Magazine article The American Conservative

War Is Not Conservative

Magazine article The American Conservative

War Is Not Conservative

Article excerpt

Two nights before the U.S. House voted on a resolution to require removal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Dec. 31, I was eating at a downtown Washington restaurant with three other Republican congressmen. All expressed disillusionment with or at least deep concern about the cost and length of our seemingly endless wars.

Other Republicans in the House have expressed similar sentiments, yet when the vote was taken, only eight--and none of my three dinner partners--voted for the resolution.

I suppose part of the reason is that the legislation's primary sponsor was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who is regarded by most as a very far-left Democrat. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been regarded, unfortunately, as "conservative" wars.

Yet as I said when I spoke on the House floor in favor of the resolution, there is nothing conservative about these wars, and fiscal conservatives should be the ones most horrified by the cost in blood and treasure.

The worst thing is all the young American lives that have been lost and all the Iraqi and Afghan children who have been killed. But the monetary cost is astounding, with roughly $2 trillion in direct and indirect costs being the most conservative estimate.

When the administration found that I was thinking about voting against starting the second Bush war in Iraq, I was called to a very small, secure room at the White House to meet with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet and John E. McLauglin, the top two men at the CIA.

Lawrence Lindsey, then the president's chief economic adviser, had made front-page news and angered the White House by saying a war with Iraq would cost $100 to $200 billion. I asked about that, and Dr. Rice said, "Oh no, a war with Iraq would cost us only $50 or $60 billion" and "we would get back much of that from our allies."

Now, at long last, many conservatives are beginning to realize that a hyper-interventionist foreign policy and support for seemingly perpetual war has cost this nation too much and has been very harmful to the conservative movement. Alfred Regnery, publisher of The American Spectator, wrote last October that "Afghanistan has little strategic value" and "the war is one of choice rather than necessity." He added that it has been a "wasteful and frustrating decade."

Of course, The American Conservative has been right all along and has fought a lonely battle to promote truly conservative foreign and defense policies. …

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