Unsurprisingly, for his latest stance on the NSA, Rand Paul is now Public Enemy Number One—courtesy of the members of his own party.

Rand Paul’s “isolationism” spooks neoconservatives.

In light of both the latest blitzkrieg against Rand as well as the impending presidential season, we would be well served to remind ourselves of exactly who it is that both the Kentucky senator and the rest of us are dealing.

The Iraq War

Let us never forget that the very same Republicans who vilify “isolationists” are responsible for having plunged this nation into what many now regard as the worst foreign policy disaster in its history.

Against this charge, neoconservatives can be counted upon to reply in two ways:

(1)In 2002, everyone believed that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD’s) that he was determined to use against America.

(2)Following The Surge in 2008, the war in Iraq was won. That the country is an unmitigated conflagration at present has everything to do with Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw American forces.

Both of these lines are scandalously dishonest.

For starters, it is simply false that there was ever a unanimous consensus that Iraq had WMD’s.

For sure, the dominant narrative of the time featured an Iraq laboring feverishly and secretively to destroy the United States.

But the narrative had its critics from day one.

Within the intelligence community, there were dissenting voices, experts who insisted that the conventional wisdom on this issue—like the conventional wisdom on so many others—was just wrong.

Plenty of seasoned conservative and libertarian commentators spared no occasion to draw the public’s attention to the bad arguments and weak evidence of the war’s polemicists. For good measure, they also foretold (presciently, as we now see) of the dire consequences to which war in Iraq promised to lead.

For their efforts, they were ignored, mocked, and, ultimately, purged from the Big Media-approved discourse. As Republicans and Democrats peddle the lie that no one knew then what everyone knows today—Iraq had no WMD’s—they reveal their determination to keep the war’s old right conservative and libertarian critics in exile.

In short: Some people most certainly did know that there were no WMD’s in Iraq.

Pushed on this score, the neoconservative Republican may cede the point. However, he could then fire back that even if it wasn’t literally everyone who believed that Iraq posed a threat to American security, most people did believe this.

This may very well be true. It is also logically irrelevant—as neoconservatives themselves should be the first to know.

After all, “most” of “the experts” claim that anthropogenic “climate change” is a real and perilous phenomenon. Yet neoconservatives remind us that there are scientists, even if they are in the minority, who insist that this is propaganda. And it is with this minority of dissenters that they side.

“Most” Americans are convinced that the war in Iraq was a calamitous course of action. Neoconservatives, however, still refuse to be persuaded of the error of their ways.

“Most” Americans staunchly oppose amnesty for illegal aliens. But neoconservatives assure the former that “comprehensive immigration reform” is necessary.

“Most” Americans believed in 2006 and 2008 that their country would be best served in the hands of Democrats. Neoconservatives still disagree.

Neoconservatives’ claim regarding the reason for the contemporary situation in Iraq is every bit as disingenuous as their attempt to vindicate their decision to launch the war.

Iraq had never been won.

Notice, those who say as much never ever tell us what exactly it is that was “won.” Considering that the establishment of a functioning “democracy” in the heart of the Islamic world was eventually revealed to have been the neoconservatives’ ultimate objective in invading Iraq, victory, presumably, could be declared only if this was achieved.

But nothing of the sort came close to being realized.

Well, neoconservatives will respond, the machinery of a democratic government, i.e. democratic elections, etc. were indeed in place. And after The Surge, some semblance of peace and stability had been secured. It was only after Obama brought our soldiers home that Iraq was lost.

A little rudimentary logic will go a long way in analyzing this reasoning.

First, tellingly, Obama (of whom I am no fan) advanced this GOP talking point before the Republicans invented it! Obama declared victory in Iraq. Precisely because the idea of victory implies the completion of a contest, he used the pretext of victory to justify his decision to call America’s soldiers home.

At the time, the war’s apologists beseeched Obama to reconsider—but they never once agreed with him that America “won” in Iraq.

This came later—after Iraq degenerated into the cesspool that it is right now.

Secondly, what kind of victory could we have achieved in Iraq if the moment American soldiers left for home the place became a bastion for exponentially more violence, disorder, and terrorism than it ever was under the regime that America toppled? In other words, after a decade or so of war, if the American Soldier is the only thing standing between the post-Surge Iraq and, say, an Iraq dominated by ISIS and the like, then Iraq was a house of straw.

This is not the face of victory.

Think about it: If the only way to prevent your home from imploding in on itself is for the men who you called upon to repair it to move in with you and prop it up indefinitely, would you credit them with having fixed your problem? Would you or they think to declare “victory” over the problems with your home?

Whatever the neoconservatives say against Rand Paul and/or any and every other “isolationist,” the stone-cold fact of the matter is that no isolationist is responsible for the catastrophe that is the Iraq War. No “isolationist” is culpable for the tens of thousands of deaths, the even greater number of non-fatal casualties, the annihilation of whole communities (particularly Christian communities), the trillions of dollars, and the incalculable emotional and mental anguish that are the costs of the project in Iraq.

It is the neoconservatives who enjoy this distinction.

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