Rand Paul unloaded on Lindsey Graham today, in the way that only Twitter in the Trump Era can:
You know you are in too many wars in too many places when even warmonger Lindsay Graham can't keep track anymore
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 23, 2017
His comment was in reaction to the senior senator from South Carolina's stunning, but perhaps unsurprising, admission that Graham didn't know the U.S. had more than 1,000 troops in Niger in the war on terror.
If only he were a Reason reader, he might!
Paul's broadside is a substantive and stark reminder of how much the war on terror has transformed U.S. military policy and how far the Republican party has drifted from the heady days of 2013, when a veritable "civil war" seemed about to break out over non-interventionism's place in conservative philosophy.
Paul is absolutely right: the U.S. military is engaged in counter-terrorism operations, fighting too many wars in too many places around the world. And the almost complete lack of interest in a substantive engagement of foreign policy in the mainstream political debate compounds the problem.
Despite a U.S. military presence across West and Central Africa as well as Somalia, the only African country mentioned in any of the presidential debates was Libya, the site of one of the Obama administration's greatest foreign policy blunders, borne of needless interventionism.
Barack Obama eventually admitted the haphazard nature of the intervention was his administration's "worst mistake." Notably, Hillary Clinton, his first secretary of state and the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, avoided drawing any lessons or admitting any mistakes.
Earlier this month, when news of the U.S. fatalities in Niger first broke, I predicted the U.S. war in West Africa would quickly recede from the public consciousness again. But for President Trump botching public and private remarks about the dead soldiers, it probably would have.
Before the election, I suggested Trump might be a less alarming candidate than Clinton because "at least with Trump you might have a Congress motivated to reassert its powers vis-a-vis the executive branch."
Paul and the other members of Congress skeptical of America's never-ending war on terror and string of aimless interventions have an opportunity to use Trump's clumsiness over the Niger deaths to expose the country's unchecked and—judging from Graham's reaction—largely unknown nature of this ever-expanding war.