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The Weinberger Doctrine: Why Rand Paul and Ted Cruz represent the Reagan Wing of the GOP on war.

The Weinberger Doctrine
The GOP near-universally views President Ronald Reagan as an ideological patron saint. But why do they call Reagan “a good president” and not follow his example? Republican critics of Cruz and Paul would do well to remember Reagan’s Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger developed a six-point test for military action in the deadly aftermath of the 1983 terrorist attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut:

1. The United States should never commit forces “to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies”;

2. The United States should have a “clear intention of winning. If we are unwilling to commit the forces or resources necessary to achieve our objectives, we should not commit them at all”;

3. Combat forces overseas should only be committed with “clearly defined political and military objectives” and “we should know precisely how our forces can accomplish those clearly defined objectives”;

4. Policymakers must be willing to continually reassess the strategic situation and “continuously keep as a beacon light before us … Is this conflict in our national interest? Does our national interest require us to fight, to use force of arms? … If the answers are “no” then we should not be in combat”;

5. “Before the U.S. commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress.”

6. Military action should be a last resort.

Weinberger’s test for military action had the lessons of the disastrous Vietnam War behind it and the moral supremacy of the Reagan Administration’s desire to prevent future military quagmires. The Weinberger Doctrine allowed the U.S. military the space to recover from the exhaustion and bloodletting of Vietnam and develop new tactics and weaponry for defending America against Soviet aggression.

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