Plea for Military Restraint and Peaceful International Engagement
The current American military grand strategy, initiated after 9/11 and fully evident in the operations and consequences of the Iraq war, demands a massive, forward deployed military to support an aggressive interventionist policy. This aggressive interventionist policy operationalized the objective to transform Middle East social and political culture by orchestrating regime change in Iraq. In formulating this policy, what American policy makers dreamed of was a social and political culture in the Middle East like ours (you know...democracy). But what they got was almost 7,000 dead American soldiers (Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns), 52,000 wounded, 7,000 dead U.S. military and civilian contractors, more than 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians, a $1 trillion to $2.4 trillion price tag (depending on whether you count the interest costs because combat is financed with borrowed money), a destabilized Middle East with consequent revengeful militant extremists, refugee crises…
And, in 2011, American policy makers once again employed the strategy of regime change in Libya by militarily ousting Moammar Gadhafi. What they got was a void in Libya civil society and governing apparatus and a consequent long-running civil war. The biggest successes in fighting terrorism since 9/11 have been achieved by cooperating with foreign intelligence services and police agencies.
Essential to Libertarian Party philosophy is respect for the natural rights of all individuals; and, while Libertarians endorse the sovereign right of self-defense to protect life, liberty, and property, this endorsement does not include aggressive foreign intervention or foreign economic aid. A strategy of restraint emphasizes America’s global influence and simultaneously avoids entangling alliances and distant conflicts that do not threaten American interests; uses the U.S. military only rarely and strictly for clearly defined reasons; and employs precise intelligence to evaluate threats, formulate risk analysis, and craft the most appropriate strategic and tactical responses. A strategy of restraint and peaceful engagement takes advantage of America’s international standing in the world to emphasize the importance of international trade and commerce.
To protect the rights of Americans, Libertarians oppose suspension of the Constitution and Bill of Rights even during the time of war, demand that intelligence agencies be subject to oversight and transparency, and oppose use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have.
George Washington, Farewell Address: “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible.”
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.”