The GOP has been demonstrably hawkish for decades. Part of this is philosophical, but acting tough has also been reliable currency in the Republican Party for years.
It’s interesting what 10 years of war will do.
Politicians know which way the wind blows, and America is war-weary — ten-years-of-war weary. They are sick of the thousands of casualties. They cringe at the untold billions flowing overseas while U.S. bridges and roads crumble.
And for what? Iraq and Afghanistan could be failed states in two years.
The GOP debate last night showed how much things have changed. Remember dead or alive? Smoke them out of their holes? Don’t cut and run? Freedom fries?
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked if he thought President Bush was too quick to go off on military adventures. “Americans don’t want to see their young men and women going into foreign countries without a clear reason that American interests are at stake. And they want to see not only a clear entrance; they want to see a clear exit strategy, as well,” Perry responded, in part. “We should never put our young men and women’s lives at risk when American interests are not clearly defined by the president of the United States, and that’s one of the problems this president is doing today.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann said about Libya, ” I believe that it was wrong for the president to go into Libya…If there is no vital interest, that doesn’t even meet the threshold of the first test for military involvement.”
Jon Huntsman opined on Afghanistan, “I think we’ve lost our confidence as a country. I think we have had our innocence shattered. I think, 10 years later, we look at the situation and we say, we have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. This is not about nation-building in Afghanistan. This is about nation-building at home,” he said. “Our core is broken. We are weak. We have got to strengthen ourselves. I say we’ve got to bring those troops home.”
Only former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum pushed back against what he called these kinds of “isolationist” views. Santorum invoked the presidency of Ronald Reagan. “We didn’t have missions where we put exit strategies saying this date is when we’re going to leave,” Santorum said about the Reagan era. “We didn’t say that we are the problem and the cause of the problems that confront us around the world.”
Presumably, Santorum was not referring to Beirut.