Via Hotair, over at FrumForum John Veccione assaults libertarianism with a veritable army of strawmen. As someone who marched merrily from movement conservatism to more or less doctrinaire libertarianism, I feel obliged to call in some rhetorical artilley on the columns of calumny therein, while attempting assiduously to avoid employing the No True Scotsman defense.

Thomas Jefferson determined to wage war by simply denying foreigners the right to trade with the U.S. So did Madison. What libertarian has ever thought the government could cut off trade between free individuals?

Well, virtually all of them, of course. While libertarians are almost by definition free traders I’ve never heard anyone suggest the government does not have the power to regulate international trade — which is, of course, a matter of treaty — but rather that it should generally refrain from doing so because such inaction produces better outcomes via gains from trade, something that was not nearly as well understood in Jefferson’s time. One might similarly anachronistically complain Jefferson did not also give women and blacks the vote and promote gay marriage, and thus was No True Libertarian.

Further, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine supported the French Revolution. That revolution denied there was anything the state could not do in the name of the people.

This is simply untrue. Whatever the flaws and excesses in execution, the basis of the French Revolution in principle was in fact the inalienable rights of citizens. It was not by any means totalitarian, and it was a step forward in terms of liberty for the masses even allowing for the anti-monarchical excesses.

If ever there was a libertarian document it was the Articles of Confederation. There was no national power.

The AoC also lacked a Bill of Rights, or any power to enforce such against the states, and I’ve never, ever heard a libertarian say “Gee, if only we could go back to the Articles of Confederation!” Libertarianism is not just minarchism, though the two overlap today, largely because the government does so much more than it did in, say, 1777. A federal government that ensures basic liberties is not something libertarians would necessarily oppose in principle — indeed, the most potent issue for many libertarians is gun control, which generally pits state and local governments against the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

What is the libertarian approach to broken homes, and to attaching children to their fathers in general?

The libertarian approach is that these are not issues for the government to solve, but should rather be addressed by the community: churches, civic groups, and other voluntary assemblies without the power of coercion. Anyone who thinks the government has made these problems better hasn’t been paying attention to the perverse economic incentives the Great Society created.

How do libertarians deal with bad actors abroad?

It depends on the libertarian. Some libertarians are near-total pacificists, but many support interventions that would promote liberty. Frum may not realize this, but there was significant debate among libertarians over Iraq (even at generally anti-war Reason, one can find some pro-war contributors, such as Cathy Young) — and the topic is still contentious.

Modern wars have sometimes required a draft. Libertarians balk at this. Thus libertarian government always stands vulnerable to foreign conquest and the loss of rights and autonomy that entails.

This is only true if one defines “modern” as the 1940s and even then it’s not at all clear a draft was necessary given the outrage over Pearl Harbor. The notion the U.S. is “vulnerable to foreign conquest” because we have a volunteer army is absurd — the career military has become pretty adamant that they don’t want or need draftees, partly due to lessons learned from Vietnam, where we failed to secure a favorable outcome despite a draft (in fact, even arguably in part because of the draft).

Libertarianism appears to be like arsenic, a stimulant in small doses but deadly poison when taken in large doses.

Sigh. I suppose one should just be grateful he didn’t invoke Somalia.