How to Start a War Without Really Trying

If you had the stomach to watch, or even listening, to the Republican presidential candidates debate for the 5th time, you’d have discovered that all but one of these maniacs wants to start World War III. The lone candidate to point out the war mongering idiocy of the policy of a no-fly zone in Syria or carpet bombing “until the sand glows” was Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who only made it onto the main stage because CNN gamed its own rules. Sen. Paul’s response even prompted Charles Pierce of Esquire Politics to suspend his “5 Minute Paul Rule

It began with a question from Wolf Blitzer about deposing dictators and unanticipated consequences, and Tailgunner Ted Cruz jumped on it.

Wolf, I believe in an America first foreign policy, that far too often President Obama and Hillary Clinton—and, unfortunately, more than a few Republicans—have gotten distracted from the central focus of keeping this country safe. So let’s go back to the beginning of the Obama administration, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led NATO in toppling the government in Libya. They did it because they wanted to promote democracy. A number of Republicans supported them. The result of that—and we were told then that there were these moderate rebels that would take over. Well, the result is, Libya is now a terrorist war zone run by jihadists. Move over to Egypt. Once again, the Obama administration, encouraged by Republicans, toppled Mubarak who had been a reliable ally of the United States, of Israel, and in its place, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came in, a terrorist organization. And we need to learn from history. These same leaders—Obama, Clinton, and far too many Republicans—want to topple Assad. Assad is a bad man. Gadhafi was a bad man. Mubarak had a terrible human rights record. But they were assisting us—at least Gadhafi and Mubarak—in fighting radical Islamic terrorists. And if we topple Assad, the result will be ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests. And the approach, instead of being a Woodrow Wilson democracy promoter…

Not long after that, Paul got his teeth right down to the bone of Jeb (!) Bush’s ankle. He was asked if deposing Saddam Hussein—the prize cock-up of the last Bush presidency—was a “pretty good deal” as Jeb (!) once called it, perhaps out of sibling devotion.

These are the fundamental questions of our time, these foreign policy questions, whether or not regime change is a good idea or a bad idea. I don’t think because I think the regime change was a bad idea it means that Hussein was necessarily a good idea. There is often variations of evil on both sides of the war. What we have to decide is whether or not regime change is a good idea. It’s what the neoconservatives have wanted. It’s what the vast majority of those on the stage want. They still want regime change. They want it in Syria. They wanted it in Iraq. They want it in Libya. It has not worked. Out of regime change you get chaos. From the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam. So we get this profession of, oh, my goodness, they want to do something about terrorism and yet they’re the problem because they allow terrorism to arise out of that chaos.

(It was about here where I made the command decision to suspend temporarily The Blog’s five-minute rule on all political commentary by any member of the extended Paul family.)

And it has been an even longer time since a mouthy Republican flexed like Chris Christie did, only to get slapped down by Paul. Big Chicken got a question from a student about the proposed no-fly zone in Syria, and what he would say to Vladimir Putin about the possibility of American planes taking down a Russian jet. Big Chicken got all puffed up.

Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it. A no-fly zone means a no-fly zone, Wolf. That’s what it means. (APPLAUSE) See, maybe—maybe because I’m from New Jersey (ED NOTE: Just bite me, OK?), I just have this kind of plain language hangup. But I would make very clear—I would not talk to Vladimir Putin. In fact, I would talk to Vladimir Putin a lot. But I’d say to him, “Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.” And yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.

Paul, a feisty little bantamweight counterpuncher all night long, saw a bit of an opening, and he tagged Christie with a decent body shot.

Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.

Paul then followed up with a flurry.

My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, “Yes, I’m jumping up and down; I’m going to shoot down Russian planes.” Russia already flies in that airspace. It may not be something we’re in love with the fact that they’re there, but they were invited by Iraq and by Syria to fly in that airspace. And so if we announce we’re going to have a no-fly zone, and others have said this. Hillary Clinton is also for it. It is a recipe for disaster. It’s a recipe for World War III. We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don’t need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war.

You can include Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also supports a no-fly zone over Syria but with the caveat that Russia must be on board. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the other Democratic contender, opposes it but back President Obama’s Syria policies which are only slightly less hawkish than most of the Republicans who want to take Obama’s place.

Paul is very right that this is not the way we should be combating Daesh, or any other extremist group that uses terrorism as a tactic. The problem is that’s about the only issue were Paul has been right.