Saturday, April 8, 2017

GOP libertarians stand against Syria bombing

GOP’s war skeptics, once hopeful about Trump, wonder whether he’s changed - The Washington Post - David Weigel:

April 7, 2017 - "After the final confirmation vote on Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) walked into a crowd of reporters to inveigh against the airstrikes in Syria. He’d been doing so nonstop since Thursday night — first in a statement, then on TV, then in a column decrying the 'unconstitutional rush to war'....

"Until this week, and despite Trump’s early personnel moves, libertarian skeptics of foreign intervention thought they had an ally in the White House. But in the space of 24 hours, Paul — who came off a golf trip with Trump with praise for the president — found the anti-interventionist Republican posse shrunken back to pre-Obama levels....

"With President Barack Obama in the White House, Republicans and their voters were growing more skeptical of foreign intervention. The autumn of 2013 seemed to present a pivot point, when most Republicans rejected Obama’s call for airstrikes in Syria. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a rival for the libertarian vote, said that attacking Syrian airfields could turn the United States into 'al-Qaeda’s air force' and wondered whether Obama was asking Congress to approve military action because “his bluff was called.

"The vast majority of Republicans who opposed Obama’s 2013 strike plan have come out in favor of Trump’s — which, analysts acknowledge, was more limited in scope. An analysis by the Denver7 news channel found that every Republican member of the congressional delegation who had been critical of the Obama attack, some even calling it 'unconstitutional' without congressional approval, had backed Trump....

"To Congress’s libertarians, Trump’s decision to act without consulting Congress was an obvious contradiction of how he had campaigned. On a Friday episode of former congressman Ron Paul’s online show, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) hammered home the increasingly fringe — but once Republican mainstream — position that striking Syria without congressional authorization risked blowback.

"'ISIS is better off today than it was yesterday,' Massie said, using another name for the Islamic State....

"Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who joined Friday’s briefing for senators, said that Trump had been clear up until he became president. He had repeatedly spoken, tweeted and recorded short videos against the idea of bombing Syria.

"'Back in 2013, the situation was fairly similar,' Amash said. 'President Obama suggested that he might attack, and [Trump] opposed it.'"

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