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Mar-26-2013 11:45printcomments

Ten Years After Iraq, A Debate About America's Role in the World

Some neoconservatives are prepared to go to war haphazardly, as we did, at their urging, in Iraq.

U.S. soldier on patrol in Iraq
U.S. 101st Airborne soldier on patrol in Iraq. Salem-News.com photo by Tim King, summer of 2008.

(WASHINGTON DC) - It is now ten years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. Based on false information about alleged weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. embarked upon war with a country which had never attacked us, and which had nothing to do with 9/11. It was as if, some pointed out, after Pearl Harbor we launched an attack upon Mexico.

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress acted irresponsibly. They passed a vague Authorization for Use of Military Force instead of the congressional declaration of war the Constitution requires. The media----liberals and conservatives alike---displayed willful credulity, never seeking independently to discover the truth.

Now, Iraq is in chaos. In 2010, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, formed a coalition government with parties representing Kurds and secular Sunnis. Since then, he has driven the Sunni Vice President into exile and the Sunni finance minister and Kurdish foreign minister no longer visit Baghdad. Iran's influence is growing. Iraq has been allowing Iran to fly weapons through its airspace to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Philip Carter, an Iraq veteran and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, notes that, "We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction on March 19, 2003, when the U.S. troops invaded...the Bush administration compounded that error with its failure to admit the existence of the insurgency, let alone plan for it, and its failure to provide adequate resources...Senior administration officials made matters worse with their arrogant statements about the war and the troops' plight----such as when then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz casually dismissed then-Gen. Eric Shinseki's troop predictions as 'wildly off the mark,' or when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld glibly told troops scavenging for vehicle armor in Kuwait that 'you go to war with the army you have.'"

Finally, voices are being heard questioning the aggressive use of American power abroad in the post-Cold War world, when who is an enemy is less than clear, and who is a friend is also uncertain. Republicans, who took the country to war in Iraq with the acquiescence of Democrats, seem particularly torn.

"A real challenge for the Republicans as they approach 2016 is what will be their brand?" said Richard N. Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former aide to the first President Bush. "The reason Rand Paul is gaining traction is overreaching in Iraq. What he is articulating...is an alternative."

The growing split in the Republican Party could be seen at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told the conference that the filibuster he conducted earlier in the month over the Obama administration's drone policy was aimed at the limits on presidential power and American power abroad. "No one person gets to decide the law," he said.

Neo-conservatives----the ones who led the country to war in Iraq and promoted the false notion of weapons of mass destruction in Baghdad---are concerned about voices such as Rand Paul. Dan Senor, the spokesman in Iraq for the Bush administration and a prominent neo-conservative voice, who now urges an attack on Iran, warned of a push to reorient the party toward a "neo-isolationist' foreign policy. That policy, he said, "is sparking discussion among conservative donors, activists and policy wonks about creating a political network to support internationalist Republicans."

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), another strong supporter of both the invasion of Iraq and a strike against Iran, another country which has not attacked us, has dismissed Sen. Paul and those who agree with him as "wacko birds." Other Republicans, however, have praised Paul and his filibuster. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) joined the filibuster.Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican Party, said Paul was "able to capture some national attention in standing up to the president. My view is that he is an important voice in our party."

Sen. Paul calls himself a "realist," not a neoconservative---and not an isolationist. "This is a divide that has been festering and deepening for a generation," said Thomas Donnelly, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, says: "You are starting to see a bit of the split between the libertarian-leaning lawmakers and essentially what you see as defense hawks. We are a war-weary nation. While the GOP is still seen as the national defense party, what you are seeing is a rising trend of libertarianism. You are also seeing the Republican Party reset on where it is on national security. Essentially what the libertarians are saying is, 'Hey, we have to be more careful about the future because we've just been through 10 years of war here.'"

Isolationism is a dangerous policy both for the U.S. and for the world, as is interventionism---especially based upon false premises, when U.S. interests and world peace are not directly involved.

Some neoconservatives are prepared to go to war haphazardly, as we did, at their urging, in Iraq, Embracing that philosophy has hardly proven wise---for the Republican Party or the country. But not taking a leadership role in the world is not a legitimate option for the U.S. It would make us---and the world---far less stable and secure.

As THE ECONOMIST points out, "Not every problem is solved by America noisily taking charge. A sharper critique, as advanced in a new national-security strategy from the Project for a United and Strong America, a bipartisan group of ex-envoys and senior officials, compares the emerging world order to a fiercely competitive marketplace, in which Americans must invest, via engagement, to defend the open, rules-based international order vital to American interests."

With regard to the posture being taken by President Obama, THE ECONOMIST argues that, "Speaking softly suits Mr. Obama. His desire to see other powers stop free-riding on American security guarantees is understandable. In a world of shifting power balances, it is sensible to appeal to the self-interests of others, especially after the over-reach of the Bush era. But he is taking a risk. Step back too far from big sticks, and when America speaks it may not be heard."

Finally---ten years after the misguided invasion of Iraq--- a real debate seems to be starting about what America's role in the post-Cold War world should be. All of us will benefit from such a debate, It is long overdue.


Salem-News.com contributor Allan C. Brownfeld received his B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary, his J.D. degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary and his M.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. He has served on the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia, and the University College of the University of Maryland.

The recipient of a Wall Street Journal Foundation Award, Mr. Brownfeld has written for such newspapers as THE HOUSTON PRESS, THE RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH, THE WASHINGTON EVENING STAR and THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. For many years he wrote three columns a week for such newspapers as THE PHOENIX GAZETTE, THE MANCHESTER UNION LEADER, and THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. His weekly column appeared for more than a decade in ROLL CALL, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have appeared in such journals as THE YALE REVIEW, THE TEXAS QUARTERLY, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, ORBIS and MODERN AGE.

Mr. Brownfeld served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and was the author of that committee's 250-page study of the New Left. He has also served as Assistant to the Research Director of the House Republican Conference and as a consultant to such members of Congress as Reps. Phil Crane (R-Il) and Jack Kemp (R-NY) and to the Vice President of the United States.

He is a former editor of THE NEW GUARD and PRIVATE PRACTICE, the journal of the Congress of County Medical Societies and has served as a Contributing Editor AMERICA'S FUTURE and HUMAN EVENTS. He served as Washington correspondent for the London-based publications, JANE'S ISLAMIC AFFAIRS ANALYST and JANE'S TERRORISM REPORT. His articles regularly appear in newspapers and magazines in England, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and other countries. You can write to Allan at abrownfeld@gmail.com



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Anonymous April 2, 2013 9:09 am (Pacific time)

The Obama regime is completely incompetent, even worse that Carter, and Clinton. All the war-related dead going back to 1992 to the present is because of Clinton. We need to have Rumsfield and Cheney back in leadership to get us out of this dangerous situation. We are now having hordes of illegals crossing the border because of Obama's feckless policies. All they do when caught is say "I want a hearing" and they have to let them go with a promise to show up in court onsome future date. Some experts think in excess of 100,000 trained terrorists have set up here, just waiting for the word to attack. Here on this site you are focused on everything but national security and the economy. You are like Nero fiddling. You think any of the things you are concerned about even make a priority list of national concern? You take care of national concerns first then deal with your grievances. Of course, you will ignore at your peril about the illegals thinking they are here to assimilate...yeah, right. So how come the left wants to take away your ability to protect yourselves? Expect food shortages, medical services reduced, and extreme violence in the urban areas. Many of you are going to die at the hands of these illegals, and just compare and contrast their growing crime rates now. Canada is going to become much larger in population, but then, they are simply a bedroom community of America anyway.

Anonymous March 27, 2013 2:36 pm (Pacific time)

No doubt it's difficult to debate those on the left mainly because their narrative is essentially based on fantasy and hate. It is so easy to confront them with facts, then they attempt to distract, which they cannot do when in a public forum where they have the same rules as their conservative opponents, aka Americans. Here is a brief list that instantly exposes the hate coming from the left. All below statements are public record. Try to have a similar list coming from conservatives. Face it, you have to lie and obfuscate. What kind of life is it when you finally realize it is you liberals who are the real haters and destroyers of lives? That is the reason the MSM is going away and why liberals are getting smaller in size everyday. They will kill to stay in power, which means they ultimately will be one with the food chain. "
25 Examples of Liberal Racism in Quotes:(Liberals own hate and love to use it).

1) "(Obama’s) a nice person, he’s very articulate this is what’s been used against him, but he couldn’t sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic." -- Dan Rather

2) “White folks was in the caves while we [blacks] was building empires … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it." -- Al Sharpton

3) "‘Hymies.’ ‘Hymietown.’" -- Jesse Jackson’s description of New York City while on the 1984 presidential campaign trail.

4) "A few years ago, (Barack Obama) would have been getting us coffee." -- Bill Clinton to Ted Kennedy

5) "The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington and meets with the puppet in the White House. He then goes down Pennsylvania Avenue and meets with the puppets in Congress. The Israeli leader then 'brings back millions of dollars' in aid to Israel." -- Ralph Nader

6) "(Harry Reid) was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." -- Harry Reid's comments reported by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

7) "I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia [Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klan recruiter] that he would have been a great senator at any moment. . . . He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this nation." -- Former Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd (D.,Conn.)

8) “Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them.” -- Mary Frances Berry, former Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights

9) "Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness." -- Mary Frances Berry, former Chairwoman, US Commission on Civil Rights

10) “Well, because the Arabs who were involved in 9/11 cooperated with the Zionists, actually. It was a cooperation. They gave them the perfect excuse to denounce all Arabs. It’s a racist sort of thing, really racist – you know, picking out these 19 or 20 terrorists – they were terrorists – and saying all the Arabs are like them.” — Former Democratic Senator James Abourezk on Hizbullah TV

11) "Let me see one of you adopt one of those ugly black babies." -- Abortionist Ashutosh Ron Virmani

12) “There’s no great, white bigot; there’s just about 200 million little white bigots out there.” -- USA Today columnist Julienne Malveaux

13) "Them Jews aren’t going to let (Obama) talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he’ll talk to me in five years when he’s a lame duck, or in eight years when he’s out of office. …They will not let him talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is.” -- Jeremiah Wright

14) "There’s white racist DNA running through the synapses of his or her brain tissue. They will kill their own kind, defend the enemies of their kind or anyone who is perceived to be the enemy of the milky white way of life." -- Jeremiah Wright

15) "The white man is our mortal enemy, and we cannot accept him. I will fight to see that vicious beast go down into the lake of fire prepared for him from the beginning, that he never rise again to give any innocent black man, woman or child the hell that he has delighted in pouring on us for 400 years.” -- Louis Farrakhan

16) “White people shouldn’t be allowed to vote. It’s for the good of the country and for those who’re bitter for a reason and armed because they’re scared.” -- Left-wing journalist Jonathan Valania

17) "(Joseph Lowery) said that when he was a young militant, he used to say all white folks were going to hell. ...'Then he mellowed and just said most of them were. Now, he said, he is back to where he was.’" -- The Daily Mail quotes Joseph Lowery, who gave the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration

18) "We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is…We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way." -- Helen Thomas

19) “You cannot go to a 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian Accent.” -- Joe Biden

20) “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” -- Joe Biden

21) "I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street." -- Spike Lee

22) “I want to go up to the closest white person and say: ‘You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing’ and then slap him, just for my mental health.” — New York City Councilman, Charles Barron

23) "We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go." -- Marion Barry

24) “The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person…” -- Barack Obama

25) “That’s just how white folks will do you. It wasn’t merely the cruelty involved; I was learning that black people could be mean and then some. It was a particular brand of arrogance, an obtuseness in otherwise sane people that brought forth our bitter laughter. It was as if whites didn’t know that they were being cruel in the first place. Or at least thought you deserving of their scorn.” -- Barack Obama

Anonymous March 27, 2013 4:52 am (Pacific time)

I didn't make that information up. I am sorry I forgot to put the link. See: http://www.studentnewsdaily.com/conservative-vs-liberal-beliefs/

Anonymous March 26, 2013 10:45 pm (Pacific time)

By Liberal, don't you really think that the political definition is better thought of along the following lines (whihc differ from your definition!)

Liberals believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights. Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need. Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems.
Conservatives believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense. Believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems.

Limited government like the war in Iraq?  The GOP makes one move and it costs what the people who want the govt. to help the poor go through in 20 years.  In truth the amount of tax dollars that help the poor is very very small, look at it if you don't believe me, our tax dollars go to defense spending, so people like Cheney can make bank exploiting all of us.  The use of 'big government' versus small is only true if the Repubs have control, they are the biggest exploiters of our resources and people.

Anonymous March 26, 2013 10:39 pm (Pacific time)

"In the United States liberalism is associated with the welfare-state policies of the New Deal program of the Democratic administration of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, whereas in Europe it is more commonly associated with a commitment to limited government and laissez-faire economic policies." See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism

Anonymous March 26, 2013 10:34 pm (Pacific time)

Can you point me to an objective source that mirrors your definition of "liberal"?  I cannot find it on the Internet. Wikipedia doesn't seem to have such a simple meaning.


Definition of LIBERAL

a : of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts <liberal education>
b archaic : of or befitting a man of free birth
a : marked by generosity : openhanded <a liberal giver>
b : given or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal>
c : ample, full
obsolete : lacking moral restraint : licentious
: not literal or strict : loose <a liberal translation>
: broad-minded; especially : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms
a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism
b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives
lib·er·al·ly adverb
lib·er·al·ness noun


Anonymous March 26, 2013 5:45 pm (Pacific time)

In the 20th Century we had WWI (liberal Wilson; WWII we had FDR and Truman, plus the seeds of the Vietnam War were planted; Korean War, we had Truman; and then came LBJ and Vietnam. Of course when you tally up the dead from far leftist/big strong central governments, we had well over 100 million killed. Then when the democrats pulled the funding needed for South Vietnam to at least have a chance, we then had the domino effect all through out SE Asia where who knows how many millions died. It is true that "W" ordered the attack on Iraq, which was after nearly twenty UN Resolutions and years of having a no fly zone war going on. The senate and House democrats called for invasion during the Clinton Administration. Who knows what non-public intelligence was not available. We certainly knew that Saddam killed thousands with WMD's, and was developing other WMD programs. But let's do a tally? The 20 Century wars with the Iraqi invasion. Understanding the flow of history can always be interpreted differently, but ultimately we can see who the Commander in Chief was during the onset of war. I encourage you to take off your blinders and then you may see that it is conservatives that built this country and who have kept it safe. It was reported today that Obama is on his 4th family vacation of 2013, you see leadership coming from him? I see weakness and future conflicts of the largest magnitude in history. I hope I'm wrong, but I simply know how the world really works, not pie in the sky dreaming while blaming those who actually help keep you fed and relatively safe.

OK Mr. troll man or woman, there were no WMD's in Iraq, OK? You will not be allowed to post if you write things like that, look for fiction sites, that would be a better fit, thank you.

Anonymous March 26, 2013 4:33 pm (Pacific time)

So all Reublicans who believe in social justice and values the notion of helping others can be defined as liberal?

And when did this site become a Jesus Christ waving site? Should I be concerned, because I want information that is not tainted by religious ideology.

There are plenty of liberal republicans, and conservative democrats.  We rally for all religions, for fairness and  peace, we don't just wave for Christ, however cool of a historical figure one may view him as.  

Anonymous March 26, 2013 2:18 pm (Pacific time)

What is a liberal? Can you define what that means, because I do not know. I DO KNOW that it causes a lot of people to get the panties in a bind when they don't like being called one or if they don't like the term being disparaged. Jesus was a liberal? I am completely lost now...

A liberal believes in social justice; and values the notion of helping others; most don't believe in huge wealth and do not mind sharing.   Jesus was an unwavering liberal; he believed in no war, even under terrible oppression and occupation.  He believed in turning the other cheek, and loving your enemies.  Your confusion is not your fault, it is that of your church and government.  In reality, most people who call themselves Christian have not the slightest acceptance of what Christ taught, it is the same as Muslims killing in the name of God even though THE one God prevents this at all times.  Heck, the right wing Christian churches even modified 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' to 'Thou Shalt Not Murder' in order to justify their killings, which stand in direct and stark opposition to everything Christ represented, hope that helps.

Anonymous March 26, 2013 1:11 pm (Pacific time)

Actually it's the "liberals" that get America involved in wars. Just look at the historical record. Millions are dead, and millions more suffered because of liberal policies and attacks on countries that were not harming America. Oh sure you on the left don't like the facts, but it is what it is.

That is the biggest line of horse manure I have ever read, "liberals get America involved in wars".  Really, you have no business commenting if you believe that.  Is 'W' a liberal?   I know Jesus was.

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