In Search of Libertarian Realism – Reason Magazine



On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush landed a Lockheed S-3 Viking on the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego, then delivered a triumphant speech under a banner that read “Mission Accomplished.” “In the Battle of Iraq,” the president proclaimed, “the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

English: President George W. Bush and Presiden...



For the next decade, that premature declaration gave way to insurgencies, sectarian warfare, troop surges, corrupt Iraqi governments, 4,000 U.S. combat deaths, even more Iraqi deaths, and $1 trillion in taxpayer money down the drain. The American appetite for war, occupation, and the concomitant surveillance state went on a steady and uninterrupted decline, culminating in the shockingly successful September 2013 public and congressional revolt against President Barack Obama’s plans to attack Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. With the occupation of Afghanistan becoming the most unpopular war in recorded U.S. history, and with people telling pollsters they feared their own government more than they feared terrorists, it became possible to imagine a cross-ideological coalition against war, spanning from the progressive left to the constitutional-conservative right, and headed up by the libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).


But 2014 has complicated that narrative. The rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) within war-torn Syria, Iraq, and Libya halted the public’s decade-long bear market on war, with more Americans favoring combat troops against ISIS in October than in September, in part because of the Islamic State’s horrific beheadings of two U.S. citizens.


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