CPAC: Day Two

Today was my “slow day” at CPAC. There were fewer speakers that I wanted to see today, but the one panel discussion I desperately wanted to catch was about the relationship between liberty and security. The panelists were Rep. Dan Lungren, Robert Ash, Jim Gilmore, Bob Barr and Viet Dinh. The range of opinions represented was quite broad; from a Republican developer of the USA PATRIOT Act to, well, Bob Barr.

As of late, I’ve been having trouble reconciling my foreign policy views with all of my other views. Specifically, though I believe ultimately in freedom and liberty for all, I also tend to be more of a traditional Republican regarding war, national defense and terrorism. I had hoped that someone on this panel would present some strong arguments. Unfortunately, each “side” presented good arguments in support of its conclusion.

My problem is that I find the hands-off, anti-war position adopted by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) unrealistic and rather naïve, though I understand that he’s one to stand in the face of armageddon and stick by his principles. I also find the USA PATRIOT Act, “it’s a matter of national security” secrecy of the pro-war Republicans as seen in the last administration can, in the wrong hands, be tyrannical. It is exactly this that I fear and wish to avoid with a smaller government.

Last night, at his Campaign for Liberty address, Rep. Paul expressed his opinion that Osama bin Laden wants the United States to send more troops because he can use that as a recruiting tool. Whatever the truth value of this claim may be, I find it hard to believe that very many young men would be willing to strap bombs on their backs and try to kill people just because of the presence of American soldiers in their country. I believe that the reasons that would do that have more to do with a misinterpretation (or, perhaps a selective interpretation) of their religious text.

In contrast, though I am not a terrorist, I don’t want the government listening in on my telephone calls without having secured a warrant. In the panel discussion today, Mr. Gilmore said that he believed that subjecting warrantless wiretapping to judicial review was a valid move. I find that I must agree. I would consider that to be an invasion of my privacy, and if abortion is upheld in the court by means of an argument in favor of privacy, surely a phone conversation between two citizens can be also. Regardless, if one is suspected of plotting against this nation and its residents, it should be relatively easy to obtain a warrant.

I suppose that strictly hypothetically, my foreign policy views are just as libertarian as the rest of my views. In a perfect world, no one would want to kill me because I’m an American. They would realize how unproductive that is. However, realistically, I am more conservative than libertarian. Specifically regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, I would like to wipe out Al Qaeda and get the hell out of there. Let’s complete our mission and get the American forces out. Leave NATO peacekeeping forces in there to help ensure stability, but even then only a minimal number should be present. And after that, let’s see if we can stick to a relatively warless future. Let’s simply carry the bigger stick (with an emphasis on defensive weaponry) so that we don’t have to use it.

As Bob Barr said today at the panel discussion, “In order to protect, preserve and defend, we must limit the government.” The USA PATRIOT Act and all other similar pieces of legislation do not limit the government, they expand it and expand its powers. If we simply bring the government into uniformity with the Constitution, we’ll all have a lot less to worry about.

If you want to look at my pictures from the panel discussion and other events at CPAC today, you can go to my Flickr page.

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