After September 11, the United Nations authorized the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in the hunt to kill or capture Osama bin Laden.
September 11 was to many a clear instance of an “unprovoked” attack. The true facts, of course, are much different. The Americans had for decades been meddling in the Middle East, stirring up hatred by occupying holy land such as Saudi Arabia. Successive retaliatory attacks against American interests throughout the 1990s failed to register with policymakers, who were chock full of hubris and refused to consider an alternative foreign policy – one that doesn’t involve the CIA propping up brutal dictators and torturing alleged terrorists.
Recognizing the role that the U.S. played in unnecessarily provoking its enemy is not the politically correct thing to do, but many such as academic Robert Pape and ex-CIA official Michael Scheur have done just that.
After 9/11 one could plausibly have argued, as does Ron Paul, for a more restrained intervention in Afghanistan. Rather than aiming for all out regime change and nation building that may have created further blowback, there was a legitimate case for an inconspicuous hunt for bin Laden. But emotional public demands for vengeance negated debate over such an option.
Libertarians, however, continue to probe the question of whether the Afghan war is justified. The best piece I have seen in this regard is by David Henderson, who points out that the Taliban actually offered to hand over Osama bin Laden:
The Taliban asked President Bush to present evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks and stated that if the evidence were sufficient, it would cooperate in turning him over to the proper authorities. President Bush refused to do so. Ironically, the Taliban, a disgusting, bloodthirsty regime, agreed to play by the rules of international law, while President Bush, president of a democratic, relatively free society, refused.
Libertarians consider it immoral to initiate force: force is justified only in self-defence. If the use of force were not restricted to situations of self-defence, then the government could start wars willy-nilly. This in turn would demolish the liberties of citizens through the taxation required to finance war efforts, the military draft and so on.
So, libertarians should oppose the invasion of Afghanistan because it was not an act of self-defence. Although politicians claimed that military action was a response to 9/11, those who understand history know that al Qaeda didn’t attack America without provocation.