WASHINGTON, April 21, 2013 — In the lead up to the Iraq War, many conservative think tanks abetted President Bush in his effort to persuade Americans that the government of Iraq represented a threat to stability throughout the world. No think tank was more persistent in its push for war than the American Enterprise Institute. President Bush commented on the influence that the Institute had inside his Administration in 2003 when he addressed its members at a dinner to commemorate the late Irving Kristol: “You do such good work that my Administration has borrowed 20 such minds.”
Soon after the war began, neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer delivered an address at the American Enterprise Institute’s 2004 annual dinner in which he declared Americans “have acquired the largest seeming empire in the history of the world.” Now, ten years later, the Iraq War is considered by the majority of Americans to have been not worth the cost in blood. Observers of the American Enterprise Institute have noticed that many hard line neoconservatives have been purged from their positions since 2008, but the damage of the policies they have instituted still effect America today.
President Obama has continued to embroil the nation in more conflicts overseas in the years since the previous Administration departed. However, this week a new Institute emerged, founded by former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, offering an alternative to Washington’s current foreign policy discussions. Paul’s new Institute, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, seeks not only to challenge neoconservative and hawkish rhetoric, but will attempt to unite conservatives, liberals, progressives, libertarians and the American people towards a more sensible approach to foreign affairs.
Already the Paul Institutes’ Board of Advisors contains figures from various political ideologies, such as progressive former Ohio Congressman and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, libertarian Fox News Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano, Mises Institute President Lew Rockwell, and conservative Congressmen John Duncan and Walter Jones. The Board also boasts foreign policy analysts who attempt to offer a rational alternative to American militarism overseas. Former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit Michael Scheuer, who has repeatedly warned about blowback from American action in the Middle East, has joined the board, as have the Leveretts, authors of a new ground breaking book on Iran.
The Institute could pose a considerable threat to the neoconservatives who have dominated American foreign policy since 9/11; in fact, the Institute’s website already contains a section entitled “Neocon Watch.” While a member of Congress, Paul never hesitated to vehemently condemn the neocons for their vocal support and influence in America’s foreign affairs.
A growing divide in the Republican Party regarding foreign policy was recently documented following Senator Rand Paul’s nearly 13 hour filibuster. Neoconservative columnist Bill Kristol labeled Paul a “fear monger” in a written column after Paul’s efforts to bring transparency to the Obama Administration’s drone program. Kristol’s label of Paul is in stark contrast to the sentiment of conservatives at CPAC who voted overwhelmingly to oppose the killing of U.S. citizens overseas.
After years of intervention throughout the world, the American people have grown tired of Washington’s overseas conflicts. Even conservatives, who supported the Bush Administration’s wars, are beginning to grow weary of Obama’s wars and drone program. North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones, who declared during the Paul Institute’s press conference in Washington this week that he will “he will go to his grave” regretting his vote for the Iraq War, is an example of the a shift in conservative thought concerning war.
Ron Paul’s new coalition could help move America back toward the republic and foreign policy originally envisioned and simply espoused by Founding Father Thomas Jefferson: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations … entangling alliances with none.”
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