Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I guess I understand why mainstream journalists and pundits think Republicans are turning "wobbly" and "isolationist" and "dovish" these days, partly driven by nouveau tea party thinking, because that's a simple explanation for what's going on -- but that's absolutely not what's going on, and the real explanation is not that complicated.

Let's go through this slowly, taking as our example the teabagger hero Allen West, a guy who'd easily beat Jon Huntsman in the GOP primaries if he chose to run for president. Here's West telling Neil Cavuto that he opposes the U.S. intervention in Libya:

And here he is being quoted in the Palm Beach Post expressing Romneyesque doubts about what we're doing in Afghanistan and Iraq:

"It has been very frustrating for me to sit back and look at us be involved in the nation-building, occupation-style warfare. It drains your economic resources. Ten years, 11 years is too long for us to be mired down in a place like Iraq or Afghanistan," West said at Lynn University.

But then here he was last month at the Heritage Foundation calling for an increase in military spending:

West spoke at The Heritage Foundation, delivering the closing address for "Protect America Month." In keeping with the month's theme, West spoke on national security issues and the need for increased defense spending .

At a time when many Members of Congress are calling for a decrease in military funding, West is calling for more, urging the government to "be looking at every single way we can increase the benefits that we give to [the military]."

...West identified four strategic goals he said should be the military's focus:

1. Deny the enemy sanctuary.
2. Cut off the enemy's flow of men, materials, and resources.
3. Win the information war.
4. Reduce the enemy's sphere of influence.

These four goals, which West describes in detail here, may be part of what is missing from current strategy. West said that without this kind of strategic focus, "we are turning a blind eye to a very bold enemy that is telling us exactly what he wants to do." ...

Um, not exactly isolationist -- but about what you'd expect from a guy who said this in an speech in early 2009, to the cheers of Pam Geller:

...Now, some 30 years later we have a redux of an effete, ineffective President whose nuanced intellectual elite responses offer no support to those desiring Liberty. Indeed, President Obama's apologetic Cairo speech just emboldened the Mad Mullahs and Annoying Ayatollah's, as well as Johnny Jihadi. The theocrats and despotic autocrats who dominate the Islamic world realize they are free to butcher and suppress their own people, young people, who desire one thing.....Freedom....

History is indeed repeating itself as the shadow of Sir Neville Chamberlain walks the halls of the White House.

How does all this fit together? Well, it really isn't all that hard to grasp. Here's part of what West says to Cavuto in the clip above:

... Look at what happened early on in Iraq when Moammar Qaddafi saw how forceful we went in after Saddam Hussein. He came clean on his weapons program. So the thing is that these guys understand strength, and they will react to that. Moammar Qaddafi is acting up right now because we show confusion, we show disillusionment, and we don't show that we are on a common sheet of music....

In other words: a good war is a war we Republicans start, and then hippie-bait the everyone else into supporting. When Democrats start a war, we oppose it, which weakens America -- and that's why Democratic wars are bad.

Beyond that, of course, Republican presidents are really good at turning their enemies into Antichrists, and turning their nation-building into FREEDOM!!!!1!1! -- whereas Democrat presidents simply won't crank up the propaganda for either part of their wars. The goals may be identical, but people like West -- and most Republicans -- only approve when the propaganda is cranked up (which, conveniently, is always on their guys' watch).

There's also this clip from back in March, in which West criticizes the Obama approach to Libya by saying,

I don't care what anyone says -- you can't win a war from 30,000 feet.

and then says,

I don't know why we're shooting $567,000-a-piece Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Libya. You know, back two and three weeks ago we could have taken care of this situation. If we had done the exact same thing that Ronald Reagan did back in the early 80's to Muammar Gaddafi, when he dropped a bomb in his back yard, Muammar Gaddafi didn't say a word for the next thirty years. That's the only way! That's the only way to get Muammar Gaddafi's attention.

Um, isn't that exactly the same thing? Winning a war from 30,000 feet?

Well, that was Reagan doing it. He did Antichrist propaganda first. And he was a Republican. So it's glorious!

And that, I think, represents the sum total of contemporary Republican "dovishness" and "isolationism," a few genuinely isolationist Paulites excepted. So please don't fall for the notion that this is a genuine ideological shift.

No comments: