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.

NEXT: Zelenskyy Goes Viral, Russia Goes Nuclear

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  1. The one true libertarian speaks.

    1. Will Ruger: How Libertarians Should Think About Ukraine Invasion

      Prove it or GTFO. That's how a Rational Libertarian would reply.

      And part and parcel of "Realism" should include acknowledging the reality of several things..

      The reality that there are tyrants who do not stop at their own borders.

      And the reality that governments are instituted to protect citizens against those tyrants, even if governments can't and shouldn't try "nation-building" or being a "World Policeman."

      And the reality that peaceful private individuals have the moral standing and right to speak and fight against these tyrants at their own risk and expense, no matter what the corruption and hypocrisy of existing governments under which they live.

      Reality can be a bitch, but so can Lady Liberty and her devotees when riled by tyrants, and when tyrants sow bitch seed, it eventually comes harvest time.

      1. "...governments are instituted..."? Irrelevant. All that matters is the means by which a govt. acts. If by the initiation of force, threats, fraud, as ALL do worldwide, then their goals matter not. Why? The means determines the end.
        When a new political paradigm based on voluntarism is realized, then reason, rights, choice will be the means and the result will be a new respect for the individual's conscience, integrity, well-being.

        1. Well, please let me know when the grand opening of that Voluntariyst/Polyarchist/AnCap Freedom Store happens. Meanwhile...

  2. You don't tell me how to think!

    1. He is the one true libertarian. The headline has spoken.

      1. Not The Jacket?!??!

        1. Has a headline ever lied to you?

      2. So it's like Highlander?

  3. you can't make me cover my dick & tits.

    1. I'd figured they'd jumped the shark, but Pajama Day was a brilliant bit of commentary at exactly the right moment.

      1. word. I've said that ^^ every day since.

  4. How Libertarians Should Think About Ukraine Invasion

    Way to step all over the NAP, guy.

    1. Whoa, take the smug dickcheese seriously, he was nominated to be an ambassador. That's a huge deal on the beltway cocktail party circuit. Like almost being in a nuclear war, or surviving a pandemic, is, for irrational cowards.

    2. The Knights, Ladies, and Trans-Jesters Who Say: "NIFF!*" are not amused either!

      Though we may differ on acronyms, stepping on people while NAP-ing is definitely Anti-"NIFF!" as well!

      *Non-Initiation of Force or Fraud.

  5. Will Ruger: How Libertarians Should Think About Ukraine Invasion

    For themselves, perhaps?

    1. That would make you a Russian troll by current standards and practices

  6. The phrasing here is unfortunate. Let's leave telling people what to think to the progressives. Libertarians think for themselves, and it's perfectly alright for reasonable libertarians to disagree about what to think.

    1. That's just crazy talk.

    2. You know who else told people what to think?

  7. Considering the gravity of the situation, and the need for a balanced perspective, has Putins speech of February 24, 2022 ever been broadcast by western propaganda, media?

    Putin on hypocrisy, excerpt from his speech of February 24, 2022.

    “There are many examples of this. First a bloody military operation was waged against Belgrade, without the UN Security Council's sanction but with combat aircraft and missiles used in the heart of Europe. The bombing of peaceful cities and vital infrastructure went on for several weeks. I have to recall these facts, because some Western colleagues prefer to forget them, and when we mentioned the event, they prefer to avoid speaking about international law, instead emphasizing the circumstances which they interpret as they think necessary.

    Then came the turn of Iraq, Libya and Syria. The illegal use of military power against Libya and the distortion of all the UN Security Council decisions on Libya ruined the state, created a huge seat of international terrorism, and pushed the country towards a humanitarian catastrophe, into the vortex of a civil war, which has continued there for years. The tragedy, which was created for hundreds of thousands and even millions of people not only in Libya but in the whole region, has led to a large-scale exodus from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe.

    A similar fate was also prepared for Syria. The combat operations conducted by the Western coalition in that country without the Syrian government's approval or UN Security Council's sanction can only be defined as aggression and intervention.

    But the example that stands apart from the above events is, of course, the invasion of Iraq without any legal grounds. They used the pretext of allegedly reliable information available in the United States about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. To prove that allegation, the US Secretary of State held up a vial with white powder, publicly, for the whole world to see, assuring the international community that it was a chemical warfare agent created in Iraq. It later turned out that all of that was a fake and a sham, and that Iraq did not have any chemical weapons. Incredible and shocking but true. We witnessed lies made at the highest state level and voiced from the high UN rostrum. As a result we see a tremendous loss in human life, damage, destruction, and a colossal upsurge of terrorism.

    Overall, it appears that nearly everywhere, in many regions of the world where the United States brought its law and order, this created bloody, non-healing wounds and the curse of international terrorism and extremism. I have only mentioned the most glaring but far from only examples of disregard for international law.

    This array includes promises not to expand NATO eastwards even by an inch. To reiterate: they have deceived us, or, to put it simply, they have played us. Sure, one often hears that politics is a dirty business. It could be, but it shouldn't be as dirty as it is now, not to such an extent. This type of con-artist behavior is contrary not only to the principles of international relations but also and above all to the generally accepted norms of morality and ethics. Where is justice and truth here? Just lies and hypocrisy all around.”

    1. The l9gical fallacy of T7 Quoque is also the way of con-artists like Putin and his apologists, just as it was with Hitler and his minions Joseph Goebbels and Julius Streicher.

      The foreign policy fuck-ups of the U.S. Government do not negate Russia's or Germany's.

      Fuck off, Nazi!

      1. Correction: Tu Quoue. I try to spell by English and Latin rules and not by "Aryan Linguistics."

        Again, Fuck off, Nazi!

  8. Lavrov says Americans are Nazis and that Europe is under our boot. Same lie they used to attack and invade Ukraine.

    1. Nazis and Jews are like peanut butter and chocolate. They have identical agendas but only one can be the winner. Both right wing socialists. Just ask the Palestinians.

      “Washington Used Nazis to Help Overthrow the Government“

      “ The facts above give more context to Russian actions following the coup, and ought to counter the caricature of a Russian Empire bent on expansion. From Russia’s point of view, a longtime adversary had successfully overthrown a neighboring government using violent far-right extremists.

      The Crimean peninsula, which was part of Russia until it was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954, is home to one of two Russian naval bases with access to the Black and Mediterranean seas, one of history’s most important maritime theaters. A Crimea controlled by a U.S.-backed Ukrainian government was a major threat to Russian naval access.

      The peninsula—82% of whose households speak Russian, and only 2% mainly Ukrainian—held a plebiscite in March 2014 on whether or not they should join Russia, or remain under the new Ukrainian government. The Pro-Russia camp won with 95% of the vote. The UN General Assembly, led by the U.S., voted to ignore the referendum results on the grounds that it was contrary to Ukraine’s constitution. This same constitution had been set aside to oust President Yanukovych a month earlier.”

      1. Fuck off, nazi pile of shit.

      2. Nazis and Former Communists are like a Reese's Cup of shit and mud...Two Bad Tastes That Taste Worse Together!

        Fuck off, Nazi! And the Putin horse you rode in on!

  9. Good, I was wondering how I should about it.

  10. "...defending a narrowly defined national interest... "

    So, some nationalisms are more equal than others. Gee, thanks Reason for clarifying that.

    1. Perhaps one of the writers here could offer a list of 'national interests' that trump concerns for individual liberty?

  11. >How Libertarians Should Think About Ukraine Invasion

    Is that the Ministry of Truth's official goodthink? So nice to have someone tell me what and how to think.

    1. Beggars can’t be choosers.

      1. You're dealing with a movement that neither begs for not chooses so-called "thought leadership." For that, you'll have to go to go to some outlet like The Salem With-Burner Radio Network Democracy Mob Rule Now, or The Daily Shoah.

        Third Time's the Charm! Fuck off, Nazi!

  12. Well, it appears that this person's thesis holds true to Libertarian beliefs. But it also helps to illuminate (although not nearly as well as reality) the utter moral bankruptcy of the philosophy, especially when it comes to its operating in the real world.

    We are in fact, currently living out the reality of what amounts to the practical assumption of libertarian ethics (along with a strong element of populist isolationism, sometimes indistinguishable) in American policy over the past generation. Not pretty, is it? And it is extremely likely that it will not end here; the inevitable logic of
    the forces of utter ruthlessness buoyed by its consciousness of what to expect from a civilized, if libertarian opponent may well mean that events will only come to a head at the point of existential survival.

    It should also be self-evident by now that adherence to some fine-sounding theoretical "ism" is not only self-defeating but is also self-indulgent.

  13. Ruger has a clear head. There a so few in public life now. Politicians (Democrat and Republican) think WWW III is an acceptable risk if it can blamed on Putin. The news media just says, "Where do we put the cameras?"

    1. And fewer still that understand that World War III has come and gone.

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