Quotes of the day

posted at 8:41 pm on June 20, 2014 by Allahpundit

Rand Paul is for the first time weighing in on the chaos in Iraq…

He leaves the question of targeted airstrikes open, saying there are “many questions” that need to be addressed before the U.S. proceeds: “What would airstrikes accomplish? We know that Iran is aiding the Iraqi government against ISIS. Do we want to, in effect, become Iran’s air force? What’s in this for Iran? Why should we choose a side, and if we do, who are we really helping?”

Asked whether he supports the president’s decision to send 300 military advisers to Iraq and continuing to aid the Iraqi army, Paul says he doesn’t “second guess” the decisions. But he couldn’t help himself, adding that the United States has for a decade now funneled aid the Iraqi army and “you gotta wonder what’s happened to all the money.”…

Though most foreign-policy experts have traced the current chaos to the Obama administration’s failure to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement with Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, Paul says insurgents very well could have seized control of the country’s most important cities even if the U.S. had maintained its presence — and that it’s a good thing American soldiers aren’t getting caught in the crossfire right now. “This may well still have happened,” he says. “I think it’s probably fortunate that [American troops] weren’t there.”

***

Sen. Rand Paul intertwined his message against foreign aid on Friday with a message that appeals to the GOP’s social conservative base.

“There’s a war on Christianity going on, and sometimes you’re being asked to pay for it,” the Kentucky Republican said. “I say not one penny to any country that persecutes Christians.”…

The first-term senator blasted the Obama administration for arming rebels in Syria, some of whom have been reported to attack Christians…

Paul, however, said nothing of defending Christians who are currently being threatened in Iraq by Islamic militants, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

***

What would airstrikes accomplish? We know that Iran is aiding the Iraqi government against ISIS. Do we want to, in effect, become Iran’s air force? What’s in this for Iran? Why should we choose a side, and if we do, who are we really helping?…

For the small group calling for boots on the ground—how can we ask our brave men and women to risk their lives for a country the Iraqis aren’t willing to fight for themselves? Iraqi soldiers are stripping off their uniforms and fleeing this fight. We shouldn’t ask our soldiers to put their uniforms on to take their places…

Many of those clamoring for military action now are the same people who made every false assumption imaginable about the cost, challenge and purpose of the Iraq war. They have been so wrong for so long. Why should we listen to them again?

Saying the mess in Iraq is President Obama’s fault ignores what President Bush did wrong. Saying it is President Bush’s fault is to ignore all the horrible foreign policy decisions in Syria, Libya, Egypt and elsewhere under President Obama, many of which may have contributed to the current crisis in Iraq. For former Bush officials to blame President Obama or for Democrats to blame President Bush only serves as a reminder that both sides continue to get foreign policy wrong. We need a new approach, one that emulates Reagan’s policies, puts America first, seeks peace, faces war reluctantly, and when necessary acts fully and decisively.

***

The Cheneys snarl about “appeasing our enemies,” “abandoning our allies,” and “apologizing for our great nation,” as if it was the 2004 Republican National Convention all over again. Paul, with the exception of one somewhat intemperate paragraph asking “Why should we listen to them again?”, approaches the question with an assumption of personal and national humility, a sense that American knowledge of (and power to shape) fluid events in the Middle East has limitations, as does American appetite for making the kind of commitments that the Cheneys of the world constantly seek…

This is a pretty clearly defined fork in the road for GOP foreign policy. As Rand Paul put it to me last August, when the elective war under debate was Syria, “We’re losing, on a good day, 70/30 among the Republicans [in the Senate]. But we win every day among the grassroots, probably 80/20, 90/10.” How—if at all—those numbers converge will tell us much about the fortunes of the Republican Party, and of the country.

***

Part of the rationale for giving people who got Iraq wrong last time the chance to explain why this intervention is different is that they may be right. Supporting the Iraq invasion was an unusually big mistake, but sooner or later, almost everyone who offers opinions about war makes mistakes. Ted Kennedy opposed overthrowing Manuel Noriega. Colin Powell opposed the Gulf War, as did most Democrats in Congress. Jimmy Carter thought it such a bad idea that he urged other nations to reject authorization for force at the UN. Michael Moore opposed NATO’s military intervention in Kosovo. The Nation called it a “careless, cowardly and destructive war.” In the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, in fact, some hawks did exactly what Waldman is doing now. They urged the public to “ignore those who got it all wrong” when they opposed successful military actions in the 1990s.

If accurately forecasting the last war were a reliable guide to accurately forecasting the next one, foreign policy would be a lot simpler. In fact, American history is littered with people who looked prescient one moment and foolish the next: critics of World War I who therefore opposed American entry into World War II; champions of World War II who therefore supported America’s war in Vietnam; champions of the Balkan interventions who therefore supported America’s invasion of Iraq.

The point is that everyone—whether they got the last war right or not—should approach the next one with humility. Everyone should answer for his or her past mistakes but no one should be written out of the debate because of them. Judging by the past century of American foreign policy, it’s precisely when people are most confident history has proven them right that they’re most likely to be wrong.

***

This I know: America has made profound — and far more costly — mistakes at the beginning of virtually every war. The opening months of World War II were a national nightmare, rendered more palatable to the public only through large-scale censorship that sometimes blocked the American people’s knowledge of defeats that cost more lives in one night than America would lose in entire years in Iraq or Afghanistan. In the Korean War, profound diplomatic and intelligence failures led to headlong retreats and mass-scale slaughters of unprepared soldiers. In the Civil War, poor tactics and dreadful leadership almost destroyed the nation less than one century after its founding, as a Union with immense manpower and industrial benefits arguably came within a few improper orders and missed battlefield opportunities from crumbling in the face of the Army of Northern Virginia. The list of horrifying mistakes could go on, but — as I just said — war is hard, the enemy always has a vote, and sometimes only cruel experience can teach us the right lessons…

We are all responsible for our words and actions. Even though my influence is minimal (especially compared to my colleagues posting here on NRO and syndicated nationally) I sometimes agonize over individual words in blog posts. And I still think every day about the choices I made in Iraq. But if I’m responsible — as a supporter of the war from the beginning and a veteran of that same conflict — for what I say and do, so are the victory lappers. And I would not trade places with a group that helped manufacture the “war weariness” that gripped an American public that has, apart from a tiny minority, sacrificed nothing for this conflict and would continue to sacrifice nothing even if we maintained the small force in Iraq necessary to secure our gains.

You helped America leave, and in so doing, you helped waste the sacrifice of those few who served.

Your moral superiority is misplaced.

Your victory lap is grotesque.

***

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told conservative activists Friday that hawkish Republicans have mistakenly concluded that U.S. military intervention is a sign of American strength…

“Reagan spoken often of peace through strength. I hear that some in our nation, some in our party have forgotten the first part of the sentence,” Paul said. “Peace should be our goal even as we build our strength. Some in my party have distorted the belief of peace through strength into the misguided belief that we should project strength through war.”

***

I think the same questions could be asked of those who supported the Iraq War. You know, were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? That’s what the war was sold on. Was democracy easily achievable? Was the war won in 2005, when many of these people said it was won? They didn’t really, I think, understand the civil war that would break out. And what’s going on now — I don’t blame on President Obama. Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who are for the Iraq War for emboldening Iran.

***

Via MFP.

***


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 8

Comment pages: 1 8