And I disagree with voices in my own party who argue we should not engage at all. Who warn we should heed the words of John Quincy Adams not to go “abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”
With these words, Tea Party darling Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., officially severed himself from anti-war allies in the movement – themselves marginalized by nationalistic advocates of messianic-militarism. In contrast, the gentleman from Florida has elected to follow a strong, fundamentalist attachment to political archaism – that well-worn propensity to single out privileged moments in the past when a transcendent truth was revealed.
For his part, Rubio seems hinged to the “fantastic” presidency of George W. Bush and its emphasis on the inter-national security of our ever-virtuous repository of liberal democracy.
Yesterday’s address allowed Rubio a moment of self-coronation – the master of muscular unilateralism, introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., in praise of Bob Kagan; two men who’ve yet to meet a prickly regime they wouldn’t change. Such an appealing – if archaic – worldview has been championed by saber-rattling neocons and liberal imperialists, alike, since Charles Krauthammer announced our unipolar moment shortly after the Berlin Wall fell.
I was under the impression the past 10 years had exhausted our inventionist streak. Or so I thought until Rubio addressed his audience.
Best intentions have never been the problem. In fact they led Francis Fukuyama to remark, “The problem with neoconservatism’s agenda lies not in its ends, which are as American as apple pie, but rather in the overmilitarized means by which it has sought to accomplish them.”
And that’s the problem. Blithely extolling virtues of the Bush administration’s uncompromising neoconservatism hints you’re a-okay with further red-lining a soaring deficit while dealing with an increasing casualty count abroad. And that’s just on the home front.
When we wield our awesome, asymmetric power we guarantee unintended consequences. It is difficult to prep for a flight of savaged humanity when it staggers into a neighboring country bent on food, water, medicine and shelter. (See: Libya, Great Socialist People’s Arab Jamahirya of) It’s challenging to guarantee broad partnerships, extensive burden sharing and international legitimacy in a mission that, by its very nature, disrupts the order of sovereignty.
The fact that we wield the most power – by far – has been known to induce chronic free-ridership. (Lest we forget the Coalition of the Tepid, of which three of forty seven states contributed troops to our invasion.)
Finally, it’s morally abhorrent to justify half-baked “humanitarian intervention” based on speedy, risk-free, simulated pseudo-solutions to horrific tragedy and political injustice. This hardly seems a productive way to sketch an intervention but we’re persistently unwilling to deal with other-than-best-case scenarios when planning a war, particularly in the name of justice, freedom, or any other good.
That won’t stop Rubio from conjuring up fallacious niceties to justify infinite-war against unnamed enemies – absent Security Counsel initiative – to earn second fiddle in Mitt Romney’s back-up band.
Growing consensus in the national security community — now I’m speaking of professional practitioners and academics, not preening, would-be VP candidates and radio blowhards– suggests the preservation of American security and hegemony hinges on our ability to rebuild economic stability at home by cutting a federal deficit that has exploded under the current administration.
You know who else recognizes this fact? Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky — those anti-war voices in the Tea Party I mentioned. They get it.
And they’re up on their facts. Remember: Our $15 trillion federal debt approaches the size of the entire economy, without accounting for liabilities hemmed to Social Security, Medicare and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The United States has never been so vulnerable to an international run on the dollar. Foreign governments can absolutely use their Treasury holdings to coerce American decision-making.
Luckily, there are still some conservatives out there who recognize that we ought to prioritize the restoration of fiscal solvency before we return to bombing petulant, problem states back to the Stone Age.
Unfortunately, they’re not actively campaigning for vice president.
Reid Smith is a doctoral student, graduate associate, and Soles Fellow with the University of Delaware’s Department of Political Science and International Relations. He writes for the Foreign Policy Association and The American Spectator.