…in response to today’s developments, the U.S. disengaged from its current military engagements abroad and simultaneously announced a policy of refraining from further military occupation in the future? The logic behind this strategy is based on the work of Robert Pape which identifies military occupation as the central motivating factor behind suicide terrorism.
Some potential arguments against this strategy:
1. It will prevent the U.S. from capturing or killing existing terrorists.
While this may be true in some cases it overlooks the fact that the “war on terror” must be fought against the current and future generation(s) of terrorists. As this report (see especially this section) indicates, one trade-off to fighting existing terrorists in Iraq is that the U.S. has created a training ground for the next generation of terrorists. Further the U.S. could, in theory, strike against “imminent threats” as long as the commitment to non-occupation was credible.
2. Absent occupation, how will the U.S. "spread democracy"?
3. Disengagement will signal to terrorists that they have won and will provide the incentive for subsequent terrorist attacks to further "bully" the U.S.
I don’t see this incentive being that strong. What if the U.S. reallocated a substantial portion of the disengaged resources to providing additional security at home? Further offsetting this potential negative incentive would be the improvement in the U.S.'s credibility and image abroad (I recognize this benefit would take time to fully emerge). In short, the "they are in our backyard" motivation for attacking America would be no more.
4. Such a strategy is not politically feasible.
I believe this is true in the short-term given the investment that has been made by the current administration. But there is good reason to believe that public opinion will increasingly support the non-occupation position over time.
In the short run I expect more government intervention in air travel and increased calls for interventions abroad to win the “war on terror” and to "spread democracy". In the longer run there is reason for hope regarding an ideological shift toward non-intervention. It is the task of supporters of this position to clearly identify the benefits of such a strategy as compared to alternatives. As much as I like the non-aggression axiom, I don't think it will win the broader battle of ideas on this issue. In order to win the day, proponents of non-intervention must show that it is superior strategy for practically dealing with the task at hand.