Good news and bad news: market research confirms most Americans side to one degree or another with former Congressman Ron Paul’s foreign policy. Bad news? The neo-cons are still at the switch.
In 2003, with flags flying and trumpets blaring, opinion polls showed some 60 percent of Americans supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. As doubts about the war became facts, public opinion polls showed a majority opposed the war within two years and that remains the case today. Last year, one survey revealed that 54 percent of Americans believed the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq right from the start, while just 38 percent said the military incursion was a good idea. Still, the bi-partisan military-industrial complex isn’t budging. In a 2012 address to the Democratic National Committee, President Obama concluded, “Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did.” According to an April 1, 2014 report in Time magazine however, there were 133 U.S. military killed in action and 23,565 Iraqi civilian deaths since the President’s “peace is at hand” proclamation.
President Obama’s 2013 promise of having a “specific plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2014,” recently morphed into a guarantee withdrawal by 2016 — 20 days before he leaves office. However, in a November 2013 survey, just over half of U.S. voters wanted all troops out of Afghanistan by 2014 and no military personnel left behind for support or training. A month before, another poll revealed that only 19 percent of Americans thought we could win the war in Afghanistan.
In July and again in December of last year, ABC News/Washington Post polled the question, “Considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, or not?” In both studies, 66 percent of Americans thought the military excursion was not worth it.
However, the neo-con war machine slouches forward. Retired General Robert Scales, a FOX News Channel military analyst, maintains, “A small residual American force of 10,000 will be able to operate about three small bases near the Pakistani border. Drones would be dispatched from these camps to keep an eye on the enemy. Should military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities be necessary, an American Afghan base would be the ideal tactical ‘lily pad’ from which to launch and recover American strike forces.”
Wars and rumors of wars have left Americans cynical, depressed, and broke (last year a study issued from Harvard University tallied the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at somewhere between four and six trillion dollars — and counting.) The public knowingly or unknowingly, seeks a foreign policy based on John Adams’ admonition that, “We do not go abroad in search for monsters to destroy.” Consider:
- Seventy percent of Americans believe the Navy’s primary mission is to protect and defend the United States. Only 20 percent prefer having the Navy serve as a global force for good.
- Rasmussen Reports finds that 48 percent of poll respondents believe the United States is too involved in the affairs of other countries but just 33 percent think the current level of U.S. involvement around the globe is about right.
- A 2012 survey showed that 51 percent of Americans want all U.S. troops withdrawn from Europe.
The Washington power elites won’t have any of it. Bill Kristol asserts, “A war-weary public can be awakened and rallied,” adding, “events right now are doing the awakening. All that’s needed is the rallying. And the turnaround can be fast.”
And so on to Syria. According to Mother Jones magazine (“How to Be a Good Neocon When It Comes to Syria”), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) maintains that, “there’s a growing consensus in the U.S. Senate that the United States should get involved.” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate intelligence committee, says, “Action must be taken.” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi also claims, “I myself think that we have tolerated for too long all of the assaults on the Syrian people made by its own government. I think we have to take it to the next step.”
But respondents to a CBS/NY Times poll reject that idea. A majority of Democrats, Republicans, and independents hold the opinion that the U.S. does not have a stake in the conflict in Syria: 62 percent of Americans say the United States does not have a responsibility to intervene.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on its polling which revealed that the percentage of Americans who want their government to be “less active” in world affairs has quadrupled over the past 13 years. The Washington Post wrote about the survey (“What if Rand Paul is right about foreign policy?”) and noted, “The party breakdowns on the questions are even more revealing. Nearly half of all Democrats and Republicans (45 percent for each) say that the U.S. should be less active in world affairs. A whopping six in ten political independents feel that way.”
Political honchos and social scientists agree that survey findings and poll results can be confusing, even contradictory. But when a variety of credible researchers come up with the same results, as noted above, there can be a trickle up effect in public policy and politics. In 2008 and 2012, presidential candidate Ron Paul moved from the outer limits to a worthy debater. Anti-war Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) recently fended off a war hawk primary opponent backed by the Israel lobby and the establishment GOP. Mark Sanford (R-NC), one of the most reliable libertarian-leaning Republicans in the House, has no opponent. Rand Raul protégé, Congressman Tom Massie (R-KY), will win re-election. Justin Amash (R-MI), representing a Democrat leaning congressional district, faces a well-funded “mainstream” GOP primary opponent, but is way ahead in the polls. Amash is often referred to as “the next Ron Paul.”
The trickle up tremors may have even reached White House speechwriters. In President Obama’s recent address to the United States Military Academy at West Point he stated, “Today, according to self-described realists, conflicts in Syria or Ukraine or the Central African Republic are not ours to solve. And not surprisingly, after costly wars and continuing challenges here at home, that view is shared by many Americans.”
Peter Gemma has been published in a variety of venues including USA Today (where more than 100 of his commentaries have appeared), Military History, the DailyCaller.com, The Washington Examiner, and the EconomicPopulist.org