I think some of the characterizations of Tom Campbell as “anti-Israel” are over the top. So does David Frum. But I’m afraid Daniel Larison is being equally over the top in pronouncing Campbell a “reliable hawk.” In the House, Campbell led the opposition to the Kosovo war. He pushed for de-linking economic sanctions from the military embargo of Iraq and campaigned on easing sanctions against Iraq in his 2000 Senate campaign.
Campbell did did defend the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, but he was also calling for U.S. withdrawal by 2004. “The day we found Hussein in his spider hole,” Campbell wrote, “is the day we should have announced our phased withdrawal.” And he always opposed nation-building by the U.S. military: “When police arrest a criminal, they don’t occupy a neighborhood for as long as it takes to remedy the social conditions that led to the rise of criminals. Important as that goal might be, it is not the police officers’ role.”
On his campaign website under “national security,” Campbell goes on at length about his opposition to presidential wars and the need to protect congressional war powers under the Constitution. He mentions his vote for the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and his opposition to Kosovo in 1999. Nowhere does he mention Iraq or Afghanistan today.
Campbell does support so-called “crippling sanctions” against Iran. I personally think such sanctions would make war with Iran more likely rather than less, so I oppose them. But if I thought the sanctions could achieve no Iranian nukes with no war, I would support them. At least some supporters of sanctions hold this mistaken belief. Campbell has also said he would support Israeli military action against Iran. But he is not running for Knesset. Both Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul supported Israeli military strikes against the nuclear reactor Saddam Hussein was building in Iraq.
The truth is, Campbell is a mixed bag on a lot of these questions and his record gets even more hopelessly convoluted when you look at fiscal policy. He’s given people who look at these issues from a variety of perspectives good reasons to vote against him if they are looking for any.