Since the Vietnam era, anti-war protests have mostly been associated with liberals. Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans, typically have been pro-military and supported a strong defense. That’s changed since the Iraq War.
In Oklahoma, an anti-war rally scheduled for July is being touted by state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, who will rarely be confused with Jane Fonda. The rally, to be held at the Capitol, opposes U.S. intervention in Syria, declaring that it’s “Not Our War!” The Syrian conflict is an “intractable civil war” and “none of our business,” Wesselhoft says. He warns that arming Syrian rebels commits the United States to “a proxy war with Russia.”
The Syrian crisis has no easy, tidy solution. Many Syrian rebels are linked with anti-American terrorist organizations, so their success wouldn’t necessarily benefit the United States. But the alternative may be to allow Russia and Iran to increase their influence in a Syrian state that possess and uses chemical weapons. It’s safe to say that anything that helps the ayatollahs of Iran further their ambitions for nuclear weapons, regional dominance and weakening of U.S. power won’t benefit Americans.
Wesselhoft and many libertarian-leaning GOP lawmakers are increasingly embracing isolation as their default foreign affairs policy. This attitude was strongly rejected by Ronald Reagan as president, but was embraced by the GOP in the 1920s and 1930s. Republicans should recall the real-world outcome of those two approaches before retreating from the Reagan model.