This morning, the New Horizons probe had its closest approach to Pluto. It’s pretty cool that human ingenuity has gotten to the point where it’s possible to launch a rocket, and then 10 years later get it within a couple thousand miles of a (dwarf) planet orbiting ~6 billion kilometers away from us. But keeping with this blog’s theme, this doesn’t seem very libertarian! Isn’t this a big waste of money and resources for the government to be sending probes to Pluto? Well, yes, obviously.
An important criticism of both libertarian political ideology and practical policy is the lack of positive goals in international relations. Libertarians are often derided as isolationists, and even Ron Paul’s self-classification as a “non-interventionist” perpetuates the perception that libertarians can only talk about foreign policy in terms of “doing less”. But this criticism can be broadly rebutted on two fronts. The first is that the libertarian opposition to military engagement and advocacy for military reduction is not only a healthy and needed reality check, but ultimately better for our national security. The second is that there are other paths besides military power which should be emphasized, notably free trade, which policy in the past decade has largely ignored. I should note that my goals in this post are pretty modest. It is my belief that any foreign policy position labelled as libertarian would have difficulty finding mainstream acceptance, yet given these two moderate positions, I believe I can construct a foreign policy platform most ideological libertarians (and actually most Americans) would agree with. Continue reading