The GOP’s Non-Interventionist Moment Passes

Today Paul Waldman notes the steady drift of rank-and-file Republican sentiment towards more “muscular” forms of intervention overseas, settling particularly on the use of ground troops to fight IS. It is creating a circle that can be called “vicious” with a double meaning:

We are now likely to enter a cycle in which more hawkish voters lead the GOP candidates to become more hawkish in order to appeal to them, which will in turn encourage the voters to become even more hawkish because they’ll be taking their cues from the things they hear from their party leaders, and around the cycle will go.

That’s bad news for Rand Paul, who seemed at one point to have figured out how to express just enough willingness to kill foreigners to insulate himself from the I-word. Short of completely repudiating his old man (and the very old conservative non-interventionist tradition the Pauls have represented), I don’t quite know how he’ll survive a year-long debate within the GOP over national security issues, unless the climate really changes. And as we’re already seeing with the return of Iraq War architects to respectability via Jeb Bush’s campaign, it’s likely to be a good year for neocons after all.

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.