Being Libertarian Perspectives will serve as a weekly, multi-perspective opinion and analysis piece by members of Being Libertarian’s writing team. Every week the panel, comprised of randomly selected writers, will answer a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Assistant Editor Dillon Eliassen will moderate and facilitate the discussion.
Dillon Eliassen: Congratulations, you’ve just been elected president! What do you do about ISIS?
Charles Peralo: Regarding ISIS, we can’t have a solution with war involved so I’d say a diplomatic approach in trying to stabilize them is ideal. Make them the new Saddam. Yet there are actions we can take to undermine them. 1) Deregulate American oil and nuclear power to cut the cost of energy and no longer need Middle Eastern oil. 2) Cut all aid to the Middle East. 3) Make a new foreign aid policy with Africa encouraging them to deregulate their oil industry, further cutting the Middle East oil market down.
Dillon: Why isn’t war part of the solution?
Charles: Because war was what caused the problem.
Dillon: So your solution would be to starve them for funds by reducing the price of oil? Wouldn’t you have to convince industrialized nations who have little to no oil of their own to not buy from ISIS? China & India?
Martin van Staden: I take somewhat of a different approach to military interventions, as compared to other libertarians. The military is one of the only three legitimate branches of government and has a defensive responsibility. ISIS is an aggressor in the international community and should thus be dealt with in the same manner a criminal running around in your residential neighborhood will be dealt with.
I would most likely deploy troops on a limited scale to fight ISIS in a counterinsurgent fashion, rather than brute force. These troops would be at the head of native Syrian and Iraqi battalions which would be specially trained for the purpose. When there are reports of ISIS movements, the small elite battalion would cut them off and fight them. South Africa did this with its infamous 32 Battalion during the Border War. Rather than brute force conventional engagements, the counterinsurgent tactic demoralized the opponent because they knew this battalion was constantly stalking around behind their own lines, making use of ‘their own’ people who knew the countryside.
Not taking military action is not something I’d consider. Being fully cognizant that the United States contributed to the lot that Middle Easterners now have to cope with on a daily basis, I would see it as my duty as successor-in-title of the Commander-in-Chief to solve this mess. That being said, I will actively advise against shellings and bombings and dronings given the potential for innocent casualties. The natives need to perceive this as a cleaning up operation, not a further insult.
Only soldiers who opt in will be deployed. If nobody opts in, then it doesn’t happen. Conversely, I will also encourage, and potentially offer funding, to private security contractors to engage ISIS, on a more permanent basis. The United States has generally been apathetic toward very specific international law measures, so the counter that “it violates international law!!!” is mostly toothless. Knowing international law myself, it basically comes down to how your actions will affect your state reputation, and I don’t see a particularly terrible reaction to this violation. I will expect those security contractors to adhere strictly to American law, however. All this will likely cost less than the American military currently spends on fighting international terror.
Dillon: I agree that we should give war a chance, but I’m not for “limited” engagements. I don’t mean I want non-combatants to be killed; I just don’t see the point of “Oh, don’t worry, we’re only going to have 100 boots on the ground.”
Martin: I see a full scale invasion as a last resort. And the only way I would consider such a move is in the knowledge that the United States would be adding two new stars to its flag. You don’t put that much money, lives, and resources into something, just to leave afterwards and see it all fall apart once more.
Dillon: My concern is how do you stop ISIS from training terrorists that they then send to wreak havoc? If it’s a combination of economic, military and diplomatic pressures, fine. I’m all for the comprehensive approach. But if we’re going to do it, we have to actually do it in an efficacious manner, with real commitment. No half measures, which ISIS certainly will not afford us. Saudi Arabia and Iran don’t want ISIS running around any more than we do, plus the attacks in France and Belgium have done enough to force Europe out of its stupor that forming a coalition should not be that difficult. But, let’s be realistic: ISIS will be deterred primarily through military force. And ISIS isn’t some mythological creature that only gets stronger the more you attack it. There is a point where the rate of its recruiting bends downward, and that’s not going to come about because we apologized to them or we sent a force there only large enough to match their numbers rather than overwhelm them. The ideology that leads them to jihad pre-exists American foreign policy, but there must come a time in which it does not outdate it.