U.S. Exposes Divisions in Congress and Within G.O.P. Mission
But the current imbroglio in Congress over the American involvement in Libya exposes a deep and unusual foreign policy schism within the Republican Party, driven in large part by a Tea Party-infused House whose members are more fiscally conservative, particularly constitutionalist, less internationalist and, in many cases, too young to have been politically influenced by the cold war that informed the more established members of the party.
The divisions came to the fore on Tuesday when Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, introduced a measure with Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, to offer President Obama official Congressional authorization for the Libyan operation.
The legislation is an effort to blunt a series of House measures expected to seek to cut off financing for the operations in
In introducing it, Mr. McCain chastised House Republicans for seeking to end the
House members of both parties and various political stripes seemed undaunted. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, a Democrat of
“I’m more worried that we’re sending the signal to the world that we’ve abandoned our Constitution and our principles,” Mr. Amash said. “I think public opinion has shifted, opinion within the Republican Party has shifted, and their view is clearly in the minority right now.”
On Tuesday, Representative Joe Heck, a freshman Republican from
The antipathy toward the operations in
But the rationale against operations in Libya extends to costs — expected to top $1 billion by the end of the fiscal year — and a belief among many lawmakers that American involvement in international conflicts should be limited to those where American interests are clearly defined. “We have to get away from occupation, nation-building-style warfare,” Representative Allen West, a
This sentiment appears to extend to some Republican candidates for president, like Representative Michele Bachmann of
The intransigence among House Republicans — scores of whom voted for a measure earlier this month, also offered by Mr. Kucinich, ordering a
“Tea Party critics of America’s current military operations should look at how well served Congressional Republicans were in the 1990s by opposing intervention in the Balkans,” said Daniel Senor, a former Bush administration official and one of 37 conservatives to sign a letter to Congress on Monday urging members not to cut financing for the Libya operation.
There is a long history of both Democrats and Republicans adopting neo-isolationist views when their party is out of the White House. Democrats criticized President Ronald Reagan’s support for the Nicaraguan contras and
In the 1990s, Tom DeLay, then the House majority leader, called the Kosovo operation “
But the disagreements over
While not all lawmakers linked to the Tea Party are cut from the same cloth — indeed, Senator Marco Rubio of
There also appears to be a generational divide. The freshman class “has come of age during two wars that were not going so well,” said Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who also signed the letter to the House. “They did not live through the cold war, and they do not have the sort of Republican internationalist tendencies that were developed in the Reagan years that was kept going through two Bush presidencies.”
Mr. Amash, 31, noted that the Afghan war had gone on “almost a third of my life,” and agreed that newer members “have a greater sense that we need to worry more about our own affairs at home and stop trying to police the entire world.”
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs