An Open Letter to Obama (Bring Home the Troops)

Kevin Zeese, a leading proponent of the conservative/liberal/libertarian antiwar coalition, is soliciting signers for this excellent letter. If you want to add your name, as I did, send an email to Zeese at [email protected].

Dear President Obama:

The wars in which the United States is currently engaged—in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Libya—are undermining U.S. national and economic security, degrading the standing of the United States in the world community and fueling hatred abroad for Americans. These wars have been justified on false premises, and in the case of Libya there was not even the pretense of a congressional declaration of war, making it an impeachable offense. We urge you to end the current wars and start a national dialogue about shifting U.S. foreign policy away from dominance through military might, and toward being a member of the community of nations.

It is time to end all of these wars. It is time to initiate a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy away from domination of others through military might and damaging sanctions. As a first step we urge a major withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan–as you promised. This withdrawal should be at least as large as the 50,000 troop escalation you put in place early in your presidency. This withdrawal should be defined as a clear first step to a rapid withdrawal of all troops and private contractors from Afghanistan. It is time to return to our Founders’ declared conception of the United States as a democratic Republic and not an Empire. In short, it is time for America to come home.

The people signing this letter come from all segments of the political spectrum. We are conservatives and progressives, liberals and libertarians, from the right, left and center. We are Democrats, Republicans and independents. We represent a healthy and still vital American tradition,indicated by the fact that the majority of Americans want the United States to bring our troops home from these counterproductive and unnecessary wars.

With the death of Osama bin Laden it is time to end the “war on terror,” which Vice President Dick Cheney described as a multi-generational “Long War.” The U.S. needs to normalize relationships with countries around the world, especially in the Middle East. We recognize that there are important natural resources in these areas. But we can achieve energy independence and a sustainable economy in more effective ways than war and empire. The United States clearly has the wealth and knowledge to make this transition, and showing how it can be done would be an unparalleled service to our people and the world.

This is the time for a profound shift in foreign policy. A perfect storm has demonstrated the urgent need to reconsider militarism and promiscuous interventionism:

  • The U.S. economy can no longer sustain a military that spends as much on weapons and war as the rest of the world combined.
  • The U.S. economy is in dangerous straits with mass debt fueled in large part by military spending that makes up 55% of federal discretionary spending.
  • In war after war the US military has found that it cannot defeat people who seek to protect their countries and reject foreign domination, the very lesson of our own American Revolution.
  • Documents published by Wikileaks have clearly discredited the idea of the U.S. being the “good cop of the world.” Instead the world now sees our government as one that dominates through threats, violence, bribery, spying and illegal actions, and a government all too willing to use military force to achieve its ends. That is not the polity which the majority of Americans wish.
  • The death of Osama bin Laden is an opportunity to stop the growth of terrorism, growth inspired in significant part by unnecessary wars, which commonly feature torture, raids on families and the killing of innocent civilians. War brings suffering on a massive scale and unnecessary war brings pointless suffering.

This is a historic opportunity to redirect U.S. foreign policy down the pathways of peace, liberty, justice, respect for community, and fiscal responsibility. George Washington urged Americans to “cultivate peace and harmony with all” and to “avoid overgrown military establishments,” which are “hostile to republican liberty.” It is time for Americans to reject fear and militarism and embrace the highest, noblest aspirations of our heritage. It is time to come home, America.


David Beito is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and editor of the Independent book, The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society (with Peter Gordon and Alexander Tabarrok).
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