There is a battle raging for the heart and soul of the conservative movement. While there is a near constant discussion over fiscal issues, also emerging is a debate over the foreign policy direction the United States should take.
Despite his anti-war rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama has largely continued the expansive foreign policy views of his predecessor. In 2011, Obama authorized a bombing campaign in Libya, which was aimed at deposing the regime of the country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.
This campaign, which was waged without the consent of Congress, setoff a debate between the neo-conservatives and those who advocate a more restrained, constitutional foreign policy. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the non-interventionist views of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and others, smearing them as “isolationists.”
It’s Sen. Paul who has largely become the voice of reason in the foreign policy debate. During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, suggested that he could, as president, authorize military action against Iran without congressional approval. Sen. Paul responded forcefully, explaining that the “Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president.”
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met for the third and final debate last night at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida to discuss foreign policy, though economic policy came up at times.
The candidates went back and forth on policy in the Middle East and toward China. Romney was given a chance during the first question to discuss Libya and the attack on the consulate that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, but he punted, letting Obama control the narrative on that particular issue.
Obama tried to paint Romney as someone who frequently changes positions when it’s convenient. Obama also explained several times that he didn’t believe in “nation-building,” saying that it was time for “nation-building at home.”
Romney turned the debate toward economic issues during a question about whether or not he would have stuck with Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. While he answered the question, Romney segwayed, explaining, “[W]hen the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, says that our debt makes us not a great country, that’s a frightening thing.” Romney noted the words of Admiral Mike Mullen, who explained that the national debt is a security threat to the United States.
While noting this threat, Romney disappointed anyone who was hoping that he would put forward a viable solution to fix it. Romney explained, “I’m going through, from the very beginning, we’re going to cut about 5 percent of the discretionary budget excluding military.” As explained last week, that’s not at all a significant part of the budget, coming it at around $42 billion or so. So Romney’s great budget plan effectively does nothing.
On Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio outlined his vision for American foreign policy in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington. Suffice to say, it is a vision that will have more appeal to Bill Kristol than to Ron Paul. Rubio calls for more involvement in the world, more foreign aid, and more intervention. After reading Rubio’s speech, it is clear that he has not learned anything from the past decade and the foreign policy mistakes of the Bush43 and Obama Administrations.
Rubio first outlines his globalist agenda:
I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of our lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Our cost of living, the safety of our food , and the value of the things we invent, make and sell are just a few examples of everyday aspects of our lives that are directly related to events abroad and make it impossible for us to focus only on our issues here are home.
Rubio of course forgets that the 9/11 plot was hatched in the parts of Afghanistan that were under the control of a government, the Taliban.
No foreign policy speech in America would be complete without the prerequisite China bashing:
War is a violent competition between two Governments to determine who will make the laws, levy the taxes, and regulate the behavior of individuals within a given geographic area.
War is ugly. It is brutal. It is about killing others until they submit. There is nothing more serious in the world than the taking of another individual’s life. It is the most grave of businesses. And If you believe in Natural Rights and the Principles of Individualism it should only be conducted as a defensive act against an aggressing Government.
Unfortunately, today like in the past war is looked upon not as a grave business but business as usual for the United States Government.
Today, the United States Government has military personnel on 900 installations around the world and over a trillion dollars of taxpayer money is used to fund the wars overseas and the continued “projection” of military power around the world. This is all done for the production of security for the American people. We are told by the propagandists inside and outside of the United States Government that we are all safer because of the endless war in Afghanistan, the continued military presence in Iraq, and the continued military drone assassinations of individuals deemed “terrorists” across the world. Then are also told that it is our moral imperative to kill warlords like Kony in Uganda, to help oust dictators like Assad in Syria and help kill dictators like Gaddafi in Libya so rebels could take over the reigns of government and bring about democratic reforms (which is usually code word for socialism). We are told that this is in the big scheme of things being done to protect “American Interests” overseas which in turn benefits all of us at home. Which in reality is a lie perpetrated by the government and its allies in the media to benefit itself and the few who profit when it goes to war.
Well reading Foreign Policy for that North Korean blog entry, I came across “The 14 Biggest Lies of 2011,” by David J. Rothkopf. I like list articles a lot; lots of information, in a very short time span, and gets you to focus on them. Sometimes, lists are completely, totally wrong; other times they are spot on; and in this case, it’s quite mixed. I want to offer some rebuttals to a few of his items, because they seem, to me, to be wildly inaccurate. Perhaps they are lies, but his own answers to them are not exactly encouraging. I will only focus on that we disagree on, to save space, but do read the entire list. I actually find it rather humorous…in a morbid sort of way.
I will start out by agreeing 100% with his introduction, however, that in DC, that lying is not an art form, but rather “is more reflexive, like breathing or taking cash from fat cats.” It is nothing but a pit of lies, and the Great Obamessiah himself is one of the best of them. All for civil liberties and ending the wars while running for president, not so much when he actually got into office. What a shame.
But onto Mr. Rothkopf’s list:
6 - “America is unthreatened by China’s growth.”
Herman Cain didn’t know that China was a nuclear power. He doesn’t know what is going on in Libya. He didn’t know what the Palestinian right-of-return was. He said it’s not practical to attack Iran because “it’s very mountainous.” And he recently said “I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy,” which is probably a good position to take given that he doesn’t know anything about foreign affairs. More evidence of that comes from his “foreign policy” on Cuba:
Cain, who last week stumbled over questions about what he would do in Libya, seemed to know little about Cuba. His campaign kept reporters at bay, and when asked about the Cuban Adjustment Act and the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy, Cain seemed stumped.The policy allows Cuban immigrants who have made it to US soil to stay.
“Wet foot, dry foot policy?” Cain asked. His press handlers interrupted as Cain diverted his course and ducked back into the building. Later, when he emerged, he was asked again by another reporter. Cain wouldn’t answer.
I went into Saturday night’s debate on foreign policy fully expecting to be depressed. Despite the party’s claims that it has learned its lessons from Bush’s mistakes, one area where the GOP is entirely unreformed is in foreign policy. A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has not deterred the hawks of the party who still see aggressive military action as both viable and even desirable. And yes, the party still wholeheartedly endorses torture.
The torture support is truly baffling from a party that claims to be about morality and traditional values. On issues like abortion and gay marriage, we are told that the federal government needs to have an activist role that extends far beyond strict Constitutional mandates because the issues are so important. On these matters, the moral case is simply so compelling that small-government ideas go out the door. (As an aside, I am not necessarily against state-level action here, but the federal government has NO role.)
Yet when it comes to fighting terrorists, despite the moral weight clearly being on the side of humane treatment and the rule of law, Republicans line up and endorse treatment of prisoners that justified execution when the Japanese did it during World War II. The only explanation I can come up with is that the average Republican voter is so terrified of terrorists that they take a pass on the moral dilemma here. It’s sad to say the least that they have ceded the high ground on this issue, all for the illusion that brutal interrogations make us safer.
Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a speech last Friday at the UN which caused US “diplomats” to pack up their toys and run home.
In his speech to the annual General Assembly, Ahmadinejad said it was mostly U.S. government officials who believed a terrorist group was behind the suicide hijacking attacks that brought down New York’s World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon.
Another theory, he said, was “that some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime” — his way of characterizing Israel.
“The majority of the American people as well as most nations and politicians around the world agree with this view,” Ahmadinejad told the 192-nation assembly.
Shortly after walking out of the speech like spoiled little children, the US envoy responded by written statement claiming Iran’s president had offered up “vile conspiracies” and “anti-Semitism”. Even if you accept that the translation of his statements are perfectly correct, it isn’t clear at all that he claimed to believe the conspiracy himself, merely that a large number of people outside US government circles believed them.
It’s the last day of 2009. We made it through a crazy year that saw liberty put at risk on an all to regular basis. We decided the best way to recap the year was to take ten of 2009’s biggest stories and write a blurb about each one of them (we tried to keep it short and to the point).
Before you continue on, each of us here at UL want to thank you for a great 2009. We appreciate you reading. We’re planning for world domination in 2010 and hope that you’ll join in the fun.
So, here they are in no particular order, United Liberty’s Top 10 Stories from 2009.
Tea Party Movement (Brett Bittner): The wave of “hope” and “change” that swept Barack Obama into the Presidency of the United States closed out 2008 and opened the door to a new movement in American politics, the Tea Party movement. I believe that his election was merely a catalyst for many groups of a conservative nature and strong views on limited government to unite to form one voice to stand up to the political status quo, calling out Democrats and Republicans alike for their affinity to grow the size of government to a breaking point.
Podcast: Afghanistan War, Huckabee-Maurice Clemmons, Bernanke Re-Nomination, Iran News & More, Guest: Stephen Gordon
Note: Brad Warbiany from The Liberty Papers was originally penciled in as a guest for the podcast, but some technical difficulties required a re-recording of the show. He was missed on the final product, but we plan to have him on again in the very near future.
Together, they discuss: