Jennifer Rubin, in a piece in yesterday’s Washington Post, takes umbrage at the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz’s vision of what America’s role in the world should believe.
Calling them a ‘group of isolationists’ she goes on a diatribe of immense proportions. She concludes with this little tidbit:
In short, for isolationists, there is no amount of dead Syrians, refugees and WMD deaths that would justify us doing anything effective.
This is, as usual, the wrong argument to have.
The isolationist moniker is a false one to begin to label many of these politicians, on both sides of the aisle.
As I have written on numerous occasions, there is a logical method to deciding if war is necessary. We do not, as Ms. Rubin alleges, simply put number deaths in one column, number of bombs in another column, and use an equation and arrive at an answer.
For example, cannot those who support Ms. Rubin’s argument use their imagination to dream up a scenario where hundreds of thousands of people were dying…and that America still had no military inclination whatsoever?
Of course, nobody needs to imagine such an event…we saw it just two decades ago. Bill Clinton oversaw the murder of 1 million Rwandans…and nobody would claim he was an isolationist. And although some historians may lay some of those deaths at his feet, I believe that is also unfair. Entering a civil war where America had no national interest, no vested interested, no strategic importance whatsoever would have been foolish. Hindsight is very convenient for these armchair quarterbacks, but even if that occurred today, I am doubtful the likes of Barack Obama or George W. Bush would do much different.
Rubin goes on…
Is that the world we want to live in? Once Assad used chemical weapons, then all despots will feel free to do the same. And the green light would not entice merely rogue regimes in Syria and North Korea.
We already live in this world. That people were not able to recognize that simply shows their own extravagant self delusion. Does anyone believe, no matter what we do to Assad, that the next dictator won’t go ahead with their plans for weapons of mass destruction?
Look at history. We wiped out Saddam Hussein, who also gassed his own people. We took out Gaddafi, who at one time had WMD but gave them up. Did that change Bassar al Assad’s calculations in the least?
And who is to say that our tepid response to Assad won’t actually do the opposite, and give more credence to the ideas that despots and dictators should build up their weapons systems? The lesson is, if you can make it inconvenient for America to mount a ground invasion, basically it is fine to have weapons of mass destruction.
The reality is, short of going back to the Bush-era concept of pre-emption, we will have to accept these minor states having chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. I see little if not any belief among any of the political class that, for example, we should mount a full-scale attack on Iran to stop them from obtaining nuclear weapons. Neither the public nor the political class have the stomach for such an operation. And that doesn’t just include the so-called isolationists.
The larger discussion is how we stayed involved in the politics of the world, without becoming arrogant and overbearing. We are already hated in many quarters for what many feel is American arrogance and self-righteousness. The error in Syria is not that we haven’t done anything; the error was ever assuming we should even consider doing anything, unless our direct national interests were at stake.
The better question for people Rubin’s ilk is, do we now accept the role of the world’s policeman? And who anointed us as such? Did we simply place that crown on our own head? And if we are arrogant enough to believe we have that right, to unilaterally declare what is and is not acceptable in this world…where does that eventually take us as a nation?
I fear she doesn’t really have the courage to answer that.