By Murray Sabrin
THE FOURTH Republican presidential debate, hosted by FOX Business News, one of the more contentious exchanges took place between Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul about U.S. foreign policy and the government spending.
RUBIO: Yes, I do want to rebuild the American military —
PAUL: How is that conservative?
RUBIO: I know Rand [Paul] is a committed isolationist, I am not. I believe the world is a stronger and a better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.
PAUL: Marco! Marco! How is it conservative to add a $1 trillion expenditure to the federal government —
RUBIO: Because —
PAUL: How is it conservative to add $1 trillion in military expenditures? You cannot be a conservative if you keep promoting new programs that you're not going to pay for.
RUBIO: We can't even have an economy if we're not safe. There are radical Islamists in the Middle East beheading people and crucifying Christians … Yes. I believe the world is a safer — No, no. I know that the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.
Based upon the statements made by the other six candidates in the so-called first-tier debate, as well as the four candidates including Governor Christie in the undercard debate, Rubio's view of America's role in the world reveals how the neoconservative ideology of making the "world safe for democracy" is the overriding foreign policy objective of the Republican Party and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party's front runner for the presidential nomination.
In short, neoconservatives will be the clear winner in next year's presidential election, because both parties have embraced the illegal, unconstitutional and immoral principle that undeclared war is a legitimate use of American military power around the world.
Nevertheless, dissecting Rubio's statements and presenting the facts of the federal government's interventions around the world clearly reveal that the American role in the world is not altruistic. Moreover, as Randolph Bourne claimed 100 years ago, "War is the health of the state." And, General Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated military officers in the 20th century, proclaimed, "War is a racket."
A 'just' war
First, what is a "just" war? According to economist, historian and libertarian philosopher Murray Rothbard, "A just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them."
By these criteria none of the federal government's use of military force since the end of World War II has been justified. In fact, even the U.S. entry into World War I does not meet the criteria of a just war.
Second, if war does occur, the so-called theory of just war developed by both Catholic and Protestant philosophers, civilians are not supposed to be targeted. However, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2014, about 90 percent of casualties in wars are noncombatant civilians. According to GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson, that's life – and gruesome deaths for the men, women and children caught up in state-sponsored mass murder, which is the essence of war.
Rubio calling Paul an "isolationist" is a slur. Any criticism of our bipartisan, interventionist policy is supposedly an unconscionable slap against America's global "leadership." The Florida senator and the rest of the neoconservatives running for president equate American global leadership with virtually unrestrained military intervention. By last count, our government has been involved militarily in 191 countries according to Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock, in their book "America Invades: How We've Invaded or Been Militarily Involved with Almost Every Country on Earth."
According to analysts, nearly $1 trillion is actually spent on defense including bases in more than 100 countries around the world. While we pour money into such "defense," our roads are crumbling and our economy is distorted by the channeling of the public's money into excessive weapons of mass destruction.
Lastly, American intervention in the Middle East has destabilized the region by removing dictators who became unacceptable to American political leaders of both parties. The rise of radical Islamists that Rubio and his fellow Republicans and Hillary Clinton decry is a direct result of the failed neoconservative policy that has led to beheadings of both Christians and others.
Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College and former candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
The above originally appeared in the New Jersey Record.