Bret Stephens, writing in the Wall Street Journal, labels Senator Paul an isolationist: “The junior senator from Kentucky may not know it yet, but intellectually speaking, he’s already yesterday’s man. Republicans follow him at their peril.” Peril? Isolationist? I don’t think so on either count. Syria is a Sunni country run by a Shia. Sunni and Shia have been warring for centuries. Iran and Iraq are Shia bastions. Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are in the Sunni column. Still with me here? Meanwhile, Israel is an outlier who would do well to mind its own business and stick to defending its borders where threatened.
Contrary to the message Mr. Stephens puts forth, Senator Paul is correct when he states that the war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the U.S. Moreover, Senator Paul is also correct in believing that victory by either side will not necessarily bring into power people friendly to the United States. The Obama administration has weighed neither the costs nor the consequences of intervention because a clear and achievable mission, and therefore a well-defined end state, has not been adequately defined. How did Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya work out for the U.S.? All were botched with a blind man and a stick approach from start to finish. Well-defined end state? Come on!
The Obama administration does not have strong public support, nor will it. Hasn’t America awakened to the fraud of a defense posture that has little to with defense and everything to do with offense that regularly is none of our affair? Do Americans really wish to allow a president with zero background or common sense when it comes to national security to call the shots here? Give your world globe a spin. All that blue stuff you see on both sides of America is very deep water, and thousands of miles of it. Consider this when you ponder what threat a minor leaguer like Assad might ever pose to the U.S. If Assad or, for that matter, the rebels are involved with the nerve gas sarin, such use must be terminated. But it is the task of the Muslim world to deal with a sarin issue, not a U.S. world police task.
Isn’t it interesting, when any sensible public figure or analyst has the audacity to employ some historical perspective to foreign policy issues, the neocon front rolls out isolationist wording. Congress needs to explain to Americans why botched efforts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya bode well for the U.S. in entering into a centuries-old Shia/Sunni civil conflict. Finally, the five points of the Weinberger/Powell Doctrine need to be answered in convincing fashion. The odds of that happening? Not very good, not very good at all.