Kubby Wrong on Louisiana Purchase

by | Jun 21, 2007 | Stress Blog | 10 comments

On the Liberated Space [mp3], Steve Kubby finally said something I fundamentally disagree with. He dodged the question about what structure the US military should have — and I was very curious what his answer would be — and spoke about how he admired Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase as a model of what to do instead of go to war when we’re threatened.

OK, first of all, a nitpick. Kubby said the Purchase was $2 million. It was actually $15 million. With interest, it was more like $23 million.

Second of all, a strategic matter. Yes, this might have helped warm over relations with Napoleon. But such favoritism toward France, coupled with Jefferson’s mostly anti-British embargo, only strained relations with England and helped lead to the War of 1812. (Washington warned of “Excessive partiality for one foreign nation” — here’s a great early example.) And just because this worked in this one case — largely bacause Napoleon wanted to give up his North American empire anyway — doesn’t mean it would work in dealing with other potential foreign enemies. Does Kubby think America should buy the Middle East? That would hardly be a plausible approach.

Third of all, the Louisiana Purchase was unConstitutional. It set the precedent for 200 years of blatant violations of the Constitution even more nakedly egregious than Washington’s National Bank. There was no excuse for this supposed strict constructionist to double America’s territory in this manner.

Fourth of all, and perhaps most important, the land was not France’s to sell. It belonged to people, known as American Indians. These people were wiped out by western expansion in what were possibly the worst atrocities in American history. This was not an accident. It was the intention of the Jeffersonians. Jefferson was an imperialist who wanted to conquer the west and eventually parts of Latin America. The Jeffersonians also wanted to grab Canada, Mexico, Florida, Cuba and more. The Louisiana Purchase simply inspired Americans to move westward, butcher the Indians, and get upset when the artificial economic bubble of the Purchase busted, leading them to agitate for Canadian land and demand that the government do something about the remaining Indians and the British support for them — all very significant factors leading to the horrible War of 1812. (Other factors included the British aggression against Americans in the seas, but Jefferson had only contributed to this animosity with his draconian embargo.)

The Louisiana Purchase was not a “libertarian” policy, as Kubby claims.

It was rather an unConstitutional, terrible precedent for American liberty, a power grab whereby the US bought land from the monstrous Napoleon, land he had no right to sell, and land that was already inhabited by people the US would be in any easier situation to displace and massacre than the French. It facillitated genocide and imperialism and, given that it was done by Jefferson, destroyed any hope for Constitutional limits being a guiding policy consideration for the supposedly less power-hungry political party. It helped lead the way to war and totally unlibertarian Western expansion, an expansion of ethnic cleansing and an expansion of the institution of slavery, and only encouraged the fledgling American empire in its eventual blossoming into a fullblown menace to the world. Without the Louisiana Purchase, there might have been no Mexican War to further expand slavery and American mercantilism, no heightened sectional conflicts over that expansion, no Civil War, no consolidated, modern US empire.

Sometimes candidates say stupid things. But talking about the US government’s evil expansion into the West, where millions of Indians would be wiped out as if they weren’t human beings, as some sort of libertarian policy is exactly the kind of thing we should all avoid. This is the candidate who wants to reach out to the left? Every good leftist knows President Jefferson was a slave-abusing hypocritical imperialist, whose genocidal ambitions would even make some modern neocons blush. Furthermore, it gives credence to the idea that the US government should buy its way out of trouble and use its economic might to aggressively expand its territory.

I only am so hard on Kubby here because he singled out the Louisiana Purchase as the example of a good, libertarian government foreign policy, when it was anything but. Usually he is very careful at not conceding an inch to the state. In this case, he conceded what was, arguably, the first gigantic step America took on what became its inexorable march toward expansive, hypocritical, mass-murderous empire.