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September 4, 2013
The answer to the "isolationist" charge...
Posted by Laura

My neo-conservative friends, who are providing air cover for President Obama on this issue, have no problem strafing fellow conservatives who are not gung-ho about yet another military campaign in the Gulf.  They drop charges of isolationism" as rhetorical bombs, much like liberals use the charge of "racism" to cut down any criticism of the modern day civil rights establishment.  George Will, Pat Buchanan and the late Bob Novak were all major skeptics of the Iraq War (unlike myself) and were all labeled "isolationists" by the Bush inner circle.  Not surprisingly, among the best things written about the president's attempt to rope Congress into his Syrian adventure, comes from Will:

Many Republicans are reluctant to begin yet another military intervention in a distant and savage civil war. Other Republicans, whose appetite for such interventions has not been satiated by recent feasts of failure, will brand reluctance as “isolationism.” Reluctant Republicans can invoke Dwight Eisenhower.

He, who in 1961 enriched America’s lexicon with the phrase “military-industrial complex,” sought the presidency in 1952 to prevent its capture by what he considered an isolationist, or at least insufficiently internationalist, Republican faction represented by “Mr. Republican,” Ohio Sen. Robert Taft. Yet after one look as president-elect at the front line in Korea, Eisenhower ended that war. To advisers urging intervention on France’s behalf in Vietnam, he said (this from his memoirs): “Employment of airstrikes alone to support French troops in the jungle would create a double jeopardy: it would comprise an act of war and would also entail the risk of having intervened and lost.” He was not an interventionist regarding the 1956 Hungarian revolution, and he not only refused to support the 1956 British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt, he ruthlessly forced its termination. About his brief and tranquil intervention in Lebanon, he wrote: “I had been careful to use [about U.S. forces] the term ‘stationed in’ Lebanon.”

 Obama’s sanctimony about his moral superiority to a Congress he considers insignificant has matched his hypocrisy regarding his diametrically opposed senatorial and presidential understandings of the proper modalities regarding uses of military force. Now he asks from the Congress he disdains an authorization he considers superfluous. By asking, however reluctantly, he begins the urgent task of lancing the boil of executive presumption. Surely he understands the perils of being denied an authorization he has sought, and then treating the denial as irrelevant.

09/4/13 4:51 AM
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