LP Monday Message: Memorial Day and Harry Browne

May 30, 2011

Dear Friend of Liberty,

Today, Memorial Day, millions commemorate fellow Americans who have served in our military and fallen in wars.

Addressing Memorial Day can be complicated for Libertarians, not because we don’t love freedom and recognize that many have sacrificed their lives, but because we have opposed many of the policies that we feel have unnecessarily–even wrongly–put American soldiers in harm’s way.

America was founded by men and women who wanted independence, and many lost their lives fighting for it in the Revolutionary War.

I haven’t served in the military myself, but there was a time when I could say I probably didn’t have a single "anti-war" bone in my body.

Up until my mid-twenties, I was an enthusiastic conservative Republican. Not a libertarian-leaning Republican, but a genunine right-wing conservative Republican.

I wasn’t a deep thinker in the area of foreign policy. I hadn’t studied it much and never was a history buff. But I did understand and support free markets, and that’s what I thought Republicans were for, that was the team I was on, and I reflexively defended the rest of the Republican agenda.

There wasn’t a single American military action I didn’t support, from the Vietnam War, to the marines in Lebanon, to the invasions of Panama and Grenada, arming the Contra rebels in central America, the first Gulf War, and all the rest.

Anytime I heard someone criticize America’s military, I considered that critic an enemy, and I just tuned them out.

It wasn’t until I found the Libertarian Party that I became a staunch non-interventionist.

Upon joining the Libertarian Party, I began reading much of the work by Harry Browne and other Libertarian leaders.

It seemed like for the first time I heard moral and practical arguments made against America’s entry into many of our past wars. In particular, for the first time I heard rational arguments about how if America and some other countries had stayed out of World War I, then World War II and the Cold War might not have happened, and tens of millions of lives might not have been lost.

Harry Browne was the Libertarian nominee for U.S. President in 1996 and 2000. He died in 2006, but many of his articles are still available, and linked from this page. (Please be aware that some of the links on that page no longer work.)

In additional to commemorating fallen soldiers and their families, I feel it is appropriate on Memorial Day to remember people like Harry Browne who fought ideological battles in an effort to promote peace and avoid unnecessary and unjust wars and casualties.


Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party dedicated to free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can make a contribution separate from membership.