McConnell Cannot Stop the Non-Interventionist Tide

Even Republican stalwarts like current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are starting to notice that something is shifting in the party. While McConnell announced recently that he would step down as Republican leader in the US Senate, in an interview last week he was adamant that he would continue to serve out his term in the Senate with one purpose in mind: “fighting back against the isolationist movement in my own party.”

He sounds worried.

What McConnell deems to be “isolationism” had for much of our history been called America’s traditional foreign policy. There have been major exceptions, but until the emergence of the neoconservatives starting in the late 1970s we largely adhered to the words of John Quincy Adams that America, “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

Why is that? The idea had always been that we would have more influence on freedom worldwide by concentrating on demonstrating the benefits of a free-market economy and protection of our Constitutional liberties at home. The US would lead the world by example rather than leading at the barrel of a gun.

When we strayed from that idea we got disasters like Vietnam.

But then in the 1980s, the neoconservatives seized control of the foreign policy of the Republican Party (and eventually much of the Democratic Party). They were determined to remake the world in their image through the use of force.

The military-industrial complex and all the special interests loved this takeover because it meant a huge transfer of wealth from the middle class to them, the moneyed class. The American people at first accepted the hollow promises of the interventionist neocons, believing as they were told that it was the “patriotic” thing to do.

What we are now seeing – and it is evident in the polls as well as in speeches of our politicians – is a shift away from interventionism. The mood has changed, and more Americans are tired of being told they must sacrifice to save the rest of the world from itself.

Recently Col. Douglas Macgregor posted on Twitter, “We have lost $14 TRILLION over the last 20 year on dumb interventions in other countries. What good has it done?”

Many Republicans are asking that same question. What have we gotten for the first $100 billion to Ukraine? A victory for “freedom” like we were promised? No. We got rampaging inflation, decreasing standard of living, and demands for another $100 billion!

What did we get for the trillions we spent in the 20-year war in Afghanistan? Peace and democracy in the region? Hardly. As it’s often said, we spent 20 years in Afghanistan replacing the Taliban with the Taliban. All the money wasted, all the lives destroyed, all the blood spilled over 20 years and the interventionists achieved nothing. Worse than nothing.

Speaker Mike Johnson is facing serious pressure from House Republicans over his desire to keep spending on overseas intervention. That’s one reason the “national security supplemental” foreign aid bill has not been brought to the Floor. All of a sudden interventionism is a loser with more of the American people, and politicians are paying attention.

McConnell may think that he can stem the tide by preaching more intervention, but not even the Senate Republican leader can stop an idea whose time has come.

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