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Season 1 - Episode 5
International battles for liberty

Tom Palmer is Executive Vice President for International Programs at the Atlas Foundation and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. In addition to his many travels, he is also the author of Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice (2009).

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Few people predicted, before it actually happened, that the former Soviet Union was about to collapse. Tom Palmer was one of those few, and he believed that it mattered very much what would replace it. So he moved to Austria in order to be better positioned to help promote the ideas of liberty behind the Iron Curtain.

In this captivating interview, Palmer stresses that during his time in places like Eastern Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan, he has had no interest in spreading these ideas in an aggressive or combative manner. Rather, as he insists, “These are attractive ideas, about how people could live together peacefully with mutual respect, respecting the dignity of other people, engaging in trade rather than stealing, for example, having dialogue rather than murdering people who disagree with you.” He maintains that what these attractive ideas need is simply to be heard, which is why he supports the translation of the literature of liberty into Arabic, for example.

Not only does liberty not need to be spread by force of arms, but war is in fact the greatest threat to freedom, according to Palmer, and should therefore be used only as a very last resort. He opposed the Iraq War, and argues that recent saber-rattling with regard to Iran is extremely irresponsible and reckless.

Though he argues for limited government, Tom Palmer is also an advocate of strong government. He says, “What happens in so much of the world is government does both too much and too little.” It does things it should not do—things it is not good at or things that are downright criminal—and it fails to do what it should do, namely defend life, liberty and property, and provide a legal system that functions.

Links of interest: | Atlas Foundation | Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice

Watch this related FMS interview
Luis Henrique Ball - The failings of authoritarianism in Cube and Venezuela

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