Jacob Sullum

On the question of whether U.S. military action against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi set a precedent for U.S. military action against Assad in Syria, Biden last week said no, because "it's a different country." Ryan agreed that "each situation will come up with its own set of circumstances." This is how unprincipled recklessness masquerades as prudence.

Although neither Obama nor Romney currently supports direct military intervention in Syria, both favor arming "friends who share our values" (as Romney puts it) with help from proxies such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

How's that going? This week, The New York Times reported that "most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hardline Islamic jihadists."

Like Johnson, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., worries that "we are in too many places, too often, and we don't seem to even know the reason -- or where we will end up when we're done." Instead of learning from foreign fiascos, Paul says in a recent CNN.com essay, "both parties rush headlong into more places they don't understand."

For strategic, fiscal and moral reasons, we desperately need an alternative to what Paul calls our "'act first, think later' foreign policy." Unfortunately, neither major party is offering one.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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