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Non-Interventionism Is Right Again

Late last month, when U.S. air strikes caused civilian casualties in Afghanistan, an angry Hamid Karzai issued an ultimatum.

If future U.S. strikes are not restricted, we will take “unilateral action” and America may be treated like an “occupying power.”

That brought this blistering retort from one Republican hawk.

“If President Karzai continues with these public ultimatums, we must consider our options about the immediate future of U.S. troops in his country. If he actually follows through on his claim that Afghan forces will take ‘unilateral action’ against NATO forces which conduct such air raids to take out terrorists and terrorist positions, that should result in the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the suspension of U.S. aid.”

Who was the GOP hawk shaking the fist at Karzai? Sarah Palin.

Insiders attribute Palin’s shift from the neocon party line to the departure from her staff of Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb, and their replacement by Libya war skeptic Peter Schweizer.

Perhaps. But there are other straws in the wind that the GOP is coming to see that, like his “big government conservatism” ballyhooed by The Weekly Standard, Bush II’s compulsive interventionism has proven as great a disaster for his country as it did for his party.

Last week, House Speaker John Boehner had to scramble to cobble up a substitute resolution to prevent half his GOP caucus from joining with Democrats to denounce President Obama’s war in Libya as unconstitutional and to demand a total U.S. pullout in 15 days.

The author of the end-the-war resolution that seemed likely to pass was Dennis Kucinich. That Republicans would vote for a Kucinich resolution testifies to the anger on the Hill that Obama took us to war without congressional authorization and has treated the War Powers Act with manifest contempt.

Boehner’s resolution, which gives the president longer to comply with the act and involves no deadline for withdrawal, passed 268 to 145.

But Kucinich’s resolution, which would have cut off funds for the Libyan war, still garnered 148 votes, among them 87 Republicans.

More than a third of House Republicans voted to pull out of the NATO coalition attacking Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, which would have forced a NATO withdrawal from that civil war. This is historic.

Yet another reflection of anti-interventionist sentiment can be seen in Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ valedictory tour, where he felt compelled to assure U.S. allies in Asia we are there to stay.

In Afghanistan, Gates seemed to warn the White House not to make too large a withdrawal of forces in July, when President Obama begins to reverse the 30,000-soldier surge of 2009.

What explains the shift in political and public sentiment away from military interventionism?

First, the length and cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — the first in its 10th year, the latter in its eighth — with their endless bleedings of American blood and treasure for inconclusive results.

Over 6,000 dead, 40,000 wounded and $1 trillion sunk, with a real possibility a U.S. pullout from Iraq in December could result in civil war, and a fear that the Afghan War, where the Taliban now conduct jailbreaks of 500 men in Kandahar and fight on the Af-Pak border in battalion strength, may ultimately be lost.

A second cause is our fiscal crisis. America cannot afford any more wars, or more billions in foreign aid to balance budgets of Arab countries whose treasuries have been looted by departing despots.

Third, there is the sense in Congress that it has let itself be steadily stripped of its constitutional power to declare war.

Harry Truman conducted America’s first undeclared war in Korea, calling it a “police action.”

Historians now believe Congress was misled or lied to when it approved the Tonkin Gulf Resolution authorizing LBJ to attack North Vietnam.

While George H.W. Bush got the support of both houses for Desert Storm, Bill Clinton launched his war on Serbia in defiance of a House vote not to authorize it.

George W. Bush got congressional approval for the invasion of Iraq by declaring that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction it did not have. We went to war for nothing.

Finally, the Libyan war Obama entered, egged on by Britain and France, but without the support of Congress, makes little sense.

Though Gadhafi is a repellent figure, the architect of the Lockerbie massacre, we have no vital interest in who rules Libya. Yet when Gadhafi falls, it will now be up to us to see to it that Libya is united and repaired and has a democratic government.

Obama has already committed us to take the lead in a $40 billion rescue of Egypt and Tunisia. Can we also afford to rescue a Yemen that is in terrible shape and a Libya that has been at war for months?

The return of the anti-interventionist right is welcome news. It may assure a real debate on foreign policy in the Republican primaries of 2012.

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#1 Comment By Confirmation On June 6, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

“Insiders attribute Palin’s shift from the neocon party line to the departure from her staff of Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb, and their replacement by Libya war skeptic Peter Schweizer.”

In a nutshell this is what is wrong with Palin and candidates like her. Intellectually they are at the mercy of shadowy third parties that most people never heard of. I want a candidate who knows what the hell he or she is talking about.

Scheunemann? Goldfarb? Schweitzer? What about PALIN for God’s sake?

#2 Comment By Kelly Rek On June 6, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

“Insiders attribute Palin’s shift from the neocon party line to the departure from her staff of Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb, and their replacement by Libya war skeptic Peter Schweizer.”

God bless Sarah Palin.

#3 Comment By Kelly Rek On June 7, 2011 @ 12:04 am

@ Confirmation

“In a nutshell this is what is wrong with Palin and candidates like her. Intellectually they are at the mercy of shadowy third parties that most people never heard of.”

Interesting! I would like to know … which shadowy third party is pulling Sarah Palin’s strings? Is it George Soros?

#4 Comment By Kelly Rek On June 7, 2011 @ 6:52 am

For those of you skeptics out there, Sarah is no sock puppet. She is her own person. (It is Barack Obama who is the sycophant.)

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#5 Comment By cfountain72 On June 7, 2011 @ 8:19 am

Way to go Pat! Keep on hammering at them…eventually it might start to sink in.

Hi Kelly,

I appreciate your sincere efforts to defend Ms. Palin. However, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Palin’s revisionist history vis-a-vis Paul Revere’s ride? Or about this nugget on the Statue of Liberty…

“This Statue of Liberty was gifted to us by foreign leaders, really as a warning to us, it was a warning to us to stay unique and to stay exceptional from other countries. Certainly not to go down the path of other countries that adopted socialist policies,” Palin said to cheers from the crowd.

So help me understand why the French (of all people) used the Statue of Liberty to warn us about socialism, especially back in the 1870’s?

For my own context, what little I knew about Ms. Palin before she hit the national stage was actually positive. It has been her complete lack of policy depth that has turned me off. The fact that she refuses to talk to any non-friendly media shows that she really doesn’t have the confidence of her convictions, especially when an interview moves beyond the agreed upon Q&A.

In short, there are certainly folks who are misunderstood, marginalized, or vilified by the media, who deserve to be ‘defended.’ Someone like Bradley Manning comes to mind. But Sarah Palin quit on her state to cash her lottery ticket. She has not earned, nor does she deserve, your help.

Peace be with you.

#6 Comment By along came jones On June 7, 2011 @ 9:19 am

From today’s New York Times – always the last to know about (or acknowledge) things like this:.

Antiwar Republican Is No Longer Party’s Pariah
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I wish Walter Jones were my Congressman. I’d like to re-stock the House and Senate with a few hundred more like him.

#7 Comment By Adam_Smith On June 7, 2011 @ 10:33 am

“…a real possibility a U.S. pullout from Iraq in December could result in civil war…”

Not much of a civil war would be my guess. The Shiite majority would simply tromp upon Sunni protest and institute an openly majoritarian ironfisted despotism. If there is a civil war, expect it to be over a possible Kurdish secessionist attempt.

#8 Comment By Kelly Rek On June 7, 2011 @ 10:57 am

@ cfountain72

“But Sarah Palin quit on her state to cash her lottery ticket. She has not earned, nor does she deserve, your help.”

That is certainly a blemish. But compared to the imposter Obama? Or to the spinmeister Romney? She shines next to those other two.

I just cannot stomach an Obama/Romney Presidency. It’d be our final descent to corporate fascism.

“I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Palin’s revisionist history vis-a-vis Paul Revere’s ride?” … To me, that’s as minor as Dan Quail misspelling potatoes.

Now regarding her statements about the Statue of Liberty as a French symbol of liberty against the dangers of socialism …

Historical background:

The people of France had revolted against Napoleon III, established the Third Republic, and in 1871 elected a National Assembly. A French historian, Édouard de Laboulaye, had first suggested a monument to symbolize liberty. By 1884, the statue was completed and presented as a gift to the U.S.A.

Liberty and socialism are not compatible. Yet, the folks who treasure liberty the most are the ones who’ve known the hell of living under socialism. (Please witness the capitalistic, freedom-loving mindset of those who’ve escaped communism.) I believe the French people were sincere in their message of liberty to the Americans — after their years of oppression under Napoleon I and subsequent autocrats.

Sarah Palin is guilty of having given a pep talk to supporters (tea party types) as Obama had been to his union supporters and liberal activists. Crowds go wild; critics dig for dirt.

Meanwhile, the United States is collapsing. Our hegemony as the global policeman will be ending. We will no longer be an empire.

So will Sarah be up to the task? Hmmm, didn’t Obama lack foreign policy experience? Yet he jets around the globe with an aura of expertise. Or how about George W. Bush, who also seemed dumb, as to the names of foreign countries or their leaders?

These Presidents, while lacking expertise in many areas, relied on staff whom they consulted for advice. Perhaps, the last President who was a foreign policy genius was Richard Nixon.

If Sarah Palin were to become President, she would excel in the domestic sphere. But that **will** be the critical area of concern — as we face bankruptcy. The foreign policy sphere will simply be that of gradual retrenchment. We will be like the Roman Empire in its latter days. Having soldiers in remote outposts doesn’t make sense anymore. The focus of attention must be on the city of Rome, itself … i.e. on the home front of the U.S.A.

We need people like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Ron Paul — to wrestle with the tasks of finance, reform, communication … and the positive energy to unleash the full powers of market capitalism upon the healthcare oligopolies. Particularly at the provider side of the equation — more so than at the insurance side — the monopoly must be broken up!

A wimp like Obama or Romney cannot accomplish this. They are merely corporatist deal-makers with the powerful lobbyists. Whereas, Donald Trump has both the personal wealth and the machismo to face up to those corporate tyrants.

Capitalism is a friend of the consumer and of small business. Whereas socialism is a friend only of the huge corporate oligopolies and its central planners.

For more information on my vision for true reform …

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#9 Comment By cfountain72 On June 7, 2011 @ 11:16 am

Props to Walter Jones! I especially appreciate him referring to his faith as making him question his vote and initial support for the Iraq War. Inexplicably, far too many Christians seem to think that torture and war are perfectly acceptable to an authentically Christian worldview.

One thing that does disturb me a little about the interviews I’ve heard from him is his singular focus on the US costs and the loss of US lives. I pray that he also realizes the innocent lives that have also ended as a result of our interventions.

Peace be with you.

#10 Comment By Jane Marple On June 7, 2011 @ 11:18 am

FTA: “George W. Bush got congressional approval for the invasion of Iraq by declaring that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction it did not have. We went to war for nothing.”

For which crime Americans of every stripe, (especially conservatives), should demand the arrest, prosecution and, if convicted, life imprisonment of Messrs. Bush, Cheney et al.

#11 Comment By cfountain72 On June 7, 2011 @ 11:53 am

Thanks for your reply Kelly. It’s not a matter of her lack of foreign policy experience. If someone is wise, but not experienced on a topic, you A) answer questions as such, saying that you need to research the subject before answering and B) go home and research the matter more in depth. Most of the foreign policy answers indicate that she has either been trained by a neocon (‘the sock puppet’) or she is a neocon (which is even worse).

Her desire to ‘refudiate’ the so-called ground zero mosque is where we see the nexus of foreign and domestic policy: Muslims bad, even those who live in America. What history tell us is that when things go bad domestically, we often see leaders attempt deflect the heat to an unpopular minority (e.g. Jews in Germany, Chinese in Malaysia). So if things do deteriorate in America, it is not hard to imagine a Palin administration attempting a Wag the Dog exercise in some yet to be determined country.

It sounds as though you are fan of liberty, yet I haven’t heard anything from Ms. Palin critical of the Patriot Act, on torture, on domestic wiretapping, or on Obama’s attempt to assassinate a US citizen. My guess is that her vision of liberty is very superficial in nature, much like her other views.

Peace be with you.

#12 Comment By Kelly Rek On June 7, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

@ cfountain72

I want to thank you for your post and courteous style. It is nice that someone from the **Campaign for Liberty** is participating here in the TAC website.

@ Pat Buchanan

Your article is congruous to the other one just posted by Peter Van Buren, “Occupying Iraq, State Department-Style.”

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#13 Comment By Kelly Rek On June 7, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

@ cfountain72

Now I see why in the first post by “Confirmation” is the excerpt …

“In a nutshell this is what is wrong with Palin and candidates like her. Intellectually they are at the mercy of shadowy third parties that most people never heard of. I want a candidate who knows what the hell he or she is talking about.”

So are the neocons so bloodthirsty, that they are salivating at the prospect of the United States to jump into yet another war … while we descend into the abyss of fiscal and moral bankruptcy.

If Sarah Palin is a neocon, is she then on par with Romney and Obama? But then again, where is the money? We are broke.

The United States is like the former Soviet Union in its last days. The game is over.

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#15 Comment By Dom On June 7, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

“Lets face it Mr. Frodo, we are lost”

#16 Comment By JakeJ On June 7, 2011 @ 11:33 pm

The liberal mind and the Afghan War.

On Morning Joe, John Heilemann asked this question “what would happen if Obama got out of the Afghan war and subsequently we were attack – wouldn’t Obama be attack by the usual suspects and lose the next election?”

He in essence was saying “we cannot leave Afghanistan because Obama may not get reelected — in order to keep Obama in power – we must continue to spill blood.”

How much more plain can it get – it is OK – no it is preferable to kill, to spill much blood, ours and theirs, then to take the chance of losing power.

p.s. Of course no one batted an eye at what he said.

#17 Comment By tbraton On June 8, 2011 @ 7:22 am

JakeJ, I too caught yesterday’s Morning Joe, and I was especally appalled by that intellectual lightweight Mika Brezhinski arguing, in opposition to Joe’s urging that “we withdraw now,” that nobody is giving any thought to the difficulty of withdrawing from Afghanistan. I guess that means we are doomed to be there forever. Somehow the Soviets were able to withdraw their troops back in the late 1980’s. If it were going to be such a problem, why did Obama decide to send an additional 50,000 troops there? I guess she never read Xenophan’s Anabasis (or “The Ten Thousand”) concerning the successful retreat of 10,000 Greek mercenaries from the area of modern day Iraq, under much more difficult circumstances, around 401 B.C.

#18 Comment By cfountain72 On June 8, 2011 @ 7:55 am

JakeJ,

Exactly! There is no perceived cost to staying, but there is the possibility of a huge cost if we leave. As long as we can pass the costs on to our next generation, the vast majority of our fellow citizens don’t really ‘feel’ the costs of our war. To expand on that same notion, if we are attacked while we have folks in Afghanistan, the reflex is to send even more troops there. At no point do the powers that be stop to think, “Maybe having occupying forces increases our chances of being attacked?” And with no incentive to do so, they never will.

Peace be with you.

#19 Comment By michael On June 8, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

Somewhere along the line we forgot what Power is for. Instead of holding it in reserve until something important is at stake, then applying it to destroy and disable our enemies, we have devolved to apologetically applying rules of engagement based on undue concern about our enemies and then, after fighting to a stalemate–at best–we squander our wealth trying to make the vanquished better off than before they forced us to apply our power. Whatever happened to the idea of dropping the hammer only when necessary and then doing it with deadly and final effect? We would have a lot less trouble with inhabitants of Middle East countries whichmwere reduced to rubble than we now have with Al-Maliki ,Karzai, and their ilk.