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L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 140, September 24, 2001
Cliff 'Em All!
A Libertarian Response to Terrorism
by William Stone, III
Special to TLE
In a letter to the editor (The Libertarian Enterprise, Issue 139 http://webleyweb.com/tle/libe139-20010917-01.html#letter11, I announced that I had registered the domain name "deadterrorists.com" and intend to produce a web site that will -- in part -- explore ideas of punishments that would act as a deterrent against future terrorists.
It turns out that a St. Louis company beat me to the draw and had registered the domain mere seconds before I did. Therefore, the new URL will be http://deadterrorists.wrstone.com.
The site, however, is more than simply the exploration of appropriate punishment for terrorists. The preliminary wording for the home page currently reads:
As you can see from the preliminary wording, while the site will unequivocably support punishment for the terrorists, it will also present a libertarian response to terrorism in general.
Indeed, a thinking libertarian may well ask: "What is the libertarian response to the terrorist acts of Bloody Tuesday?"
(Seminal libertarian author L. Neil Smith -- http://www.lneilsmith.org/ -- has termed September 11 "Bloody Tuesday." I will adopt this term in both this and future articles.)
The sole criterion that any libertarian should use in measuring both the events of Bloody Tuesday and his response to them is the Non-Aggression Principle, to wit:
"No human being has the right -- under any circumstances -- to initiate force against another human being, nor to advocate or delegate its initiation."
Some libertarians would argue that since Bin Laden's actions were in some measure incited by the FedGov's intrusive, immoral, and Unconstitutional foreign policy, then he and his followers have had force initiated against them. Therefore, their reaction is justified.
This is nonsense.
The FedGov and its agents -- largely the Executive and Legislative branches, the Federal military and CIA -- no doubt incited these terrorist attacks. There is positively no doubt that these particular events would not have occurred but for the FedGov needlessly manufacturing enemies thoughout the world with its meddling.
Had Bin Laden's men confined themselves to those actually responsible for U.S. foreign policy and its execution, a thinking libertarian would not be particularly outraged.
That is not what Bin Laden did. He targeted thousands of individuals who had NOTHING to do with the planning or execution of the FedGov's foreign policy.
Some libertarians might argue that the American electorate is collectively responsible. The planning and execution of the FedGov's foreign policy is done by those who are popularly elected, after all. Therefore we are all collectively to blame for voting for individuals who planned and executed policy that incited these terrorists.
This, too, is nonsense.
For the last half century at least, the American electorate has been a victim of systematic indoctrination in government schools. This indoctrination includes a number of specific items, but chief among them is a complete misrepresentation of both the literal meaning and intent of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Further, for roughly sixty years, the only viable Federal candidates with which the American electorate has been presented only represent two sides of the same coin. The value of the coin is identical, no matter who face you happen to get.
Or, as so brilliantly pointed out by Bill Maher in an HBO stand-up routine:
"America doesn't have two political parties. It has identical political cousins played by Patty Duke."
In short, at least since World War II, it wouldn't have mattered who got elected: foreign policy would have looked more or less the same.
Since the American people cannot be collectively held responsible for the actions of those who plan and execute the nation's foreign policy, a libertarian can only conclude one thing:
That Osama Bin Laden and his organization are initiators of force on a fantastic scale. There are, after all, at least five thousand individuals dead who had absolutely no part in FedGov foreign policy or its incitation of terrorist acts.
Therefore, a libertarian response to these acts is -- first and foremost -- to call for restitution from Bin Laden and his organization.
Restitution is obviously not to be forthcoming. Nor can any individual or organization reasonably provide restitution for the deaths of so many individuals.
Therefore, the next best thing that a libertarian can call for is DEATH, so that these individuals will never have a chance to commit such atrocities again.
In calling for death, the libertarian cannot simply be satisfied with "more of the same" in terms of the way the FedGov has previously handled such matters. In acknowledging that the FedGov incited the terrorists, a libertarian must also acknowledge that simply bombing some middle eastern country out of existence will only serve to incite additional terrorism.
Indeed, calls specifically to bomb Afghanistan are wrong-headed at best. The overwhelming majority of the Afghan people are themselves victims of the various petty dictators who have come and gone over the years. Bombing them will accomplish nothing save to send them into Bin Laden's waiting arms.
The libertarian response must call for the death of SPECIFIC individuals in a SPECIFIC manner, and executed in a way that will deter future terrorists.
The only way to reliably target specific individuals and not innocents is through bounties. The appropriate libertarian response is a bounty on the heads of those responsible for Bloody Tuesday, with Osama Bin Laden at the head of the list.
It must be an enormous bounty, large enough to tempt even those around Bin Laden to betray him. Failing that, it must make Bin Laden a virtual prisoner of his compound, unable to leave or travel for fear of being murdered by the bounty hunters competing for his reward.
With a large enough bounty, someone will ultimately deliver his head.
The death of Bin Laden will not in and of itself be a deterrent to terrorism. There is no doubt a religious component to the mindset of these terrorists that may be exploited as a deterrent.
The individuals who actually perpetrated the acts of Bloody Tuesday probably believed that their sacrifice would enable them to achieve an afterlife Paradise. Like-minded individuals must be made to understand -- via example -- that they will be denied Paradise should they be apprehended before destroying themselves.
The way to do this is to exploit their beliefs, and to intentionally dispose of their bodies in a way that their religion specifies as heretical.
For example, during one of his tours in the Phillippines, U.S. General John J. Pershing disposed of three Islamic terrorists in this fashion:
He had two of the terrorists dig their own graves. Then two pigs were killed, and the firing squad's bullets smeared with entrails of the pigs. After execution, the dead pigs were buried with the bodies of the two terrorists.
According to Islamic belief, this defiled the terrorists' bodies for all eternity.
The third terrorist was released to tell his compatriots what had become of the other two.
Pershing never again experienced problems with terrorism. In this day and age, this would considered a gruesome process. It is, however, an appropriate deterrent.
Concurrent with the death and disposal of Bin Laden and his organization, a libertarian response to Bloody Tuesday must include a call for complete cessation of the policies that both incited the terrorists and made their actions viable.
This would be nothing less than a strict enforcement of both the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
A strict enforcement of the Bill of Rights will completely remove Federal foreign policy as it exists today. It will remove any reason for terrorists to want to commit such atrocities against Americans.
Further, it will enable Americans to defend themselves from the few individuals left who might commit terrorist acts WITHOUT incitiation by the FedGov. As pointed out previously, Bloody Tuesday would have been preventable were it not for the 20,000 illegal and immoral gun laws in the United States.
Indeed, strict enforcement of the Bill of Rights -- specifically the Second Amendment -- will act as a greater deterrent than any horrific disposal of a terrorist's body.
The FedGov has essentially had the country on a war footing since World War II. By all rights, at the end of the Cold War, we should have gone off a war footing -- but we didn't, because so few people were left who even understood we were on one in the first place.
Since the end of the Cold War, the FedGov has been floundering around, looking for something -- anything -- to latch on to in order to justify its gigantic bulk.
And it found one: the War on Terrorism. This one is even BETTER than the Cold War, since there will always be disgruntled people with more firepower than brains -- or ethics. This being the case, the FedGov will attempt to justify staying on a war footing FOREVER.
As long as the FedGov can claim, "We need to do just this little bit more to make sure the Tim McVeighs of the world can never blow up an American building," they can go on FOREVER, eating up our rights and leaving the Constitution an even more twisted mess than it is now.
If libertarians cannot sieze this moment to call for full and complete enforcement of the Bill of Rights, this the beginning of the end.
This is what the Web site at deadterrorists.wrstone.com will be committed to. It is a libertarian response to Bloody Tuesday, no more and no less.
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