Last week, a CNN poll showed that 61 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military intervention in Syria. This number was also largely bipartisan, with 57 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans opposed to a Syrian intervention.
This bipartisan opposition to American invention is part of a new trend. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland noted, “That pattern matches the public’s response to similar situations in the past. In March of 2011, only 27 percent said the U.S. had any responsibility to intervene in Libya, even though the bad guy — Moammar Gadhafi— was fairly well known to Americans and many prominent politicians were calling for some kind of response, mostly in the form of a no-fly zone.”
Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, Marco Rubio, and others believe such views are “isolationist.” These senators dismiss the fact that a majority of Americans from across the political spectrum now think the U.S. does too much around the world.
As a traditionalist conservative who desires a more restrained and prudent foreign policy, I’ve had my battles with the all-war, any-war neoconservative wing of the American Right for some time. I actually respect the neocons for sticking to their guns even though their position that America should be the world’s policeman is now unpopular. In my opinion, the sooner we can isolate the neocons, the better life will be for all Americans.
Unfortunately, it’s not as if places like Syria, Libya, and other war-torn nations don’t need some sort of help, but virtually every U.S. military intervention, justified or not, leads to the creation of new enemies. In February 2011 I wrote: “In the 1980s, the United States funded Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, yet considered Palestine’s Yasser Arafat and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi terrorists. And they were. But so was Saddam, who at that time was terrorizing his own people and gassing Iraqi Kurds while receiving America’s financial and political support. In the 1990s, the U.S. declared Hussein a menace, and we apparently changed our mind about Arafat, who was even invited to the White House to shake hands with Bill Clinton. In the 2000s, George W. Bush went back to calling Arafat a terrorist, went to war with Saddam, who we also began calling a terrorist, but made amends with Gadhafi by taking Libya off our official list of state sponsors of terror and sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to shake Gadhafi’s hand. Mind you, this is the same Libyan dictator that Ronald Reagan once called the ‘mad dog of the Middle East’ and who was responsible for blowing up an airplane full of American school kids over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.”
I concluded, “If the above history of the United States’ overseas alliances and antagonisms sounds nonsensical or perhaps even immoral, that’s because, well, it is. Welcome to American foreign policy.”
In the absence of a 9/11-style tragedy, public opinion over the past few years has made it more politically feasible to adopt a more traditional American foreign policy, a foreign policy in which America maintains the strongest military on earth and is ready to fight at a moment’s notice but yet is always reluctant to fight and certainly never for any reason than our actual defense.
When George W. Bush was president, the Republicans were rightly called the War Party, and the Democrats fashioned themselves as the more antiwar party. Now with President Barack Obama continuing the decade-long war in Afghanistan and intervening in Libya (with possible actions in Syria and Iran), it has become clear that the War Party includes both the GOP and Democrats.
But the resistance to the War Party also has bipartisan support. That we have strong majorities in both parties willing to reject the foreign policies of their last two Republican and Democratic presidents is one of the most promising opportunities in recent memory in terms of having the popular support to actually change these policies.
I don’t think we can expect much from either of the major parties’ presidential nominees toward this end. But we’re going on two or three years now where most polls show a majority of Americans have soured on a policy of perpetual war. Perhaps some politicians will look to capitalize on this significant shift in public opinion. Let us hope these trends continue toward a saner foreign policy and a safer America.
Jack Hunter assisted Sen. Jim DeMint with his latest book, Now or Never: Saving America From Economic Collapse. He is also the official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and he co-wrote Rand Paul’s The Tea Party Goes to Washington. You can hear Southern Avenger commentaries on The Morning Buzz on 1250 WTMA.