How The War Party Committed Policy Suicide
For the bulk of my adult life (that is, 1995-present, more or less) it has been accepted wisdom that the Republican Party is the superior standard-bearer on the issue of national security. That isn’t true anymore, and even in the insulated fact-resistant confines of Washington, D.C. that is becoming clear.
The 2 ton gorilla in the room is, of course, the Iraq War. The Iraq War, was a disaster enabled by both parties and executed by one. Specifically, one man – George W. Bush. The American people and history already regard the Iraq War as a huge mistake, but the Republican party and the wider conservative movement still aren’t there yet. They invested so much of their time and especially their identity as a movement in Iraq that they still insist it was the right thing to do.
It wasn’t, and it never will be. The loss of American and Iraqi lives was not worth deposing Saddam Hussein, especially not when it allowed Al Qaeda to flourish and Bin Laden to live. Period.
I don’t pretend as if the left has perfect unity on national security issues. There are those of us who are more hawkish (people like myself, and more importantly, President Obama) and others who almost never support any sort of military action.
But the kneejerk conservative bump on national security is dead (for now at least). Frankly, it should never have been allowed to flourish. It was under Clinton that terrorist attacks were averted and we engaged in several successful military campaigns (the Balkans) with little to no American casualties. Under President Obama, we’ve continued to execute smart power and roll back the “Hulk smash” policies of the Bush years.
They have nobody to blame but themselves, but they still don’t even see a problem with Iraq, much less take responsibility for it. The same people who propped up the blood-soaked hands of Donald Rumsfeld attempted to derail Chuck Hagel’s nomination (with assistance from their klutzy media pals on Team Breitbart). The same people who insisted WMDs were all over Iraq are the same people who are obsessed not with the attack at Benghazi, but with the talking points about the attack in Benghazi – amazingly insipid.
The right is its own best argument against taking anyone in the movement seriously on matters of national security.