Friday, September 05, 2014

Anti-Interventionism and Its Discontents

The ISIS crisis has given the War Party a new lease on life – or so they want us to believe. It seems like only yesterday that they were in the doldrums, and with good reason: their Syrian adventure was aborted after a long propaganda buildup – thanks to a cry of outrage from the American people – and they’ve been chafing at the bit ever since.

This setback, combined with all the polls showing how disgusted the American people are with our foreign policy of global intervention, coincided with the rise of the man Politico magazine recently called the country’s most interesting politician: Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. It was Rand who was one of the leading voices against our disastrous intervention not only in Syria but also in Libya – where, today, jihadists cavort in our former embassy as they decimate that woefully "liberated" land. It was Rand who co-led the fight against the NSA in the Senate, standing with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and libertarian Republican congressman Justin Amash to expose and bring down the Surveillance State. And it was Rand whose filibuster against the droning of American citizens won him the respectful attention of civil libertarians on the left as well as the right – and the utter disdain of war birds on both sides of the aisle.

Polls showing Rand Paul as the frontrunner in the GOP presidential sweepstakes have the neocons in a lather, with their online media phalanx frantically attacking him at every opportunity. It’s kind of funny to watch: the first fusillades were aimed at labeling him an "isolationist," while more recently they’ve pointed out how he deviates from his father’s more angular policy positions. If you can’t smear and marginalize, then there’s always the strategy of cutting him off from his base.

Yet even with all this, the War Party is trying hard to pick itself up off the floor, and the eruption of this latest ISIS "crisis" – accompanied by the most hysterical stream of war propaganda since the dark old days of September, 2001 – is cutting them some slack. The pushback is on with this piece in the Washington Post which sets out to prove the interventionists are riding higher than they actually are. Entitled "Rise of Islamic State Tests GOP Anti-Interventionists," the theme is clear from the get-go:

"A roiling national debate over how to deal with the radical Islamic State and other global hot spots has prompted a sudden shift in Republican politics, putting a halt to the anti-interventionist mood that had been gaining credence in the party."