I’ve witnessed a lot of back and forth among libertarians on how to apply the Non-Aggression Principle. Very simply put, it needs to remain on domestic soil, and within the realm of the criminal justice system; to be used as a measurement on what constitutes being a crime and what does not.
Of course, you have those who come back and yell “What about war? If we get involved, then that violates the NAP.” No, it doesn’t.
The Libertarian Party has a separate way of handling those situations. It’s called a non-interventionist foreign policy. The NAP does not apply there. Even if we should get involved in any foreign engagement – be it for a response to a direct attack on ourselves, or on one of our allies – it is then going to be in self-defense of ourselves, or of a third party, such as our ally who is being aggressed.
In the U.S., we already have similar statutes on the books for our own personal self-defense (whether for ourselves or a third party) in every single state. As an NRA certified firearms instructor, I’m very familiar with the laws governing individual self-defense, in all states they are pretty basic, and fall within the NAP.
But we as libertarians have our non-interventionist foreign policy, therefore NAP simply doesn’t apply in the realm of war and additional activities within war… at all! War is a separate beast that must be dealt with differently, if we are to successfully win any conflict. The rules of war are different.
There are those who come out and ask about the environment and how the NAP applies there. I mean, I guess there is an argument to be made for that; however, if we allow ourselves to apply the NAP to anything and everything then why stop at the environment? Let’s stop hunting to feed ourselves and our families. Let’s stop fishing. Let’s stop having chicken, pig, and dairy farms. I mean, slaughtering animals and eating cows violates the NAP too, right, since we’re the aggressors. That is hardly the case, and is absent of any reason or common sense whatsoever.
Yes, there should be sets of rules in place for say, oil spills. Not preventative ones, mind you, which add insane amounts of regulation, but some level of repercussion if a spill should occur. If the company responsible doesn’t take necessary and timely action to clean it up, then they should be held responsible for the damage.
The Deep-Water Horizon incident is a perfect example of such an incident. The remainder of “damage” to people and their businesses, and the ability to gather seafood to feed themselves or their families was significantly diminished. This is why we have insurance carriers to file claims against these types of agencies and incidents.
In BP’s case, when they are a self-insured entity, they can file claims directly via Federal Court, as a class action, which is exactly what happened.
While the anarchist typically would disagree with this since they wish for absence of any form of government, the libertarian understands there must be some level of government involvement to arbitrate issues such as this. This is one of the rare instances where government should be involved, but only in the aftermath, not in a preventative way.
Bottom line, let’s keep the Non-Aggression Principle where it belongs – in our domestic criminal justice system – instead of attempting to apply it to aspects of our life, businesses, and to the entire world, where it has no place.
* Shane Foster has worked his entire career in military law enforcement, corrections, and as a private investigator. He has a unique perspective into how law enforcement operates from within its ranks, our judicial system, as well as our privacy laws and how every day our individual freedoms and liberties are gradually taken away from us and our individual rights abused on a regular basis.