Sunday, August 26, 2007

FreedomFest 2007 - The BIG Debate: Libertarians Ron Paul & Doug Casey vs. Conservatives Dinesh D'Souza & Larry Abraham

Part 1 - Ron Paul

Part 2 - Dinesh D'Souza

Part 3 - Larry Abraham

Part 4 - Doug Casey

Part 5 - Rebuttal; Abraham and Casey

Part 6 - Rebuttal; D'Souza and Paul

Part 7 - Q&A


On July 7, 2007 FreedomFest concluded with a debate on U.S. foreign policy and the war in Iraq between:

Libertarian Ron Paul & Anarchist Doug Casey
Neo-conservatives Dinesh D'Souza & Larry Abraham

Each speaker was given 10 minutes for opening remarks, followed by a 4-5 minute rebuttal from each participant, and finally questions and answers were taken from the audience. A summary of the main points made by each debater are as follows:

Ron Paul, Obstetrician and Congressman from Texas, Libertarian

  • In general, in the past those who advocated non-intervention won elections.
  • The constitution did not give permission to the US government to initiate wars of aggression and that was for good reason.
  • The constitution notes that war should only be waged after a declaration of war from congress.
  • The founders' advice was to talk to people, trade with them, but not intervene in the internal affairs of other nations.
  • There are many unintended consequences of intervention. As more intervention has taken place over the 20th century, people around the world have become resentful of U.S. foreign policy. This resentment has created blowback as extremist organizations have become motivated to attack the U.S. based on its interventionist foreign policy.
  • If a non-intervention policy is hard to accept, consider what intervention looks like from the other side. What would we think if the Chinese had troops within our borders and they were teaching us to live like the Chinese and teaching us their religion and their laws? We would be outraged and we would fight to remove their presence.
  • When Ronald Reagan sent troops to Lebanon and reversed his pledge to never turn tail and run. He explained the reversal due to his realizing the irrationality of the policies of that nation and the hatreds of the region. It was a lesson he had to learn, but we still haven't learned it.
  • In 1953 we used the CIA to overthrow democratically elected Prime Minister Mohamed Mosedec because we didn't like him defending the interests of the Iranians against the interests of the British and American oil companies. And we wonder why they get angry.
  • We remember nothing, they forget nothing.
  • In the 1980's we subsidized the radical madrassa schools and Osama bin Laden to create "freedom fighters" against the communists
  • We were partners with Saddam Hussein because he was attacking Iran. When he used gas, we looked the other way and actually sold him the gas.
  • These policies have to stop, and a better managed war in Iraq will not solve America's fundamentally broken foreign policy

Dinesh D'Souza, Conservative Commentator, Neo-Conservative

  • For libertarianism to be consistent it should defend the principle of liberty.
  • Non-intervention can be useful, but it is subordinate to the primary principle of liberty
  • If you can intervene abroad to secure liberty should you do it? Or should you abstain in the name of non-intervention which would undermine liberty?
  • It could seem paradoxical to libertarians to use force to secure freedom. However, we have imposed freedom at the point on a bayonet in the past on Japan and Germany. The results have been very positive.
  • Freedom often comes through force. For example through a revolution. Revolutions are rarely peaceful and never legal. It took a civil war to secure freedom for African Americans. Hence freedom sometimes comes through force.
  • In retrospect, should we have gone into Iraq? In retrospect, I wish we had focused a little more on Iran. They're clearly the ones seeking WMD's. Unfortunately we can't act in retrospect, we have to act based on the best information available at the time.
  • Today Muslims have only two choices, Islamic tyranny (like Iran's rule of the Mullahs) or secular tyranny (like everyone else; Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc). From a Muslim point of view there is no freedom in the middle east. The war in Iraq is trying to create a 3rd choice; call it Muslim democracy.
  • We're not the worlds policeman promoting democracy everywhere. In Iraq we're not trying to impose democracy everywhere, we're simply trying to impose it somewhere to give Muslims an alternative to the forms of tyranny that engulf their world. 
  • The Islamists already control Iran and have been trying for a generation to export the Khomeini revolution to other countries. They are desperate to get another major state, and they've said it should be Iraq. They've announced if they get Iraq they'll then target Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • Is the libertarian position that we should sit back and watch this happen? Realistically we have interests in the Middle East and we should defend them.
  • Why did Islamists attack the US on 9-11? Bin Laden believes that the U.S. is outwardly tough, but inwardly a bunch of cowards. When the fighting get's tough, they'll turn tail and run. They did it in Vietnam and they'll do it again. All they have to do is wait it out in Iraq until the great impatience and weariness of the American people to arise when stoked by the political left and some libertarians that say we should leave. Iraq then falls into their hands.
  • If we believe in freedom, we should stay and fight for it.

Larry Abraham, Chairman and Founder of Pan-American Capital Group, Neo-conservative

  • 93 years of idiotic, schizophrenia, and insane foreign policy is not the point.
  • Who really set the stage for Reagan's cut and run in Lebanon? The same people who are setting the stage for the cut and run from Iraq, the editorial board of the New York Times
  • I'm opposed to helter-skelter intervention, but 911 is different
  • Hypothetically, if Musharraf in Pakistan goes down, Islamists will gain possession of a nuclear weapon. If Mubarak in Egypt goes down they would they close down the Suez canal. The reality is that's the hand we've been dealt right now.
  • Very bad things could soon occur so we should act offensively now while we still can to defensively prevent them from taking place in the future.

Doug Casey, founder of Casey Research, Anarchist

  • The US attacked a backward, primitive country that did nothing to it and which used to be a bosom ally of the corrupt U.S. government.
  • If a Muslim army had attacked the US, I would hope every American would be out there every night trying to kill a Muslim soldier just like they're out there trying to kill an American soldier
  • The arguments of the neo-conservatives are complete rhetoric and sophistry.
  • The war is counter-productive. It can have no benefits. It will destroy American freedom.
  • When the next 911 occurs, the US government will lock down the country into a police state. That will destroy American freedom and bankrupt the US government.
  • Should we invade Iraq to defend America? No, continuing now by taking the war to Iran will start WW3
  • Who's the enemy? We brought freedom to Germany and Japan? Ridiculous! Those were modern industrialized nations which had a government to fight. In this case it's a guerilla war.
  • The real enemy is not backward Muslims, it's the US government. The Muslims are just misguided human beings who are attacking us because we attacked them.
  • Should we give them democracy? No. Democracy is nothing more than mob rule dressed up in a sport coat.
  • What should we have done about 9-11? Should we have attacked Beijing because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor (which is exactly what attacking Iraq is)? No. It was a criminal act not a cause for war.
  • We can't win a guerilla war. If we go into Iran, the average Iranian who currently is very sympathetic to the U.S. and anti his government will turn anti-American. And then we'll really whack the hornets nest.
  • Three actions to take to solve this problem: Withdraw all U.S. troops from the 100+ countries they are stationed in. Stop meddling in foreign governments and stop giving foreign aid to Israel and Egypt, etc. Apologize for doing these awful things.
  • If we take these actions, the Muslim people will stand down and go back to their natural evolution and development.

Rebuttal by Larry Abraham

  • Who started this conflict? Perhaps it was at the Battle of Tours, a hangover from the Battle of La Ponto, or the British and the French screwing up the Arabs at the end of WWI. Who knows, but 911 was much more than a criminal act.
  • We didn't start it.
  • Have you ever been hated and wanted dead just for who you are? Every Jew in Israel knows that feeling. Everyday there's someone over there thinking, "how can we kill those people, they deserve to die, they're worse than pigs." That hatred is not only directed at Israel but also the American people.
  • Doug has a lot of contempt for this country, but the U.S. is not deserving of contempt. We've made mistakes, sure. But it's not conservatives who are responsible for those mistakes.
  • I have a son in the Marine Corp. Does that make me a fool? Does that make my sons just worthless battle cannon fodder? I don't think so.
  • If Doug is right and this country is as contemptuous as he says it is, then this debate is a prelude to chaos, confusion, and genocide.

Rebuttal by Doug Casey

  • I've got no problem with Israel or the Jews, I just don't want a dog in that fight.
  • The state of Israel stole the land that now makes up it's borders from the residents that previously lived there. 
  • Before the creation of the state of Israel the Muslims and Christians living in the middle east didn't hate the Jews and they all got along fine.
  • It's the creation of a state that's the problem where the people who are not controlling the state are disenfranchised.
  • It's a big problem, but it's not our problem to solve, they have to work it out for themselves.
  • Larry said I have contempt for the country. No! I said I have contempt for the government.
  • If you want to kill someone badly enough, you should do it yourself, not get control of a government to do it for you and force others to pay for that action.

Rebuttal by Dinesh D'Souza

  • The issue here is not just "the government", it's also what the founders stood for. Libertarians believe the founders stood for liberty. Is liberty only good for us? The principled libertarian, like the founders, believes that liberty is a universal aspiration.
  • The idea of 911 as a police action: Memo to our opponents; the guys that did 911 are all dead. If that's the war on terror then you might as well declare it over. What about all the new terrorists coming out of the madrassas committing bombings all over the world?
  • The idea that we should pull all of our troops home everywhere and get involved nowhere; if you took this idiotic principle and applied it over the past 100 it the idea that if FDR didn't like Hitler he should go choke him himself?
  • Blowback; foreign policy is sometimes about the principle of the lesser evil. Sometimes you ally with the bad guy to get rid of the worse guy. In WW2 we allied with the really bad guy--Stalin--because Hitler posed a greater threat at the time.
  • We sold those weapons to Saddam? Non-sense. The U.S. diplomatically tilted towards Iraq in the 80's because Khomeini then posed a greater threat than Saddam.
  • It is true we're seeing a blowback. Is the average Muslim in the Sudan or Somalia or Islamabad willing to go to his death because the Palestinians don't have a state? Give me a break. Is the ordinary Muslim willing to kill himself because there are troops in Mecca? There are no troops in Mecca. They're 500 miles away in the Saudi desert. The average Muslim is not saying that in the street.
  • What they're saying is: the US is the global head of the unbelievers or the pagans. The US is exporting thorough globalization and free trade values that are undermining Islam, destroying the Muslim family, and corrupting the innocence of Muslim children. Pulling home the troops will not stop that. Their argument is the fundamental values of Islam are being attacked.
  • It is American ideas and values that are at the root of this. Either we stand up and fight for them, or we go down with them.

Rebuttal by Ron Paul

  • If we had respected private property and not used regulation to take away the responsibility to protect passengers from the airlines themselves, it's likely that the pilots of the planes that were used on 911 would have had guns in the cockpit and been able to defend themselves and prevent the event from occurring.
  • Now 911 is the excuse for perpetual war. Iraq had nothing to do with 911, yet 911 is the excuse for the initiation of the Iraq invasion.
  • Our foreign policy creates conditions for terrorism
  • Christian non-intervention means you don't go to war carelessly and you do not preemptively strike a nation that has not threatened you.
  • Michael Scheuer is the world expert on Bin Laden who says Ron Paul is the enemy of Al Qaeda because if we take Paul's advice it will remove the primary source of new recruits for Al Qaeda. They like us in their backyard (Iraq) where they can pick us off one by one and wear us down.
  • Suicide terrorism's root cause is not radical Islam. Robert Pape's book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism notes the top suicide bombing nation is not Islamic -- it happens to be Sri lanka. I was unconvinced he was right, but he convinced me. The top motivation to get someone to commit suicide terrorism is foreign occupation.
  • It's the Arabian peninsula that is considered holy land by the terrorists, not just Mecca.
  • The fundamental principle of the constitution is non-intervention and minding our own business. If we had embraced that principle all along and apply it in the future we will be much safer.

Question and Answer Period

  • Moderator George Gilder asked what Israel's response should be to Iran's threat of using nuclear weapons. Larry Abraham noted that they do not have the capability now, but we should make it clear that if they do develop the capability that [the US] should take them out. He asked, if we're going to be a world power, shouldn't we act like a world power?
  • A questioner from the audience asked: why should we be a world power? The point of being a world power is so that we can DEFEND ourselves not so that we can go around beating up on others, he went on to ask D'Souza, why do you think the constitution is for the entire world?
  • D'Souza responded by saying the founders didn't make the constitution for the world, our civil rights are ours. But the constitution arose from universal principles, everyone is entitled to liberty. Another 911 will destroy freedom in America, if it occurs the US will have to become like Israel, a police state. Since there's been no attack since, everyone has been able to relax and rest easy.
  • Ron Paul responded to D'Souza by saying that he too fears more 911's as a threat to our freedom. But the threat is not from a foreign power, it's from more Patriot Acts, more National ID Acts, more loss of habeas corpus -- and that's coming from our government. If we want to spread our goodness it should be without force by setting a good example, having a vibrant economy, and minding our own business where people will want to emulate us. You can't do it through use of force!

FreedomFest is an annual festival where "free minds meet" to celebrate "great books, great ideas, and great thinkers" in a liberal, open-minded society. It is independent, non-partisan, and not affiliated with any organization or think tank.

Founded and produced by Mark Skousen since 2002, FreedomFest invites the "best and the brightest" from around the world to talk, strategize, socialize, and celebrate liberty. FreedomFest is open to all and is purely egalitarian, where speakers, attendees, and exhibitors are treated as equals.

Who should attend FreedomFest? It’s open to anyone who enjoys a wide interest in books, art, music, film, and drama in all topics, including science, philosophy, economics, health, sports, technology, business, religion, law, and politics. FreedomFest attracts people of all walks of life and across the political spectrum to learn, debate and honor great books, great ideas, and great thinkers.

Video Sharing Sites  
More Information  

No comments: