Rising tide of US isolationism on display in House hearing on Syria (+video)
Rand Paul, a leading figure of the new isolationism who opposed a Senate committee resolution Wednesday authorizing the use of force, says the US has no vital security interests in Syria.
A lengthy and at times testy House committee hearing Tuesday on President Obama’s request for congressional authorization to use force in Syria revealed what pollsters have been noting in the country for several years: a rising isolationism that shuns a role for America as the world’s policeman.
As one member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee after the other related home-district opposition to any Syria involvement or brandished stacks of printed-out e-mails from constituents demanding a “no” vote on the use of force over Bashar al-Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons, prospects for Mr. Obama’s authorization remained up in the air at best.
The four-hour hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, demonstrated the depth of divisions on the Syria issue and over an authorization vote Obama had hoped to use as evidence of a united American will to act against any use of long-banned chemical weapons.
But the hearing also showcased the rise of a strain of isolationism among conservatives who in the past could have been expected to line up more easily behind the use of American power and the need for America to stand up to the world’s despots.
“They don’t want the United States to get involved in a civil war where there are no good guys,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R) of South Carolina, referring to his constituents. Even a group of 150 eighth-graders Mr. Duncan said he spoke to before returning to Congress understands that the US has “no clear interests” in intervening in the Syria conflict.
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