Thursday, June 21, 2007

Iraq Withdrawal - Proposed LNC Resolution for Pittsburgh Meeting

Libertarian National Committee (LNC) Representatives Angela Keaton and I (Wes Benedict) will co-sponsor a motion at the July 21, 2007 LNC meeting in Pittsburgh asking the LNC to adopt the following resolution requesting withdrawal of United States armed forces from Iraq.

WHEREAS the Platform of the Libertarian Party calls for the government of the United States to return to its historical libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, foreign quarrels, and military adventures; and

WHEREAS the armed forces of the United States have invaded Iraq, a foreign nation that neither directly attacked nor imminently threatened to attack the United States; and

WHEREAS this invasion was unjust and imprudent; and

WHEREAS the injustice and imprudence of this invasion cannot be undone by the continued presence of the armed forces of the United States in Iraq; and

WHEREAS the stability and security of Iraq lie outside the jurisdiction of the government of the United States;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Libertarian Party calls on the government of the United States to withdraw the armed forces of the United States from Iraq, without delay or preconditions.

If you are a Libertarian Party activist, I urge you to contact your LNC Representatives and express your opinions on this matter. Your LNC Representatives can be found here:

Please post your opinions on this blog as well. Let us know who you are. Feel free to list campaigns you've run or any officer positions you hold at the county or state level (recognizing that listing those positions does not imply that your personal opinion represents the official position of the organization in which you hold office), and tell us why you do or do not support this resolution.

I do not know whether or not this resolution will pass. I'll maintain an up-to-date listing on this blog of any LNC members who publicly offer their positions in advance of consideration of this issue.

LNC Members:

Bill Redpath, Chair
Chuck Moulton, Vice Chair
Bob Sullentrup, Secretary
Aaron Starr, Treasurer

Angela Keaton, At-Large - FOR
Patrick Dixon, At-Large
Michael C. Colley, At-Large
Jeremy Keil, At-Large
Dan Karlan, At-Large

Tony Ryan, Region 1
M Carling, Region 2
Emily Salvette, Region 3
Bob Barr, Region 4
Jim Lark, Region 5
Wes Benedict, Region 6 - FOR
Hardy Machia, Region 7

While I believe this resolution clearly reflects the position implied by our platform, I don't think this position has been consistently communicated by various actions of the National Libertarian Party over the past few years.

Below are some arguments against adopting this resolution that you might come across.

1) This resolution is unnecessary because the platform is clear on this issue.

Rebuttal: The June 29, 2005 Iraq Exit Strategy (IES) posted on the LNC website called for a "complete withdrawal in one year's time" and that time has long since passed. Additionally, the IES recommended some steps many members felt were in violation of the platform.

Regardless of the merits of points made in that June 29, 2005 IES, the current LNC needs to make clear its position on this issue now.

2) The Libertarian Party should not adopt positions that some of its members may disagree with or find divisive. Our party needs to grow, even if that includes recruiting and retaining members who support the Unites States' continued military presence in Iraq.

Rebuttal: I support growing the Libertarian Party. I welcome people who predominantly support the platform of the Libertarian Party even if they may disagree on some issues, including the Iraq War. That doesn't mean our party shouldn't take a bold stand on issues that aren't unanimously supported by its members. Democrats disagree amongst themselves on the War in Iraq. Republicans disagree on immigration policies. Mature political parties should expect and welcome internal debate and disagreement on important issues.

I recently proposed this same resolution to the Libertarian Part of Texas (LPT) Executive Committee. The LPT Executive Committee voted it down. Some members supported it, while others opposed it for various reasons. Some opposed it because they supported the continued occupation of Iraq, while others opposed it because they preferred avoiding a divisive issue.

While I was disappointed that the Libertarian Party of Texas failed to adopt this resolution, I continue to work with the opponents on other issues and support their willingness to serve the Libertarian Party of Texas in their various roles.

While I support growing the Libertarian Party, I recognize the risk that some people may decide to quit the Libertarian Party based on the outcome of the vote on this resolution.

My message to potential quitters is: "There's some chance that by ceremoniously quitting you'll send a small message to other Libertarians how you feel about this issue and perhaps that will affect a change in direction. However, I believe it's more likely that by quitting, you'll be removing one more voice and one more vote that may be needed to tip the balance in the future on issues you feel are important. Rather than quitting the Libertarian Party and giving up your one vote, how about recruiting five or ten or one hundred other like-minded people to help guide the future direction of the Libertarian Party?"

I appreciate the time and energy that so many people have invested in working for the success of the Libertarian Party and for the cause of freedom in general, even though at times we may disagree on some issues. This might be one of those issues where we disagree.

Please contact your LNC Representatives and voice your opinion on this resolution. And of course, I hope that when you do, you'll be sending the message that you support this bold resolution demanding withdrawal of United States armed forces from Iraq without delay or preconditions.

--Wes Benedict
LNC Region 6 Representative

6/29/07 ***UPDATE***

The Iraq Exit Strategy has been removed from the website and I no longer plan to submit this resolution.