Despite the best efforts of the few remaining loyalists of the Bushioisie, former President George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda” — and, more specifically, its willingness to put our armed forces in harm’s way absent a clear threat to U.S. vital interests — is going the way of the dodo.
This became clear at the recent GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, during which none of the candidates on stage spoke in universal terms about the felicity of American efforts at nation building.
Instead, the assembled candidates took turns challenging the propriety of President Barack Obama’s undeclared war in Libya and raising larger questions about Obama’s support for nation building abroad.
Sadly, some members of the GOP establishment still haven’t gotten the message.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) revealed how shockingly little he knows about the man who reshaped his party — and the world — Ronald Reagan.
“I wonder what Ronald Reagan would be saying today?” asked McCain, challenging what he termed the “isolationism” of leading members of the GOP for daring to question Obama’s Libya engagement.
McCain then went on to answer his own question:
“He would be saying that’s not the Republican Party of the 20th century and now the 21st century. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people all over the world, whether it be in Grenada, that Ronald Reagan had a quick operation about, or whether it be in our enduring commitment to countering the Soviet Union.”
About which, horsefeathers.
Reagan didn’t send U.S. armed forces to Grenada to “stand up for freedom” for the people of Grenada; he sent U.S. armed forces to Grenada to prevent 800 American medical students on the island from being taken hostage by communist thugs and to remove the strategic threat posed by the military alliance previously formed by Grenada, the Soviet Union and Cuba.
The liberation of the 110,000 citizens of Grenada was only a welcome ancillary benefit.
Perhaps, rather than offering his own thoughts on the subject, McCain could answer his question better by reading Reagan’s own words explaining his decision to send U.S. armed forces to Grenada. On the evening of Oct. 27, 1983, just days after U.S. forces landed on the island, the president addressed the nation.
“I believe our government has a responsibility to go to the aid of its citizens if their right to life and liberty is threatened. The nightmare of our hostages in Iran must never be repeated,” Reagan said.
These words shouldn’t have been surprising to McCain — Reagan had tipped his hand years earlier. Accepting the Republican nomination in 1980, Reagan had this to say about the responsibility of the president and America’s role in the world:
“It is the responsibility of the president of the United States, in working for peace, to ensure that the safety of our people cannot successfully be threatened by a hostile foreign power. As president, fulfilling that responsibility will be my No. 1 priority.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.