The Preemptive War On Paul

The global hegemonists in the GOP – who have never fully addressed the fiscal, moral and military fiascoes that were the Afghan and Iraq wars – nonetheless can still summon the energy to carpet-bomb anyone questioning the logic behind them. Matt Welch marvels at the “Angry Birds’ multi-front attack against” Rand Paul started by Chris Christie last week and continued yesterday by former terrorist-funder, Peter King (seen above):

The openness and vehemence of this interventionist campaign against one of the GOP’s rising young stars three full years before the party’s next nominating convention is telling. Even if the current foot-soldiers in the anti-Paul war are either comic-book non-entities like Peter King and Liz Cheney or foreign-policy blank slates like Christie, the most important thing is that the candidate (and ideological tendency) making headlines and attracting support from unusual quarters get contained before the virus spreads. The defense establishment, long accustomed to getting its way in both policy and politics, is gearing up for some of that ol’ pre-emptive war.

Paul’s camp has fired back at the above comments from King: “He wants us endlessly patrolling the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of ours at home.” And the shifting politics of NSA surveillance suggests that Paul is onto something. If there’s an actual debate within the Republican party about the disastrous legacy of Cheney, it can only advance sanity, and break the groupthink that has paralyzed the GOP intellectually. Of course, there should be a debate about whether the US needs to spend a huge amount of money policing the entire world, and financing the crony capitalism of the military-industrial complex, while its own infrastructure crumbles, its healthcare liabilities mount and its population ages.

Paul needs to remind Republicans that Reagan was, at heart, a peacenik whose global strategy was premised on a Soviet union that no longer exists. He got the hell out of Lebanon the minute Marines were massacred – something Cheney would declare treason if Obama did the same today. He needs to remind them that Eisenhower was the man who coined the term “military-industrial complex” and won or ended wars, rather than starting and losing them, like Cheney and Bush.

The GOP, in other words, cannot be for limited government in all things but defense and national security – where it signs a huge blank check to the defense welfare state because of paranoia and nationalism (which are not to be conflated with prudence and patriotism). Zeke Miller zooms out:

For years the Republican Party has fractured over foreign policy, but libertarians and neoconservatives, while vehemently disagreeing on substance, tried to project an air of party cohesion. Those days are over. “We ignored them and then tried to placate them,” said one hawkish Senate Republican foreign policy aide about the libertarians. “If we don’t move now [to counterattack], it may be too late in 2016.” … The long-delayed GOP foreign policy civil war is finally here.