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Dialing back our military aggression

By Scott Tibbs, April 13, 2015

Matt Walsh made a really good point on Facebook regarding foreign policy:

Sadly, it appears that many Republicans have a near insatiable appetite for war. Paul, however, has shown a more restrained and reasonable attitude toward foreign policy, similar to the approach our Founding Fathers took.

One day, Republican politicians and voters will wake up and realize that you can't prowl around the world starting armed conflicts with every dictator and militant cell you find.

Certainly, we have engaged in some just wars. But those just wars cannot be used to justify our overly hawkish attitude toward foreign policy. Just because some wars are just does not make all wars just. We have, overall, become far too willing to engage in war - especially without the needed authorization from Congress. As much as Republicans love to complain about President Obama in this regard, the problem of expanding executive authority in matters of armed conflict has been a bipartisan problem going back to the nation's founding.

While it is sometimes necessary and unavoidable, armed conflict should always be the last resort to dealing with foreign policy conflicts and should only be used to protect a vital national security interest. How many of our armed conflicts since World War II meet that criteria? When you consider all of the little wars we have engaged in - a drone strike here, a short-term invasion and occupation there - that percentage is not very big at all. And let's be honest here: You cannot be a little bit at war. You are either at war or you are not. If Canada or Mexico fired some missiles across our border, we would rightly consider it an act of war.

Plus, we cannot and should not be the world's police force. We only create resentment and hatred by sticking our nose in where we do not belong and projecting military power everywhere around the world. Not all of the hatred for us is because of our imperialist or pseudo-imperialist actions, of course. Foreign relations, like all human interactions, are very complicated with many layers and both contributing and competing factors to consider. But there is no doubt that someone who has seen a wedding party blown to smithereens by an errant American missile is more likely to hate us than someone who has been left alone.

This is why Rand Paul's candidacy is good news for the Republican Party, whether he wins the nomination or not. Paul is going to force a conversation about American foreign policy that has long been needed in the GOP, and I think he is going to find a surprising number of people who are weary of never-ending military conflict and are skeptical of hawkish politicians who keep pushing us to get involved militarily in more and more places.

The Democrats have had and will continue to have that debate in their presidential primaries, and it's long past time for the Republicans to have it too - especially since the War on Terror has rapidly expanded the surveillance state and restricted civil liberties.