Foreign Policy

WTF: Lindsey Graham Says Trump Is Repeating Mistakes of an 'Obama-Libertarian Foreign Policy'

Graham criticism of Trump's Syria policy says a lot more about the senator's appetite for endless war than the failures of an imagined non-interventionist foreign policy.


After President Donald Trump announced that he'd withdraw U.S. military personnel from northern Syria in anticipation of a Turkish incursion, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) warned that the White House is emulating the dangerous "Obama-libertarian foreign policy.".

"The Obama-libertarian foreign policy does not make America safe," Graham tweeted today. "No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision," he added, "it is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security."

The New York Times reports that the U.S. will be pulling back about 150 military personnel from northern Syria, but not out of the country entirely. (The State Department has claimed the number being withdrawn is substantially lower—fewer than 26.) Trump's move has been interpreted in many quarters as a decision to abandon America's Kurdish allies to the Turkish government, which considers them terrorists. As Elizabeth Nolan Brown noted this morning, even non-interventionist foreign policy experts have criticized Trump for his move, saying he has blindsided American allies without substantially reducing U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict.

That's quite different from Graham's criticism, which treats Trump's relocation of a handful of troops as tantamount to a full-blown U.S. withdrawal from the region. Worse still is the claim that President Barak Obama's foreign policy was libertarian. In fact, Obama upped the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 30,000 to 100,000 in the first years of his administration. He also launched a NATO air war in Libya despite having no congressional authority to do so. And he was an ardent drone warrior. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, he launched 10 times as many drone strikes as his predecessor. A few of those targeted U.S. citizens.

The Obama administration also provided weapons and logistical support to Saudi Arabia's war effort in Yemen, helping to contribute to one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. And while he campaigned against the Iraq war, Obama was slow to wind down our presence in that country too. Most U.S. troops did not leave the country until 2011. When ISIS first started capturing cities in Iraq, Obama redeployed troops to the county to fight the terror group.

It is that temporary withdrawal from Iraq that Graham sees as central to Obama's foreign policy, not the numerous other interventions that the 44th president signed off on. Unsurprising, Graham blames the current chaos in the Middle East on that decision, ignoring the destabilizing effects of U.S. intervention in the region.

The continued violence in Afghanistan should show that decades of U.S. military intervention is no recipe for peace or stability. An genuinely libertarian foreign policy would recognize this, and would take much greater steps to end American involvement in foreign wars.

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  1. Did you miss the Roundup this morning?

  2. Expecting logic from warpigs is no way to go through life.

    1. Agreed, President Dronestrike’s approach was not remotely logical.

  3. The continuing mystery that is Lindsey Graham. It think it’s lead in his pipes, but could be deliberate mercury poisoning by his mistress.

    1. He is the mistress.

    2. Watch what you say about Cindy McCain.

      1. Wait, I thought Lindsey Graham was Cindy McCain in drag.

  4. Worse still is the claim that President Barak Obama’s foreign policy was libertarian.

    Goddamn hippies.

    1. It’s hilarious that the GOP might finally abandon Trump after he does something good, like bringing the troops home.

      1. You mean abandoning earnest allies to face genocide and sending them to protect Saudi oil.

        1. The Turkish military, at present, couldn’t orchestrate a fart after an all bean dinner. They are not going to run roughshod over the YPG.

          1. While I agree, I still would’ve appreciated us giving them a heads up. The YPG has gone to bat for us despite mediocre reassurances and great personal risk, whereas Turkey and certainly Saudi Arabia have generally swung their dicks all over the mideast, pissed on the carpets, and tried to pretend we need them more than they need us (or even that we need them at all). I think the YPG will do alright, regardless, but we could’ve earned a lot of goodwill just by looping them in before pulling back, and more if we’d told Ergodan where he can fuck himself prior to doing so.

  5. Would somebody please step up and ass fuck this guy in the mouth?

    1. Britscghi, Graham or Obama?

      1. I hope we’re not playing Fuck, Marry, Kill here.

        1. *i’m* not i just wanted to know who Mongo hates … other than that horse

          1. I’m playing as long as the kill option is “give ’em to Mongo”.

      2. … Yes….

  6. Well, Lindsey Graham is a shameless whore for the MIC, spreading his ass cheeks for any man in a uniform, so there’s that.

    1. This is what I think about when I take long showers.

  7. And Britschgi makes an argument that implies any use of military force is unlibertarian.

    Though I would agree that Obama policy was libertarian. Obama’s policy wanted to intervene but did not seem to want anyone to win the conflict as they did not approve of any of the likely winning factions. The resulting stalemate was not libertarian, but neither was it the sort of thing Graham favors. Unfortunately, Graham has a limited imagination for what he considers negative descriptions.

    1. I don’t mind helping out other countries with military action if both countries agree and we present the pros and cons to the public for debate.
      I think Kuwait and Gulf War I were a decent example.

      1. Sure. American troops as mercenaries for medieval extremists. Why not.

      2. I’d argue that the Gulf war was the only successful war we’ve fought since WWII. Here’s why:
        1. It was a clear cut case of state on state aggression.
        2. There was no messy guerrilla fighting in Kuwait.
        3. We were backed by the U.N. and essentially the whole world.
        4. The Saudis actually paid for quite a bit of it.
        5. We had a clear cut goal- get Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, which was achieved.
        I can’t think of any other conflict we’ve been involved with that came off as successful as the Gulf war.

        1. None in the twentieth century, certainly.

          I will agree that those five things happened, mostly, and that it’s better that they were true than not. But I still would’ve preferred to stay the hell out of it. I also would’ve preferred that the US hadn’t put the asshole in power in Iraq in the first place, but unwishing all the incredibly stupid stuff we did during the Cold War is a fruitless endeavor.

          I mean, realistically, the only wars I can think of that the US got involved in that seem reasonably justified (besides the one that began the country) are 1812, WWII (kind of), and maybe, arguably, the first three months of the Afghan invasion (not sure I hold that opinion personally, but I’d be willing to consider it a reasonable one). I honestly expected there to be more on this list when I began typing, but really that’s pretty much it I guess.

    2. “Though I would agree that Obama policy was libertarian. Obama’s policy wanted to intervene but did not seem to want anyone to win the conflict as they did not approve of any of the likely winning factions.”

      That description sounds more like chaotic neutral than libertarian…

      1. Sounds about right – I would never confuse Susan Rice and Samantha Powers as libertarian.

  8. “Libertarian” – the belief that complicated problems can’t easily be solved with a bigger hammer. It’s pretty much the exact opposite of “government”.

  9. I see Senator Graham saying: Obama policy or a libertarian policy. Meaning, excessively hands-on or excessively hands-off. Not that Obama’s policy was even comparable to a libertarian policy. Either way, I think the Senator is incorrect on his premise.

    Honestly, why shouldn’t these Sandbox Kingdoms and European Ingrates pay for their own problems? Why should America get stuck with that bill? Daesh is a regional problem, let the region deal with it. This is what I believe POTUS Trump was trying to communicate.

    I don’t think either POTUS (Obama, Trump) would ever promise any Kurdish group a part of Syria to call their own. No chance. The Kurdish groups in Syria can move to Iraq, which is probably where they are from, anyway.

    Syria is not a vital US interest.

    1. It’s much simpler if you see Graham as pro-military spending for the MIC and the cash he gets from them. He’s one of the few in the GOP who’ve stepped up to help Trump, and now he wants some payback. Graham is the 5th top fund raiser in the Senate according to

      1. That may be true. The fact remains that Syria is not a vital US interest. We can leave there and let the region deal with Daesh. It is their problem, along with Europe and Asia who are dependent on that oil.

    2. The logic behind fighting ISIS and all that is simply that allowing a large presence of terrorists (and they are certainly terrorists) a foothold somewhere in the world just increases the resources they have to mount attacks against us (because they do after all want to attack us). I personally think we’d probably be facing a lot fewer terrorists if we’d stop drone striking peoples’ friends and family, but evidently there isn’t a single policymaker who shares that opinion and is allowed anywhere near the controls of that particular operation.

      As far as the Kurds in Syria go, we did make some promises to pressure for an autonomy arrangement on their behalf, much like their deal in Iraq. The question of “pressure who” isn’t really answered though; Syria is a hot mess that we’ve thus far managed to stay mostly out of, thankfully, but I suspect the Kurds were surprised by our sudden restraint. The way it looks now, it seems they’d’ve been better off cutting a deal with Assad, because Russia is not well disposed towards the Kurds and they’re the most likely power to establish any order in the country in the near future. I think we probably could’ve kept most of the goodwill we’d won thus far by just letting the Kurds know what was coming.

  10. when was there peace in Afghanistan?

    1. After the Covenant glassed it?

  11. Guess which year saw the largest number of bombs dropped in Afghanistan. It’s just a Google search away.

    Trump’s foreign policy is to bomb more civilians and abandon our allies. Maybe Obama wasn’t a libertarian, but let’s not pretend Trump is better. Because he’s worse.

    1. Just continuing the previous administration’s failed policies…

    2. You are boring, and an asshole.

    3. Tony
      October.7.2019 at 5:14 pm
      “Guess which year saw the largest number of bombs dropped in Afghanistan. It’s just a Google search away….”

      Keep picking those cherries, shitbag. It’s all you got.
      The number is ~100 more than Obo dropped in 2010; a whopping 1/5th of 1% increase:
      Go get ’em shitbag! Prove to us once again what a mendacious piece of shit you are!

      1. Yeah, at its peak, mendacious cunt.

        1. Unfunny Tony sock defends Tony. Again.

        2. Fuck off, Tony.

  12. Obama’s foreign policy was many things but libertarian it was not.

  13. Legalize mercenaries (again)

  14. Sen.Graham, and the rest of the war mongers in congress should grow a pair, pick up their constitutional powers, and start making foreign policy decisions of their own.
    Article I, section 8, subsections ten and eleven empower congress to both declare war, and to define and punish crimes against the law of nations. Read it. Between the two clauses, congress has all the options they need to take control of foreign policy out of the executive’s hands. If they have the guts, and a real plan. And can stand the heat of accountability.
    If. Lol.

  15. In fact, Obama upped the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 30,000 to 100,000

    I would say lately i’m Pretty happy with the writing at Reason. I think it’s been honest and they haven’t fallen into just accepting whatever Dear Leader says like the rest of the political Right. Bravo, everyone!

    However, the arrogant bothsidesism and pearl-clutching just takes away from this otherwise bright spot on the political Right. Can you please stop?

    1. Can you stop it with the bad parody accounts?

      1. Tony’s envious of Liberaltarian’s success. Also, he didn’t like the fact that a parody account was saying things before he could say them.

  16. Obama: not libertarian.
    Obama’s foreign policy: not libertarian
    Lindsey Graham: chickenhawk
    Trump: good move ditching Bolton

  17. Sen. Judy Moonlight with a calculated propaganda move to further discredit anything actually libertarian with morons who need nothing more than a soundbyte to point to and squeal “see I told you so” as long as it in some way confirms their ridiculous prejudices.

    1. Leftists call limited government types fascists all the time, it is hardly surprising that other then choose to get in on the mendacity act.

  18. So, not only is the United States now in the position of being unable to withdraw troops once deployed to a foreign country, it is now in the position of being unable to strategically redeploy troops *within* that country at the ever unrelenting prospect of “letting the terrorists win.” It would seem, then, that the only productive strategy, at least according to Graham and other similarly minded politicians on both sides of the political aisle, is to deploy more and more troops into Syria and to keep them in the country, fighting toward dubious and undefined goals, indefinitely. In other words, a permanent military presence.

    What, exactly, is the *plan* for Syria? Republicans seems to be in favor of a permanent occupation. Democrats seem to be in favor of a permanent occupation, but the underlying motivation for this position seems to be that, well, if Trump is for it then it must be wrong, so we are against it. We have a bevy of war hawks with no discernible strategic direction on one side, and a deluge of resistors looking for another opportunity to skewer the President politically on the other.

    Apparently, Congress no longer has any power, nor willingness, to put the matter to a real vote. Consequently, they should stop complaining.

  19. Are we really expected to care more about ethnocentric communist Sunni Muslim Kurds than Syrian Christians and other minorities, for whom Assad has been the only choice of protector?

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