Recently, I got into an argument with some libertarian friends of mine over rather Harry Truman was justified when he started the Korean War. While many of the interventions during the Cold War were unjustified for one reason or another, I do not feel Korea was one of them. I also in no way buy into the description of Harry Truman as some kind of evil war hawk comparable to people like Dick Cheney.
One the issue of the Koran War, I go from Noam Chomsky to @KevinCastley according to some people. I take no issue with that.
Let’s start with a question to all libertarians: Say I’m walking down the street with a gun and hear a woman being raped. Is it justified for me to shoot said rapist? Most libertarians would say yes, however, for some reason they tend to change there mind regarding foreign policy.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it may still not be worth it. For instance, if the rapist has a gang of people behind him than not only are you going to die, but that woman is still going to get raped. While some may want to die a hero, I feel that doing so, even if it could be justified in some form, is still idiotic for a number of reasons.
This is what made intervention in Vietnam so nonsensical, even if it could be justified. Vietnam had been separated for over a thousand years by that time and the Southern Vietnam government was so corrupt it commonly felt like they didn’t want to be a different state.
A similar issue happened regarding the War in Iraq. Iraq was designed by the British to be made up of four groups who hate each other so they could never team up and kick Churchill’s army out. Bringing them democracy would be impossible because the country was designed in such a way where everyone there hates each other.
However, the South Koreans asked for our help many times and kicking out the North Koreans was quite easy, hence why we did it in only a couple of years. Not only that, but unlike the Vietnamese, the South Koreans were willing to work with the United States and would clearly have rather been separate nations than communists.
Now let’s talk about the USSR. While it is true we did some bad things during the Cold War (like overthrow a socialist who got around 37% of the vote and only won by less than 40,000 votes and was quite authoritarian all things considered but that’s okay because he was replaced with Hans-Hermann Hoppe), however, that does not make everything done by the United States unjustified just because we did some bad things at one point.
Let’s talk about what happened after World War Two. Harry Truman made a deal with then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin which allowed Stalin to have basically all of Eastern Europe, it was also said the United States would be peaceful with them as long as they didn’t expand. This was the basis for what is now called the Truman Doctrine, introduced by President Truman in a speech to Congress in which he called for the United States to stop the expansion of Communism.
As such, Truman‘s war in Korea could best be described as an example of someone breaking a contract. The Soviets had agreed that they would not expand, and the United States said that if they did expand they would be stopped. The Soviets then broke the promises, so the contract became void and the United States had to put a stop to them.
Honestly, the best case for the Korean War is something we could not have known for decades — South Korea is one of the best arguments for libertarianism. Compare communist North Korea to capitalist South Korea, and you’ll see the greatest argument against Socialism to exist in history. I would not want to lose that because of moralism based arguments that we should simply be isolationist.