Large commitments to military spending and foreign-policy interventionism — long-term hallmarks of Republican Party thinking — may be ending. A new Republican ideology on foreign policy appears to be emerging. The ideology contains elements of isolationism and pacifism.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress to support military strikes on Syria, a nation immersed in a civil war and accused of using chemical weapons on its own population. However, the president is having difficulty, especially in the House of Representatives, obtaining Republican support for military intervention in Syria. (The president is also having trouble lining up House Democrats.)
Congress has not declared war since the early 1940′s. Yet, since the end of World War II in 1945, America has fought undeclared wars in Korea (1950-53), Vietnam (1964-75), the Persian Gulf (1991), Somalia (1992-94), Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001 to the present), and Iraq (2003-11). And there have been American military actions in Grenada (2003) and Libya (2011).
Americans are war weary. The war in Afghanistan has lingered for 11 years. The war in Iraq went on for eight years.
From World War II until about six months ago, there was a bipartisan consensus for America’s taking military action in many parts of the world.
In the 68 years since World War II ended, America has been involved in war or some sort of military action during 30 of those 68 years. Thus, in those 68 years, 44 percent of them involved the use of American military power.
All of this American war activity has led to battlefield deaths and injuries, more government spending, higher taxes, a $17 trillion national debt, unemployment, a collapsing educational system, and a loss of manufacturing jobs.
World-wide, American prestige appears to be at an all-time low. Internationally, does any foreign country pay attention to America anymore?
The Republican Party may have sensed that Americans want peace, economic growth, and jobs. In any elementary economics course, the choice between war and peace is often posed as a selection between guns and butter. Americans appear to be deciding that they want more butter.
A clever Republican candidate for president might, in the 2016 election, say that the time for a great foreign-policy turn-around is needed.
Since 1945, the Republican-Democratic internationalist coalition has prevailed. If, however, Congress rejects President Obama’s plan for military action in Syria, that coalition may be dead.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a likely contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, is talking about a more isolationist and pacifist line in foreign affairs. While seemingly boring on television, Paul could be the turn-around foreign-policy figure who, despite his lackluster media appearances, could persuade America to change course.
And Paul does not have a monopoly on being boring. Just look at all the other contenders for president.
Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” went on record about two weeks ago predicting that Paul would be the Republican presidential nominee. Matthews, a Democrat, has a reputation for his keen understanding of American politics.
Currently, the presumed Democratic nominee for president in 2016 is Hillary Clinton. However, she is supporting military action against Syria. In a Paul-Clinton match-up in 2016, Americans might see Paul as the “peace and jobs” candidate and perhaps elect him.