LP Monday Message: Cut and run like Reagan

February 28, 2011

Dear Friend of Liberty,

In the Middle East, it’s time to cut and run like Ronald Reagan did in 1984.

In 1982, President Reagan ordered American Marines into Lebanon as part of a "multinational peacekeeping force." In 1983, there were several bombings targeting Americans in Lebanon, including the well-known Marine barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines.

At first, Reagan insisted that the U.S. would keep military forces in Lebanon. But in February 1984, he changed course and ordered a complete troop withdrawal.

The following is from Reagan’s autobiography:

Perhaps we didn’t appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and the complexity of the problems that made the Middle East such a jungle. Perhaps the idea of a suicide car bomber committing mass murder to gain instant entry to Paradise was so foreign to our own values and consciousness that it did not create in us the concern for the marines’ safety that it should have.

In the weeks immediately after the bombing, I believed the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 marines would be alive today.

I think our government would be well-advised to think about that quote before they stick their nose into Egypt, Libya, and other Middle Eastern countries in turmoil right now.

I applaud Reagan’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon, and I call on President Obama to follow his example by withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the greater Middle East.

Even though many Arabs hated the American intervention in Lebanon, it’s important to remember that Reagan’s withdrawal did not result in terrorist attacks in America. It did not result in a spreading takeover of Middle Eastern governments by terrorist groups. What it did was stop further American casualties, and allow for a reduction in military spending.

It was foolish and wrong for Reagan to send American troops into Lebanon, but it was good that Reagan was able to recognize his mistake and withdraw those troops.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, President George W. Bush’s pride and stubbornness prevented him from following Reagan’s example. Unfortunately, President Obama has shown that same pride and stubbornness so far.

A withdrawal might cause President Obama to lose face, but it would save many American lives, and it would help save our economy as well.

Many people say "cut and run" as if it were cowardly or idiotic, but that may not be accurate. Apparently the term comes from navigation, when in dire circumstances a ship’s captain might quickly cut the anchor line, raise sail, and "run" before the wind. You lose the anchor, but you save the ship.

I am so frustrated. Sometimes I think we’re spending a trillion dollars and wasting thousands of lives in the Middle East just because politicians are scared of the words "cut and run."

But I say that’s exactly what we should do: cut and run.


Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

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