The conservative activist group FreedomWorks is telling Congress to vote against the Syria war resolution.
In an email to supporters titled “Stop Obama’s War in Syria,” FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe wrote, “Obama has asked Congress to authorize a potentially limitless war.”
“Americans don’t want this war, and we can’t afford this war,” Kibbe continued. “We shouldn’t be focused on ‘red lines’ abroad. The President and Congress should focus on the ‘red lines’ at home.”
“There is no guarantee that ‘limited’ military operations in Syria will lead to a ‘limited’ result, Kibbe added in a media statement. “The costs of brinksmanship in an ongoing civil war are steep, and a collapse of state would fall in our laps. In other words, if we break it, we buy it.”
Kibbe told The Daily Caller News Foundation that this foray into foreign policy was motivated by overwhelming opposition to Syria strikes he encountered among grassroots supporters.
“We’re a group focused on lower taxes, less spending and limited government,” he said. The fiscal situation has deteriorated to the point where “we need to look at trade-offs” and cost-benefit analysis abroad as well as at home.
Kibbe compared the Syria debate, where many liberal and conservative activists are on one side while the congressional leadership of both parties is on the other, to the 2008 debate over the Troubled Assets Relief Program.
“It’s the insiders versus the rest of us,” he said of TARP and Syria. “The difference is that now the grassroots has a place at the table.” Kibbe noted that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie — all Republicans who ran on anti-bailout platforms and now oppose intervention in Syria — were elected “against the wishes of the party establishment.”
Paul’s 2010 primary campaign was one of the first GOP intraparty battles where national security hawks and budget hawks found themselves on opposite sides, but it wasn’t the last. Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist has in recent years recommended withdrawals from Afghanistan and cuts to the Pentagon budget.
“You don’t get to run a foreign policy without a cost,” Norquist said in an interview. “Some conservatives want to pretend that military spending isn’t government spending. The amount of money you spend shows how much you care about national defense. But we would be the first people to reject that liberal argument if the issue were education or something else.”
“This is a shift from where typical conservatives were even a few years ago,” Kibbe acknowledged, though this proposed military operation is broadly unpopular among rank-and-file Republicans.
FreedomWorks’ statement declares, “America’s international credit is more important than President Obama’s rhetorical credibility.”
The group is making the Syria war resolution a key vote in its congressional scorecard.
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