Jeffrey Lord has written a paean to Santorum. Here he recalls the main theme of Santorum’s failed re-election bid:
But the issue that has riveted the state in watching his imminent defeat is his repeated — passionate — refusal to back away from his staunch support of the war against Islamic fascism. He supported the U.S. war in Afghanistan — launched in response to the 9/11 attacks — and he voted defiantly in favor of the Iraq War.
Now, with the latter war becoming unpopular and President George W. Bush sinking like a stone in the polls and Santorum’s own re-election literally at stake, Santorum refuses to budge. Period. Absolutely, totally, without question he refuses to abandon that most Reaganesque of conservative principles — peace through strength.
It’s an insult to Reagan and the idea of peace through strength to think that this was what Santorum was campaigning on in 2006. Santorum ran for re-election five years ago as an unabashed super-hawk, and he believed that the Bush administration was too soft in confronting foreign threats. He openly defended preventive wars, which are illegal, unjust, and have no place in the American tradition. If he had had his own slogan, it wouldn’t have included the word peace, since it is so dangerously close to appeasement. The policies Santorum defended and still defends represent the opposite of “peace through strength.”
You can credit Santorum with not giving ground. It would have been politically advantageous to renounce the failed policies he had supported, but in spite of their unpopularity and their failure he never gave up. That might almost be admirable if he hadn’t been defending preventive war while issuing hysterical warnings about the Venezuelan menace. It would be worth praising if some of the major policies Santorum defended in that campaign hadn’t been disastrous for U.S. interests. What Lord fails to mention here is that the Iraq war was becoming unpopular that year because of the unnecessary loss of thousands of American soldiers in a war that the Bush administration chose to start. The war had also led to sectarian warfare and the attendant large-scale killing of civilians, and the administration and its supporters just kept saying, “Stay the course.”
On most things, Santorum is a serious Catholic, but on matters of war and peace he strays remarkably far from his church’s teachings. As then-Cardinal Ratzinger said prior to the invasion of Iraq, “the concept of preventive war does not appear in The Catechism of the Catholic Church.” There is no way that it could appear there. Preventive war involves attacking another state to counter threats that do not yet exist, which is utterly contrary to the principle that just wars are waged to redress injury and to restore the peace. Santorum supported preventive war in 2002-03, and just this week reaffirmed that he supports a new preventive war against Iran.