As the countdown to the political main event of 2020 draws closer, the question for many anti-war voters remains: Will there be anybody on the ballot this November advocating for a foreign policy based on non-violence, diplomacy and non-interventionism? Or will they be stuck simply with different shades of the same old, same exhaustive style Americans have become used to?
For Republicans, they don’t have much wiggle room since now their candidate has a full term in office, which means plenty of policy wins, as well as mistakes.
When then-candidate Donald Trump entered the scene in 2015, he echoed the sentiments of many Ron Paul voters from 2008 and 2012, bringing to stage the failure of the Iraq War, the obscene amount of money spent toward intervention overseas, doubts about whether NATO still served a purpose post-Cold War, as well as criticizing the previous Obama administration’s role in the disastrous regime toppling nightmare which birthed ISIS in the Middle East and a bustling new slave trade in Libya.
President Trump, however, has made many of the anti-war voters who took a chance on him question whether they’ll do the same in 2020.
Defense spending under President Trump has not decreased, which has certainly kept the hordes of defense contractors ranging from Lockheed Martin to Boeing very happy. Four years into the Trump administration we still have U.S. personnel on the ground in Iraq despite the Iraqi parliament passing a vote to expel U.S. forces just last week.
Now, in the aftermath of the death of Iranian Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, some of the president’s loudest defenders, such as Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee, question the very legal justification for that action while congressional Democrats plan to amend the current War Powers Act.
While the president has shown restraint, such as choosing to not kill Iranian soldiers when a U.S. drone was shot down several months ago, other examples such as the bombing of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s airfields in 2017 as well as the recent Soleimani strike show a POTUS teetering the edge of hawk and dove.
The remaining Democrats, however, are more mixed in their intervention stances.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as Army veteran and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, have made names for themselves thanks to their anti-interventionist records in the past decade, using their voting records in order to attack former Vice President and current Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, whose support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 while in the Senate, and whose role in the Obama administration’s disastrous foreign policy blunders during the Arab Spring, make even staunch Democratic voters question whether he has a leg to stand on.
While other candidates such as Navy veteran and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg have joined the bandwagon in attacking Mr. Biden on this specific point, criticism among voters only goes so far since candidates such as Mr. Buttigieg weren’t in a legislative position during those times to make a decision, nonetheless show consistency on the topics of war and peace.
There are potential third-party options, however. The perennial candidate from Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, is now in the running for the Libertarian Party nomination. Mr. Chafee can hold high the fact he is the only candidate running who served in the Senate during the aftermath of 9/11 who didn’t vote for the military invasion of Iraq. During his official entrance, Mr. Chafee stated he would be “an Anti-War Libertarian,” adding on “that I am already against the next war.”
Mr. Chafee will have competition for the “Anti-War Libertarian” mantle when he shows up to the Libertarian National Convention, however. One of the party’s frontrunners for the nomination is former U.S. Marine veteran and anti-war activist Adam Kokesh.
I reached out to Mr. Kokesh for a comment regarding Mr. Chafee’s entrance into the race. Mr. Kokesh replied that “Many Libertarians will potentially be skeptical of someone who supported Obama despite his subservience to the military industrial complex.” However, Mr. Kokesh is “excited to see someone with his [Chafee’s] record coming around to the Libertarian Party and taking an anti-war position.”
Mr. Kokesh concluded that “We [Libertarians] have been fooled by fake libertarians from the old parties before, but I think Chafee can overcome the skeptics with serious policy proposals if he’s now ready to stand up to the military industrial complex with more than old-party promises.”
Whoever will lead the anti-war campaign of 2020 is unseen, but among the current field, the answer is far from clear.
• Remso W. Martinez is social media coordinator at The Washington Times.
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