The Spectacle Blog

Non-Interventionism or Partisanship?

By on 6.24.11 | 10:45AM

Jonathan Chait raises a worthwhile point about the rise of Republican anti-interventionism:

Republicans have a hawkish faction that supports every military intervention, and Democrats have a liberal faction that opposes every military intervention. But large numbers of both parties make their decision about any particular intervention based on whether they trust the president -- which means whether he's in their party or not.

It's true that some Republicans are sounding anti-interventionist notes now. George W. Bush himself ran in 2000 as an anti-interventionist, attacking the Clinton administration for its nation-building and promising a more "humble" foreign policy. The Republican fear of reckless American intervention disappeared as soon as Clinton did, and it will disappear again as soon as a Republican takes the oath of office.

I concluded my last column on the subject: "It remains to be seen whether this debate will endure -- or last only as long as the Democrats hold the White House." The one thing we don't know, however, is to what extent 9/11 short-circuited the debate that was going on among conservatives in the 1990s. The terrorist attacks played a big role in George W. Bush's abandonment of a "humble foreign policy" and the GOP's embrace of interventionism.

UPDATE: I wrote a column on war and partisanship for the Guardian not long ago.

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