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Perspectives: Libertarians, President Trump, & ISIS

Being Libertarian Perspectives serves 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, answers a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Managing Editor Dillon Eliassen moderates and facilitates the discussion.

Dillon Eliassen: Now that Donald Trump is in charge of foreign policy, he will have to set the course for how to deal with ISIS. Is there a libertarian consensus, or multiple approaches to dealing with ISIS we could provide to the president-elect?

Alon Ganon: No, not really. Our window for even helping legitimate non-extremist groups has passed. Now the choice is, Do we keep Bashir Assad in Syria or hand power to extremists? Obama really mucked this situation up by calling Ja’hesh (Nation of Donkeys in Arabic as I prefer to call them) “JV.” So, it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. That nothing short of regime change could fix, but that’s not something we should get involved in. Regime changes at the hands of foreign governments are the primary reasons for Middle Eastern instability.

Brandon Kirby: ISIS seems to be on the decline, but Al-Qaeda seems to be a growing threat. I think Trump is onto something by not being involved in foreign wars. If American or Israeli bombs killed members of your family, you’d be filled with rage as well, and some people turn to terrorism.

Alon: Ja’hesh is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda seen as too extremist even for Al-Qaeda, though for the most part they are one in the same.

Dillon: ISIS is not simply a response to drone strikes and/or US foreign policy. Their jihadist ideology pre-exists any US involvement in the Middle East.

Danny Chabino: ISIS, as well as terror groups like them, are at the root of a proxy war with Russia. Under Obama, both sides used them as an excuse for that proxy war. Trump has inherited a mine field on this, and I don’t have any answers for it. To continue the fight against ISIS and these groups is to continue to escalate with Russia, but to not continue fighting against them is to allow them to grow.

Brandon: We can form allies in fighting Al-Qaeda. Smoother relations with Russia would allow us to end these senseless proxy wars and have a more coordinated effort against ISIS and Al-Qaeda. A key step forward is the abandonment of warmongering from the likes of Obama and Clinton. It will fuel less terrorist sympathies and give focus to the real enemy.

Danny: The problem is that many elements of our allies are very nearly the same as ISIS.

Alon: True, they are influenced by Wahhabi Islam from the 1700’s, the same ideology, if I recall, that lead Thomas Jefferson to have issues with the Barbary Pirates that required deployment to Tripoli, Libya. You know the Marines Hymn, “…to the shores of Tripoli…”

Danny: You are correct, Alon. They went there because US trade ships were being hit by the Barbary Pirates.

Alon: Kind of funny how it came full circle with them attacking the World TRADE Center. Even Bush had fewer wars than Obama and Clinton wanted. At least Bush could somewhat justify his. I don’t know what the hell Obama and Clinton were doing inciting tensions towards Russia.

Brandon: Yeah, I understood the Iraq invasion; I’m not saying it was for the best but I understood the justification. I don’t get what’s happening in Yemen. I didn’t understand Libya.

Dillon: I don’t think there is a diplomatic solution with ISIS. I think Congress should just declare war, and then we and our allies and Russia wipe them out. I don’t want disaffected Americans and Europeans to have a place to go to learn how to commit terrorism and then return to their home countries. I’m talking the dreaded “boots on the ground” (I know there are some already, I mean an actual invading force so that ISIS fighters are killed and/or captured).

Danny: I agree, Dillon. But that takes cooperation with many different countries, many of them Russian allies, and so tensions have to somehow be smoothed over with Russia. unfortunately, Putin will use that to his benefit in gaining a lot of influence and potentially expanding his empire. Can war be declared on a non-nation state?

Alon: Technically they have declared themselves a nation, so yes.

Dillon: Is there an economic way to defeat ISIS, or would that have to operate in conjunction with a military approach?

Alon: It would have to work in conjunction with a military aspect, as unfortunately their primary revenue is black market oil sales to legitimate nations. Sanctions and boycotts don’t quite work so well. Especially seeing as these oil fields were already built there isn’t really any impact to them as their start up costs were $0. I am told their other primary source of revenue is drug sales, predominantly poppy related, i.e. heroin. Fat load the War on Drugs will do to stop that when our government is fighting the war domestically and helping sell drugs in markets foreign and domestic.

Nima Mahdjour: Work with Russian & Syrian military closely, stop arms & financial flows from Saudi Arabia & Qatar to ISIS, whom the US helped create, and go after the Muslim Brotherhood (which according to some has become a 5th pillar in US political power).

Nicholas Amato: I think there are multiple ways that a libertarian could justify intervention and non-intervention. Trump could assert that ISIS is not just a direct threat to us, but their radical ideology has even infiltrated our country — via attacks like the one in San Bernardino — and we should take military action. By the same token, he could say they’re not a legitimate threat to us and haven’t directly attacked us, and that could justify a decision to not attack.

Arthur Cleroux: He’s gotta be careful though. I think a lot of people were drawn to the fact that he won’t be intervening all over the world. He’d have to show that it’s a coalition the US is joining rather than taking the brunt of the work. Though, if he times it right, I think it will go through. People hate ISIS (the worst thing since Nazis). There would have to be a media campaign though reminding people how bad ISIS is. I think the collective mind has forgotten about ISIS for the time being; it’s not what we are all thinking of like it was a few months ago.


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