Americans are tired of war: Old Guard Republicans attacking Rand Paul show how truly out of touch they are

Power structures and ideological dynamics change quickly in Washington, and when a sea change happens you almost feel sorry for the losing side, who usually doesn’t realize it for a while, still clinging to their anachronistic worldview and thinking it’s mainstream. But there comes a time when you just have to point and laugh at people who have lost, and lost big, and don’t even realize it.

Politico has a new summary of all the defense hawk attacks on Rand Paul’s alleged “isolationism,” including Rick Perry, Dick Cheney, Elliott Abrams from the Council on Foreign Relations, and Mackenzie Eaglen from the American Enterprise Institute. In denouncing the freshman Senator’s skepticism of interventionism, they cite the current situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and of course 9/11.

Yes, “it’s been a long time since 9/11,” as Cheney said, lamenting what he sees as forgetfulness about the threat of terrorism, but also, it’s been a long time since 9/11. At a certain point you have to stop buttressing your entire foreign policy narrative with the biggest failure of our national intelligence and defense systems since Pearl Harbor. We haven’t reverted to a pre-9/11 mindset, we’ve evolved to a post-post-9/11 mindset. The world has changed, again; global interventionists haven’t.

Perhaps sadder still than their reliance on the 9/11 shibboleth is the delusion that hawks are still the mainstream of public opinion or even the Republican Party:

“I think there is a fear that you’re going to see a million stories saying the Republican Party is divided between two views — the Rand Paul view and the other view — as if it were a 50-50 thing, rather than Paul being isolated on the fringe,” Abrams said.

Wait, Rand Paul is the one on the fringe? HA!:

“There is clearly is [sic] a Republican foreign policy consensus, and those who care most deeply about maintaining American leadership in the world are worried that silence means disagreement — not agreement — anymore,” added Mackenzie Eaglen, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Yes, there is a growing “Republican foreign policy consensus.” These  people are no longer part of it. Rand Paul is.

A June poll found that only 16% of voters, and 28% of Republicans, support sending combat troops back into Iraq to deal with the escalating violence there. A different poll (reported in the same story) found only 46% of voters support US airstrikes on the ISIS insurgents in Iraq. Only 32% opposed it, but given the skeptical direction these issues have trended over the last few years, the 22% who were unsure are very likely to lean against.

Public opinion about another war in the Middle East with no relevant American interest showed even more hesitance. In August 2013, only 9% of Americans wanted to get involved in Syria, even after the chemical attacks were traced to its government. That same month I attended a town hall for my congressman, Pete Olson.

Since it was the news of the day, he brought up Syria and found, I think to his own surprise, that the vast majority of his very conservative constituents were violently opposed. Olson suggested sending in a small tactical force to secure the chemical weapons and was literally shouted down by his supporters.

Republican hawks really have no idea how marginalized they are. Their now-fringe views are still trumpeted by the media establishment and assumed to be, if not mainstream, at least competitive. John McCain is still considered a Republican leader in the media and appears on at least one Sunday morning talk show every week.

The American people, on the other hand, are tired of war. We’re tired of our sons and daughters dying for people who don’t care about us, for causes that turn out to be mistakes, and for nations that descend right back into chaos when we leave. Rand Paul understands this monumental shift in American attitudes, and the people criticizing him and ignoring it are going to look extremely foolish at the end of the day.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.