Why aren’t we acting more responsible on foreign policy?

Last week, Republican war hawks, such as the man that handed us Obama himself, Mr. John McCain, called on our government to give away weapon’s to the guerrilla opposition forces in Syria. 

This is a very bad idea.  Why aren’t republicans acting more responsible on foreign policy these days?

We know that Assad is bad.  We know that his regime is bad.  We know that he is killing his own people.  But we don’t know that it is in America’s interest to arm people east of Europe that we don’t know very well.  Historically, this isn’t a good idea.

Maybe it is just me, but it seems that giving weapons to people with whom we have completely different values with, so that they may defeat other people with whom we have completely different values with, rarely works.

None of our middle east involvement has really yielded any long term policy gains for the US.  Yes, Afghanistan is successful for the simple fact that keeping “terrorists” off guard overseas has left them unable to attack Americans on our soil.  But Iraq’s future doesn’t look bright (from a U.S. perspective) and although we should all rejoice at dictators falling, Egypt and Libya haven’t necessarily yielded results that work to our advantage. 

Afghanistan posed somewhat of a threat to us.  Iraq and Libya, not so much.  Put Syria in that category too.  With regard to regimes that are no direct threat to us, we should be very responsible.

As much as we may not like Obama, he has done a decent job on foreign policy.  He was a prime candidate for disaster on foreign affairs, but he has done pretty well for himself. 

And although it may be nothing new, maybe the Obama doctrine of a responsible foreign policy is what the Republican party needs to get back to.  Reagan didn’t fight any extended war as massive as Iraq or Afghanistan.  And yes, the war on terror changed things.  But it doesn’t mean we continue to get involved with Iran and Syria, not when there are smarter ways of doing things.

Before we go attacking Syria or arming their militias, we should really consider whether that is a conservative policy.  I realize it is a neo-conservative policy, but is it tea party, get-the-spending-under-control conservative policy?

Currently, the House is debating an infrastructure bill.  It needs to be abandoned because we can’t pay for it.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t need it.  Until we stop spending so much money on both defense AND entitlements, it will be IMPOSSIBLE to get the budget under control. 

So the question I keep returning to is, is getting involved with Syria likely to yield any tangible benefit to the U.S.?  Proponents would say, “yes” they are terrorists for Iran, yet those proponents will find themselves unable to demonstrate why Assad’s replacement will be any better than Assad.

Is getting involved with Syria likely to yield closer relations with the middle East?  No.  Maybe it will benefit us, maybe it won’t.  All we can do is wish and hope. 

As republicans, we can continue to be the party of security while also being the party of responsibility.  Unfunded wars without tangible benefits are not the path to establishing a permanent* republican majority going forward.

Any capital spent overseas is wasted when we could be reforming the system here at home.  While Bush spent most of his capital in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama has spent his on healthcare, financial reform, taxing the rich, abortion, don’t ask, don’t tell, etc.

Imagine if a republican president could restrain himself from getting involved in unnecessary foreign affairs, but would instead use his capital to prepare to compete with China rather than people living in the third world in the third century.  Imagine if Bush has used his capital not only to get temporary tax cuts, but to change education in a CONSERVATIVE direction or to make health insurance more affordable for Americans using conservative ideals.  Imagine what we could do.

We live in a center-right nation and center-right policies would keep our party in power for two decades to come.  Giving us an opportunity to do the other things we need to do like repealing the Obama term and implementing conservative judges nationwide. 

GOP candidates looking to knee cap Obama on foreign policy are going to find themselves losing that argument with voters.  The reason?

People don’t care who is leading Syria, they care about getting a job, health insurance and retirement.  We are the party do that.

Why can’t a GOP president do both?  Unfortunately, there isn’t enough political capital available for a president to make headway on ever issue.  Even Mr. Obama found it impossible to tackle healthcare and climate change. 

This requires us to exert some self-control in which battles we choose to fight — both figuratively and literally.

Until then, mainstream conservatives need to oppose involvement in Syria and even Iran, while not standing in the way of our allies protecting themselves.  This is the responsible policy that deserves the label, “conservative.”