October 19, 2015

Giving the Devil His Due

Libertarians, while very critical of our own government, are often quick to point out when foreign leaders—even authoritarians like Vladimir Putin—do or say something right (link, link). Seems like every other day I see a post at LRC that is at least somewhat favorable towards Putin. Why is that?

Here's my attempt at an explanation:

Libertarians don't actually treat foreign leaders any differently than domestic ones. It only seems that way because we are simultaneously more critical of U. S. leaders while being more willing to admit when foreign dictators get something right. This is because we care about principles regardless of whoever it is that happens to be advocating them. We don't actually like any of them. They're all bad, Americans included. Libertarians don't believe that our own leaders are fundamentally any different than the guys they go to war with (hence the extra criticism). However, when U. S. leaders get something right (a rare occasion, I know), we give them their due (again, because we care about principles not politicians). Since we believe that foreign dictators differ from American leaders only in degree rather than in kind, we offer them the same courtesy. We're just giving the devil his due. It matters not whether the particular devil is American or Russian.

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