John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s Pathetic Definition of “Isolationism”
Well, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are at it again. Every neoconservatives favorite pair of Senators have subjected opponents of action in Libya and the future of Afghanistan as “isolationist”. I’ll address the ignorance of the neo conservatives regarding over extension of force in a future post, but right now they need to be called out for their pathetic defense of our current interventions.
Let me say that like most or all conservatives I supported invading Afghanistan because as we all know they were harboring Bin Laden. No brainer. I supported the invasion of Iraq on the basis he had weapons of mass destruction even though we now know that’s not the case. Ok, bad Intel, but we still got rid of the Saddam headache. I support using drones in Yemen precisely because it’s targeting Al Qaeda in a strategic locale and we are not deployed beyond drones. That works for me.
Senator McCain’s criticism and false application of “isolationism” to decry the GOP field of Presidential candidates position on Libya and Afghanistan is wrong for the following reasons. First and foremost it implies that any criticism of the use of force as authorized by the President without the consent of Congress is itself “isolationist’. Moreover, Senator McCain has said that our “values” represent our vital national interests. With the exception of Ron Paul every candidate in the GOP field has supported action against Afghanistan and Iraq so to state they are being isolationist in assessing our current state of affairs is patently absurd.
As far as our values representing our vital national interests are concerned one must ask where is the line? Khadafy is a ritual human rights abuser and he did threaten a massacre in Benghazi. Ok, fair enough. Did Senator McCain call for us to bomb China after the massacre in Tienanmen Square? China’s human rights record is as bad and frankly worse than Khadafy and we know they massacred their own people who had foisted a makeshift Statue of Liberty in that same square where they were murdered. No defense,no aid,no bombs for freedom loving Chinese wanting to live an American version of a free life? China’s record is no better today, but where is the call to defend our “values” from Senators McCain and Graham? Well, seeing as how we must keep borrowing money from Chinese bankers to continue these excursions maybe that’s why we have silence in that regard. Oh well, I guess dissenters in China’s version of the gulag will have to wait for us to pay back their overlords before our enlightened Senators McCain and Graham look into their plight.
Senators McCain and Graham do not recognize the fundamentals of our place in the world. I will also post on this point in future, but in a nutshell our foreign policy has been adrift since the end of the cold war. Rather than a set of governing principles driving a consistent policy through administrations of both parties we have become largely reactionary in the administration of foreign affairs. In conducting ourselves in the international arena it is essential to have a consistent and coherent policy in determining the proper course of action as events dictate. It is policy that defines value(s). John McCain and Lindsey Graham are far more damaging to this nation in expressing their view of our place in the world because they have never placed a clear definition of what they consider our “values” and the limits in their defense.
Let me take this moment to state that like many I have definite reservations about the constitutionality of the “War Powers Act”. In this respect I agree with McCain and Graham. Its constitutionality is not the point. I cannot see outside of Ron Paul supporters any mainstream elements of the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement who advocate retreating from the global stage. We all know the world wouldn’t let us anyway. McCain and Graham are wrong because of the reflexive application of “isolationist” whenever anyone questions their as yet undefined policy based on our “values”. Lindsey Graham actually said we need to “shut up” about Libya. Of course Lindsey Graham has a rather authoritarian view of dissent when its contrary to his sense of civility. You can see his views on free speech during wartime HERE.
Senator McCain as is often the case cites the isolationism of the 1930′s as a perennial defense for refusing oversight into the application of force overseas. A history lesson for the Senator. It was not American isolationism that invited the Second World War, but European appeasement. If every American had a moral fervor to take on Imperial Japan over China or Nazi Germany over the Rhineland and Sudetenland just how far would we have gotten with Britain and France bending over backwards for Hitler? The notion that our unwillingness to fight a war in Europe aided and abetted the rise of the Nazis is also absurd. I seem to recall it was Neville Chamberlain, not Franklin Roosevelt who flew off to Munich in a frenzy to keep “peace in our time”. Or did things play out differently in the history of McCain and Graham’s Bizarro World?
McCain’s citation of the 1930′s as a parallel is all the more puzzling because the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were wildly popular with the American people and for good reason. People were skeptical of Libya, but generally if mildly supportive. Does anyone even mention Yemen? The pre war, Depression era Americans were overwhelmingly opposed to a war overseas because they were often too busy trying to put food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads. This attitude prevailed up to Pearl Harbor. Prior to that, why would any American willingly place their son on foreign shores to defend nations that were indifferent or ignorant of the immediate peril of imperial and fascist designs?
Americans today understand our place in the world better than John McCain and Lindsey Graham give us credit, but to label anyone who would question the degree of sacrifice as “isolationist” or by inference an “appeaser” does an injustice to those who demand accountability from those who compel the ultimate sacrifice of their sons and daughters. Why should Americans continue to have our tax dollars after ten years do no more than prop up a crook named Hamid Karzai who just yesterday referred to our troops as “occupiers”?
There actually is a valid reason for sustaining troop levels but is it so much to ask of our leaders that they spell it out? So far all we’ve imported from Afghanistan is heroin produced from the poppy fields of Karzai’s brother. Our tax dollars at work. American lives fighting Al Qaeda and defending drug lords.
John McCain’s assertion that Ronald Reagan would not approve of comments opposing force in Libya is at first foolish because it presumes an opinion upon the deceased. It is despicable because it defies Reagan’s record. Reagan initiated what amounted to the final phase in winning the Cold War and toppling the Soviet Union. Without firing a shot. Ronald Reagan engaged American troops on three occasions. The first was Lebanon which resulted in a massacre of marines in their barracks. Reagan stated it was his worst decision. He invaded Grenada after its government was toppled with the aid of Castro within a few days of the car bomb in Beirut. He was criticized unfairly for using Grenada to distract from the debacle in Lebanon. Finally, he bombed Libya and nearly took out Khadafy himself. That was in response to the disco bombings in Germany. His actions against Libya went no further than that. No prolonged air war.No ground war. He sent his message. Citing Reagan is ridiculous.
John McCain and Lindsey Graham ought to be ashamed of their sophomoric interpretation of the GOP field of candidates. They should be embarrassed to tell anyone to “shut up” when lives are at stake. They should take a moment to educate themselves and reconsider false historic narratives in defense of their positions. The actions in doubt are worthy of debate and consideration regardless of where we come down, but McCain and Graham’s comments are born of resentment of those in dissent. Obviously they never learned that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.