We had a great time at the Liberty Political Action Conference in Reno sponsored by the Campaign for Liberty. About 500-600 people attended the event, which featured many speakers, including both Ron Paul and Rand Paul. Ron created a bit of a stir when he walked into Rand’s book-signing session accompanied by the actor Vince Vaughn who obviously is a Ron Paul supporter.
My talk was on foreign policy and civil liberties. It was videotaped and so if they post it online, we’ll link to it in FFF Email Update. I focused on how the threat of terrorism against the United States is a direct consequence of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
I cited the debate exchanges between Ron Paul and Rick Santorum on the bad relations between the Iranian government and the U.S. government as an example of the problem we face. Santorum alleged that the root cause of the bad relationship was the 1979 Iranian revolution, when the revolutionaries took American diplomats hostage.
Not so, as Ron pointed out in the debate. The reason that the revolutionaries were so angry in 1979 was because of what the U.S. government had done to the Iranian people 25 years earlier. In 1953 the CIA ousted the democratically elected prime minister of Iran from power and replaced him with a brutal unelected dictator. Then, the CIA trained the dictator’s version of the CIA, the Savak, on how to torture and oppress the Iranian people. After 25 years of U.S.-installed and -supported tyranny, the Iranian people revolted, manifesting their anger at the United States by taking the U.S. diplomats hostage.
It’s the same phenomenon with respect to the constant threat of terrorism against the United States, especially with respect to the 10-year brutal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem, however, is that statists simply cannot bring themselves to admit that the U.S. government is ever in the wrong in foreign affairs or that it does bad things to foreigners.
Also, the statists view the government as their daddy, especially given that it provides their retirement, healthcare, food, education, and many other things. Therefore, they get angry when libertarians object to the bad things that the government does overseas.
The government then uses the threat of terrorism that its own policies produce as the excuse for taking away our freedoms here at home, including the Patriot Act, the enemy combatant doctrine, the illegal NSA-telecom spying, torture, body-groping at the airports, assassination, etc.
Then, we had a panel sponsored by The Future of Freedom Foundation entitled “The War on Terrorism, the Constitution, and Civil Liberties,” featuring Bruce Fein and me and moderated by Jack Hunter. It was fantastic. Bruce and I explained the legal ramifications of the war on terrorism. I focused primarily on the Jose Padilla case and why that case is so important insofar as the freedom of the American people are concerned. Bruce focused on the importance of due process of law and on the extent to which Americans have lost their civil liberties in the war on terrorism.
FFF’s program director Bart Frazier and I manned the FFF booth in the exhibit area, where we made lots of new friends and reconnected with old friends. All in all, it was a great conference.
I’ve been invited to guest host this week on an international radio show that airs on the Micro Effect Broadcast Network. The show is entitled “The Global Freedom Report” and is hosted by Brent Johnson, who asked me to guest host for him this week. I’ll be hosting the show today (Monday), Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5-7 p.m. ET. To listen in, just go to this website.
To call in, telephone 888-747-1968 for callers in the United States and Canada and 001-208-935-0094 for other countries.
This week we start a new FFF program in conjunction with the George Mason University Econ Society, a student-run group whose focus is primarily on economic liberty and Austrian economics. I’ll be conducting an informal law and economics seminar that will initially revolve around an analysis of the Legal Tender Cases in the context of monetary policy. It should be fun and I’m hoping the students find it rewarding.