Is there an America-First enemy of interventionism among the presidential candidates?

“All this seems to show that change of ministers amounts to nothing. One goes out, another comes in, and still the same measures, vices, and extravagance are pursued. It signifies not who is minister. The defect lies in the system. The foundation and the superstructure of the government is bad. Prop it as you please, it continually sinks into court [authoritarian] government, and ever will.”

Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791-92

Even in the midst of his destabilizing intoxication with the French Revolution’s madness, Thomas Paine still was able to peer into the future and accurately describe the state of the U.S. government and the republic’s political system in 2016. And no truer words could be spoken about contemporary America’s foreign-policy disaster than Paine’s point that the “defect lies in the system. The foundation and the superstructure of the government is bad. Prop it as you please, it continually sinks into court [authoritarian] government, and ever will.”

In his recent State of the Union address, for example, President Obama asserted that the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and the Islamist movement do not pose an existential threat to the United States. Obama would have been 100-percent correct — if he had been speaking when al-Qaeda declared war on the United States in 1996.

The reason that the Islamists are now, without question, an existential threat lies in the war-causing interventionism of the past four presidents and their administrations, as well as their cowardly refusal to win the wars they started. Of the four, Obama stands out for special condemnation, as no single Muslim could have done more to promote the confidence, geographic spread, and numerical growth of the Islamist movement. It is these national government actions that have motivated and nurtured the Islamists, and they will remain and grow further as an existential threat to the United States until the citizenry elects a president who puts America first by calling a halt to unnecessary overseas interventionism, and engages in wars only when America is attacked or narrowly defined U.S. national interests are at clear and indisputable risk.

I have written here previously that twenty years into this religious war, the American people have come to the point where they really only have two credible options if they are to avoid an endless war with Islam and defend their republic and themselves.

  1. The United States can break the Islamic State’s back by destroying its energy, educational, agricultural, transportation, electrical, medical, and industrial infrastructures and the other money-making assets it controls in Syria and Iraq, and — and if we wait much longer — probably Libya. After doing this, the U.S. government can withdraw all of its military assets from the region, announce that U.S. forces are not coming back to save anyone’s bacon, and advise the sixty-plus other countries in Obama’s coalition to align with the Saudi coalition and destroy the remaining Islamists. Because the Saudis and their coalition support most of the non-IS Islamists — and probably some of the IS ones — this scenario will quickly lead to a regional Sunni-Shia war in which our enemies will merrily kill each other until well after the cows come home.
  2. The United States can avoid the foregoing effort and expense by stepping out of the region right now and letting the Islamist movement and its main enemies in the region move at their own pace, which will take them straight to a regional sectarian war. As this savagery evolves, Americans must do all that is necessary to secure the republic’s position in North America — close borders, deport all illegal aliens, temporarily stop all immigration, etc.

Again, this is not a complicated problem: the United States must utterly destroy the Islamist enemy and then leave the region, or the United States must leave the region and end its unnecessary, war-causing, and always ineffective interventionism and let the Islamists take on their main enemies, Muslim tyrants, Israel, and the Shia.

For twenty-five years, however, the U.S. government has done neither. It has waged war in a half-way (half-assed?) manner and lost two wars, an exercise in foreign-and-military futility that has succeeded in enriching an environment in the Islamic world that is intensely anti-U.S. government, yielding enormous growth in the Islamist movement, and convincing many millions of Muslims that the mujahideen can win because their success so far demonstrates Allah’s approval of their efforts.

Given America’s limited options and with time to make a choice running short, the 2016 presidential election is acutely important because it may be the last chance for Americans to make the choice described above before getting sucked into catastrophe in the Middle East. Sadly, only one of the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates seems to offer anything other than more of the same war-causing measures. Let’s have a look.

  • Hillary Clinton: Long a Neoconservative, a cultural/political/military interventionist, and a war-causing democracy monger. She favors the war-causing expansion of NATO, and is willing to see U.S. Marines and soldiers killed and maimed to install her version of feminism abroad. She is an unquestioning supporter of Israel and on the payroll of the Israel-First lobby. She and Obama are responsible for the Libyan invasion, which in a year or so will produce the same kind of problems — and perhaps worse — as those produced by the Hillary-supported, George W. Bush invasion of Iraq. She also seems to be a chronic liar, an influence peddler, and an enemy of U.S. national security.

Bottom Line: President Hillary Clinton = More war, more Islamist damage to the United States, deeper debt, less liberty, higher taxes, amnesty for illegals, continued open borders, and the potential spectacle of a sitting president and perhaps her husband being convicted and imprisoned for an array of crimes.

  • Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley: These two characters provide the 2016 campaign with a reliable and more than ample supply of the putrid-and-nation killing breath of warmed-over 20th century socialism and communism. Perhaps forgetting how those creeds bred authoritarianism (anyone recall National Socialism in Germany?), one-party rule, the mass murder of dissenters, and the destruction of the economies of Eastern Europe, Central and South America, much of Africa, Russia, India, and China, Sanders and O’Malley represent an enormous step backwards in their effort to make today’s America into the Eastern Europe of the 1950s. Neither seems as corrupt or criminally inclined as Mrs. Clinton, but they offer nothing except a Bolshevik-made blueprint that ensures minority rule and America’s demise. Sanders, in particular, can never be permitted to assume the presidency. But on foreign policy they both are establishment Democrats, they want to make the rest of the world democratic, feminist, and secular and that can only be done — despite Sanders’ claim that he prefers diplomacy — with more and more war.

Bottom Line: President Sanders or President O’Malley = More war, more Islamist damage to the United States, a weaker military, more minority rule, deeper debt, more taxes, less liberty, continued open borders, and more presidential diktats.

  • Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Ben Carson, and Jeb Bush: Given what their statements and websites say about foreign policy, there is not an “outsider” in this bunch, they are all members — actual or aspiring — of the Republican establishment. All are Neoconservatives; all are all-out supporters of Israel and takers of Israel-First campaign funding; all identify Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf and Middle East tyrannies as U.S. allies; all favor what is increasingly likely to be a war-causing expansion of NATO; and all are bone-deep proponents of the senior Bush’s deranged recipe for endless foreign intervention and the wars it causes, the “New World Order.”

Bottom Line: President Cruz, Rubio, Santorum, Huckabee, Fiorina, Kasich, or Bush = More of the same from the Republican establishment; that is, more “America must lead” prattle, more war, more dead Marines and soldiers, more Islamist damage to the United States, deeper debt, less liberty, higher taxes, amnesty for illegals, and continued open borders.

  • Rand Paul: This is the best and most specific conservative candidate on a combination of issues, including the debt, the Federal Reserve, the return of constitutional governing, reducing tax rates, right to life, and protecting the 2nd and 4th Amendments. On foreign policy, however, his website’s softly spoken statements suggest complete support for Israel — which means endless war with Islam — and the continuation of U.S. alliances, apparently meaning an array of Sunni tyrannies on the Arab Peninsula and in the Middle Wast and NATO and its expansionism — which means endless war with Islam and possibly unnecessary conflict with Russia. Perhaps most troubling, the website does not seem to have a discussion of the vital importance of reestablishing a U.S. foreign policy of neutrality and non-intervention; indeed, I could not find those words on the website.

Bottom Line: President Paul = More of the same Republican interventionist foreign policy and so more war, debt, taxes, dead Marines and soldiers, and precious little time to work for the return to constitutional government.

  • Donald Trump: This candidate has given few details about his views on foreign policy, save that he will be tougher on Mexico and China, will deport all illegal aliens and close the border, and will stop making the kind of free trade agreements that kill U.S. manufacturing and so the ability of lower-income Americans to move into the middle class. He also suggested that if America is forced to go to war to defend itself he will use U.S. military forces to annihilate the enemy. He has given no indication that he would intervene abroad unnecessarily or launch offensive wars, like those in Iraq and Libya. All of this sounds good, but he must speak more clearly and with conviction if he wants voters to believe that he will — unlike his Republican and Democratic competitors — make foreign-policy decisions solely on the basis of what is best for America’s relatively few and never abstract national interests. What is most intriguing and encouraging about Trump is that he is not politically correct, he is admirable in his ready combativeness, he speaks like an American not an effete and clueless Ivy-League theoretician, and he is making enemies of America’s most dangerous internal enemies. On the last point, watch Fox’s Brett Baier and his usually excellent “Special Report” each evening and there you will see George Will and Charles Krauthammer twist every question posed to them in a way that permits them to defame and pour vitriol on Trump. And then listen to one of the Grand Masters of disloyal Israel-First-ism, Bill Kristol, who has long passed the apoplectic stage in his hatred of Trump and his staying power in polls of Republican voters. Finally, look at the large number of former U.S. general officers who have endorsed Jeb Bush. These men and their still serving colleagues have lost every war America has fought since VJ Day in 1945, and not one has shown any qualms about getting their young Marines and soldiers killed or maimed in wars they know their president does not intend to win. Overall a candidate that has deliberately and enthusiastically made enemies of the war-mongering and interventionist Republican and Democratic establishments, America’s worst domestic enemies, and a gang of decrepit and lick-spittle generals is surely worth careful, open-minded, and probably favorable consideration.

Bottom Line: President Trump = A chance worth taking.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.