interventionism

Here’s why Rand Paul’s critics are epically wrong about foreign policy

The reaction to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s Wall Street Journal column on Middle East interventionism isn’t surprising. Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post called Paul “ignorant” and suggests he could be lying about the arguments for and against. Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald called him “clueless” and someone who should “wake up to reality.” Pema Levy at Newsweek says Paul is just trying to copy a page out of President Barack Obama’s 2008 playbook regarding opposition to the Iraq War. The Democrats called Paul’s foreign policy slogan “Blame America. Retreat from the World.”

This isn’t true at all. He told Breitbart.com on August 27 he was in favor of airstrikes against ISIS, but wanted to talk to Congress first. That’s the Constitutional stance because Congress has to approve war.

Americans are tired of war: Old Guard Republicans attacking Rand Paul show how truly out of touch they are

Power structures and ideological dynamics change quickly in Washington, and when a sea change happens you almost feel sorry for the losing side, who usually doesn’t realize it for a while, still clinging to their anachronistic worldview and thinking it’s mainstream. But there comes a time when you just have to point and laugh at people who have lost, and lost big, and don’t even realize it.

Politico has a new summary of all the defense hawk attacks on Rand Paul’s alleged “isolationism,” including Rick Perry, Dick Cheney, Elliott Abrams from the Council on Foreign Relations, and Mackenzie Eaglen from the American Enterprise Institute. In denouncing the freshman Senator’s skepticism of interventionism, they cite the current situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and of course 9/11.

Yes, “it’s been a long time since 9/11,” as Cheney said, lamenting what he sees as forgetfulness about the threat of terrorism, but also, it’s been a long time since 9/11. At a certain point you have to stop buttressing your entire foreign policy narrative with the biggest failure of our national intelligence and defense systems since Pearl Harbor. We haven’t reverted to a pre-9/11 mindset, we’ve evolved to a post-post-9/11 mindset. The world has changed, again; global interventionists haven’t.

Perhaps sadder still than their reliance on the 9/11 shibboleth is the delusion that hawks are still the mainstream of public opinion or even the Republican Party:

He’s right: Glenn Beck says it’s time to bring our troops home

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck went into a lengthy, brilliant monologue on his talk show on Tuesday in which he offered a mea culpa over his support for the Iraq war and called on the United States to alter its approach to foreign policy and bring its troops home.

The conservative talk show host reflected on some areas of agreement in American politics, including the bipartisan outrage over the VA scandal, though he admitted that the United States is polarized, and suggested that “[m]aybe we could come together now on this nightmare in Iraq.”

“Now, in spite of the things I felt at the time when we went into war, liberals said: We shouldn’t get involved. We shouldn’t nation-build. And there was no indication the people of Iraq had the will to be free. I thought that was insulting at the time. Everybody wants to be free. They said we couldn’t force freedom on people,” said Beck on his show. “Let me lead with my mistakes. You are right. Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have.”

Beck, who sounded an awful lot like Ron Paul in the nearly 16-minute monologue, lamented the human cost, the deaths American soldiers and innocent Iraqis who were killed in the war, as well as the $2 trillion fiscal impact. But, he explained, the people of Iraq need to work the problems they face out for themselves.

ZunZuneo and the New Covert Action

ZunZuneo

It’s an odd little story, but the AP report on ZunZuneo, a social media platform released in Cuba and reportedly designed by a US organization (USAID) with ties to the State Department to mimic the functionality of Twitter and — possibly? — stir popular unrest, is fascinating for its implications. Notably: social media may be the modern theater of the neoconservative.

Whatever one’s particular lean on the issue, it’s generally accepted that neoconservatives seek to influence — some call it ideological imperialism — non-democratic systems toward the principals of democracy. Sometimes through diplomacy, sometimes through regime change.

It looks like social media is possibly being tested as a communication tool to effectively stir up revolutionary thought in countries perceived as hostile to X ideology. Something like a Radio Free Europe but through smart phones and text messages.

Reasonable people can disagree on the moral and/or strategic good of such a program, again, depending on your lean toward or away from libertarianism and/or interventionism, but as Ed Morrissey at HotAir points out, this particular program leaves a troubling taste in the mouth:

Floundering Old Guard Republicans re-launch attacks on Rand Paul

Back in March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) propelled himself to the forefront of Republican politics when he led an inspiring 13-hour filibuster against the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan.

For the entirety of his procedural protest, Paul and several of his colleagues, most notably Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), highlighted the constitutional problems with President Barack Obama’s drones policy, which is largely consistent with the views of his hawkish predecessor and many of today’s conservatives. Paul would go onto win the CPAC straw poll the following week and has been a frequent voice of opposition to the Washington political establishment on foreign policy.

The reaction from the Old Guard Republicans was expected. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) both sided with President Obama on drones and foreign policy and admonished Paul from the Senate floor with the latter referring to his colleague from Kentucky a “wacko bird.” Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, called Paul’s foreign policy views “dangerous” and tried to label him as an “neo-isolationist.” Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s token Republican, has also taken shots at Paul on foreign policy, though with little effect.

More Calls for Intervention in Syria

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Pressure is building on President Obama to involve the United States more deeply in the brutal civil war in Syria that may have claimed as many as 70,000 lives, and created more than a million refugees. Late last week, the editorial board of the Washington Post called for “aggressive intervention by the United States and its allies to protect the opposition and civilians.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) apparently believes that the Post didn’t go far enough because the editorial explicitly ruled out sending U.S. ground troops. He wants the U.S. military to secure suspected chemical weapons caches there. But where Graham is leading few will follow, aside from his frequent co-conspirator, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The American people are not anxious to send U.S. troops into the middle of yet another civil war in the region.

The Drone Dilemma

Yesterday, I read an article from the Council on Foreign Relations called “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies.” The opening paragraph read:

Over the last ten years, drones have become a critical tool in the war against terrorist and militant organizations worldwide. Their advantages over other weapons and intelligence systems are well known. They can silently observe an individual, group, or location for hours on end, but take immediate action should a strike opportunity become available—all without putting a pilot at risk. This combination of capabilities is unique and has allowed the United States to decimate the leadership of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and disrupt the activities of many other militant groups.

The paragraph seems to be a wholehearted endorsement of drones. But everyone knows what happens when you start peeling the layers of an onion. What appear to be reasons for drone strikes also happen to be reasons against them.

Obama, President of Peace? Seriously?

You mad, bro?

Question: What’s the difference between conservative foreign policy and liberal foreign policy?

Answer: Nothing.

That’s the way it looks to me, noting a few stories in the media. First, US military supplies and troops are going to Turkey:

The United States and Germany are sending Patriot missiles and troops to the Turkish border, a warning to Syria’s besieged President Bashar al-Assad.

The surface-to-air interceptors would be “dealing with threats that come out of Syria,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Threats would include Syrian strikes inside Turkey and fighting between the government and rebels that extends into Turkey.

Errant Syrian artillery shells struck the Turkish border town of Akcakale and killed five Turkish civilians in October.

“We can’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether that pisses off Syria,” said Panetta after signing the order Friday. He spoke after arriving Friday at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, a U.S. Air Force installation about 80 miles from Syria’s border.

Despite the prospect of U.S. missiles on Al-Assad’s doorstep and a weakening regime, U.S. intelligence officials said the Syrian leader is showing no signs of giving up.

Chuck Hagel Would Be an Excellent Secretary of Defense

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

The rumors that President Obama will nominate Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defenseshould be welcomed by anyone frustrated by years of war and foreign meddling, and out-of-control spending at the Pentagon. Which is to say, nearly everyone. I hope the reports are true.

The biggest boosters of the Iraq war, the Afghan war, the Libyan war, and possible war with Syria and Iran, are apoplectic. And they should be. Hagel, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, understands war, and doesn’t take it lightly.

Although the president will obviously make the decisions, I expect that Hagel will generally advise against sending U.S. troops on quixotic nation-building missions. We might even see a resurrection of another Republican SecDef’s criteria for restraining Washington’s interventionist tendencies. At a minimum, Hagel will reflect Colin Powell’s view that “American GIs [are] not toy soldiers to be moved around on some sort of global game board.”

Can you believe in both “American exceptionalism” and limited government?

If there was one theme that was found throughout the Republican convention last week, it was this: America is awesome and everything would be great if only our guys were in power.  Now, this is certainly not a new idea.  It is common for partisans to see their opposition as the source of all our societal ills.  But in the Republicans’ case, this is amplified into the concept of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that America is not only a great nation, but one that is uniquely blessed and, thus, obligated to spread freedom throughout the globe.

Now, this would be one thing if it were just a bunch of overblown nationalism.  Pride in one’s country is perfectly fine, of course, but the concept of American exceptionalism takes that to an even further extreme, arguing that the normal rules don’t apply to the US and we have a special role unique in history.  It is an attitude that causes one to overlook America’s numerous failings and sins, and to excuse actions that, if undertaken by another nation, we could rightly condemn.  It is a worldview that calls anyone who questions it unpatriotic and part of the “blame America first” crowd.


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