I’ve argued here and elsewhere that we are likely to see Republicans become more willing to oppose military interventions now that we have a Democratic commander-in-chief. Reihan Salam made a similar argument in the Daily Beast. Daniel Larison has a couple of posts up pointing out that some of the Republicans who oppose Obama’s Afghanistan plan hold radically different views about the use of military power than the Ron Paul noninterventionists who dominate the paleocon antiwar right.
This is absolutely true and something that was evident during the 1990s, when most congressional Republicans opposed Bill Clinton’s humanitarian interventions in the Balkans and elsewhere. Some of these Republicans were paleocons giving noninterventionism a new hearing. Some were hawks who preferred to be projecting military power elsewhere. Some were Jacksonians who just didn’t like using the military to perform social work or deliver groceries to starving countries. Other were partisan opportunists who just wanted to oppose anything Clinton did. Consider that at least one of the Republicans who took Clinton to court over Kosovo (alongside Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) later contemplated bombing Mecca under Bush.
These disparate views and motivations did not prevent these Republicans from working together to act as at least a partial brake on Clinton’s military interventions. This has the potential to hold even truer in cases like Afghanistan, where the potential for casualities is vastly higher than during the airstrikes against Serbia. That doesn’t mean that we should expect a plank on Just War theory in the next GOP platform. But it is the flipside to the Democrats being most antiwar at election time under a Republican president.
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