Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Perry v. Paul: who's right about American involvement in foreign wars?

With all the meeja fawning over Hellery Clinton -- Will she run? Won't she run? Does it matter? -- not a whole lot of attention is being paid to the fact that two Republican presidential hopefuls are having a "conversation" [I hereby ban the use of that word to mean anything other than a private chat between two individuals! Ed.] on one important subject where Hellery and her former boss are very vulnerable -- foreign policy.

Senator Rand Paul kicked off the debate [That's better. Ed. last month with "America Shouldn't Choose Sides in Iraq's Civil War", in which he criticized not just the Prez's mishandling of the crisis, but the invasion commanded by President Bush II, which got America into the mess to begin with.

Texas Governor Rick Perry disagrees with Senator Paul's preaching of non-interventionism. In "Isolationist policies make the threat of terrorism even greater", he argued that "Many people are tired of war, and the urge to pull back is a natural, human reaction. Unfortunately, we live in a world where isolationist policies would only endanger our national security even further."

Mr. Perry goes on to question his potential rival's interpretation of President Reagan's foreign policy. "Paul conveniently omitted Reagan's long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity," wrote Mr. Perry. "Unlike the noninterventionists of today, Reagan believed that our security and economic prosperity require persistent engagement and leadership abroad."

Walt doesn't like to criticize an erstwhile conservative Republic, but the Governor listeth. [Errr... that line has already been used by Bill Buckley. Ed.] OK, let's just say "Rick Perry is Dead Wrong"! [Yeah, that's what Paul said, in Politico Magazine, just yesterday! Ed.]

The way Senator Paul sees it, "The let's-intervene-and-consider-the-consequences-later crowd left us with more than 4,000 Americans dead, over 2 million refugees and over trillions of dollars in debt.... Tough talk like Perry's might inspire some for the moment, but when bombast becomes policy it can have long and disastrous consequences."

Mr. Paul also points out that Mr. Perry's criticism of the Reagan foreign policy is miles off-base. "Reagan was stern, but he wasn't stupid. Reagan hated war, particularly the spectre of nuclear war." Which is pretty much what Pat Buchanan said in Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, by Pat Buchanan, reviewed favourably here a few days ago. Here's how Mr. Buchanan sees American "inaction" -- NON-intervention -- during the Reagan years.

"US inaction was not due to cowardice but cold calculation as to what was worth risking war with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union and what was not worth risking war. When the Polish workers' movement, Solidarity, was crushed in 1981, Ronald Reagan denounced the repression but he neither broke diplomatic relations with Warsaw nor imposed economic sanctions.

"Eisenhower and Reagan were not Chamberlains, but neither were they Churchills. Who ruled in the capitals east of the Elbe was not to them a vital US interest worth a war. They believed in defending what we had, not risking war to retake what Roosevelt and Churchill had given up.... Reagan believed America and freedom were the future, that Communism was headed for the ash heap of history, that we need not, indeed, must not blunder into a war to hasten its inevitable end. Patience and perseverance were required, the use of proxies to bedevil the Soviet Empire at its outposts...and carrying a bigger stick -- that was the Reagan way."

As a favour to Governor Perry, who appears to be as untutored in history as was President Bush II, Walt presents a further quote from the Buchanan opus, on the question of whether America should be the world's policeman.

"America is the last superpower because she stayed out of the world wars until their final acts. And because she stayed out of the alliances and the world wars longer than any other great power, America avoided the fate of the seven other nations that entered the twentieth century as great powers.

"The British, French, German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Ottoman, and Japanese empires are all gone. We alone remain, because we had men who recalled the wisdom of Washington, Jefferson, and John Quincy Adams about avoiding entangling alliances, staying out of European wars, and not going 'abroad in search of monsters to destroy'."

Walt hopes Governor Perry or (please God) Senator Paul or whoever next occupies the Oval Office will take this advice to heart. Otherwise a lot more Americans are going to be dead...for the wrong reasons!

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