ASPEN, Colo. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Thursday offered a clear broadside against Republicans drifting toward a more libertarian view of foreign policy, lumping Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in with them and suggesting they explain their position to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The House earlier this week narrowly voted against a reduction in funding for the National Security Agency, as libertarian-leaning members from both sides joined together to vote for the amendment.
“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.
Asked whether he includes Paul — a fellow potential 2016 presidential candidate — in his criticism, Christie didn’t back down.
“You can name any one of them that’s engaged in this,” he said. “I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. … I’m very nervous about the direction this is moving in.”
As it happens, it is on foreign policy that I disagree with libertarians the most; it's the main reason I don't embrace that philosophy more wholeheartedly. The libertarian call for non-intervention and disengagement is nearly isolationist, and we have to understand America has interests outside our own borders and we have to protected them.
But surely we can have a rational discussion on how to provide security without trampling all over basic rights. After 9/11, super-hawkishness was common, and that was understandable -- the enemy was at our doorstep. But a dozen years after the fact, it is reasonable to step back and make a calmer assessment. We shouldn't say (or at least pretend) that the threat is all but over, as President Obama seems inclined to do. But neither should we behave as if there's a terrorist around every corner. The unsuccessful attempt to limit the NSA's ability to snoop on us had healthy support from both sides of the aisle. Security and liberty shouldn't be part of the partisan divide.
I'm not convinced the government's sweeping surveillance program is the right answer. If Chrsitie wants to argue otherwise, he needs to do more than call our legitimate concerns dangerous.