We live in interesting times.

I spent part of the summer discussing the blurring and overlapping lines of Democrat and Republican with a friend. (Ok, the discussion was with wine in hand on the back deck of a floating home, so don’t feel too sorry for me.) Political scientist Theodore J. Lowi spent his career outlining and explaining the flips and flops of political parties. In some ways, parties shift like the sun’s poles. I think that’s a lot of what we are seeing now.

And it is really hard to watch. As a Democrat have you spent your adult life harping that Republicans are war mongers only to be confused by now needing to defend President Obama’s quip about a “red line?” You are now caught between abandoning your long-defended anti-war stance and supporting a very unlikable president when he needs you the most, aren’t you.

A similar reversal is happening on the Republican side. Old timers like Arizona Senator John McCain still see the U.S. as the world’s defender, while newer Senator Rand Paul is adopting his father’s isolationist tone. (That’s me, by the way. I fully support the throw ’em in a tent and let them draw their own lines in the sand. We have oil. We don’t need theirs. If Europe needs their oil let Europe spend the money. Besides, I don’t want to send bombs and then find out we are fighting alongside Al Qaeda.)

A really good read this morning was Byron York’s Why many Republicans won’t support Obama on Syria attack. Might as well absorb his arguments and start forming your own opinion because this discussion will be happening. And your congressional representatives in either party will be malleable. If you want to influence them, you’d better have your argument properly crafted.

It’s a lot to ask for, to have you share how confused you are with this particular issue. I doubt anyone is willing to move beyond easy snark to properly articulate their vulnerability. But if you are so inclined, try. I know of nothing more interesting in our political landscape today than this issue, and would very much like to discuss it.


  1. One reason why I struggle with questions of foreign policy is because of how complex they are.

    Re: “I fully support the throw ‘em in a tent and let them draw their own lines in the sand.”

    Your ideas (seem like they) are pretty elementary. I get the isolationism but what I struggle with are the humanitarian questions (which clearly enter your calculus a grand total of none of the time) and I wonder how one can so easily formulate that kind of paradigm.

  2. I suppose the “none of the time” you lament is a function of age. Sooner or later one realizes he or she has absolutely zero influence on certain things. Whether or not a dictator or alternate regime chooses to use chemical weapons on a group of people would be one such example.

    Start by articulating the humanitarian questions, and then please go on to explain why those same questions were or were not an issue for the Iraq intervention.


  3. Why jump to Iraq? That wasn’t humanitarian intervention, which is a very specific term of art. Let’s be honest.

    I’m not sure if Syria fits that definition, or that of R2P but what I am saying is that in formulating my foreign policy ideas, I struggle with isolationism because it ignores these imperatives.

    And it is such that “one realizes they have absolutely zero influence on things” is just sort of historically inaccurate. Claiming that actions result in zero influence is just plain fatalistic and isn’t an FP but rather a lack of an FP.

  4. No. No mass graves in Iraq. None at all. (You are at risk of looking ridiculous, but you are young. So let it be.)

  5. Responsibility to Protect is crap. We are not, nor should we be, the arbiter of morality for the world. As you stated Cindy, we don’t need the oil. Also, we have not been attacked. Also, Syria is not a part of the UN treaty on the use of Chemical Weapons. If they were, we still could not go it alone, as that treaty specifically lays out a process before military force could be used. If we hit Syria, WE are in the wrong. If Congress were to grant Dear Leaders request, then we are the rogue Nation. If he does it without Congressional Auth., and is NOT impeached, then we are officially a despotic Nation. If we are stupid enough to hit Syria, the entire Middle East will explode, followed there after by the rest of the world. And the US will have been responsible for that conflagration. Of course, ‘Dear Leader’ will find someone to blame other than himself. Oh, and as to Kerry saying the Saudi’s would finance, what are we, Mercenaries? Also, the opposition is rife with Al Qaeda types, so we’d be supporting evil against evil. Bad move.

  6. I didn’t realize Syria wasn’t in the chemical weapons agreement. Interesting.