Johnson on the Middle East

Gary Johnson

2012 Presidential candidate and former Governor of New Mexico

Libya, Afghanistan and the Middle East — Why Obama and Romney¬†are Both Wrong

Posted: 09/14/2012 7:44 pm

Foreign policy is supposed to make us safer, not get Americans killed and bankrupt us. Yet, even as we mourn the loss of four Americans in Libya and watch the Middle East ignite with anti-American fervor, our leaders don’t get it.

In one corner, we have the U.S. apologists warning that — after the murders in Libya and the attack on our embassy in Cairo — we must be careful not to say or do anything that might hurt someone’s feelings. In the other corner, we have the chest-thumpers demanding that we find somebody to shoot — and shoot them.

I have a better idea: Stop trying to manipulate and manage history on the other side of the globe and then being shocked when things don’t turn out the way we wanted. As far as what we do right now in response to the tragic events of this week, it’s actually pretty simple. Get our folks out of places they don’t need to be — and out of harm’s way — and cut off every dime of U.S. tax dollars we are sending to clearly ungrateful regimes.

Let’s review American foreign policy during the Bush-Obama years. Just imagine for a minute that, in 2002, President Bush granted Iran’s Ayatollah one wish above all others. It is not unreasonable to assume that the Supreme Leader would have said, “Can you please kill Saddam Hussein and make sure our mortal enemy Iraq can no longer threaten us. Then, we can get about our goals of destroying Israel, building a nuke and becoming a legitimate thorn in the side of the Western infidels.”


And then there are Afghanistan and Pakistan. After 9/11, going after Bin Laden and al Qaeda was exactly the right thing to do. We were attacked and we attacked back. We must defend ourselves, and we absolutely must have a strong defense. But within a few months, our troops had scattered al Qaeda like ants from a kicked anthill, and Bin Laden had set up housekeeping in Pakistan. Al Qaeda left, but we stayed — and kept fighting a war that was, in terms of our immediate interests, over. And we’re still fighting it today, ignoring the lessons learned at great cost by the Soviet Union and the British Empire.

While we’re fighting a war we don’t need to fight in Afghanistan, we’re pumping billions of dollars into the coffers of our new best friend Pakistan — making them the second largest recipient of our borrowed and printed dollars on the globe. When we finally found and killed Bin Laden, was anyone surprised that we found him — you got it — in Pakistan? And our new best U.S.-financed friends are treating the good Pakistanis who helped us find him like criminals.

Fast forward to Libya. Make no mistake, Muammar Gaddafi was a despicable human being and no reasonable person mourns his demise. But toppling dictators we don’t like has not worked out very well for us. We launched hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of missiles to kill the guy, and what do we get? A Libya that cannot even keep its benefactors safe — and may not even be trying very hard. Somebody needs to ask, and I will be that somebody: As despicable as he was, would our ambassador and three other dedicated public servants have been killed in a Gaddafi-controlled Libya? Are we safer today after launching all those missiles and killing Gaddafi? Clearly not.

In Egypt and the other blossoms of the Arab Spring, is America any safer or our interests any better served as the result of the billions of dollars we are giving away? Again, clearly not.

Oh, and there is one other matter. We’re broke. We are borrowing or printing 43 cents of every one of the more than $4 billion a year we are sending to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt. And all those missiles we launched, and the war in Afghanistan are likewise being put on the national credit card. Why are we building roads, bridges, hospitals and schools half a world away on borrowed money? Don’t we have those same needs here at home?

It’s time to tell and face the truth: The Bush-Obama-and-now-Romney interventionist approach to foreign policy is getting Americans killed and contributing to the bankruptcy of our nation without clear sight of our national interests. By what measure is that good policy?


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