National security is a serious matter. There used to be an unwritten rule that members of Congress would check partisan politics at the door when it came to matters that put the lives of American soldiers on the line, or affect the security of the United States. Despite differences on policy, politics used to take a back seat on these matters.
That rule was the first thing repealed when Barack Obama was elected president. Suddenly, issues relating to national security are no longer weighed on the merits, but rather on what side President Obama is on. Republicans generally have never found a war, an invasion, or a military strike they didn’t like. Republicans have been demanding that the president take action in Syria to support the rebels and overthrow Assad for a year.
For months one after another Republican Senators and Representatives have been on Sunday morning news shows making statements that Obama is weak because he won’t take action in Syria. They have given interview after interview blasting Obama on Syria. They say that Obama is letting Israel down by not taking action. They accused Obama of emboldening Iran and North Korea because he won’t take action against Assad.
Only a few libertarian presidential candidates in Congress have not followed strict Republican talking points. Republicans wanted us to back and arm the rebels, set up a no fly zone, and bomb Syrian airfields and command and control. They made this case repeatedly.
Suddenly last week, Republicans have totally changed their minds on Syria. Even Republicans who never talk to a Democrat have joined the doves on the Democratic side of the aisle. The reason for this sudden metamorphous is that President Obama finally agreed with them. He indicated he was going to order a military strike on Syria because Assad gassed his own people. Republicans went crazy.
The naked political shallowness of Republicans in Washington has never been more apparent than it is over Syria. They have suddenly given Democrats a sure fire way to cut defense spending. They just need to convince Obama to call for doubling the defense budget, and Republicans will turn into the whitest of doves over night, cutting the budget to Carter administration levels.
Republicans have no hard and fast philosophical positions on anything except Obama. Republican politicians view every issue as an opportunity to attack, obstruct, and embarrass Obama even if it means changing positions they have held for decades.
Republicans defended Ronald Reagan for invading Grenada without consulting Congress. They defended George H.W. Bush for invading Panama without asking Congress. They even defended Bill Clinton when he bombed Kosovo without Congressional authorization. Clinton is, the guy they impeached for a sexual encounter, but they gave him high-fives for dropping bombs. It was good for the share price of munitions and aircraft manufacturers.
When George W. Bush wanted a war, Republicans said why not two or three. Anything that helps the military industrial complex is not just ok with Republicans, it is absolutely essential.
Republicans demanded that the first African American president come before Congress on his knees, hat in hand, and beg permission to take action in Syria. They bet the farm that he would defy them and they would have a count for their articles of impeachment in addition to governing while black.
When President Obama announced he would ask Congress to approve a resolution for action is Syria, Republican hawks started are falling from the sky faster than if they were gassed. Democratic doves are delighted. Maybe Republicans just learned Syria does not have oil.
Will Republicans set a precedent of opposing militarism—a precedent that may hurt their campaign war chests in the future? Or, will they be consistent to decades of policy? My guess is that their hatred of Obama is stronger than their love for the military industrial complex and any notion of American exceptionalism in foreign policy. The hawks are about to mate with the doves, but what kind of offspring will result?