To the shock of many of his supporters, President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. military to launch tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase after a recent gas attack in Syria. This was a shocking 180 from his inauguration speech just months earlier. One of the main reasons he received a large portion of the liberty movement is because he promised a more sober Foreign Policy.
“‘America First’ will be the major and overriding theme” of his administration, Trump said on inauguration day. “…It is the right of all nations to to put their own interests first.”
Even though the notion of a more non-interventionist policy sounded promising in January, we now see that Trump is following a long line of tradition of preserving the warfare state.
The very following week, he dropped “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan on top of ISIS. And while most cheered at the apparent strength the president is showing, it cannot be ignored that this was done without congressional or constitutional authority.
While Congress did approve an Authorization of use of Military Force (AUMF) in Afghanistan after 9/11, it was limited very specifically to go after those involved in the attacks on 9/11. To try to use this authorization as justification to go after ISIS in Afghanistan is a terrific abuse of authority. Some of those involved with ISIS now would have been children on September 11 and had nothing to do with it. If the President wishes to go after ISIS in Afghanistan, he must seek a new AUMF and have it approved by Congress.
Likewise, in Syria, there was no immediate national security concern, thus the president had no authority to act in the way he did.
President Trump’s actions on the international stage is different from the many promises he made during his campaign. However, to anyone who understands the true nature of budding authoritarians, this should come as no surprise.
Like Trump, President Obama also spoke of a very sober foreign policy as a candidate during the final years of Bush. He was the anti-war candidate to McCain’s hawkish policy in 2008. He promised to end the war in Iraq and find resolve in Afghanistan. What became a reality, we now know, was vastly different from those promises.
While in 2009, we had troops in combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and drone strikes in Pakistan, the military presence today is much wider and messier. At the end of the Obama Administration, there were drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, operations in Iraq and Syria to combat ISIS, and the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan continuing.
Regardless of right-wing pundits saying Obama was weak militarily, the facts tell a different story. President Obama was far from unwilling to get his hands dirty. Many hawks on the right associated the non-interventionist policies of the liberty community with that of Obama’s and dubbed it “isolationism.”
The truth is, President Obama in 2016 alone dropped over 26,000 bombs in his endless and bloody wars. The former president also holds the prize of being the first and only president to be in a perpetual state of war during his entire tenure. This is one part of Obama’s legacy that President Trump now seemingly has no problem upholding.
“After every election, we are deeper in war than we were before.”
Even in 2000, then-candidate George W. Bush had a very different outlook on foreign policy than what we came to associate with him.
During the presidential debates of 2000, Bush rejected the idea of nation building and spoke of a foreign policy with a preference to American interest. Unfortunately, we now know that policy didn’t last very long at all.
I could go on, but I think the point is made.
Every election cycle, America tends to choose the candidate that seems less likely to go to war, yet after every election, we are deeper in war than we were before.
This isn’t just limited to war, however. The same idea can be applied to economics, healthcare, constitutional liberties, and so on. To understand why these seemingly promising candidates continue to return to the same failed ideas, one must understand the underlying philosophy behind them all.
Trump, Clinton, Obama, Bush, McCain, and so many others are united by their philosophy of more government.
This is why, no matter the talking points they may make about a sober foreign policy, more freedom in healthcare, or the protection of constitutional liberties, the devil is always in the details. These kinds of politicians will put an emphasis on American strength and the rule of law, even if it comes at the expense of the constitution or diplomacy. People like Obama will put an emphasis on government protection both at home and abroad, even at the expense of liberty and restraint.
So long as anyone aspiring for greater political power looks to government as their baseline philosophy, they will never uphold their oath to protect the constitution. They will only walk back their optimistic campaign promises for the sake of the growth of government and the warfare state.
Only those who hold liberty, not government, as their core philosophy can we ever hope to set the tone for liberty at home and sanity abroad. If liberty is not part of the core of who they are, you can guarantee they will work to further the goals of the state.