LP.org: ‘Syrian troop withdrawal a good first step’

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American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements.

The United States began air strikes in Syria more than four years ago, with a rationale for intervention that morphed from fighting Islamic State terrorists to demanding regime change. More than three years ago, the United States sent in ground troops — a number that quickly grew from 50 to 2,000 soldiers — even though Congress has never, to this day, authorized their deployment in Syria. On Dec. 19, President Donald Trump ostensibly ended U.S. military involvement in Syria with a tweet: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” The withdrawal schedule is still vague, however, as is the announced withdrawal of half of the 14,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan.

“We applaud President Trump’s tweeted intentions as a good start,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. “If he’s able to withstand pushback from interventionist hawks in both the Democratic and Republican parties, he will have succeeded in ending U.S. involvement in one of the seven wars that this country is fighting.”

The United States will still have a huge presence in Afghanistan even if half of all troops actually leave. There are also active U.S. troops in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, and Libya. All of these wars are being fought under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which was passed by Congress 17 years ago to fight militants linked to al-Qaeda anywhere in the world.

“The military-industrial-intelligence-security complex has profited handsomely from this widespread warfare,” Sarwark said. “We should never forget, however, that hundreds of thousands of innocents have been killed and maimed by American-made bombs and drones, creating an exponential increase in the number of terrorists willing to attack the United States.”

Many of these countries have vulnerable populations who face genuine danger from terrorists or invading governments, so war hawks often argue that the United States should not abandon the Kurds, Saudis, Israelis, and other allies in the region.

“This begs the question of why we made those alliances in the first place,” Sarwark said. “Israel has repeatedly demonstrated that it is perfectly capable of defending itself. Saudi Arabia is a medieval-style monarchy with autocratic legal practices not seen in the West since the Inquisition — none of which is worth defending. The Kurds are a people without a country who are trying to secede from Iran, Iraq, and Turkey simultaneously. We may sympathize with their attempt at self-determination, but the United States is not obligated to make it happen.”

President Trump’s signature policies — including tariff hikes, immigration crackdowns, and building a Mexican border wall — are not popular among the American people. When it comes to withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan, however, public polling shows majority support. A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll published in The Hill indicates 52 percent in favor. A 2017 survey by J. Wallin Opinion Research found that 86.4 percent of respondents think U.S. military intervention should only be used as a last resort, with 57 percent believing that military intervention is counterproductive. A Pew Research Center poll from September found that 49 percent of Americans think we have failed in achieving our goals in Afghanistan, with only 35 percent believing that we have mostly succeeded.

“We are a republic, not an empire,” Sarwark said. “When we attempt to be an empire, it goes badly. Supplying American weapons for the Saudi war against Yemen is particularly appalling. Many thousands of Yemenis are being systematically starved to death in what amounts to a proxy war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that stretches back through centuries of religious and tribal conflict. We can’t fix it, and we shouldn’t try.”

The Libertarian Party has often denounced President Trump’s policies, and will undoubtedly continue to do so well into the future. It’s important, though, to acknowledge when a politician happens to get something right. The more the United States withdraws from foolish participation in wars around the globe, the better.

“American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world,” the Libertarian Party platform states. “Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.”

18 thoughts on “LP.org: ‘Syrian troop withdrawal a good first step’

  1. Kevin

    Though I agree with the proposed withdrawal from Syria, I oppose the rationale given by Sarwark.
    Let’s start with the LP’s wish for unicorns to exist:
    “American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world,”

    1. The world has never been without war.
    2. The US has never been at peace (or war) with “the world” as “the world” is divided into several countries.
    3. Peace isn’t necessarily better than war, if to get peace we must surrender or be conquered.

    This brings us to the next unicorn on the LP’s wish list:
    “Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention”

    The US has never been without alliances; starting with the War of Revolution, which success depended on French government intervention. I’m not aware of any nations that have been without allies, and survived. If the US had tried to wage WW2 without allies, likely we would have lost; or at best, our involvement would have been longer and more costly.

    The NIFP does not prohibit alliances, so this particular policy is not supported by liberty theory. We must also consider factual issues, and on this, the LP leadership is profoundly stupidly ignorant.

    From a factual viewpoint, focusing exclusively on defense against attack would result in much higher levels of defense spending, and more attacks. That explains why no nation in history has ever focused on defense alone and never attacked abroad.

    A defend-only policy would require the US military to defend every possible domestic target of terrorism (i.e. every place where people or valuables are gathered). That is so, because we don’t have perfect knowledge of when or where terrorists will strike.

    For example, let us say there are 1000 potential domestic targets (in reality, there are far more). Let us further stipulate that 100 terrorists would be necessary to launch a successful attack (in reality, far fewer might be required); and that 100 US soldiers would be sufficient to defeat them. With three 8-hour shifts, that would be 300 US soldiers x 1000 or 300,000 US soldiers required.

    Wouldn’t it be far more efficient to simply send 100 US soldiers to where the 100 terrorists are, and attack in their centers of power (which are abroad)? At a time/place of our choosing. With the aid of air power. By these calculations, a defend-only policy would cost 3000 x as much as a policy that allowed attack.

  2. William T. Forrest

    Agreed. Can’t really trust Trump to do what he promises but a withdrawal is a good step, even though there will be consequences. We need the rest of the US troops home too.

  3. George Phillies

    Terrorists! Terrorists! as an excuse for foreign wars is at this date Republican paranoid nonsense, not to mention that our foreign invasions serve to convince locals that their patriotic fronts are right.

    At peace with the world is a fine position. The position means that we are not at war with any part of the world.

  4. dL

    Let us further stipulate that 100 terrorists would be necessary to launch a successful attack…

    Wouldn’t it be far more efficient to simply send 100 US soldiers to where the 100 terrorists are

    Let us even further stipulate that the 100 terrorists are hiding out under bjornson’s bed. A standing army of Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle occupying bjornson’s bedroom in 12 hour shifts should be able to neutralize the threat in a most efficient manner.

  5. paulie Post author

    Comments from site migration:

    Thomas Knapp
    January 7, 2019 at 15:55
    “I’m not aware of any nations that have been without allies, and survived.”

    Did the Soviet Union have any allies during the Russian Civil War?


    paulie Post author
    January 7, 2019 at 18:27
    Can’t really trust Trump to do what he promises

    From what I have read he is already back-paddling. He is one extremely dishonest individual, even for a politician.

  6. paulie Post author

    Relatively minor format loss on that one. The first paragraph of my comment was originally blockquoted to quote something from further up in the thread. I think that’s it.

  7. robert capozzi

    “I’m not aware of any nations that have been without allies, and survived.”

    How about Switzerland?

  8. paulie Post author

    Lots of nations have survived without allies. I am assuming that must have been part of Kevin’s comment since I read all the others. Just confirms why I don’t read his comments, the noise to signal ratio is just way too high.

  9. dL

    Ain’t leaving…

  10. paulie Post author

    Well, I did say I did not trust Trump to follow through quite a few times when it was first announced but I guess I forgot to this time.

  11. Thomas Knapp

    Whenever Trump makes noises like these, I say “good for him — if he follows through he’ll deserve credit for doing something good.”

    That “if” has yet to transpire in any case that I can think of.

  12. Freeman

    Evidently, process of withdrawal out of Syria began yesterday with some equipment hauled out by truck into Iraq, and as for soldiers, more were brought in to assist withdrawal, said some colonel.

  13. paulie Post author

    Said some colonel according to unknown source…sounds iffy. So they brought in more troops (maybe) to (possibly) help move other troops from Syria to Iraq (maybe) and possibly move some equipment around, maybe to shift it from base to base, maybe to service or replace it, maybe it did not happen at all. But even if it’s all true the best case is that they are moving the troops from Syria to adjacent areas of Iraq. The overall US troop levels in the middle east, and overseas in general, are up in the Trump era. The promises on what Trump will do and what he actually does, on this and on all sorts of other things, keep careening back and forth.

    And as I wrote on another thread about him stirring up hostilities with Latin America and China and perhaps tangentially Russia as mounting evidence that he and his whole team have been acting as their agents all along becomes harder and harder to deny:

    No deal. Let Trump eat his shutdown. It will not end well for him. His eminent domain and and potential national emergency have significant legal opposition too, so let the courts shake all that out. He’s underwater on the wall, underwater on the shutdown, underwater on general popularity, and Republicans are already peeling off on ending the shutdown. They will continue to peel off and it will accelerate until veto-proof, which I think is a couple of weeks maybe, not months. All the Democrats have to do here is not fold, because there will be pressure on them too, and they will send Trump to a humiliating defeat….

    … just as numerous investigations – not just federal but state level as well, State AGs, congressional, special prosecutor, etc – are all closing in on intersecting circles of Trump administration, Trump inaugural, Trump transition, Trump campaign, Trump organization, Trump foundation, Trump family, Trump businesses…basically everything he has done since college and dozens if not hundreds of his associates. RICO, obstruction, emoluments, espionage…. that’s just the tip.

    Once Republicans gain a whiff of independence from Trump they will crave more.

    Meanwhile: global economic slowdown amidst Trump trade wars, tangential prosecutions overseas stemming from Panama Papers and Deutsche Bank, stock markets still teetering….

    Will the con man Trump skip town ahead of the sheriff? Stay tuned….

  14. Freeman

    The Democrats now have a strong candidate for president – Tulsi Gabbard. She’ll probably get shunned by her own party though because she already said her main message will be peace. To both the subsidized parties, of course, peace is anathema.
    I like the Libertarian release at the top o the thread because it’s libertarian, that is, loud & clear pro-peace.

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