One of the many benefits of the Trump candidacy is that his iconoclastic criticism of George W. Bush and the War in Iraq may open the door to a rediscovery of the first principles of our foreign policy as developed by our founding statesmen.
Instead, what we have heard on the so-called Right, are politicians’ exhortations for the U.S. president to “lead”–somewhere with vague objectives and without reference to the military budget; debates over “boots on the ground” vs. airpower in the Middle East; reckless bi-partisan Congressional bankrolling of “moderate” Muslims in the Syrian civil war (resulting in Christian deaths); and no open accounting of what we were doing in Libya (Benghazi in particular) and which members of the Congress had signed off these questionable adventures.
Moreover reports of U.S. efforts to hold Israel back from striking Iran’s nuclear capabilities are particularly troubling.
Donald Trump’s challenge to the validity of the Iraq War has opened a long-overdue public discussion of America’s policies on war and peace from the perspective of our national interest.
Islam scholar (and physician) Dr. Andrew Bostom last Wednesday (click here) examined the “dangerously misguided utopian mindset” that he believes was behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq (see his “WMD or ‘Democratization’? Bush II and the Iraq Invasion”).
“Rancor unleashed by Donald Trump’s allegations during Saturday night’s 2/13/16 South Carolina GOP primary debate has completely obfuscated sober re-assessment of the overriding motivation for the Bush II administration’s March, 2003 invasion of Iraq.
I maintain that dispassionate analysis reveals Iraq was invaded on the basis of a dangerously misguided utopian mindset aggressively inculcated within eight days of the cataclysmic September 11, 2001 jihad terror attacks. Moreover, the abject failure of the Bush II administration to eliminate Iran’s much more tangible nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat—clearly evident before, during, and after the Iraq invasion—objectively validates my argument.”
So what was the driving U.S. policy behind invading Iraq after the Jihadist attacks of September 11, 2001?
Bostom points the finger at what he dubs the “Lewis Doctrine.”
“Notably absent WMD references, Peter Waldman’s methodical, well-sourced Feb 3, 2004 Wall Street Journal investigative report (‘A Historian’s Take on Islam Steers U.S. in Terrorism Fight Bernard Lewis’s Blueprint—Sowing Arab Democracy—Is Facing a Test in Iraq’) stands as important confirmation of the overarching ideology which spurred the March, 2003 Iraq invasion. Waldman meticulously documented how the so-called “Last Orientalist,” nonagenarian professor Bernard Lewis, exerted profound influence in shaping the Bush II administration’s ‘Islamic democracy agenda’—invading Iraq being the sine qua non manifestation of this ‘Lewis Doctrine.’ Lewis, as Waldman notes, began evangelizing his ‘Doctrine’ to the highest level Bush II administration officials just over a week after 9/11, accompanied, significantly, by Ahmad Chalabi, a likely ‘vector’ of Iranian influence.”
Author Bostom continues–
“Eight days after the Sept. 11  attacks, with the Pentagon still smoldering, Mr. Lewis addressed the U.S. Defense Policy Board. Mr. Lewis and a friend, Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi –now [circa 2/2004] a member of the interim Iraqi Governing Council—argued for a military takeover of Iraq to avert still-worse terrorism in the future, says Mr. [Richard] Perle, who then headed the policy board…
Call it the Lewis Doctrine. Though never debated in Congress or sanctified by presidential decree, Mr. Lewis’s diagnosis of the Muslim world’s malaise, and his call for a U.S. military invasion to seed democracy in the Mideast.… As mentor and informal adviser to some top U.S. officials, Mr. Lewis has helped coax the White House to shed decades of thinking about Arab regimes and the use of military power. Gone is the notion that U.S. policy in the oil-rich region should promote stability above all, even if it means taking tyrants as friends. Also gone is the corollary notion that fostering democratic values in these lands risks destabilizing them. Instead, the Lewis Doctrine says fostering Mideast democracy is not only wise but imperative.” (Highlighting Forum’s).
Readers may wish to consider the entirety of Dr. Bostom’s post here.
Congress’s Corker-Cardin Capitulation
In a previous article, Bostom blamed Republican leaders in Congress for not effectively opposing Obama’s dangerous Iran deal.
He presents Congress’s role in the Iran deal as a dereliction of duty to protect the country–a gross example of this Congress’ malfeasance and abdication of power.
Declared Bostom in his “Cruz, Rubio, Paul: All abandoned ‘advice and consent'”–
“By voting for the Corker-Cardin amendment, S.615, ‘Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015,’ all three Republican senators running for president – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul (who just ‘suspended’ his presidential campaign) and Marco Rubio – relinquished their constitutional authority to manage one of the most important global security matters of our time.
Back in March of 2015 I supported the only member of the Senate who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Sen. Tom Cotton, and his March 9, 2015, ‘Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.’ Cotton’s letter, endorsed by 46 other GOP senators, informed the theocratic totalitarians of Iran – and reminded U.S. citizens – that, “In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote.” Commendably, and consistent with the ‘advice and consent’ power of the Senate, Sens. Cruz, Paul and Rubio, co-signed Sen. Cotton’s letter. As signatories to the Cotton letter, these senators and presidential aspirants were cognizant – then – of the anti-constitutional Obama administration approach to such a dangerously destabilizing nuclear ‘agreement,’ shorn of senatorial review and debate, and mandatory two-thirds approval vote by that august body.”
The Blue Ridge Forum also addressed the Corker-Cardin disaster (click here) in our July 15 post “Iran Surrender — Worse Than Munich: Congress Greased The Way By Approving Corker Scheme With Huge Majorities Bigger Than Chamberlain’s in 1938.”
And we remind readers that constitutional scholar Andrew McCarthy termed here the Corker-Cardin scheme a “constitutional perversion” and explained here “Why GOP Congressional Leaders Support the Iran Deal in Fact — Follow the Money.”
First Principles: Drawing Sharp Lines between America’s Business and
That of Others, as Well as between Peace and War
Underlying both Bush’s and Obama’s foreign policy errors is the failure to identify America’s interest in making war and peace.
Many of us know Angelo Codevilla from his magisterial 2010 essay “America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution” (click here) in the The American Spectator: “The only serious opposition to this arrogant Ruling Party is coming not from feckless Republicans but from what might be called the Country Party — and its vision is revolutionary.”
In his 2014 book, Angelo Codevilla has written an essential guide (click here) to putting America’s foreign relations on a wise basis: To Make and Keep Peace: Among Ourselves and with All Nations—
“Achieving ‘a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations’ is statesmanship’s proper goal. It is also naturally indivisible, because peace with foreigners guards tranquillity among fellow citizens and nothing so incites domestic strife and fosters the loss of liberty as do war’s despotic necessities. Domestic harmony is as precarious as it is precious, everywhere. But nowhere as much as in America, our ‘nation of many nations,’ where so much diversity offers so much occasion for division. Nor are any people so jealous of liberty as are Americans. Fear of war’s effect on peace and liberty at home is the reason why our founding statesmen, beginning with George Washington, were willing to sacrifice so much for peace and agonized so deeply over war.”
The thinking of our leaders is quite different today–
“Often do our statesmen contemplate commitments to conflicts, but seldom how to end them in ways that benefit the American people.”
How did we stray from these first principles of foreign relations?
Among later generations of statesmen, however, other concerns gradually obscured that healthy caution. The illusion of serving noble causes by making foreign quarrels our own has lured the past century’s statesmen to abandon their predecessors’ sharp distinction between war and peace and to fight wars mindless of war’s first principle: that it is an extraordinary event conceived to end in peace. The result, intended to be ordinary and permanent, has been violent ‘nation building’ abroad plus ‘homeland security’ in America, enforced by a national security–homeland security complex whose very size fits it for use as an instrument of partisan strife. ‘Peace among ourselves and with all nations’ is beyond the horizon of twenty-first-century American statesmen.”
We cannot know whether America can ever live in peace again, what kind of peace we may win for ourselves, or what peace we may end up having to endure. But we do know that our statesmen and academics have ceased even to think about such things. Our purpose is to rekindle such thoughts.” (Highlighting Forum’s throughout.)
In his review of Codevilla’s book, David P. Goldman (Spengler) catalogues the current consequences our national journey “from hyperpower to hyperventilator”–of a decade of wrong-headed foreign policy (click here) —
“It isn’t just that the emperor has no clothes: the empire has no tailors. In the decade since President George W. Bush’s 2003 ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech, America has gone from hyperpower to hyperventilater. The Obama administration and Republican leadership quibble about the modalities of an illusory two-state solution in Israel, or the best means to make democracy bloom in the Middle East’s deserts, or how vehemently to denounce Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, everything that could go wrong, has. Europe’s frontiers are in play for the first time since the fall of Communism; Russia and China have a new rapprochement; American enemies like Iran have a free hand while traditional American allies in the Sunni world feel betrayed; and China has all but neutralized American sea power within hundreds of miles of its coast.”(Highlighting Forum’s.)
Let’s pray that the Trump Insurgency also spurs ordinary Americans to demand we return to first principles on war and peace.
(Post has been edited since its publishing on February 20, 2016.)