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Repeating Their Past Mistakes, Republicans Urge a Return to Cowboy Diplomacy

There are few individuals, groups, or nations that deliberately revert to a less perfect or developed state, and only the most conservative groups are satisfied maintaining the status quo in less than optimal conditions. Intelligent human beings are more than likely to flee conditions that proved detrimental to themselves, and even animals avoid situations that produce negative consequences. Since the election of Barack Obama, Republicans’ sycophants purported that returning to some by-gone era was the solution to the nation’s problems, and despite that most Americans have embraced both social and cultural progress, conservatives persist in going backwards. Now, a conservative stalwart, William Kristol, is warning that Republicans have to pressure President Obama to return to George W. Bush’s cowboy diplomacy and embrace an imperialistic stance on foreign policy by imposing their will on sovereign nations, and Obama fails to heed their warning, the world will unravel.

Kristol derided GOP leadership and most conservative organizations for not spending enough time warning of the “consequences of Obama’s foreign policy,” and that they can take no solace in the results as the world comes apart and threatens America’s well-being. He claims that all conservatives can do is “explain that decline has been a choice, and that weakness has consequences.” The weakness he refers to is “Obama’s inaction in Syria now, inaction in Iran in 2009, abandonment of Iraq in 2011, and abandonment of Afghanistan over the next couple of years,” and asserts that keeping America out of multiple wars is “a pattern of an oh-so-light footprint abroad.” In other words, he advocates American imperialism and protracted war(s); a recurring call of neo-cons who did not serve in the military.

What he suggests is maintenance of unequal political and territorial relationships, usually between states, in the form of empire based on domination and subordination. It is “regressive imperialism” as pure conquest, unequivocal exploitation, reduction of undesired peoples, and regime change reflecting conservative values not unlike Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Of course, Kristol avoids using the word imperialism, but he did say the historic task of American conservatism is shaping an America that leads from the front, with a stride worthy of a nation that leaves a heavy footprint around the world. To illustrate his point, Kristol cites 1940s America when, as he claims, “a war-weary nation looked the other way as the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Europe and China went Communist.”

If, as Kristol contends, America had lived up to its responsibilities and continued the second world war against the Soviet Union and China (American ally in WWII), we could have “perhaps” avoided wars and prevented a Cold War that “needn’t have been as threatening as it was.” He also cited the late 1970s when a “war-weary nation watched as Khomeini took over Iran, the Sandinistas Nicaragua, and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan” that precipitated a “resounding” response by Republican man-turned god, Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s resounding response sending billions in aid and arming Afghan rebels against the Soviet Union resulted in the rise of the Taliban and the early foundations of al-Qaida, and American arms turned on Americans following the ill-advised invasion by George W. Bush; a war still underway and if neo-cons had their way, would persist indefinitely.

All is not lost though, because Kristol opines that “every 30 years America has to go through a moment of retreat and renewal” so a new generation of Republican leaders can emerge, perhaps coming from outside normal channels; like B-movie actor Ronald Reagan. A rejuvenated Republican war monger would not have to create something new because “they have an American tradition” to appeal to, a tradition that suggests “a light footprint is not the best America can do” because “it’s not really America’s destiny to tiptoe through the world, hoping not to do too much to disturb dictators and jihadists.”

There are myriad problems with Kristol’s proposition of American imperialism, none less than the so-called “American tradition” he refers to that is as far afield from reality as the notion that Ronald Reagan saved Afghanistan or subverted Islamist leaders in Iran. In fact, America’s intervention resulted in tens-of-thousands of American lives lost in Korea and Viet Nam, and the country still suffers Bush’s folly in Iraq and Afghanistan that racked up over $4.2 trillion on the credit card as of June 2011, and is still accruing. Historically, nations creating empires go broke conquering and occupying sovereign nations while their homelands waste away as funds diverted for war leave a nation in disrepair and broken; like America after eleven years of wars to establish a heavy footprint in Iraq and Afghanistan.

America has never been imperialistic, but it has intervened in the affairs of sovereign nations to install or defend leaders friendly to the United States that invariably fail and leave a void for “dictators and jihadists” to fill. Afghanistan and Iraq are the latest examples of America’s “heavy footprint,” and the leadership in both countries is not conducive to America’s interests. It was, however, as Kristol commented, about thirty years since a “war weary nation” ended the Viet Nam war until Bush decided to lead from the front and embroil the country in two wars, and as a “war weary nation” looks forward to exiting Afghanistan, Kristol looks for a new Republican to fulfill “America’s destiny” of never-ending wars.

There is a reason America has been a war weary nation and, except for World War II that left the nation broke, it has been because the dysfunctional belief that America has a right to intercede in foreign nations’ internal affairs to impose its will, and propped up leaders, on sovereign people and not out of self-defense. Kristol and his neo-con war mongers never calculate the cost of war in lives or resources because there is an industry that reaps the profits that one of Kristol’s heroes, Dwight D. Eisenhower, warned against. It has only been eleven years since conservatives took America to war, and before their wars can wind down, they are preparing to warn Americans against President Obama’s inaction in Syria, Iran, and whichever Islamic nation Republicans feel the need to put a heavy footprint on.

What is disconcerting about Kristol’s dream of reverting to more neo-con imperialism and intervention is complete disregard for the people of this war weary nation. The American people have sacrificed enough in lives and resources so Republicans can leave a heavy footprint around the world, and the economy will continue suffering the financial damage of enriching the military industrial complex while this nation’s infrastructure crumbles.




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