Yesterday, our friends at the Cato Institute hosted a panel dealing with conservatism and war, moderated by Grover Norquist with Rep. Tom McClintock, Rep. John Duncan and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher on the panel.
It’s refreshing to hear conservative Republicans, outside of Rep. Ron Paul, talk about the mistake of going to war in Iraq:
According to conservative activist Debbie Schlussel, an overwhelming amount of the revenues from the annual concerts promoted by talk show host Sean Hannity to help families of fallen soldiers are going to pay overhead and other expenses:
[L]ess than 20%–and in two recent years, less than 7% and 4%, respectively–of the money raised by Freedom Alliance went to these causes, while millions of dollars went to expenses, including consultants and apparently to ferret the Hannity posse of family and friends in high style. And, despite Hannity’s statements to the contrary on his nationally syndicated radio show, few of the children of fallen soldiers got more than $1,000-$2,000, with apparently none getting more than $6,000, while Freedom Alliance appears to have spent tens of thousands of dollars for private planes. Moreover, despite written assurances to donors that all money raised would go directly to scholarships for kids of the fallen heroes and not to expenses, has begun charging expenses of nearly $500,000 to give out just over $800,000 in scholarships.
According to its 2006 tax returns, Freedom Alliance reported revenue of $10, 822, 785, but only $397,900–or a beyond-measly 3.68%–of that was given to the children of fallen troops as scholarships or as aid to severely injured soldiers.
During debate over legislation that would have required President Barack Obama to begin bringing troops in Afghanistan home by the end of the year, which was overwhelmingly shot down, Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) explained to his colleagues the fiscal and constitutional case for ending military actions in the Graveyard of Empires:
Way back in July of 2003 Ron Paul wrote an article entitled “We’ve Been Neo-Conned” in which he laid out facts showing that the “Neo-Con” philosophy had taken over the foreign policy of the USA (For a quick primer on the Neo-Conservative movement please click the link above). As I was reading this article one question kept repeating in my head:
“How did it come to this?”
The only place to start I believe is with the American person (notice I didn’t use the plural “people”). I will use myself as an example since I believe my story is common to many modern-day libertarians and members of the Liberty movement.
In short, I was raised a Reagan Republican, became a Neo-Con after 9/11, converted to a Goldwater conservative after the invasion of Iraq and became a full-fledged libertarian after finding the writings of Murray Rothbard(OK, maybe every libertarian didn’t become one because of Murray but I think many have a similar story).
But here is what I believe is key in my story and the reason why there aren’t more capital “L” Libertarians: I didn’t get their foreign policy. Like many I actually referred to myself as libertarian on social and monetary issues, but not when it came to our “enemies”. I hear the same from freedom loving people over and over again, especially in the wake of 9/11.
The reason the Neo-Cons were able to seize power is FEAR. I am not putting anybody down because of it. I can certainly relate, but we still have to figure out why the American person is allowing our government todrop bombs and declare war on anybody they want to while we cheer them on. When does fear translate to lunacy?
When I scanned the front page of the local paper here in St. Paul, Minnesota, something stuck out to me (and no it was not the headline about the devastating loss the Vikings suffered last night). An article written by Rick Montgomery titled Poll: More Americans want U.S. to ‘mind its own business’ immediately grabbed my attention, especially the sub-title “Rising isolationism highest in people younger than 30.”
Of all of Ron Paul’s views, his non-interventionist foreign policy was the hardest for me to grasp. This was partly due to the natural complexity of the issue, but also my own lack of knowledge surrounding the topic. I read Paul’s “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” and was enlightened about some of the more intricate aspects of Paul’s views. He raises some great points and offers an argument that runs so against our current foreign policy that it is hard for an average American to grasp: our foreign policy has made us less safe and more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
What I read in Montgomery’s article was impressive:
To one poll question, roughly half of Americans agreed that the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally” and let others get along on their own. To another question, 44 percent said “we should go our own way” and not worry whether other nations disagree.
Both questions are vague and mean different things to different people, the pollsters concede. But when asked similar questions in 1964, not even one in five Americans thought going it alone or staying out were good ideas.
Buried deep inside this poll is some very positive for those of us that believe restraint in government:
By 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans said they prefer smaller government and fewer services to larger government with more services. Since he won the Democratic nomination in June 2008, the margin between those favoring smaller over larger government has moved in Post-ABC polls from five points to 20 points.
Could it be that Americans don’t believe that expanding government helps their own individual standing? Who’s to blame them, generally when government gets involved it makes matters worse.
As 2009 winds down, David Boaz notes that Barack Obama has taken ownership of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which he promised to end as a candidate:
Speaking of Iraq in February 2008, candidate Barack Obama said, “I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009. It is time to bring our troops home.” The following month, under fire from Hillary Clinton, he reiterated, ”I was opposed to this war in 2002….I have been against it in 2002, 2003, 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8 and I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don’t be confused.”
Indeed, in his famous “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow” speech on the night he clinched the Democratic nomination, he also proclaimed, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that … this was the moment when we ended a war.”
In a press release through the Our America Initiative, Gary Johnson is taking aim at those making foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Gary Johnson, former Republican Governor of New Mexico, and Honorary Chairman of OUR America Initiative joins with all Americans in thanking the troops for their service and efforts. “I want to send our well wishes to those men and women in the armed services that protect our liberties and freedoms” said Johnson.
Johnson supports a strong defense for the protection of all Americans. Governor Johnson became one the highest-ranking Republicans to speak out early against the war in Iraq, calling the engagement an unjust cause. “The war in Iraq was an unneeded involvement by the U.S., he stated. “ I look forward to the time when our troops will be returning home.”
Governor Johnson has also been a strong advocate of the war on terrorism but has been critical of the war in Afghanistan. “Our efforts should be directed towards protecting U.S. citizens and our allies from terrorism. We are at war with Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. I am very concerned about the direction and focus of our continued involvement in Afghanistan,” Johnson said.
You can read the full release here.
President Barack Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize today in Oslo, Norway. During his speech, defended war and his use of military for humanitarian aid:
In them, Obama refused to renounce war for his nation or under his leadership, saying defiantly that “I face the world as it is” and that he is obliged to protect and defend the United States.
“A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida’s leaders to lay down their arms,” Obama said. “To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism, it is a recognition of history.”
The president laid out the circumstances where war is justified - in self-defense, to come to the aid of an invaded nation and on humanitarian grounds, such as when civilians are slaughtered by their own government or a civil war threatens to engulf an entire region.
Yes, defensive war is, at times, necessary. Our Constitution allows the federal government the power to “provide for the common defense.” It does not, however, allow the Congress to engage in international offense (the Bush Doctrine), nor does it allow for Congress or the president to use the military for humanitarian or police missions around the globe.
The fact that Barack Obama received this award nine days after telling Americans that he planned to send 30,000 of their countrymen to Afghanistan to fight a war that has lasted over eight years, with no end in sight.
George Will predicts President Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan will fail:
[A]fter 11 months of graceless disparagements of the 43rd president, the 44th acts as though he is the first president whose predecessor bequeathed a problematic world. And Obama’s second new Afghanistan policy in less than nine months strikingly resembles his predecessor’s plan for Iraq, which was: As Iraq’s security forces stand up, U.S. forces will stand down.
Having vowed to “finish the job,” Obama revealed Tuesday that he thinks the job in Afghanistan is to get out of Afghanistan. This is an unserious policy.
Obama’s surge will bring to 51,000 his Afghanistan escalation since March. Supposedly this will buy time for Afghan forces to become adequate. But it is not intended to buy much time: Although the war is in its 98th month, Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” banner will be unfurled 19 months from now — when Afghanistan’s security forces supposedly will be self-sufficient. He must know this will not happen.
Forget the “surge,” we lost Afghanistan the moment we made a decision to engage in War in Iraq, and Will has written about the need to leave that country as well.
Obama is asking for more problems with this strategy, but unfortunately, what conservatives don’t realize is that George W. Bush lost this war, not his successor.