Now, there is nothing wrong with being selective in the use of military force. Being involved everywhere or nowhere may be consistent, but it isn’t necessarily a sound foreign policy. Yet it is difficult to discern an overaching strategy or philosphy here that would influence or dictate when the United States would intervene.
Johnson’s ideas seem to be fuzziest when he talks about humanitarian intervention and the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after the war. He seems to be aware of some of the problems of using drone strikes, but won’t rule out using them, which is not the position one would normally expect from a libertarian. He endorses the decision to send soldiers to aid in combating the remnants of the LRA in central Africa, but that appears to be the extent of his support for recent decisions justified on humanitarian grounds. For those concerned about his endorsement of humanitarian intervention, I would remind them that Johnson opposed the war in Libya from the beginning. I have not been able to find any evidence that he has taken a position for or against intervention in Syria. Presumably, his objections to the Libyan war would apply in that case as well, but we simply don’t know his position. It’s possible that Johnson endorses such interventions in principle, but rarely sees a situation where U.S. intervention would be desirable. The very minimal deployment in central Africa qualifies, but larger and riskier military actions do not.
Johnson is correct when he says that 43% of the current military budget is a return to levels before the spending explosion during the Bush-Obama years. Johnson also seems to be more informed when he articulates his position on Iran and its nuclear program. Johnson was clearly more familiar with the subject than his interviewer, who doesn’t seem to have realized how little he knows. It’s true that Iran hasn’t been seriously engaged diplomatically. The Iranian leadership has publicly declared that it is forbidden to possess or use nuclear weapons. That doesn’t automatically mean that the Iranian regime wouldn’t develop them anyway, but Johnson is not wrong to think that the regime has never publicly admitted to having a nuclear weapons program. He’s certainly not wrong to think that Iran has never threatened the U.S. with a nuclear attack. Johnson’s foreign policy could still use some work, but it’s not nearly so “strange” as some people think.