In my last column I wrote that “Barack Obama deserves to lose this election, but Mitt Romney does not deserve to win it.” And last week, Romney proved once again why he does not deserve to win on Election Day.
In a speech titled “The Mantle of Leadership,” Romney essentially blasted President Obama for not being more like George W. Bush when it comes to American foreign policy — never mind that Obama has continued virtually every foreign and “national security” policy established by his predecessor, from waging undeclared wars to supporting indefinite detention and ordering more drone strikes.
The only thing dumber than a Democrat who thinks Obama’s foreign policy is different from Bush’s is a Republican who thinks the same. And perhaps the only thing dumber still is a Republican presidential candidate who — at this late date in 2012 — believes Bush-era neoconservatism is the way to win over voters. It might be a way for Romney to win over his foreign policy advisers, but not American voters.
Let us first remember what neoconservatism is: It’s the notion that American greatness is measured by our willingness to be a great power through vast and virtually unlimited global military involvement. Neocon doctrine preaches that other nations’ problems invariably become our own because history and fate have declared the U.S. to be the world’s top authority. The followers of this failed foreign policy philosophy believe it is our job to “make the world safe for democracy” as Democrat Woodrow Wilson once put it or to pursue a “freedom agenda” as Bush himself said. You will rarely find a war neocons don’t support, and once the U.S. has entered the conflict, it’s just as rare to find a neocon who believes that U.S. troops should ever leave.
Now let us remember what neoconservatism is not: Conservative. George Will and William F. Buckley explained this in a 2005 interview, when Will asked Buckley: “Today, we have a very different kind of foreign policy. It’s called Wilsonian. And the premise of the Bush Doctrine is that America must spread democracy, because our national security depends upon it. And America can spread democracy. It knows how. It can engage in nation-building. This is conservative or not?”
Buckley replied, “It’s not at all conservative. It’s anything but conservative.”
What Will described and Buckley denounced is exactly what Romney promoted in his speech last week.
Romney believes America should be involved in Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan — just for starters — and that we must champion a vaguely defined “freedom” through endless military intervention. Bush thought this way about Iraq, and the results were not so rosy. Obama thinks this about Afghanistan, and no one sees any good coming from this 12-year-old debacle. The “rebels” in Libya and Egypt who Romney says we must aid are often the same people who attack our embassies and kill our diplomats. Before aiding these “rebels,” we aided the dictators they rebelled against. We’ve spent trillions of dollars we don’t have to fund these efforts. We ask our soldiers to make the ultimate sacrifice for missions that are murky at best and with exit strategies that are virtually non-existent.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were many intelligent people who found hope in socialism. They believed that Marx’s collectivist ideas could benefit all of humanity. But after the fall of the Soviet Union and countless other failed experiments with socialism, very few hold out any hope for socialism today. It was tried, and we learned our lesson.
Neoconservatism is something that has been tried throughout the last decade and then some. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, it has failed — miserably. If we apply a cost-benefit analysis to these wars — as any traditional conservative should — we will find few if any benefits contrasting the monstrous and tragic costs.
America’s foreign policy is a bipartisan embarrassment. If it wasn’t, Obama would speak regularly of the war in Afghanistan and do so without a hint of reluctance, and Romney would actually mention Iraq.
After Romney’s speech, Pat Buchanan noted, “We ought to have learned from these last two wars … Do you want to endlessly intervene in these struggles to sort these affairs out? To put in power governments that are not only friendly to you, but are going to have values like yours? That is an impossibility in that part of the world.”
It is impossible. It is naïve. And it is stupid.
Jack Hunter assisted Sen. Jim DeMint with his latest book, Now or Never: Saving America From Economic Collapse. He also co-wrote Rand Paul’s The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Love Best of Charleston? Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.
Featured Local Savings
Love Best of Charleston?
Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.