Libya Bombing Transcends Party Politics


Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) were interviewed last week by CNN concerning the Obama administration and NATO’s continued bombing and intervention in Libya. It is difficult to distinguish just who is on the right and left, showing it may no longer be possible to generalize a particular political party’s stance on foreign policy. 

Foreign policy is creating a significant rift within both parties, the Republican Party in particular. Despite neoconservatives' finding their ideological roots in the Democratic Party and liberalism, they have been most recently associated with the Republican Party because of their representation in the Bush administration. However, the crux of their foreign policy thinking, “American values and democracy,” is very much prevalent in the Obama administration with the failing intervention in Libya, escalation of counterterrorism operations in Yemen, and continuing hard-line in Pakistan. Neoconservative thinking has superseded political parties and has informed policy since Sept. 12, 2001. This thinking also develops from neoconservatives' headquarters, the Foreign Policy Initiative, which argued, “The United States should be leading this effort, not trailing behind out allies.”

There is virtually no difference between President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama on foreign policy thinking — except multilateral bombing.

Here are some examples of the rift within political parties:

1. Senators John Kerry (D-Mass) and John McCain (R-Ariz), formed an alliance on continuing U.S. participation in NATO’s intervention. According to CNN, their resolution “... authorizes the commitment of U.S. forces for one year while stressing the lack of support for any use of American ground troops.”

2. Kucinich, a Democrat (arguably one of the most progressives in Congress), and Paul, a Republican (with Libertarian leanings) have teamed up to protest the intervention in Libya. In addition, Kucinich, along with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) are part of a bipartisan effort to sue the president of the United States, “With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies.”

3. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) argued, “Republicans risk looking more like Jimmy Carter than Ronald Reagan on national security.” His point was echoed in the most recent GOP debate by presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who argued we need to maintain U.S. global military infrastructure in order to combat threats. Conversely, Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minn), and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and — to some extent — former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney argued that intervention in Libya was not in the U.S.'s national interest.

This tells me that the debate over U.S. foreign policy is no longer centered around party principles, but over a certain kind of foreign policy thinking that has proven time after time detrimental to U.S. interests — stretching from the 1990's “humanitarian interventions” to the current situation in Libya. Libertarians and progressives agree on one thing only: the U.S. Constitution. There was a reason the framers of the Constitution were so critical of an expansionist foreign policy; they knew it would lead to our demise. This debate is no longer right versus left or left versus right. It is ideology versus rationality. The Constitution, the wisdom of its framers, and the “bipartisan” efforts of Paul and Kucinich may be the only ways in which neoconservative “Wilsonian-like” foreign policy can be destroyed.

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