Abandoning the hawks; Rand Paul and the future of Republican foreign policy

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Only 6 years after George W. Bush relinquished control of the White House to a young President Barak Obama, Republicans, it seems, have forgotten what a disaster the former administration was for both the GOP and the nation as a whole. As if collectively afflicted with a rare strain of historical amnesia, the early promises of the 2016 presidential field, are largely indistinguishable from those statements delivered from the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center.

To a majority of those who have entered the race thus far, our world continues to be one of moral absolutes and grandiose requirements. To these candidates, America isn’t merely an exceptional nation, rather it remains one with a necessary role as both the international community’s moral compass and global enforcer. However, such is not the case and if any of conservative candidates are to be successful in 2016, they’ll need to abandon this dogmatic approach to national security.

{mosads}Over the last decade, our citizenry has grown weary of American forays into remote lands, and rightfully so. Despite 2 wars, 7,000 lives lost, 60,000 wounded service members, 2 trillion dollars spent, and a litany of odious legislative acts, and troubling executive orders, the world is arguably far more dangerous today than it has been in decades. The Middle East is ablaze, Ukraine has become a nuclear powder keg, much of Africa has descended into sectarian violence, and the balance of power in Asia is tipping precariously towards increasing militarization.

Yet, according to some hopefuls, Bush’s own failed policies, which precipitated many of these current crises, remain as essential to the peace and stability of the world in which we live, as they ever appeared on September 12th, 2001.  While this mentality has become increasingly accepted by Democrats, the GOP and its field of 2016 contenders, continues to serve as the primary champions of this banner. As such, they are most at risk of being caught in its shadow. 

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush astonishingly stated that he supported his brother’s ill-fated venture into Iraq.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) hailed the Arab spring from its onset, and was vociferous in his demands to arm the Islamists in Syria, before calling for action against those very same factions.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has fretted over Iranian hegemony in the Arabian Peninsula.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called for a war against ISIS in addition to Boko Haram.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has demanded harsher sanctions on Tehran.  

Finally, Rick Santorum has suggested that the U.S. should get “tough” on Russia.

It’s as if the GOP is caught not only in a time machine, but also in a device that links to another dimension. In this fantasy world, the Bush Doctrine led to a free and prosperous Iraq, the War in Afghanistan created an effective and ethical democracy, and somehow within this realm, the most invasive government programs and policies ever devised, have led to a freer nation. Perhaps because of this, most GOP contenders in 2016 have remained bullheaded in their approach to global security.  

Unless American fleets patrol the South China Sea, the Communists have won.

If we bring our troops home, and let centuries old conflicts play out away from our soil, the terrorists have succeeded.  

And if we let Europe protect its own borders, Putin will certainly triumph.

Only one candidate on the right has thus far offered an alternative to this bleak perspective; Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Although far from an isolationist, his consistent opposition to the invasion into Iraq and his unrepentant arguments in favor of individual rights, have stood in stark contrast to the paranoid delusions of politicians like rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and others, who view threats to our nation as ubiquitous and dire. 

To this cast of outspoken characters, Paul’s challenges to the prevailing orthodoxy represent a greater risk to our nation, than the nefarious apparitions they consistently warn of.  However, this myopic perspective is unto itself, inherently dangerous. Without question, blowback is real and many of the fires burning across the world today, are a direct result of just that. Ignoring this will only lead to more animus and additional hazards.

Deviating from the route we’re on is not a recipe for disaster, rather it’s a pivot back towards stability. The facts support this claim; terrorism and Russia respectively, are negligible threats to the United States. Although some choose to ignore the evidence, the TSA, with its 85 percent failure rate, isn’t deterring a deluge of bombers. Russia isn’t poised to march its antiquated armies down the Champs d’Elysee. And bulk surveillance, often sold as an absolute necessity, hasn’t halted a single attack.

At this juncture, the GOP must embrace change, or languish amidst a protracted (and potentially disastrous) collapse. Should the party of Eisenhower elect to do so, European armies will be forced to mobilize in defense of European boundaries. Fringe groups, who view our flag as a catalyst for hate, will be required to look inward. Our enemies will be fewer, and our forces will be allowed to focus on the defense of our nation above all others. Perhaps most importantly, however, is that we will be safer from all enemies, both foreign and domestic.    

Even today, America cannot hope to offset every violent actor with force, nor can she blindly assume that the status quo will exist indefinitely. The uni-polar world with which many of us have become accustomed, will change, and there’s no benefit to be found in contesting the natural ebbing of power. Alternatives must be sought, and they can succeed.

Admittedly, peace in a complex world will only be obtained through strength, but policing the globe has weakened us to the point where our priorities must be reconsidered. Senator Paul largely understands this, however, lest the rest of the GOP catch up, it too will fade into the very history from which its current world view is derived. 

Morris is a Libertarian who is pursuing his masters’ degree in International Relations at the University of Oklahoma.

Tags Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Rand Paul Ted Cruz

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