The Case Against the Afghan War

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.

11 thoughts on “The Case Against the Afghan War

  1. Some good points but…

    “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. ”

    is just silly. Do you really think that the Taliban would accept any evidence the US provided? It would have been used as nothing more that a stalling tactic.

  2. I’ll stop being glib – Australia should have fought in WWII, Afghanistan and arguably Korea. I’ll agree that all other wars we fought in were arguably wrong or not in our interests.

    This standard you expect nations to have to be able to defend their citizens is ridiculous. Government is not Jesus frickin Christ. They can’t say “let he without sin cast the first stone”. Regardless of their moral failings, they have a duty to protect their citizens. Collective punishment? What a dodgy, illliberal and sick idea.

  3. 9/11 was a proven shadow government attack. You don’t go on foreign adventures to get away from manipulation from within.

    But even supposing we did not know that? Where did the evidence stand in late 2001? Well there was no evidence linking Bin Laden with the attack. Thats just a fact.

    So what about a war on terror? Afghans don’t involve themselves in controversies beyond the next hill as a rule. The idea was to take down the Arab terror sponsors through proxies. Afghanistan wasn’t an Arab terror sponsor.

    So the violence in Afghanistan has been pretty senseless, at the very least since 2002.

  4. Don’t make things up Mark. Clearly we are talking about international terrorism. Whereas you are attempting some wordplay vis a vis the maltreatment of other tribes within Afghanistan.

  5. At the date of the false flag operation the terrorist sponsor nations that would go after Westerners were Arafatia, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria. If one hadn’t of known that there was shadow government involvement it would have been appropriate to take all of these regimes down by the simple resort of sponsoring their overthrow by the people they most oppress. That is to say THEIR OWN PEOPLE.

    Where on earth does Afghanistan fit into this picture? On the other hand getting rid of the camps and removing the Taliban leadership was fair enough. But where is our interest in Afghanistan now?

  6. Ummm because AQ were in Afghanistan and the Taliban were their hosts. Am I missing something? I though it was pretty obvious

  7. Now that they’ve got Osama, the Yanks can pull out of the region, saying ‘We won!’ We can leave them to sort themselves out.
    And I do think that Osama and AQ did the 9/11 attacks- they said they did, and nobody else claimed responsibility, and it makes perfect sense based on what they did in the past and would have wanted to do in the future.

  8. Libertarians consider it immoral to initiate force: force is justified only in self-defence.

    You don’t speak for libertarians, Sukrit. I don’t think you are one these days.

    The libertarian philosophy is based on non-coercion, not pacifism except in self-defence. It allows for the defence of property and rights as well as the safety, property and rights of others (obviously beginning with family, but not restricted to them).

    Consideration of withdrawal from Afghanistan has to take into account the fate of women under the Taliban. It’s not libertarian to treat them as irrelevant, nor is it valid to say that we shouldn’t have gone in or that can’t solve all the world’s problems. We’re there and we can solve some problems. Deal with it.

  9. Well I mentioned that didn’t I Troy. See that bit about camps and Taliban.

    David its certainly a worthy cause helping those non-Pashtun women. But war is about matching ends and means, else we end up fighting for other peoples goals (the establishment of another Islamic State for example).

    So we would need a more humble goal when it came to looking out for these women. And that might be the setting up of a small sanctuary that we have real control over. Property rights, freedom of religion. Womens rights and women respected and so forth. A single valley or something. With safe transport to that area.

    But trying to reform an whole country is not in line with our resources. So instead of doing a small bit of good that a large number of women can at least potentially access, we will end up making a hash of things.

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