In the case of the surge in Iraq, Republicans followed McCain, the party’s standard-bearer in the 2008 election. But they haven’t been as quick to follow him on Libya last year, and on Syria and Afghanistan this year.
This extends to the presidential race, where Newt Gingrich this week questioned whether the mission in Afghanistan was “doable,” and Rick Santorum suggested faster withdrawal should be a possibility.
Eaglen said McCain’s call for staying on the current course in Afghanistan “is an increasingly solitary position in this town, not just among members but also among pundits and movement leaders...
On Syria, McCain has constantly been out front calling for arming the rebels and an international coalition launching air strikes, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has continued to attack opposition forces.
The Obama administration has opposed getting involved militarily, and Republicans have also been reluctant.
“We should be extremely skeptical about actions that could commit the United States to a military intervention,” said Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, at a hearing on Syria.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) warned that aligning with the opposition could be joining with groups like al-Qaeda.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told The Hill that most, if not all, Republican lawmakers abhorred the violent response of Assad's troops against Syrian rebels, but said, “we should be careful about stretching our military.”One of the main quandries in this situation is that the Obama Administration has already built a very hawkish foreign policy resume, pushing the entire spectrum to the right, thus making McCain and his crew seem extremist. In Afghanistan, the White House escalated the American troop numbers there throughout 2009, without ever really signing on to the military's counterinsurgency doctrine. This led to a large, and essentially mission-less, military presence stretched across the mountainous country, attempting to "degrade" but not "defeat" the Taliban, creating the conditions for what Daniel Ellsberg calls "an atrocity-generating situation." And now, when the atrocities are starting to pile up, the Obama administration is still advocating for a tempered withdrawal. Anybody looking at this situation would find it hard to push for an even more militarist policy, and yet this is McCain et al's position.
The situation in the Middle East is little different, with the U.S. military leading the NATO intervention in Libya, the White House putting almost no restraints on Israel's military occupation and settlement policies, and the U.S.'s relationship with the Arab Monarchies of the GCC strengthened even more. These are all policies that Republican's would usually smile at, but McCain has made the GOP's position one of calling for another, more difficult, intervention in Syria, and to bash the White House for not allowing Israel more freedom to attack Iran. But now McCain is finding himself lonely, with many of his fellow Grand Old Partiers noticing the prevailing war weary public, as well as the American Empire's less and less secure hold on the role of World Policeman.