The Republican Party learned the wrong lesson from 9/11, Rather than accept the reality that Islamic civilization is our enemy, they have deluded themselves into think they want freedom and democracy. Wilsonian nation building, which is a Progressive concept that is directly descended from the Jacobin ideology, has become the cornerstone of Republican foreign policy. With the exception of Rand Paul, Republicans officials love wars and nation building. This goes against the GOP’s claim of being for limited government.
As thousands of young true believers gather this weekend for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement continue to operate on a fundamental contradiction. Despite their rhetoric, many supporters of limited-government still embrace unchecked government power in one respect: war. A movement that opposes the leviathan state at home but empowers the government to centrally plan the world muddles its message and compromises its principles.
It was telling when Tea Party champion and Florida Senator Marco Rubio said last April, “I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business.” For years, President George W. Bush boasted of using U.S. taxpayer dollars to build schools, roads, and hospitals — in Iraq.
Conservatives and Republicans generally argue that the federal government’s primary constitutional function is national defense, and that America’s security and prosperity is linked to stability abroad. Few see the contradiction between their grandiose global ambitions and their principled opposition to the welfare state. Nation-building in the name of the “war on terror,” itself a counterproductive tool against terrorism, entails what conservatives deride: nationalist collectivism, curtailed due-process rights, and huge, open-ended fiscal commitments supported by government borrowing.
The GOP’s addiction to nation building has become a political liability. Americans are tired of spending blood and treasure on Islamic savages. Being against nation building does not make one an isolationist. The GOP needs to return to the cautious peace through strength foreign policy of Eisenhower and Reagan.