Republican Party

GOP War Against the Insufficiently Pro-War in the GOP


James Antle III at American Conservative sums up some of the opposition facing Republican Party politicians seen by some financiers and interest groups as insufficiently hawkish on foreign policy.

North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones is up against:

a primary challenge from former George W. Bush aide Taylor Griffin—and a barrage of hostile spending from outside groups.

The Emergency Committee for Israel has launched a six-figure ad campaign describing Jones as a convert to liberalism. "Once upon a time, Walter Jones was right for North Carolina but he's changed," says the narrator in the 30-second spot. "Isn't it time your vote changed as well?"

A super PAC formed by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts is also spending$156,000 on ads attacking Jones as some kind of liberal….

As Antle points out, despite developing a dislike for foreign entanglements, Jones remains:

pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-gun, and has compiled one of the most reliable socially conservative records in Congress. He voted to repeal and defund Obamacare. He's also voted against many big-ticket spending items supported by most Republicans, including Bush's deficit-financed Medicare prescription-drug benefit, No Child Left Behind, and last year's farm bill.

Jones' sin, though, is that he has come "to doubt the intelligence used to justify the war and turned sharply against it—and most of the subsequent military interventions pushed by the bipartisan establishment."

Michigan's Justin Amash, Antle points out, is under attack for generally lacking the willingness to go along to get along and being an intransigent contributor to "gridlock" (that is, trying to stop government from doing dumb, unconstitutional things). But his primary challenger, funded by many wealthy Michiganers, Brian Willis is also

quick to pounce on Amash's "bizarre" vote against tightening Iran sanctions. Amash has supported some carefully targeted sanctions against Iran. "Sanctions that are directed toward preventing them from getting weapons of mass destruction, I think those sanctions are useful and helpful in the short run. I'm not sure you'd want to use them for 20 years," he told Reason. "But there are other sanctions that are targeted at the people of Iran. Those are not beneficial to the United States."

Antle goes on to discuss, as Matthew Feeney has written about here at Reason, that Sheldon Adelson thinks Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is bad for Israel and the United States and intends to spend all he must to make sure Paul never becomes the GOP presidential nominee.

Antle's stinging conclusion:

Former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer says of Paul, "there's still a naiveté that's going to be a problem. He represents a departure from something a lot of Republicans are used to."

Hopefully a departure from losing wars and elections.

NEXT: P.M. Wins Second Term and Anti-Semites Enjoy Increased Support in Hungarian Election

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  1. Rand Paul is bad for Israel?

    I guess he shouldn’t run for Prime Miniser of Israel, then.

    Or maybe both countries have a common interest in the U.S. not collapsing under the weight of unsustainable spending. Hard to come to the aid of allies if you’re [bleep]ing bankrupt.

    1. I still cannot fathom the depth to which socially conservative Christians were angry with Ron Paul during the 2012 election over his apparent lack of support for Israel.

      1. I can totally understand it because I grew up around a bunch of christian fundamentalists. If you aren’t for Israel, you hate god, or something like that.

    2. You’d think, eh?

      While I’m distrustful of using psychological diagnoses to define political disagreements, and have generally shied away from the “warboner” analogy, I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that this is the only viable explanation for the stance taken by the hawks. We’re damned near broke. And these guys are chomping at the bit for any pretext they can find to start a war, including wars that, as best I can figure out, work AGAINST our iterests in even the best of circumstances.

      1. Bill, have you ever seen a Communist drink a glass of water? Are you familiar with….fluoridation?

        1. I seriously keep trying to avoid the conclusion that that’s where they’re coming from. And each iteration of this nonsense makes it harder and harder to evade that conclusion.

          Look, I’m not a hard-line anti-war guy. Some people here would probably write me off as a little too hawkish. But, this shit is starting to border on General Ripper batshit crazy. Even if you’re a hawk, isn’t there supposed to be some purpose and geostrategic goal to your hawkishness?

          1. You seem confused Bill. Let me clear it up for you, it is real simple.

            You get elected and if there is no war going on, you start one. Then you award zillions of dollars in contracts for supplying the military with ammo and biofuel, or plywood for reconstruction efforts, or oilfield construction and maintenance or…whatever….to your supporters and cronies. Said cronies and supporters then pour rivers of money into your re-election.

            In the end you and your clic get fabulously rich by looting the treasury.

            All the noise you hear about foreign policy, democracy abroad is blather to cover for what you are really doing.

            If you think that is too cynical then I would point out that the more cynical I get the more often I find that I am proven right.

            1. I would point out that the more cynical I get the more often I find that I am proven right.

              It’s not a foregone conclusion, but that is definitely the best bet at being right.

              If you want to be more optimistic, then there is nothing wrong with that, but cynicism gives you the best shot at being right in these screwed up times.

          2. The goal of the NeoCons (and shared by the Progs in no small measure) is to use as many bombs and bullets as it takes to turn Hung Duck Dong and Rama Lamading Dong into Todd and Marsha from Ohio.

            1. I’d like to think that. That would be innocent by comparison. But, if that were the case, why the hell would they be out to replace Assad (a douche, but a reasonably rational actor) with Al Quaeda? Why would they look to pick a fight with Putin? You’d think the transformation of the world would be served by a stability fetish.

              1. Why get rid of Saddam? Say what you like about his rule of Iraq but the country was at least stable. It ain’t no more, providing a wonderful excuse to continue involvement. If they wanted to be sinister, it’s a good way to go about it.

                Syria is pretty much the same. A destabilized regime with a hostile faction involved provides a better excuse than a stable, if unfriendly regime.

        2. Stop sapping my essence.

      2. Its not like we steal all their treasure and parade through the street in a Triumph. At least that gave a motive to being warlike.

        1. Well sure there’s a motive: with a war, they don’t have to pay the co-pay on their Viagra.

    3. It’s amazing that in order to become president of the United States, you must first pledge your allegiance to the state of Israel.

    1. “He says it would be a disaster, it would be vastly expensive, it would be civil war, we’d have no exit strategy. He goes on and on for five minutes?Dick Cheney saying it would be a bad idea,” Paul said. “And that’s why the first Bush didn’t go into Baghdad. Dick Cheney then goes to work for Halliburton. Makes hundreds of millions of dollars?Their CEO. Next thing you know, he’s back in government, it’s a good idea to go into Iraq.”

      Yup. Looks about right to me.

      1. “He says it would be a disaster, it would be vastly expensive, it would be civil war, we’d have no exit strategy.

        It was-after Gulf War I, America was stuck there for a decade. Gulf War II was the exit strategy until it turned into a nation-building debacle.

        1. Fuck off. I’m tired of seeing you.

          1. Sucks for you because I’m not going anywhere.

    2. Every time Rand says something like this on camera I first think “I like this guy” and then I think “That ends his chances”. And yet, he keeps building an audience, and he hasn’t gone away yet.

  2. All of which allows TEAM Blue to continue tarring TEAM Red as the Party of War, despite President Jugears initiating more wars and unrest in foreign lands than his predecessor.

  3. No, no guys. Tell me again how the GOP Establishment is totally going to let Rand sweep aside all of the carefully brokered balances of power they’ve spent year cultivating. This is why Jeb Bush will be promising to name Paul to assistant substitute Secretary for doing nothing in his acceptance speech at the 2016 GOP convention. (Despite what I want.)

    1. “The Emergency Committee for Israel” isn’t exactly the GOP establishment. There’s going to be a big brouhaha in the GOP and this is just the beginning.

    2. It’s certainly a much tougher road to hoe when you’re attempting to realign coalitions. I won’t count him out, but of course these groups are going to strike against him. (Note that Americans for Prosperity is doing a pro-Walter Jones ad buy.)

  4. Michiganers

    Come on, Doherty! We’re Michiganderanianistites! Let’s get it right.

  5. What are Amish’s and Jones’s odds against their opponents?

    If they lose, they should run third party out of spite. It should be a Constitutionalist Scorched-Earth Pact.

    1. Jones is generally pretty popular. Been there since ’94. His father was a Dem in a neighboring/overlapping district (thanks to redistricting) since 1964 or so. Fits his district pretty well.

      Amash is more recent, not sure.

  6. Sheldon Adelson thinks Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is bad for Israel and the United States and intends to spend all he must to make sure Paul never becomes the GOP presidential nominee

    Adelson will fund an attack dog to go after Rand.


    Maybe two of them.

  7. Walter Jones:

    “I think Citizens United was one of the worst decisions by the Supreme Court in my adult lifetime,” the congressman said last year.”…..ary-defeat

    So I’m not sure he is really my kind of guy.

    1. We have to take some bad with some good.

    2. He and his father have held that seat (his father technically the 1st, but redistricting means that his seat includes a lot of his fathers for about fifty years (his father as a Dem; he lost the Dem nomination to replace his dad in the 1st by a small amount.) He’s got a couple things I’m not thrilled with (very against online poker, favors raising the minimum wage), but not unusual for his district. On balance he’s fairly libertarian, good on spending and opposing corporate welfare.

      I think they’ll have a hard time knocking him off.

  8. Look, without constant wars, the serfs might start figuring out that governments have basically become overly bloated parasites, and that we really could do without most of what is now considered government.

    Folks might actually start telling governments to fuck off and stay out of our lives.

    We can’t have that, now can we?

  9. Lest we forget that George W. Bush ran on a foreign policy platform not that different from Paul’s in 2000. The GOP voters were and are always willing to fight for what the consider to be the US interests. That is why they supported the Cold War and why they supported the war on terror.

    But the GOP base and most of America really has never been internationalists or Wilsonians or had any interest in creating the world order. They have only supported such efforts as a consequence of supporting the Cold War and the WOT.

    The Cold War is over, we are out of Iraq and it has been 13 years since 911. You just can’t use the WOT the way Bush did in 02 and 04. Anyone who thinks they are going to kill the Paul candidacy because he is “bad for Israel” or “will lead to the end of the UN and world governing order” is fucking delusional.

    You guys won’t believe me because you think Bill Kristol is representative of even a small percentage of actual Republican voters. You are wrong. Bill Kristol used the WOT to get the GOP to buy into his ideas as a way to fight it. Without the need to go and fight the WOT or the Cold War, the GOP voters don’t give a shit about the things Kristol and the rest of them do. Consequently, these attacks are going to help Paul not hurt him.

    If the best argument against Paul the GOP can come up with is “he won’t go to war for Ukraine or try to fix Syria”, you might as well give Paul the nomination now.

    1. I believe you, but unlike a lot of the commenters here I know a number of actual conservatives, not just strawmen. Conservatives may feel sympathy toward Israel and hate radical Islam, but that doesn’t mean they trust nation building or think that any intervention is good intervention.

    2. There’s some truth here, although I think W’s foreign policy in 2000 was defined as being “not Clinton”. Just as the Dems foreign policy in the 2000s was “not Bush”.

      I just hate how people need to talk in politician speak. Like, here’s what I would say on Israel:

      “Israel is a valuable ally of the United States, we share many common values. The United States believes in self-determination and the right of self defense for all nations. Israel is a modern democracy, with a prosperous and diversified economy. They are a valuable trading partner of the United States, and we will continue to sell them the whatever they wish to buy. But we will no longer be writing a *however much it is this year* dollar check to offset their defense purchases. The United States will trade with our allies, but we will not longer pick up the tab for the weapons that their governments have decided fit their defense needs. American tax dollars are for the preservation of the American Constitution, not for Israel, or for any other country’s defense. “

  10. …funded by many wealthy Michiganers

    It’s Michiganders.

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