Will Ruger: How Libertarians Should Think About Ukraine Invasion

The United States needs to be realistic about its interests abroad and the limits of our ability to influence events militarily, says the former nominee to be ambassador to Afghanistan.


Should the United States do more to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian invaders? Will financial sanctions against Russia work and are they moral? What does a libertarian foreign policy predicated on "realism and restraint" look like?

Today's guest on The Reason Interview is Will Ruger, the newly appointed president of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), who holds a Ph.D. in politics specializing in foreign policy. He's a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and was a prominent voice in calling for U.S. withdrawal. Ruger was nominated to be ambassador to that country late in the Trump administration (his confirmation was never brought to a vote).

He's a proponent of what he calls "libertarian realism" when it comes to foreign policy, meaning that America's interventions abroad should be focused on defending a narrowly defined national interest and that the use of military force should be strictly subjugated to diplomacy. Ruger is skeptical that the United States can or should play a leading role in defending Ukraine and he doesn't think sanctions are likely to accomplish anything, especially in the short run.

We talk about all that, how NATO, the European Union, and China figure into current events, and what he plans to do as the head of AIER, one of the oldest free market think tanks in the country.