WASHINGTON—Liberal Bill Scher, Libertarian Tim Cavanaugh, and Conservative Jim Antle clashed Thursday night ahead of the Nov. 6 election, as each outlined his partisan perspective on military intervention; but all agreed on the careful use of drones in foreign policy decisions.
Antle, associate editor of The American Spectator, outlined his conservative approach of a “humble” foreign policy upon arrival to the panel debate, which was sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty, held on the American University campus.
“The initial strikes against those that attacked us were necessary but to go off and pursue regime change in other unrelated countries people already wanted to intervene in prior to 9/11 was simply casting about in search of a solution to a problem the political class was not really certain how to solve,” he said.
Scher, executive editor for liberaloasis.com, noted how some on the Left are upset with the Obama administration’s alleged extension of former President George W. Bush’s civil liberty restrictions, but he emphasized Obama’s ending of systematic torture.
“I think it is a huge, huge, earth-shattering difference that Obama is on the side of bottom up democracy in the Middle East in countries even when the dictators are helped by our allies,” he said, noting that presidents will not eliminate leaders from allied countries when people turn on them.
It was then that Scher and Antle exchanged jabs on the role U.S. Presidents play in regards to foreign dictators.
“I don’t think it was an across the board policy for Reagan to turn on dictators or play dictators,” said Scher and Antle noted that is also not the policy of the current administration either.
As the debate continued, Scher noted how leaders in Egypt got pushed out by ultimatums under President Bush.
“Obama said I would like to stop a massacre in Libya from happening, but if I can’t get a true blue international coalition through the UN then I might not do it,” he said, emphasizing the effectiveness of the contrast.
That’s all it took for Cavanaugh, columnist at Reason.com, to jump in and fire back.
“How about a true blue declaration of war through our own Congress?” he said, prompting a burst of applause.
One thing the three panel members did agree on, though it didn’t surface until the question and answer session, was a careful approach to drone technology where the mission is judged only on its merits, not how easy it is.
When asked about the major issue of this debate, 26 year-old Ryan Michie, a new resident and undecided voter from Alexandria, Virginia mentioned the “one-sided thinking.”
“We’re pretty much arguing over how much we should be involved,” he said, “There’s no talk of should we decrease taxes, should we decrease involvement in foreign affairs.”