Libertarians Care More About the Troops than Liberals or Conservatives
Here is a hard truth for you: Libertarians (in general) care more about the troops than either liberals or conservatives.
Seriously, think about it. Most liberals didn't care when Obama was dropping 20 bombs a day overseas. Now neither liberals nor conservatives care that Trump is dropping even more bombs overseas each day. Under Clinton and Bush, the sanctions related starvation deaths of an estimated 500,000 children has been declared "worth it". Despite being so war-weary, most people continue to vote for candidates willing to send our friends and family overseas to die, be maimed, or commit atrocities that result in PTSD and moral injury.
That last is a real thing, by the way. There is tons of research out there about moral injury. The bottom line: moral injury is the reason behind the fact that 23 veterans commit suicide every day. It has to stop.
On the other hand, libertarians are consistently anti-war. This doesn't make us any friends in either the political sphere, or in the war industry. Libertarians want to stop putting the troops and their families in that position. We all want to bring home all of the troops. Immediately. From every overseas base and country. We want them to be with their families. To get the help they need, and to heal.
The US government spends more on foreign military activity than the next 8 countries combined. 800 billion dollars a year, and yet somehow veterans are killing themselves waiting for the VA to schedule an appointment. Those dollars go to the weapons manufacturers and other military contractors. Some come back and join the police force, resulting in the militarization and abuse we've seen in recent years. Some are radicalized, resulting in Ft. Hood.
Now, the pro-war party will say that we're terrorism apologists, or don't understand foreign policy, or some other claim. There is ample libertarian literature on the subject, not least the works of Ron Paul, Scott Horton, Michael Malice, and Peter Van Buren. Just to name a few.
The summary of our claims is that the actions of the US government over the last ~75 years has contributed to, if not caused, the situation we find ourselves in. Continuing the same activity will only continue to escalate the current violence. Granted, reversing course may not have immediate ameliorating results; some parties may see it as weakness. That's why maintaining a strong domestic defense would be paramount, at least in the near term.
My 10 step solution:
Immediately cut the annual military budget to $100 billion a year.
Immediately cease all military and intelligence agency activity in all countries.
Immediately pack up all weapons and equipment and ship it back to the US.
Immediately bring the troops home.
Close the VA and set up funding sufficient to award each soldier/family a generous HSA to pursue the health care of their choice.
Consolidate the military into three branches: Coast Guard (composed of Navy + Seals + Marines + Coast Guard), Aerospace (Air Force + Space Force), and the National Guard (fold Rangers into National Guard).
Allow the Army to expire, discharge those with physical or moral injury with full benefits. Move the mentally and physically sound to the Guard.
Hire Swiss advisers to revamp military training (Switzerland has never been successfully invaded or conquered.)
Sell off all foreign-held bases, land, etc, back to the countries that host them.
Find ways to incentivise military industry and contractors, et al, to shift to the development of infrastructure and transportation technology.
A lot of folks might disagree with this list. War hawks will claim that it leaves us too vulnerable, hardcore libertarians will say it doesn't go far enough. Naysayers will call us isolationists; ignoring the fact that libertarians are fully in favor of diplomacy, open trade, tourism, and cross-pollination between peoples, cultures, and countries. Rival branches will initially have friction at being thrown in together. Still, it is a solution that can serve as a starting point. It has the potential to solve issues of cost, both in terms of lives and money.
We must enable our soldiers to live in a way that honors their calling and preserves their dignity. We must have a solution that ends foreign intervention and spending while strengthening American defense. If the troops are living with their families, then they are constantly reminded of what they are defending. That can only be a good thing.