Living in Washington, D.C., affords me the opportunity to attend all sorts of political events where horrible leaders get to promote their horrible ideas. At one particular event recently, Sen. Lindsey Graham took part in a foreign policy panel where, true to form, the senator did his neoconservative best to scare the bejesus out of the audience concerning Iran.
After explaining to the audience how our decade of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan was a great success, that America needs to do much more in Libya, and that none of these wars really cost any money, Graham decided to make his pitch for the next one. Channeling George W. Bush, Graham's voice and demeanor became somber, as the slowness of his speech increased in correlation with his emphasis on the supposed threat of Iran. Sen. Graham made an alarming case that a nuclear Iran could be the end of American civilization as we know it.
What the senator left out is that his whacked-out foreign policy might actually be the end of American civilization as we know it.
I am not here to suggest that Iran doesn't pose some threat to someone on some level — just like I never suggested that Saddam Hussein's Iraq didn't pose some threat to someone on some level. The question is what type of threat, to whom, and to what degree?
What I am suggesting is that there is a massive disparity between the actual reality of these supposed foreign "threats" and the emphasis our leaders regularly place on them. I am also suggesting that our leaders who insist that Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya or Pakistan or Yemen or Syria or Antarctica or Mars pose a threat to every American are out of their collective minds. And Lindsey Graham is a prime example.
I know few Americans, in public service or otherwise, who would like to see this country go through another Vietnam. This is a fairly universal American sentiment. When 241 American soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber in 1983 in Lebanon, President Ronald Reagan immediately withdrew U.S. troops, believing our mission there was not worth any further cost.
Yet, on paper and in reality, any threat posed by the Soviet Union, which our venture in Vietnam sought to stave off, was of far more potential consequence than the threats posed by Saddam Hussein. In retrospect, we now know that the Iraqi dictator actually posed no serious threat to the United States. And this "we" often includes members of the U.S. military. A recent CBS News poll showed that one in three U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars now believe both of those conflicts were mistakes. The poll also shows that a majority of these veterans believe at least one of these wars is a mistake.
Political leaders who refuse to learn any lessons from America's mistakes are destined to repeat them. In Graham's case, he not only refuses to learn from such mistakes, but he is eager to repeat them, per his burning desire to have a redux in Iran of the mess we made in Iraq.
I could easily see Graham accusing the Nixon administration of "cutting and running" when we pulled out of Vietnam and saying the same thing about President Reagan concerning Lebanon, as many neoconservatives actually did at that time.
Despite the cost in lives and dollars, Graham insists that any price is necessary to promote his foreign-policy ideology of policing the world and establishing a permanent American global hegemony. Never mind that the exhausting of such financial and human resources, particularly in Afghanistan, is precisely how the Soviet Empire ended. Never mind that this is how all empires end. Graham continues to make clear that preventing the possibility of Iran having even one nuclear weapon is worth any amount of American resources, even at the risk of national bankruptcy.
At the same panel where Graham was making his comments, a young man of Iranian descent stood up to explain that while the overwhelmingly youthful population of Iran was arguably the most pro-American in the region — about 60 percent of the country is under 30 — he also said any military action by the U.S. against Iran would quickly turn that country's youth against America.
By that time, Sen. Graham had left the panel for another appointment. Just as well. The young man's admonition, true or false, is something the senator isn't willing to ponder. When talking to Graham about foreign policy, reason is of no use, logic of no accord. Lindsey Graham is unable to agree with the majority of the American people that the last decade's foreign policy moves have been mistakes. Doing so would only impede the senator's plans to keep on making them.
Jack Hunter is the official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and he co-wrote Rand Paul's The Tea Party Goes to Washington. You can hear Southern Avenger commentaries on The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd on 1250 WTMA.