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Libertarianism is a philosophy that embraces freedoms in the choices and pursuance of issues in all the realms of society. Within the philosophy of libertarianism lies the question of moral responsibility and moral justice for the actions of individuals or states when looked at from a broader perspective. One of the areas where this philosophy has been applied in the field of politics, especially the area of foreign policy.
Proponents of libertarianism also referred to as libertarians, argue for the free will of states when it comes to the development of policies that guide their interaction with other states.
This paper presents a supportive argument of the philosophy of libertarianism, especially its application to the field of foreign policy. The paper argues that the libertarians present a desirable framework on which the foreign policy grounds are supposed to be established in international relations.
Overview of libertarianism and foreign policy
As observed in the introductory part of this paper, libertarianism is a political philosophy that puts liberty at the center of interaction in all the realms of interactions between states on the global scene. Liberty, as used in the postulation of the arguments in the libertarian school of thought in the field of political science, means action based on the free will.
It also means that individual actors do not have to be interfered or forced to align with a certain cause that they deem unfavorable or unfit for their choices. Libertarianism, as applied in the foreign policymaking process, is based on the assumption that individual countries have a right to do whatever they want as long as their decisions and practices do not infringe on the rights of other states (Buley 222).
According to Duncan and Machan (3), libertarianism is the basis on which the principles of liberalism in the contemporary global political economy are rooted. Libertarianism is widely referred to as classical liberalism. Thus it argues for the openness in conducting affairs for the sake of the collective benefits of actors and those who are affected by the actions.
Opinions and theses by libertarians on foreign policy
One of the arguments that are inherent in the opinions that are raised by the supporters of libertarianism about foreign policy is that states take protectionism approaches when it comes to the development of decisions that guide their interactions with other states in the world.
The central issue that comes out when it comes to foreign policy choices by states is the issue of national security and the role of the government in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of the citizenry. However, it is important to observe that libertarianism reiterates the observance of the principle of mutual respect, even as states seek to attain their national goals in international relations.
Whether this can be attained is an issue that is debatable. Nonetheless, the most critical thing is that libertarianism provides a framework that guides the cooperation of states when it comes to the development of relations and the enhancement of objectives (Huebert 190).
Huebert (190) observes that the proponents of libertarianism support the principle of non-intervention. According to the principle, nation-states are independent entities and the activities that go on within a country immensely lie within the jurisdiction of that state. This further implies that the continuity and affairs of individual states can only be best dealt with by that state without the generation of external pressure from other states or players in the word.
The proponents further put forward an argument about the question of interests and the issue of interference in the affairs of individual states by other states. Perhaps, the pace at which several states in the world, like the United States, directly interfere or intervene in the political developments of other states through its foreign policy choices needs to be explored here.
What makes a lot of people to support the philosophy of non-intervention is that other nation states take advantage of other states when it comes to direct intervention. For instance, the United States often brings out the issue of national security and the universal protection of the rights and freedoms of all people in the world as supportive evidence for their direct actions in other states.
The resultant development of these kinds of interventions is the subjugation and worsening of the state of security and humanity, as well as the undermining of the supremacy of other governments and political regimes (Huebert 190).
Therefore, most people find it worthwhile to side with libertarianism because it is vital for the protection of the interests of individual states from the foreign policy choices that are made by other states in the global political arena. According to Daddow and Schnapper 330), non-intervention is in most cases seen as the route towards the establishment of a fairground on which governments take actions.
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In most cases, the citizenry of any nations suffers from the direct consequences of the actions that are taken by their governments, especially when the governments do not pay attention to the principle of non-intervention as proposed by the proponents of libertarianism. An example that can be given here is foreign policy choices by the United States to advance military interventions in several countries across the world.
It is critical to understand that in as much as libertarianism does not support the principle of interference it does not support the issue of total isolationism either, meaning that intervention can be done in a limited way. Indirect intervention is critical in promoting the cause of humanity across the world. Libertarianism does not back the issue of isolation, but it supports steps towards cooperation for mutual gains.
Opposing foreign intervention is in itself not a reason enough to argue that the proponents of libertarianism support the principle of isolationism in international relations. On the contrary, the proponents of the liberal principles largely argue against isolationism when pursuing matters of international interest. They support the formation of bonds in international relations.
Such bonds are critical in attaining solutions to common problems that face humanity across all nations in the world. Therefore, it is important to comprehend the perspective from which the supporters of libertarianism support and oppose different aspects of isolationism in international politics and relations (Buley 222).
Duncan and Machan (5) observe that the use of force is justified when it comes to the pursuance of a cause that can help to foster the existence of civil society. This observation is critical in creating a distinction between the term coercion and the term force, which are often confused by the critics of libertarianism.
Buley (1) observes that the issue of global responsibility is also important when arguing about the issue of isolationism and participation to gain order, which is important in attaining a civil society. An observation of the developments in the world denotes the presence of actors from different inclinations.
There are those actors who are cooperative and easily work with other actors to foster international security, while there are rogue actors. In such a case, nations have to act in the spirit of supporting the common cause of promoting humanity through intervention. This is critical in securing the rights without imposing violations on certain rights.
The pursuance of the defensive foreign policy by the proponents of libertarianism only applies to certain scenarios like the protection of the citizens from the impending dangers of pursuing open policies. Foreign policy cannot be pursued on an open basis when the rights and freedoms of the citizens of a given state are at stake. An example that fits this observation is the question and the threat of terrorism.
When it comes to the incidences of terrorism, there is a higher probability that the security of the citizens of a given country can be put in jeopardy based on the terror threats that emanate from other countries. In this case, libertarians can be highly conceived from the defensive sense (Buley 222).
The other important thing that is brought out in libertarianism is the idea of civil society. In the real sense, most people desire to have a society that embraces respect for all people; a society that is free from subjugation, conquest, oppressive acts. According to the proponents of the philosophy, most of these acts reflect a non-human society that does not pay attention to the principles of civilization.
The questions that come into mind when talking about civil society is the issue of liberty and the rights of individuals within the context of pursuing foreign policies that do not interfere with the internal affairs of other states.
Here the argument that comes out strongly is that the rights and freedoms of individuals must be protected at all costs, meaning that libertarianism leaves an open environment for the embrace of humanity through supporting intervention in areas where the actions of political authorities infringe on the rights and freedoms of people.
A government that poses a threat to the rights and existence of its citizens and the citizens of other states has to be checked through foreign intervention (Duncan and Machan 91).
Libertarianism is an old political philosophy that supports the freedom of states to determine their existence by choosing to pursue causes as long as these causes do not interfere with the rights and abilities of other actors to develop themselves. From the discussion presented in this paper, it can be concluded that libertarianism is the main basis on which the principle of liberalism is developed and enforced in the contemporary political economy.
The proponents of libertarianism support that the principles of foreign policy have to be considerate of the questions of rights and abilities of states to promote their interests, as well as the interests of other states through limited intervention in the causes that are undesirable in the global stage.
Libertarians support the free will to pursue causes, but they do not allow the pursuance of causes that are damaging to other states and people. This is the foundation on which the philosophy is highly backed in the development and implementation of foreign policy goals and objectives of the states.
Buley, Taylor W. The Fresh Politics Reader: Making Current Events and Public Affairs Relevant to Young Americans. Los Angeles, CA: Silver Lake Pub, 2006. Print.
Daddow, Oliver, and Pauline Schnapper. “Liberal Intervention In The Foreign Policy Thinking Of Tony Blair And David Cameron.” Cambridge Review Of International Affairs 26.2 (2013): 330-349.
Duncan, Craig, and Tibor R. Machan. Libertarianism: For and Against. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. Print.
Huebert, Jacob H. Libertarianism Today. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010. Print.