Democrat Harry Reid has declared the war in Iraq "lost." Republican President Bush declared "Victory in Iraq" in 2003. The neo-conservatives are demanding going to war with Iran our next step. Afghanistan remains in turmoil.
Most Americans side with Reid. Polls show at least 60 percent of the U.S. population wants to unilaterally leave Iraq, victory or no victory. Yet all three Republican frontrunners, Giuliani, McCain and Romney, support, if anything, an escalation in our war efforts there. Even more bizarre, all three are in favor of expanding the war to Iran.
I am a conservative Republican. I have opposed the war in Iraq since the beginning, and still regard it as a huge mistake. Yet my party, supposedly the home of conservatives, seems hell-bent on driving true conservatives (not the pseudo "neo-conservative") out.
It is frightening to consider, despite our being at best bogged down in Iraq, how close we are to going to war with Iran. Most Americans are under the (false) impression that our government, like our people, is war-weary and looking for an out.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the morass in Iraq, Iran is still in their sights, with their itchy fingers on the trigger. People with absolute dual loyalties, one supposedly to the United States, one to Israel, the very definition of the leadership of the neo-conservative movement, are the guiding lights for the Bush presidency. This also sheds light on why the highly regarded Iraq Study Group's recommendations, a bi-partisan effort, have been totally ignored.
In the Republican presidential primary, a new neo-con driven strategy is emerging: "no litmus tests." Iraq and support for the war is to be the only issue. If the candidate is a war hawk and in favor of escalation, he's our man; nothing else matters.
Case in point: Giuliani. He is the frontrunner; despite being radically pro-abortion - he opposed the ban on partial birth abortion, and supported taxpayer funding for all abortions - he still leads. He is in favor of "civil unions" for homosexuals. He has been an outspoken proponent of strong gun control laws. He supports amnesty for illegal aliens, and giving citizenship to all.
Whatever happened to the (alleged) GOP agenda of lower taxes, limited government, the 2nd Amendment, pro-life judges, and promotion of traditional marriage?
Who cares? No litmus tests! They must be correct on the neo-con vision for the Middle East. Everything else is fluff.
Further evidence: One of the most liberal senators ever, Democrat Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, now an independent, is being given serious consideration for the GOP vice presidency slot.
Lieberman was defeated in the Democratic primary mainly due to his war hawk stance on Iraq. By every reasonable standard, he is a leftist. On every social and domestic issue, his voting record is equal to or left of Ted Kennedy.
Yet "Weekly Standard" editor William Kristol, the leader of the neo-con cabal now running Bush foreign policy, has seriously called for his consideration as the 2008 GOP V.P.
Lieberman is a strong ally of our "special relationship" with Israel, and thus, despite opposing everything else the GOP has fought for, can be given serious consideration as a running mate for Giuliani, McCain or Romney.
We now know beyond all reasonable doubt the supposed reasons for war with Iraq were fabricated; lies. Recently the tests conducted by North Korea show their supposed nuclear program has failed. They have no bomb. What about Iran?
This high ranking member of the "axis of evil" is being whipped up as a huge threat looming on the horizon. Yet once again there is both an absence of evidence and any proportionality to the supposed threat. Despite the bombastic rhetoric, neither Iran nor Iraq are or were a threat to the United States. Ditto for tiny backward Syria, also being mentioned as a possible military target.
And, if Iran did develop a nuclear weapon, it would only be attempting to come up to par with Israel, who has a world ranked nuclear weapons arsenal, despite official denials and intentional "head in the sand" observations by the United States, who officially pretend they know nothing of this highly provocative and destabilizing factor.
Thus the GOP is still under the influence and control of the same war fanatics that caused their defeat in 2006. The emerging strategy, flying in the face of popular opinion, insures a repeat in 2008. With the lone exception of Ron Paul, a highly principled but largely unknown conservative Congressman from Texas, the current crop of lip service GOP candidates will insure the continuing disillusionment of the conservatives and hence their absence from the ballot boxes.
Guy Farmer, whose column normally appears in this space, is on vacation. His column will return next week.