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.
Before Christmas, amid the drama of the fiscal cliff, and before the horrible shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama announced that our government would recognize the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the country’s people, stating:
“The Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, and is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”
Question: What’s the difference between conservative foreign policy and liberal foreign policy?
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.
I know that I am in the minority among the contributors to UL in that I will cast my vote on Election Day for Mitt Romney. I laid out my reasons for switching my vote from Gary Johnson to Mitt Romney in The Blaze a couple of weeks ago.
I was no fan of attempts to bully or shame libertarians into voting for Romney before I made my endorsement and I am no fan of those tactics now. I tried in my piece in The Blaze to lay out reasons why a libertarian should consider a vote for Romney – reasons that are obviously compelling enough for me personally to cast that vote.
If Romney wants to win over libertarians he doesn’t need his supporters trying to bully or shame libertarians who plan on voting for Gary Johnson. Instead, to win the votes of libertarians, Romney needs to actually take positions advocated by libertarians. I know this isn’t rocket science, but considering some of the pieces I have seen written by Romney supporters with the supposed objective of winning over Johnson voters, this actually needs to be said.
Tonight, Governor Romney has an opportunity to win over libertarians in the foreign policy debate.
First, let me say that I am realistic about what Romney could do to win over libertarians tonight. I know, unfortunately, that he will not repudiate the failed nation-building and interventionism that has been the hallmark of the Bush and Obama foreign policies.
That having been said, here is what Romney could say that would set his approach apart from the disastrous Obama foreign policy and win over libertarians:
Yesterday, Rep. Ron Paul gave a speech on the House floor in regards to situation in Syria. Syria has descended into bloody civil war with rebel groups trying to oust Syrian dictator Bashir Assad. There have been reports of massacres and atrocities being committed by forces to loyal to the Assad government. In response, there have been increasing calls for intervention by United States and NATO forces, in the mold of the recent Libyan adventure, to remove the Assad government from power.
Rep. Paul spoke out against the proposed intervention and will file legislation to stop President Obama from launching a war against the Assad regime without Congressional authorization. This is legislation I would strongly support because only Congress has the constitutional duty to declare and authorize war. Plus, I believe intervention in Syria would be a huge mistake because it would likely ignite a larger Middle Eastern war involving Israel and Iran. However, the Paul speech unfortunately I believe did harm to supporters of non-interventionism and confirmed many negative stereotypes about them.
The speech included a few troubling passages, such as:
We are already too much involved in supporting the forces within Syria anxious to overthrow the current government. Without outside interference, the strife—now characterized as a civil war—would likely be non-existent.
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.
If you live inside the beltway, you may have heard that Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) has put forward a bill that would make any instance of the executive using the military without going through Congress an impeachable offense:
In a House Resolution introduced last week, Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) put forward use of the military by the executive branch without explicit authorization from Congress as an impeachable offense: one which some conservatives believe President Barack Obama has already committed.
The bill’s author, Rep. Jones, was once a Democrat who switched parties before seeking congressional office in the 90s. He endorsed former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) for president in 2008, and has been one of the Republican Party’s loudest critics of the presidency’s warmaking powers.
“When you talk about war, political parties don’t matter,” he told The New York Times last year.
While not directly calling for impeachment, the bill would declare “that it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war… and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.”
In other words, the bill would, in effect, serve as a trigger mechanism for impeachment proceedings.
One of my duties as Music Associate at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham, AL, is to play the organ for the annual Veterans Day service. The first of these for me was one year ago. The one part of the service that really struck me was the reading of the names of all U.S. military personnel who had died in all wars during the past year. A staggering 336 names were printed in the program and read, amidst the background of a snare drum roll, with the ominous boom of a bass drum after each name. With each boom of that drum, a penetrating, sinking feeling came over me as I thought of how the loss of that one life impacted so many loved ones. It was the longest part of the service, and it went on and on, for some 45 or 50 minutes.
With the White House upping United States’ involvement Syrian civil war and tensions increasing with North Korea, a new poll from The New York Times and CBS News shows that Americans are opposed to further miltary against the two countries:
Americans are exhibiting an isolationist streak, with majorities across party lines decidedly opposed to American intervention in North Korea or Syria, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Sixty-two percent of the public say the United States has no responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria between government forces and antigovernment groups, while just one-quarter disagree. Likewise, 56 percent say North Korea is a threat that can be contained for now without military action, just 15 percent say the situation requires immediate American action and 21 percent say the North is not a threat at all.
Washington, for it’s part, isn’t listening. Members of Congress are increasing beating the drums of war, pushing for more direct funding and arms for rebels in Syria in response to reports that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against his own people.