The United States marched into Iraq but rather than being welcomed as liberators, U.S. troops were seen as foreign invaders. Before long, the boast of “Mission Accomplished” rang hollow.
Even more disappointing to the hawks who supported intervention in the Middle East was the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan. Although Americans had been involved in the region long before troops were actually sent — see the movie Charlie Wilson’s War for an account of what the United States did, and why — it was not until the terrorist attack was traced back to elements in that country that we put boots on the ground there.
As it became apparent that U.S. efforts in Afghanistan were not achieving the results Washington wanted, more and more Americans began to realize why that country was called “the graveyard of empires.”
In recent years, the pressure to get out of Afghanistan first came from Democrats, with President Obama leading the way. However, in time more and more Republicans began to agree that it was time to exit. More than a decade had been long enough.
In Alabama’s 1st congressional district, arguably the most Republican district in the state, candidates Bradley Byrne and Dean Young are trying to convince GOP voters that each is more conservative than the other.
Except on Afghanistan.
On that issue, both agree that the United States should remove its troops.
Is the old isolationist element in the Republican Party coming forward and trying to reassert its influence on foreign-policy decisions?
Or are Byrne and Young reflecting the views of the increasingly important libertarian wing of the GOP, a group that is strong among Tea Party supporters?
Whichever the case, and it could be both, this not-so-subtle rebuttal of the Bush/neo-conservative approach to the use of the military to achieve political ends is being heard among rank-and-file Republicans. While the GOP continues to support military spending, where that money is spent is now the issue.
What they are saying is they do not want American treasure (and lives) wasted in overseas adventurism. That is a message both parties need to hear and heed.