Since the life of every individual is filled with complications from personal relationships, the need to provide for their family, and the need to pay taxes, it should not surprise anyone that managing a world with nearly seven billion people would create one nightmare scenario after another. An international doctrine such as "Responsibility to Protect" makes several assumptions about mass populations rather than focusing on empowering individuals to live in freedom. Those assumptions are grounded in old, archaic ideas about strong central governments. Consider the rapidly evolving situation in Libya. Under the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine, the United Nations ordered the United States to help create a "no-fly zone" over northern Libya with the express intention of protecting the Libyan people from their own government. The real-world result of this is that the United States spent $600 million in less than a week in a military action that empowered a civil war against an established dictator. Now, as the rebels gain the upper hand, the world learns that this insane dictator who almost everyone agreed needed to be removed was right about one thing: the rebels are backed by terrorists!

The world is complicated because every individual life is complicated. Assumptions like the "Responsibility to Protect" are flawed because they gloss over these complications and pretend that magically every person is the same, every citizen is law-abiding, and the only thing anyone wants is to live in peace. This assumption in turn is directly derived from the idea that "the people" are naive, ignorant, unable to make responsible decisions, and desperately in need of intelligent, educated "leaders" to make their decisions for them.

It is true that some individuals are desperate for a divine king to rule over a land where everyone thinks, feels, and acts the same, but this does not mean it is true for everyone, nor even for a majority. After all, tribalism did evolve into city-states which in turn evolved into kingdoms and kingdoms led directly into imperialism. The Imperial Age ended with World War One which in turn gave birth to the League of Nations, our very first attempt at a genuine global government. It is important to note here that from Tribalism to the League of Nations the same assumption held true throughout: the people need a Machivellian Prince to keep order and the larger the princedom the more despotic the prince must be.

The United Nations was set in place following our second global war. It corrected many of the flaws of the old League of Nations, but it still rested on the assumption that in order for nations to cooperate someone had to provide a guiding hand. Now, six decades later, that guiding hand is ordering the United States to defend those who seek to destroy her while our President bows down to the oil-rich despots that provide our enemies their funding. In the shadows, wealthy elites and monarchies with ancient roots are cooperating together to transistion us into a genuine global government with centralized control over banking, trade, health regulations, education standards, personal prosperity, and personal freedom.

There is a great deal of talk about "protecting individual rights", but somehow the implementation of this protection always results in the protection of terrorists, anarchists, violent revolutionaries, and criminal syndicates rather than their victims. Consider, for example, "Project Gunwalker". American Federal Agents over strident objections from individual gun shop owners, escorted over two thousand firearms across our southern border and aided in the delivery of those weapons to Mexican drug cartels. In both the case of Project Gunwalker and the Libyan no-fly zone, centralized control resulted in the arming, equipping, and defense of violent criminals. This is the core problem of relying on a strong central government at any level. As soon as the government is allowed to become the source of individual rights, the Machivellian Prince raises his ugly head and he always has more in common with violent thugs than he does with individuals who seek personal freedom and a peaceful life.

My solution is the same solution proposed by the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States. We need to dismantle the bureacracies, all of them from the county level to the global. Individual rights are derived from the Divine, regardless of how you define it. The role of government is to protect those rights, protect private property, and provide for the common defense. Nothing more, nothing less. If people want to rebel against their national government, let them. If a national government wants to impose draconian laws, let it. The role of a global government is to insure freedom of movement and protection of private property at the individual level. Let people vote with their feet and their wallets, or when necessary, with their privately-owned firearms. The only time a global government gets involved should be when two sovereign nations take up arms against one another, or when one country prohibits their people from leaving and taking their personal wealth with them. Money must be allowed to move freely, without restrictions, without taxation, and without government interference. The only time the government should be involved is when two individuals have a dispute over whose money it actually is. Settlement must then start at the local level and work its way up until both individuals are satisfied with the outcome. Limits can be placed each step of the way so that we won't find something bizarre happening like two people in world court arguing over a single chicken or two nations trapped in a city court arguing over tariffs.

We don't need a global government that dictates everything from how you manage your farm pond to what kind of light bulbs a city apartment dweller can install. Those issues belong at the local level, not the state level, not the national level, and most assuredly not at the global level! Local governments should be tasked with local issues and local issues only. That includes the role of global corporations, by the way. If a city does not want a Walmart, a McDonalds, an HSBC branch, a temple, a church, a mosque, or even a Red Cross, they should have the right to exclude them. A nation should not have that right, but a city should. Local communities have the right to define their local culture while neither states, nations, nor a global government should have the authority to interfere. The only caveat should be violence between two individuals (handled at the city level) or two nations (handled at the global level). Naturally if two tribes, two cities, two counties, or two states/provinces try to go to war then the level immediately above them needs to intervene.

The key is that intervention must restricted to organized violence between two politically equal forces. It is not the job of the county (let alone the United Nations!) to tell a city how to manage its water supply. If a city can't manage its water supply and people become sick, they can move to a better city. The focus of government at all levels must be empowering individuals to take charge of their own destiny without resorting to violence.

True, some people will fail, but it can not be the responsibility of government to ease suffering, feed the poor, and house the homeless. A city government might take on those responsibilities, but the moment it rises even to the county level bureaucracies must be created, policies instituted, laws passed, regulations adopted, protections against fraud set in place, and before you know it a meal that would cost a private charity pennies to create and distribute is costing hardworking taxpayers millions of dollars. There will always be poor individuals, poor cities, poor counties, and poor nations. Poverty is the inevitable result of bad choices, natural disaster, or undeveloped individual empowerment. Government involvement in any of these situations is expensive, inefficient, and inevitably results in confiscation of wealth from other individuals.

We don't need the government telling us what kind of light bulbs to use and we don't need the government ordering our military to protect terrorists. Smaller, more responsive, less involved government restricted to precise limits of authority is the key to freedom and freedom is the key to empowering each individual.

Our military does not have a "responsibility to protect" Libyan rebels, Palestinians, or any other oppressed group. We never should have gone into Iraq and we never should have agreed to support the U.N. no-fly zone in Libya. It is not in the people's interest to continue policing the rest of the world. We currently have over $113 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That is over $1,000,000.00 per taxpayer. We need to end overseas military interventions and we need to end them now. Let the rest of the world burn if it must. Our government has a responsibility to protect our own people, not the people of the world.

Yes, we do need a global government. We need a global government founded on the idea that each individual has an inalienable right to self-determination provided they do not use that right to justify violence aimed at the people around them. All sovereignity rests in the individual, then their community, then their region, then their nation. No government at any level has the authority to deny people their individual rights, but if one of them does, it is the responsibility of those individuals to rise up and defend those rights.

In short, if Libya must have a no-fly zone Let Saudi Arabia and Israel work together and create it. They do, after all, have the two most advanced air forces in the region. Conversely, if the Europeans want to waste tax money, manpower, and equipment defending the oil interests of their nation's private companies in nothern Libya, then that is their business not ours. There is no justification whatsoever for American forces to be involved in policing the government of Libya, or any other government for that matter. It is not our responsibility.