Libertarian Party: In the Middle East, it’s time to cut and run like Ronald Reagan did in 1984

Libertarian Party Monday message:

Dear Friend of Liberty,

In the Middle East, it’s time to cut and run like Ronald Reagan did in 1984.

In 1982, President Reagan ordered American Marines into Lebanon as part of a "multinational peacekeeping force." In 1983, there were several bombings targeting Americans in Lebanon, including the well-known Marine barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines.

At first, Reagan insisted that the U.S. would keep military forces in Lebanon. But in February 1984, he changed course and ordered a complete troop withdrawal.

The following is from Reagan’s autobiography:

Perhaps we didn’t appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and the complexity of the problems that made the Middle East such a jungle. Perhaps the idea of a suicide car bomber committing mass murder to gain instant entry to Paradise was so foreign to our own values and consciousness that it did not create in us the concern for the marines’ safety that it should have.

In the weeks immediately after the bombing, I believed the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 marines would be alive today.

I think our government would be well-advised to think about that quote before they stick their nose into Egypt, Libya, and other Middle Eastern countries in turmoil right now.

I applaud Reagan’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon, and I call on President Obama to follow his example by withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the greater Middle East.

Even though many Arabs hated the American intervention in Lebanon, it’s important to remember that Reagan’s withdrawal did not result in terrorist attacks in America. It did not result in a spreading takeover of Middle Eastern governments by terrorist groups. What it did was stop further American casualties, and allow for a reduction in military spending.

It was foolish and wrong for Reagan to send American troops into Lebanon, but it was good that Reagan was able to recognize his mistake and withdraw those troops.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, President George W. Bush’s pride and stubbornness prevented him from following Reagan’s example. Unfortunately, President Obama has shown that same pride and stubbornness so far.

A withdrawal might cause President Obama to lose face, but it would save many American lives, and it would help save our economy as well.

Many people say "cut and run" as if it were cowardly or idiotic, but that may not be accurate. Apparently the term comes from navigation, when in dire circumstances a ship’s captain might quickly cut the anchor line, raise sail, and "run" before the wind. You lose the anchor, but you save the ship.

I am so frustrated. Sometimes I think we’re spending a trillion dollars and wasting thousands of lives in the Middle East just because politicians are scared of the words "cut and run."

But I say that’s exactly what we should do: cut and run.


Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party dedicated to free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can make a contribution separate from membership.


13 thoughts on “Libertarian Party: In the Middle East, it’s time to cut and run like Ronald Reagan did in 1984

  1. Jerry S.

    I do appreciate what Mr. Bennett and the others at national do for the LP and this is the first time I had heard that definition of “cut and run”, It still is a negative term. Go down to your local bar and ask some of the regular Joe-6-Pack guys (the guys you need voting for your candidates each election and who haven’t read Reagan’s book) what they think of “cut and run” not much I bet.

    Now “retreat and regroup” would accomplish the same thing by getting our people home. It just sounds like it would sale better to John Q, Public. I’m sure some of you on this site can come up with even a better term than mine.

    PEACE in our Time…

  2. paulie Post author

    I think that “Cut and Run like Reagan” is a good provocative message aimed mostly at an LP audience. This was a “Monday message,” meaning it went out to the LP email list and was posted with the blog entries at, but was not distributed to the “mainstream media.” As such, the biggest challenge is to get people to open the email. Explaining the actual meaning of cut and run was a nice touch, IMO.

  3. Ted Brown

    Phrasing is important. During the Viet Nam War, Senator George Aiken (R-Vermont) proposed that the U. S. just declare victory and leave. That would be easy in the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, since no one has defined what victory would mean anyway. Even Bush said, “Mission Accomplished.”

  4. Barrie Abalard

    “Cut and run” has a derogatory connotation, and connotations matter. I know that, as a writer, I am careful with such loaded phrases. We need to make sure we are understood by non-libertarians. Why not simply say “withdraw”?

    I think we should pull out of the Middle East. Harry Browne had it right in the column he wrote after 9/11. We should not have an armed presence on foreign soil, especially where we are propping up dictators or monarchs. If we left others to tend to their business, maybe there would be less terrorism directed toward the West.

    To me, a mostly isolationist policy is the closest thing to a libertarian path.

  5. Porn Again Christian

    Speaking of bad connotations…I would not call it isolationist, which is not even accurate.

  6. Porn Again Christian

    On the other hand, the books at your name link do seem interesting. Maybe I’ll read some.

  7. NewFederalist

    Perhaps Mr. Root who is a self described “Reagan Libertarian” will comment on this piece.

  8. paulie Post author

    I do notice that the donation meter at has bumped up a good bit since yesterday, so I am guessing this message did well.

  9. Robert Capozzi

    Does this mean that Benedict is becoming a “Reagan L” like Root? 😉

    “Cut and run” lacks dignity. “Learn the Lesson of Lebanon”…that was Reagan’s teachable moment. I do like using the memory of Reagan in this way.

    Of course, exiting Lebanon was a lot easier than Iraq and Afghanistan, logistically speaking. It is shocking to me that the wars are just assumed to be non-negotiable in Swampland. Obama Hath Spoken, the Pentagon Got It Way…one wonders just who else they’ve used psy-ops on!

    A “wrong wars that we cannot afford” message is a strong one, one that at once differentiates yet is not fringy.

  10. Jen Y. Knott

    Did you know that most Americans today either were not alive when Reagan was President or were little kids and probably not too aware of politics? It’s true.

    The Libertarian Party seems to be obsessed with Reagan, whether it’s the Reagan Lovers or the Reagan Haters. Just a small observation.

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