BURNET, Texas (March 14) – When former President George W. Bush canceled a trip to Geneva for a charity fundraiser because he feared being arrested for war crimes, it was a shame and a blot on our nation, potential Libertarian presidential candidate R. Lee Wrights told the Georgia Libertarian Party State Convention Saturday.
“It’s a shame. It’s a blot on this country and it’s a blot on all of us that one of our former leaders is afraid to go somewhere because he’s going to be charged with war crimes,” Wrights said. In February, Bush canceled a speaking engagement at a charity fundraiser in Geneva because a human rights group filed a criminal complaint against him in a Swiss court alleging torture.
“I’d like to think that if I got the job, you’d never have to worry about that,” said Wrights, former Vice Chair of the national Libertarian Party. The incident is an inevitable and direct result of the “nosy neighbor” foreign policy pursued by both Democratic and Republican presidents.
“What bothers you more than a nosy neighbor? Somebody who moves next door to you and is in your business all the time,” Wrights asked. “It is aggravating and will make you go to war.”
“So imagine that neighbor is half way across the world and sticking their nose in your business … and has pretty big guns to back it up,” he added. “You don’t make many friends that way, you don’t have peace, and you don’t have prosperity.”
Wrights told the Georgia Libertarians that he started his exploratory campaign after hearing from Libertarians around the nation, particularly young people and the delegates to the 2010 national convention, who repeatedly asked him why the Libertarian Party wasn’t out in front leading the call to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring the troops home.
“I decided that maybe it is time to be talking about it and it’s time for somebody like me to talk about it because I’ve got a reputation as a warrior,” Wrights told the Georgia delegates. “I know what it’s like to wake up every day and just go to war over something, to just be that full of rage at what’s going on in the world and in the country.”
“It’s a hazardous way to live. War doesn’t just destroy from the outside. It destroys from within,” he said. Wrights believes that until individuals start making the conscience decision not to participate in it, war will always go on. That is also why he chose Stop All War as the focus for the exploratory effort.
“That’s why I say, ‘I am not at war,’” Wrights explained. “If enough of us say it, they can’t have them anymore.” That’s what brought the Vietnam War to an end, Wrights recalled. “People told politicians ‘if you’re going to vote for war, we’re not going to vote for you.'”
Wrights explained that the call to stop all war isn’t limited to ending the military conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, but applies to other issues where war rhetoric has become so pervasive.
“We have been fighting the war against poverty since the Johnson Administration and what we have done is created social programs that somehow have locked poor people into poverty,” he said. “We’ve been fighting the war on ignorance since the ’70s and still our children cannot read. We’ve been fighting the war on drugs for decades, and created huge criminal enterprises.”
History teaches us that the key elements to prosperity are freedom and peace, Wrights observed. “You don’t go to war with people you like, with people you’re doing business with,” he said. “We have the perfect message, the perfect philosophy for peace and prosperity in America and in the world. Peace and prosperity is what we offer Americans, and they are ready for it.”
Wrights, 52, is a longtime libertarian writer and political activist. He is considering seeking the presidential nomination because he is determined that the Libertarian message in 2012 be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. To that end he has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will go toward ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.
Wrights is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston Salem, N.C., he now lives in Texas.