Despite the increasing unpopularity of America’s ongoing military entanglements overseas, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have shocked the world this week, laying out their support for what appears to be a military re-invasion of Iraq, CNN has reported.
“America has lost time, options, influence, and credibility over the past five years, and we cannot afford to remain disengaged any longer,” reads the senators’ statement.
This plan for the re-invasion of Iraq, as some have described it, comes amid conflicting reports that al Qaeda militants have taken complete control of the Iraqi city of Fallujah. The surrounding Anbar province, populated mostly by Sunni Muslims, has been the focus of serious anti-government protests in recent weeks, which have become more violent in response to the military crackdown by the Shi’a national government.
Incredibly, Sens. McCain and Graham are not alone in their response to this development.
According to a Rasmussen poll conducted 7-8 January 2014, one in four Americans support invading Iraq again if the country falls under the control of al Qaeda. However, these 25% are a shrinking and ever more dubious minority, with more Americans leaning toward noninterventionism abroad than at any other point in the last fifty years.
After more than a decade of sacrifice and costly over-commitment in the Middle East, it is hard to see how anyone can still claim the United States has benefitted overall. As one top commenter at Slate complains, “Trillions of dollars down the toilet, 10,000 limb amputations, a quarter million PTSD and traumatic brain injury sufferers, an epidemic of veteran suicides, and one and four Americans want to do it all over again?”
Pundits and analysts across the political spectrum have noted the irony of the senators’ war-mongering. While no one seriously claims that Iraq has in any way become more stable, peaceful, or more secure since the fall of Saddam Hussein, there is no reason to think that further American involvement will rectify the situation. In fact, it may do just the opposite.
“There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2002 and the Iraqi government would not have allowed such a thing. McCain and Graham decided to invade Iraq with no justification in international law, overthrow its government, dissolve its army, fire most Sunni Arabs from their jobs, and dissolve most of the state-owned industries, creating massive unemployment. What did they expect to happen?” asks Juan Cole, at Informed Comment.
Fortunately, the war-hawks are fighting a losing battle.
The pro-war rhetoric coming from the remaining members of the Republican mainstream is just as unpopular as the continued interventionism of the Obama administration, indicating that foreign policy divides in the United States are beginning to transcend party lines. To be fair, many of the Democratic legislators who opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Patriot Act, and many other controversial expansions and abuses of government power under Bush later supported them under the current administration. The president himself, in a twist of irony, is perhaps the most famous among them. However, the continuous decline in support for interventionism in general has made it clear that voters in the United States do not take lightly to reducing such grave foreign policy matters to chips in a partisan political game, and incumbents on both sides of the aisle are beginning to suffer the consequences. As will no doubt become clear in the 2014 elections, libertarianism has gained tremendous ground in the foreign policy debate, and support for the Obama administration is a losing strategy.
Whether the new American voter is prepared to put his money – or more appropriately his vote – where his mouth is will be the decisive factor in the election. No matter what happens, change is coming.