A pretty public split has occurred in the Republican Party over the proper role for the United States in the world, with the neo-con wing seeming to have some real issues with much of the comments from the Republican Presidential field, especially on Afghanistan. Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann and others seemed to indicate dwindling support for continuing to spend $2 billion a week in Afghanistan.
Senator John McCain has led the counterattack for the neo-con wing, accusing members of his own Party of being “isolationist”. McCain just got into a dust-up with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin on the Senate floor, lecturing Manchin on his need to understand history as Manchin asked why we can’t get infrastructure spending in the United States while we spend billions in Afghanistan.
Joe Scarborough has been an ardent critic of the neo-con interventionism, using his Morning Joe program to drive his criticism relentlessly. McCain’s references to Ronald Reagan as a model for his and the neo-con’s desire to invade or bomb multiple countries at once is either a deliberate and cynical misuse of Reagan’s name, or it displays a startling ignorance of history. From Scarborough’s Politico column:
It is laughable to suggest that any Republican who does not support being involved simultaneously in three hot wars is taking up the cause of the John Birch Society, turning their backs on internationalism and calling for bringing our troops home. Though you would never believe it listening to the former POW, there is a middle ground between McCain’s interventionism and Ron Paul’s isolationism.
And that is where most voters find themselves heading into the 2012 election. Some GOP candidates are finally getting that message.
American taxpayers are starting to ask the questions Manchin is asking. And McCain, for all of his bombastic nonsense, only advocates borrowing the money to support his desire for multiple invasions and bombing runs. The question I would have for him is if it is in our national interest to invade multiple countries at once why don’t you ask the American taxpayer for the money to pay for it all. The Libyan debacle is close to a billion dollars of borrowed money. Best comment of the night, in my opinion, came from Michelle Bachmann at the Republican debate: The United States has no “vital interest” in Libya. If Bachmann is wrong someone should explain what our “national interests” are in Libya. As far as Ronald Reagan goes his Defense Secretary, Cap Weinberger, promulgated the doctrine that governed U.S. engagement overseas.
The Reagan doctrine limited such events to a limited number of circumstances where the armed conflict is vital to American interests, where our objectives are clearly defined, where our commitment is full and overwhelming and where the war has public support.
Maybe John McCain needs to acquaint himself with the Reagan doctrine before he uses Reagan’s name as a justification for policies that are bankrupting the country and leading us into adventures that have no relationship to the national interest. President Obama talks about the Afghan war strategy tonight.
Read the Scarborough column here.