Republicans re-think hawkish foreign policy

(By Deutsche Welle) Recent congressional debate over counterterrorism and Syria has revealed deep fault lines among Republicans on national security. The party that launched the Iraq war has taken a noticeably isolationist turn.

The Republican Party once won elections on national security. Back in 2004, incumbent George W. Bush maligned his Democrat opponent John Kerry as a weak “flip-flopper” on the Iraq war, convincing voters that the Republican ticket would lead America decisively during the “war on terror.”

But after more than a decade of war, Americans have become increasingly critical of Bush-era foreign policy decisions. According to the pollster Gallup, 53 percent of Americans now believe the Iraq war was a mistake. And although 66 percent of Republicans still stand by the invasion, nearly a third of the party now regrets the misadventure.

“There really is a kind of international commitment fatigue among the general public and that includes a lot of Republicans,” Colin Dueck, the author of Hard Line: The Republican Party and US Foreign Policy since World War II, told DW. “It’s just simply the case the people are in no mood in this country for further military interventions overseas.”

One of the more stunning foreign policy confessions came recently from an old GOP warhorse, former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich. A foreign policy hawk who led Republicans to congressional dominance in the mid-90s, Gingrich also ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

“I am a neoconservative,” Gingrich told the Washington Times, referring to the hawkish wing of the Republican Party. “But at some point, even if you are a neoconservative, you need to take a deep breath to ask if our strategies in the Middle East have succeeded.”

“It may be that our capacity to export democracy is a lot more limited than we thought,” he said.

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America’s top general warns of day after Syria intervention

(By Deutsche Welle) America’s top military officer has laid out the options for a US military intervention in Syria, with the financial costs. The general has warned that the US should be wary of what happens after military action.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has clearly outlined to US congressional leaders the risks associated with a fourth major military intervention in a Muslim country, warning that using lethal force in Syria’s sectarian conflict would be “no less than an act of war” and Washington “should be prepared for what happens next.”

In a tense exchange last week, US Senator John McCain – one of the most prominent hawks in Congress – had asked General Dempsey whether or not the US should launch a military intervention in Syria. Dempsey demurred, saying that only America’s elected leaders could answer such a question. In response, McCain moved to block Dempsey’s nomination for a second term as America’s top military officer.

On Monday, Dempsey answered McCain’s question in a letter submitted to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin. Dempsey laid out an array of military options for the US in Syria, ranging from training the opposition to securing buffer zones with ground troops along the Turkish and Jordanian borders.

“This is in many ways on the one hand the by-product of pressures from Congress and interests groups in Washington and abroad to at least get some visibility on what the US interagency environment is thinking, especially the Department of Defense, on military issues,” Aram Nerguizian, an expert on Mideast strategy with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told DW.

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