Neoconservatives, Democrats join forces to keep troops in Iraq, Afghanistan forever.
By S.T. Patrick
Though it can make them unpopular with the party chieftains who disperse appointments and committee assignments like graft amongst the cronies, there are politicians who routinely step outside the partisan boxes of Democrat and Republican Party-controlled politics to stand on principle. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) built his political legacy on doing just that. Today, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron’s son, continues carrying on that legacy, most prominently on issues of war and peace.
On Dec. 10, Sen. Paul delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate in which he passionately conveyed his opposition to a defense bill that would delay the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan that had been ordered by President Donald Trump. The bill Paul was adamantly opposing was the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, which specifies the annual budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense.
The speech reverberated instantly through the internet’s social media platforms. During the speech, for example, the Young Americans for Liberty tweeted, “(Rand Paul) is GOING OFF on the Senate floor in opposition to the NDAA right now.”
Paul’s sights were set on the neoconservatives that have controlled the Republican Party since the fall of Nixon.
“The neoconservative philosophy isn’t so much about a unitary executive, isn’t so much about an all-powerful commander-in-chief,” Paul charged. “The philosophy of these people is about war and substantiating war and making sure that it becomes and is perpetual war. . . . These neocons put forth a belief that the commander-in-chief has virtually unlimited power to initiate war, but they are just fine with . . . preventing the commander-in-chief from ending a war.”
Earlier in the day, before his speech, Paul took to Twitter, himself, to outline the theme of his address—neoconservative hypocrisy on the presidential prerogative to create war. In the series of revelatory tweets, Paul charged neoconservatives with favoring an expansion of presidential war powers going into a war but then limiting them when the president wants to withdraw:
Today, the subject is war powers. The hawks and neocons somehow want you to believe, in contrast to all logic, that the President of the United States has the unitary power to go to war anytime he wants, anywhere, free from interference from Congress. The best part of any debate is when you see people twisting themselves in knots, going against their own alleged principles to get their desired results. When Congress tried to impose time limits on troop engagements during the Iraq War, the neocons squawked that it would be a mistake to have 535 generals. Yet, they now say a President cannot LEAVE a war without their permission.
How absurd is that? It’s exactly the opposite of what both the Constitution and logic would dictate. Effectively, these neocons put forth a belief that the commander in chief has virtually unlimited powers to initiate wars, but they are just fine with hamstringing and preventing the commander in chief from ending a war. Hypocrisy, anyone? Without a shred of embarrassment these neocons happily constrain a president from leaving a war theater while simultaneously advocating for a president that can start war anytime, anywhere across the globe without congressional authorization.
Of course, the neoconservatives struck back at Sen. Paul. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney, tweeted, “(Rand Paul) is currently holding up passage of the NDAA, blaming America, and delaying hazardous duty pay to hundreds of thousands of our service members and their families. Inexcusable. Rand and I do have one thing in common, though. We’re both 5’2” tall.”
Paul had “slammed,” according to The Hill, the neocon beliefs of Cheney, stating, “The philosophy of these people is about war and substantiating war and making sure that it becomes and is perpetual war.”
Paul knows that the new administration holds no better hope for peace. The rotating door of bureaucratic holdovers from the Obama administration served under a president that spoke of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying in 2013: “This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. It’s what our democracy demands.” Instead, the Obama administration waged war on at least seven countries that included Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There is no sign that the Biden administration wouldn’t do the same, as Biden, as both a U.S. senator from Delaware and vice president, supported the war agenda.
There have been lone wolves fighting for peace in a world of war before in Washington, D.C. The Democratic Party has retired theirs: Sen. Mike Gravel, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Only Rep. Tulsi Gabbard remains, and thus, has similarly been labeled an outcast within her own party. Paul stands alone as the sole national voice pushing for the wars to end and the troops to come home. In doing so, he is also voting to end the cash cow that is defense spending contracts with the government and the sizeable campaign donations and funded events that they proffer.
Paul, however, is concerned first with cleaning his own political house. “In reality,” Paul said on the Senate floor, “the neocons are enamored of their theory of unbounded presidential power only when that power is used to foment war. The minute a president decides to end war, their true stripes are exposed as they beat their chests and proclaim, as 535 generals might, that the president will not be allowed to remove troops without congressional permission.”
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]. He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.