My colleague Ron Radosh does a fine job of laying out a case for conservatives to support President Obama’s drive for military strikes on Syria. Radosh draws from his considerable knowledge of history, focusing in on the dangers of “isolationism,” to make his case that isolationism both left and right should be rejected and the president should be supported. Radosh joins the Wall Street Journal’s Brett Stephens in making this case.
Today, as Bret Stephens pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, isolationism seems to be rearing its ugly head, although he writes, “Most Republicans don’t want to become, again, the party of isolationists.” But, he cautions, “the Syria debate is also exposing the isolationist worm eating its way through the GOP apple.” His fears were justified at yesterday’s Foreign Relations Committee hearing, especially when Sen. Rand Paul got engaged in a testy exchange with Secretary of State John Kerry.
As Stephens writes, Sen. Paul would be right at home with the views of Robert A. Taft, since Taft in his day and Paul today are oblivious to how failing to use American power to create a safe world endangers our vital national security goals. Writing at his “Postmodern Conservative” site at First Things, political scientist James Ceaser, like Stephens, urges his fellow conservatives to support an authorization of force resolution in Congress. “Nor is there any way,” he cautions, “to get around the fact that this vote begins to set the future direction of the Republican Party — whether it will be an internationalist or an isolationist party.” He worries that “many in the Republican Party are itching to use Obama’s mishandling of this situation to establish a new isolationist center of gravity for the Republican Party in international affairs. That’s not the place the Republican Party should be.”
These are all fine arguments, but miss the proverbial elephant in the room: Barack Obama. His leadership matters a great deal as we consider whether to strike Syria or not. The personnel he has chosen to surround himself with also matter.
As long as we are citing history, it may be wise to pass over the debates that preceded World War II and look directly at the current war and what this president’s actions have left behind in the here and now. Surely this president’s intentions and actions matter?
President Barack Obama came to power waging war against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He utterly disregarded the threat of radical Islam when he was a candidate for the presidency. He blamed George W. Bush for every ill in the world, and continues that juvenile blame game today. Barack Obama as president has presided over a government that dishonestly downplays the threat of Islamic jihad to comical levels, describing Nidal Hasan’s terrorist attack at Fort Hood as “workplace violence.” His government has gone out of its way to fundamentally redefine Islamist terrorism as “man-caused disasters.” His current director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, dubbed the Muslim Brotherhood, the fountainhead of Islamist terrorism, a “mostly secular” organization. If Obama objected to any of these glaring mischaracterizations, he never showed it. Not once. Clapper was eventually promoted.
The Obama government has carried its fundamental dishonesty regarding the global war on terrorism to its overseas adventures. Obama helped drive Egypt’s secular and pro-American dictator, Hosni Mubarak, from power. Mubarak was replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has since been ousted by the military. Egypt remains on the brink of civil war and could become a massive failed state. The Muslim Brotherhood wages pogroms against Egypt’s Coptic Christians, and Obama’s government says precious little and does even less about it.
Obama waged war against Gaddafi in Libya under the guise of “kinetic action.” That war is likely the template for whatever action Obama intends to take, or where his actions will likely lead, in Syria. To put it bluntly, after Obama’s war Libya is in worse shape than when the thug Gaddafi ruled it. It is fast becoming a failed state. It is already incubating terrorism. When that terrorism boiled up into a military-style assault on the U.S. facility in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, Barack Obama and his lieutenants lied to the American people, brazenly and repeatedly, about the nature of the attack. He and his lieutenants assaulted the First Amendment. Why should we trust them to tell the truth now?