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Being one of the many columnists who initially supported the invasion of Iraq under the mistaken impression that Saddam Hussein had violated a ceasefire agreement with the United States (although I did argue that it should not be undertaken in the absence of a declaration of war), I am in no position to criticize Mr. Farah or anyone else for taking a long time to come around to the understanding that the military occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq must come to an immediate end.
Only a very few commentators, such as Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo and WorldNetDaily’s own Pat Buchanan and Ilana Mercer, can truly say that they were opposed from the start to the expensive, unconstitutional and ultimately useless abuses of the American military that have been inflicted upon it by Republican and Democratic commanders in chief over the last nine years. And even fewer opinion writers are man enough to admit in public that their previously expressed opinions were incorrect. Farah, to his credit, is not afraid to do so.
“For the life of me, I cannot begin to understand our objectives in either Iraq or Afghanistan any more. … I admit I was a supporter of both of these campaigns. I was obviously wrong.”
– Joseph Farah, Where are protests of Obama’s wars?, July 22, 2010.
Mr. Farah’s decision to reverse course and come out openly against the ongoing occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq is important because the intellectual leadership of the conservative movement has lagged well behind that of the conservative grass roots. The conservative working-class families that provide the Army, Navy and Marines with its cannon fodder turned against the wars and the repeated tours of duty and involuntary extensions of active-duty service contracts they have required some time ago. It is their children who are exposed to pointless danger, it is their sons who are increasingly committing suicide in despair at being forced to fight a series of seemingly endless wars and it is their taxes that will be dedicated to paying back the billions in debt incurred by those wars for decades to come.
It is not surprising that the neoconservative elements in the conservative media, most of whom have never served in the military and lack any personal connection with those who do, continue to call for more military spending, more troops and more war in countries such as Pakistan and Iran. Their Trotskyite world democratic revolution cannot be realized without war erupting throughout the greater part of the globe. They are rightly recognized as the War Party, regardless of whether they happen to belong to the Democratic Party as they did during the historical ascendancy of the Democrats or the Republican Party as they have for the last three decades.
One of the conservative movement’s great handicaps over the last decade has been that the greater part of the conservative media has made the mistake of following the lead of its neoconservative elements in rejecting the traditional America-first foreign policy in favor of active military interventionism. The so-called “isolationist” Right had it right all along. Neither Saddam Hussein nor the Taliban ever presented one-tenth the danger to Americans that criminal immigrants, legal and illegal, pose to them. And yet the conservative media has been willing to spend more than $1 trillion on replacing a secular socialist government with a radical Shiite one and expelling a Taliban government in favor of one that is merely Taliban-influenced while nonsensically continuing to call for more immigration.
But the fact is that there is absolutely no past or present justification for the invasions of either Afghanistan or Iraq when considered from the perspective of the American national interest. One could make a much more rational national-security case for declaring war against Mexico, Canada or even Honduras. And there is absolutely no justification for the continued military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq nine and seven years on.
In light of Mr. Farah’s conversion to skepticism about the wisdom of foreign military adventures, I have two challenges for conservative opinion leaders. The first is for those who still support the ongoing series of wars. What is the metric by which you believe the wars and their subsequent occupations to be either successes or failures and how do they presently stand against that measure?
The second is for those commentators, like Mr. Farah and myself, who originally supported military action at one point but have since withdrawn their support for it. Should you have supported the only anti-war Republican presidential candidate in 2008, and, more importantly, are you willing to oppose all of the pro-war candidates whose names will be put forward for the Republican nomination in 2012?