Most people associate conversion with a religious experience. In this article, conversion is simply a “change of heart” with respect to foreign policy.
In the summer of 2006, two Israeli troops were kidnapped, supposedly by Hezbollah. The Israeli response: a military invasion of Lebanon. Tanks rolled in. Israeli troops began controlling parts of southern Lebanon. The air force bombed certain sites, including hospitals, highways, and utility companies. Hundreds of civilians and Lebanese troops were killed.
Thankfully, most of the international community, including the UN, called for an immediate ceasefire. This seemed like the only rational course to me. And so I was stunned when Condoleeza Rice said, with a straight face, when asked about the US position, that “Israel had a right to defend themselves.” This statement baffled me. This was clearly not a defensive war, but one of naked aggression and invasion. Most of the international community got it; why not the US of A?
I used to accept administration statements and perspectives as they were given. I trusted them. I respected them. I considered myself usually compatible and aligned with mainstream Republicans (though I admittedly had not given Iraq much thought).
But this changed my perspective. What was going on? Why was the US sponsoring a naked act of aggression?
This was one of the key events that made me wonder whether our foreign policy is too aggressive, or whether it is a truly defensive one. I started to question the validity of the “Bush Doctrine,” and preemptive war in general.
A co-worker empathized with my concerns. He was even more opposed to preemption than I, and was very explicit on how he felt. We both agreed the “Bush Doctrine” was akin to shooting someone as they purchased a firearm for protection. Definitely not a moral foreign policy from my perspective.
And so I started down the path of re-thinking foreign policy. Eventually, I questioned NATO, the UN, and our entire foreign military presence: why are hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in over 700 bases and 130 countries vital to our national interests? This made no sense to me.
Discovering paleoconservative and paleolibertarian thought, including Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, was a breath of fresh air. It made sense. It sounded right. It felt right. And so I began to find myself (politically speaking).