Iraq: U.S. In, U.S. Out? Not Our Concern? Sorry, Not that Easy

Written by Steve Pauwels on June 24, 2014

It’s an elbow-in-the-ribs drag finding myself rankled toward some of my — formerly? — favorite conservative commentators. Almost physically uncomfortable for me.

But what’s a principled guy to do when self-advertised Constitutionalists sound like Liberal thumb-suckers concerning one of responsible government’s most immovable obligations? To wit: national security. Specifically here, relating to America and Iraq, al-Qaeda, ISIS. 

John Adams: “National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.”

“Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be first.” — John Jay

President George Washington (to Congress, 1790): “Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defense will merit particular regard.”

Madison framed the General Government’s constitutionally delegated powers “few and defined”, externally focused,  including “war”.

Thus spoke a few of our founding luminaries about the Fed’s duty to guard – by force of arms, when necessary — our sea-to-shining-sea well-being. 

Additionally, there’s the perspective of the New Testament most of them prized: chief among the State’s sacred purposes is the bearing of “the sword” for dealing with “evildoers” (Romans 13/1 Peter 2).

But lately? Opinion-makers Pat Buchanan, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham — among others — can’t stop bridling at virtually any suggestion the U.S. military might be required to become embroiled in hostilities abroad. “Of course, if our national security is threatened”, they ritually lob as a qualifying  afterthought. Oddly, those threats rarely, actually materialize in their theoretical, self-contained worlds. Meantime, what is happening in the flesh-and-blood world? Largely irrelevant to their philosophizing.

The current pandemonium in Iraqi environs, for instance. “Just stay out!” “Leave it alone!” they grouse convulsively. Pensive briefs acknowledging developments in that region which could actually jeopardize our Republic and thus demand some kind of meaningful intervention are glibly sniped at. 

Beck does his grovelling mea culpa about how wrong he was supporting America’s 2003 entrée into Saddam’s domain, indignantly  thumping the table, “Not one more troop, not one more dollar” invested there. Mournfully, he foresees a calamitous, carnivorous caliphate inexorably on the way;  oil prices that will paralyze the American economy, harrowingly plausible. Few immediate, workable preventives are available,  he insists resignedly.  

For more than a decade, Mssr. Buchanan has insinuated: Islamic jihadists, radical Islam never were anything over which to trouble ourselves. His oft-implied counsel? Distance ourselves from Israel, avert our collective eyes, cover our collective ears whenever Muslim barbarians poisonously strike up their newest round of “Destory-the-Great-Satan” sing-a-longs. In short, pretend the Middle East’s hornet’s nest doesn’t exist — and happy days are here again!. 

Ms. Ingraham and, multiplyingly, some others “on the right”? For a while now their steady gripe has been: I’m so tired of this international war on terror. Enough already. 

And perhaps American martial action isn’t the answer to Mesopotamia’s morass. An internecine, Shia/Sunni conflagration of fourteen-centuries vintage; few “good guys” to side with; a stretched-to-its-limits military further hobbled by the adolescent dithering of an ever-golfing Commander in Chief — these alone warrant a pause at the prospect of unleashing another Babylonian campaign. Perhaps it’s just too messy, too complicated. 

Of course life is frequently messy and complicated, and people can’t bug out on it–at least not without courting inevitable ruin. Albert Einstein perceptively advised,  “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler”.

It’s unsettling listening to otherwise hard-headed analysts echoing the dopey Left: demanding that consternating events and a snarling world perform as they wish, not as they actually comes to us.

How insensitive that the Koran-spouting hoards devoted to our destruction don’t accommodate the psychological/emotional exhaustion their rancor exacts on us!

To review: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the present source of agita in Iraq. That murderous gang is an offshoot of al-Qaeda, with which the United States is formally at war–y’know, the Luciferian cut-throats who mounted 9/11’s atrocity? Last time I checked, al-Qaeda and its ideological tributaries are verbally committed to our literal extermination/subjugation. That objective, furthermore, stands a driving tenet of their death-worshiping religious system.

Rather pertinently, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the blood-reveling beast leading ISIS’s genocidal Babylonian charge,  vowed mere months ago, “Our last message is to the Americans. Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day…[W]e are with you, watching.”

Then there’s that oil thingy. Not withstanding Becks schizophrenically fatalistic acknowledgment of that concern (crippling fossil fuel costs are a-comin’, but we dare not attempt any militaristic steps to forestall them) we might consider some iron-toothed, but tightly targeted,  options for keeping that territory’s oil resources from our foes’ grubby mitts. 

With all respect to Glenn and Laura, the aforementioned ought to reinforce this is no casual call. His anti-war passion and her battle-weary pique don’t transform this supremely monumental debate into a throwaway issue. The Iraq matter contemplates a potentially preservational one for America’s way of life. 

Once more, military advisers, air strikes, “boots on the ground”? Possibly not the solution for Iraq’s terror-aggravated tumult confronting the United States. Still, so much of the reasoning endorsing that conclusion is profoundly disquieting — particularly when indulged by normally levelheaded pundits.

However it’s resolved, much of the discussion’s sub-text leaves an unshakably unsatisfying aftertaste. A hiatus from unleashing our armed forces globally? If so, how long a hiatus? Can the “stay-out” coalition envision any confluence of circumstances — short of ululating jihadists emptying their AK-47’s into sitting-duck, American crowds or staging missile attacks on our major cities — in which military measures would be justified, even required? 

This morning, I heard Glenn Beck press a congressional candidate to forswear any deployment of U.S. troops overseas. He didn’t specify “to Iraq”, but intimated a comprehensive ban on any American forces elsewhere, period.

Contrarily, Mark Levin, another radio talker, recently speculated: those pleading war-weariness today might, joltingly, find themselves not so war-weary once these uncooperative al-Qaeda types hit us again. 

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Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.