Barr’s Road to Damascus Takes a Detour

I hate being wrong, but I’m starting to get the sense that my early enthusiasm for a potential Bob Barr presidential run may have been misplaced.

To be sure, Barr has had a whirlwind of MSM publicity, mostly favorable to the Libertarian Party, since he announced the formation of his Exploratory Committee last weekend. But Barr is coming up way short on delivering an actual libertarian message. The issues section of his campaign website is sparse, and what little is there is a mix of libertarian (non-interventionism and civil liberties) and anti-libertarian (“Fair Tax” and closed borders).

Since Barr is playing his cards so close to the vest, the libertarian blogosphere is vetting his recent public comments and writings to determine just what sort of candidate we can expect, should he win the nomination. Excerpts from some of his columns raise red flags.

First, just as year ago, long after Barr had joined the Libertarian National Committee and supposedly changed his mind about the drug war, he wrote the following about the U.S. policy towards Columbia:

Recognizing Colombia’s essential role in our country’s campaign against illicit trafficking in cocaine, the Bush administration and prior Congresses have responded to Mr. Uribe’s efforts by funding “Plan Colombia” to the tune over its seven-year lifespan of more than $5.0 billion. While critics interpret the fact that Colombian-processed cocaine stills arrives in our country as evidence Plan Colombia should be defunded or dramatically reduced, in reality this support for Colombia’s efforts will continue as an essential component of our anti-drug program. If Congress truly wants the plan work better, the solution would be not to dry up funding but to provide more flexibility for its implementation.

“An essential component of our anti-drug program”? For a former drug warrior, Barr sounds an awful lot like a current drug warrior.

Then just last week, the supposedly anti-interventionist Barr wrote the following about Columbia’s tensions with Venezuela:

While Washington’s current national security worldview remains focused like a laser beam on Iraq and Afghanistan, fires smolder and burn elsewhere. Shifting at least a portion of that concern and those resources to South America, and especially to the Andean region that currently is near the boiling point, is critical to our security. There may not be weapons of mass destruction lurking in the jungles of Venezuela, Colombia or Ecuador (there weren’t in Iraq either, of course), but arms are flowing into the area. Venezuela, for example, is buying billions of dollars worth of Russian military equipment. Leftist guerrillas and narco-terrorists remain firmly entrenched in the region, and evidence that other terrorist groups are using the area for problematic purposes is mounting.

So Barr understands the folly of our interventions when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan, but he advocates “shifting at least a portion of that concern and those resources to South America.” We need “resources” (presumably military resources) in South America like a hole in the head.

Bob, you got a lot of splainin to do!

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