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  • Writer's pictureCharles I. Guarria

Mike ter Maat Veers For Presidential Nomination

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

In part two of a three-part series, Libertarian presidential candidate Mike ter Maat speaks of the war on drugs, foreign relations, government spending, immigration, the military, and the police.

Charles I Guarria   

In regard to military preparedness, what would the US Armed Forces look like with you as President?

Mike ter Maat  

It would look smaller; it would look, without foreign bases over time. Most foreign bases you can't close in the first week. They're all subject to a variety of contracts. Some are subject to certain treaty obligations. But over time, we need to close foreign bases and we need to diminish the insane budget of the Defense Department.

And there are a variety of things that we need to do that are more structural than merely making our military smaller, which is an important piece of it, but I'm not even sure it's the most important piece of it. 

The other pieces include changing our foreign policy, to be less militaristic, and to send that signal right away, loud. So for example, the first week of a libertarian administration, you've got to be sending the signal to your partners and NATO that we're going to be exiting NATO. And this is, for example, your 18 month heads up that if you believe it's in your interest, the interest of your people to remain paranoid of the Russian army, not withstanding what we have witnessed in Ukraine than you do you. This is a time to start spending two, three or four percent of your GDP on your on your defense, but the United States is not going to be your plan a anymore. 

And we need to start sending a very different signal regarding Taiwan. If you believe that for you to invest in high tech or the development of any business, you need to invest in a place where the United States is going to back up that nation militarily. Then maybe you should be considering investing in a place like Milwaukee, which is a place that the Department of Defense will back up come hell or high water. But Taiwan is not such a place.

If you've been investing there (Taiwan) with the idea of eventually backing the United States government into a corner, which is the situation we're in now, we're we have this weird self-fulfilling prophecy, where we have sent this signal that we would backup Taiwan, thereby encouraging all this investment in Taiwan and now most American politicians would tell you, right or wrong, that the infrastructure that has been developed in United States and the investment in Taiwan is such that our supply chains are critically dependent on Taiwan. We can't live without it. We can't run the risk that the People's Republic of China would take over Taiwan the way it has Hong Kong. Well, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy that we need to avoid, we need to start sending a better signal than this silly idea of strategic ambiguity which was dumb from the get-go , there is no such thing as a relationship that is made better by ambiguity strategic or otherwise. So that has to be changed. 

We need to get out of Ukraine. We all wish we were never in it in the first place. But now that we are in it, we need to negotiate our way out and quickly. But without sending further resource to Ukraine.

I got an ethical problem with that. We all have ethical problems with the way this was started. But I have an ethical problem with the idea of taking money from Americans and sending it to Ukraine to prolong a conflict that is that is not in the long run strategic interests of the United States.

Charles I Guarria   

You feel the same way about Israel? That we shouldn't be helping them?

Mike ter Maat  

I do. I feel exactly the same way. And that’s for a couple of different reasons. 

We've been given billions to Israel, per year, for a long time, and it's clear that we do not have influence over the government of Israel. If there was any doubts before this year, those doubts should be removed at this point.

And similarly the billions of dollars that we have given to a variety of organizations that purport to represent the interests of the Palestinian people, whether you put in that category, Hamas or the Palestinian Authority, or even an organization like Hezbollah, or the governments of Egypt and Jordan, these organizations clearly, we have no influence over whatsoever. 

The President of the United States couldn't get a meeting with the King of Jordan when he was there a few weeks ago. There's a height of embarrassment. And so I think that we need to exit the Middle East in terms of trying to influence things with foreign aid. It just gets you into these political boxes where you feel like now you have to defend, at least rhetorically, the actions taken by some foreign government because you've been funding it. 

When a foreign government takes actions that not all Americans like, that not all Americans agree with, now you're in a pickle. I just don't find it ethical to be taking money from Americans and sending it to some government abroad. When the actions taken by that government don't align with what it is that Americans would say is representative of their values. 

I recognize that Israel feels very personal….But I don't think that that is an argument in favor of us being more involved militarily or us being involved with funding various organizations. I think it's an argument that says that the role we should play is politically neutral. And that we need to stand up for negotiated peace settlements.

Charles I Guarria   

Getting back to military preparedness, a smaller military. True or False? Your smaller military would still have the ability to annihilate any enemy anytime anywhere in the world if need be.

Mike ter Maat  

I don't know if you and I agree with the implication of that question. Because I think the right question is the ability to annihilate any threat to the United States in any time in any place. That's a yes. And an important yes.

Is it important that we be able to wage two world wars at the same time and win, which is where we set the bar today? I think that's setting the bar far too high. I think it's critical that we be able to defend ourselves against even a coalition of our enemies. That's setting the bar pretty high. But I don't think that means that we need to be able to wage a war on foreign soil against a coalition of our enemies anytime, anyplace and when.

Charles I Guarria   

How would you handle immigration?

Mike ter Maat  

I believe in a more pro immigration policy, I believe in a more pro immigrant policy. I think those are two different things. 

I think that immigration is good for the United States. I think it's good for us economically. It's good for us fiscally for our government. It's good for us culturally, as a nation. It's one of the things that defines America as a nation. In contrast to merely being one of any number of other democracies around the world. The immigrant experience is something that makes America what it is today, and greater immigration makes America stronger and more American.

So I do believe that we need greater immigration. I would accelerate the pace at which immigrants are processed in the United States, not only to increase immigration, but to decrease illegal immigration. 

The number one thing I learned by spending a couple of days at the border last year, I went down to the Arizona Mexico border. I met with Border Patrol and the sheriff's office and local ranchers that have property on the border I met with local libertarians. The big thing that was impressed upon me, is the extent to which we have a humanitarian crisis at the border resulting from the black markets that our government has created. By making immigration effectively illegal, but not stopping it. 

We know that black markets are dangerous black markets kill. Whether that's immigration or prostitution or drugs or any of a number of other things the government turns into black markets that are extremely dangerous and extremely deadly. The vast majority of people that come into the United States come in illegally. The majority of people who come in illegally use some form of human trafficker on both sides of the border, by the way, different human traffickers connected with each other that just use apps to communicate. And many of these people are effectively sold into some form of indentured servitude. To say that this is dangerous is quite an understatement. It is a disgusting stain on our national image, on our conscience. We should not be allowing people to be treated this way in the United States. This is a civil rights issue of the highest order. We need to stop it.

I think there's two different things you need to do. One is you need to dedicate greater resources, and none of us as libertarians are favorable to dedicating greater federal resources to anything. But I would repurpose Defense Department resources to processing people through more quickly at the border. This idea that it should take weeks and months and years to make a decision about someone is bullshit. 

If you're not on a list, you ought to be presumed eligible to come into the United States and to work by the way, this idea of letting people come in at states and telling them they can't work, I think is bass ackwards. I would actually be more comfortable with a policy that said you can come in the United States but I'm going to call you in six weeks and make sure you have a job.

And then I would dedicate greater resources to shutting down illegal immigration. I think that we need to take away the incentive to come in illegally and create a greater incentive to come in legally.

I recognize that the American population is not ready for an open border, that they you know, we as a as a nation expect there to be some vetting process. But what we go through now is just stupid and silly and ugly and ineffective. 

Charles I Guarria   

Relations with Cuba what's your policy there?

Mike ter Maat  

I think that we should invite the Cuban people to immigrate to the United States. At the rate of a million a year we could empty out their country in a decade.

We need to stop this silly idea of shutting down trade, shutting down travel, shutting down exchanges of a variety of methods. It's completely counterproductive.

Nobody likes the style of government that we have in Cuba today. I get that. Nor should we be tolerating nuclear weapons in Cuba. Right But that’s not really at issue today.

At issue today is what kind of relationship we're going to have with Cuba that we can control we can improve.

We cannot dictate what kind of government that they have. But we can improve our relationship and do so in a way that boosts our economy and there's. It's the right thing to do. I

It's the right thing to do in terms of economic efficiency, but it's also the right thing to do ethically. I don't think the government of the United States has the moral authority to tell Americans what they can or cannot do regarding either traveling they're, investing there, or inviting investment from there into the United States.

Charles I Guarria   

The war on drugs. Libertarian minded folks, want out of the war on drugs. It's a farce.

Mike ter Maat  

You're not wrong, it is a farce.

Charles I Guarria   

So how would you handle it?

Mike ter Maat  

Well, you've got to signal right away where you're going in the long run, where you're going eventually. That is to say we're gonna get the government out of affecting decisions that individuals make regarding their bodies. That's where we're going. lock stock and barrel, over time. 

I believe that the way that is going to play out is that Americans are first going to get comfortable with marijuana being completely legalized, which we have to finish. We haven't even finished that yet. We need to, to finish that. 

And then I believe the Americans are going to get comfortable with the idea of decriminalizing drugs that are not addictive. That's going to take a while. But we can achieve that. And then eventually, Americans will grow more comfortable with the idea of decriminalizing drugs that do have addictive properties.

We need to be able to make the case as libertarians that the two things are true at once. 

Number one, the war on drugs doesn't work. 

And number two, the government doesn't have the legal standing, doesn't have the ethical high ground, to tell you what you can and cannot do with your body. 

We need to be able to make both these arguments. 

I think that more Americans than ever before (are) open to the idea that just objectively just empirically speaking, the war on drugs is a failure. I am hopeful that some Americans will be open to hearing that from a cop.

Because cops, like myself, have seen this up close. We see that the war on drugs just doesn't work. And I think a lot of us wish that that something could be done. I think all Americans wish that something could be done to curtail the effect of drug addiction on our society. 

Drugs are dangerous, addictive drugs are particularly dangerous. But the black markets that we've created are even more dangerous. 

The problem with fentanyl for example, is not merely as a powerful drug, not merely that it's a powerful drug with addictive properties. The problem with fentanyl is a problem of fraud. It's a problem of lack of disclosure.

The reason it's so deadly, many fold deadlier than related drugs, is that people don't know how much of it they're taking. In many cases they don't know they're taking it at all. Because it can be a cheap substitute or additive to a variety of products. And this is characteristic not of free and open markets. This is a characteristic of black markets.

So I think that the American people are ready to hear this message. I'm hopeful that they'll be open to the idea of hearing it from a cop who has performed CPR on many youngsters who have overdosed and it's not often you bring them back. It's a horrible, horrible situation. 

I think that we all want the same thing. This is not one of those weird situations where we're having an argument about the style of society in which we want to live. You know, we all agree that we want people to be safer. We want to stop losing our young people to this epidemic. The issue is how, and I can tell you that the way we're doing it now doesn't work.

Charles I Guarria   

Is there anything that we haven't discussed that you'd like my readers to know?

Mike ter Maat  

Two concepts that I do spend a fair amount of time talking about. 

One is we do need to change the way that we manage police officers and police agencies…I do believe that a president certainly, but even a presidential candidate, can help shift the conversation in the right direction on some of those. The reason I believe it's an interesting set of conversations is because I believe the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are both incredibly worthless in this area. 

This idea of back the blue in every case, I never said anything that stupid when I was a cop right? Much less now. 

And similarly, although you don't hear it as much anymore, the Democratic Party with you know, the defund the police and all cops suck is just not helpful. It's shorthand for reform is too hard. I don't get it. It's too complicated. I'm out. Whereas there are very specific things that we can do to help change policing in a favorable way. 

I think it's very analogous, by the way to school reform, very analogous. Because we need to change the way that we manage schools as well as, as teachers. We need to change the way that we deal with with unions. All of that is a ball of wax. 

And the other thing that that I would just mention is that there needs to be a little bit of a sense of urgency regarding how we spend money at the federal level. 

The fiscal government of the United States is on a path to bankruptcy. Bankruptcy not being the perfect word, but toward a fiscal collapse. I don't really expect that to be in the next 24 months. But I think I would be surprised if we made it 24 years without doing something differently. 

And that means changing, structurally, how our government makes decisions about spending money, it means things like entitlement reform, fundamental entitlement reform. And that's a whole set of issues that I think is very, very important that as you might imagine, I spent some time with when I worked for the Office of Management and Budget. 

And I think that we need to focus on some of those issues going forward. And I think that a number of Americans, I don't know what proportion, but a number of Americans are concerned about that.


This is part two of a three part discussion with Mr. ter Maat. Sign up here to find out when part three will be released, as well as information on all my blogs.

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