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Congressman John Campbell

Lessons Learned from Afghanistan

The world is an unstable place. If this seemed at doubt even a few years ago, it certainly is no longer. Some instability is a result of violence fueled by radical religious views or by aggression born of extremist ideology. Some of it is caused by long-standing ethnic conflicts or, as we are seeing in Ukraine, by the centuries-old desire of some to conquer neighboring countries simply because they are more powerful and want to expand their territorial footprint for any number of reasons.

In Washington, it seems as though there are only two reactions to all of this. One choice is to intervene everywhere. The other is to intervene nowhere. I think both of these strategic frameworks are equally flawed. To intervene everywhere will overwhelm both our military and financial resources, not to mention potentially lead to unrest at home as a result of the inabilty to accomplish our desired goals. To intervene nowhere assumes that the conflict and violence across the globe will never reach a point where it directly threatens us, which the lessons of history belie.

The great question, of course, is when do we intervene and when don’t we? And, how far should we go… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Shifting Strategic Perspectives Abroad

Foreign Policy: My parents, who have now passed away, were both born around the start of World War I. They were of the “greatest generation” that came to adulthood during the depression and World War II. They grew up in a world where it was us and other democracies against the fascists and imperialists across the oceans. We had the white hats. They wore the black hats. The white hats won. It was all pretty clear.

I was born in 1955, square in the middle of the “baby boom” generation. We came of age during the Cold War and the Vietnam War. It was still pretty clear. There were 3 worlds: us with the white hats, the communists with the black hats, and the “third world” that we and the communists fought over. The Vietnam War was America’s first experience with a conflict that arguably did not result in the defeat of the opposition, which spoiled our air of invincibility. But, our objective for the Cold War, as Ronald Reagan famously described, was, “We win. They lose”. And, that is what happened. Also pretty clear.

After the Cold War came the “peace dividend” and a hope, if not an… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Fix It

There are a lot of things messed up in America today. On this, there is pretty much universal agreement. We have no energy policy, no manufacturing policy and an antiquated tax code that is complicated and inefficient. We are facing crushing deficits and debt that will soon lead to a European-style collapse. The economy continues to be weak and fewer people are working today than over 3 years ago when Barack Obama was sworn in as president. So many people have become discouraged that the number of people working or trying to find work is the lowest percentage of the eligible workforce since back in the Jimmy Carter recession days. The critical housing market is stuck, gas prices are high and going higher and the costs of our health care system keep rising and reform is needed. The public’s confidence in Congress and the President is low, perhaps even at an all-time low, and there is little trust out there for major institutions, be they public or private. We are mired in a seemingly endless conflict in Afghanistan even as we face new and changing threats all around the world.

Makes you want to fill your bathtub with beer and go drown in… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Silos

I don’t fit neatly into a box. I am a conservative Republican who doesn’t raise taxes and votes to cut nearly every bit of government spending I can find. But, I am against the wars in Afghanistan and Libya, think we should cut defense spending, support legalizing internet gambling, sponsor a lot of bills to prevent abuse of animals, want pristine, clean oceans and believe we need some government support of home mortgages. No, that is not a box.

For those of you who don’t know my background, I am a native Californian raised by two very conservative and politically active parents. “We were Taft Republicans”, my mother often told me to make sure I understood that Dwight Eisenhower was way too moderate for them. The last Democrat I voted for was Sam Yorty for Mayor of Los Angeles in the 1970s. I think he later changed parties. I’m about as Republican as you get.

But, my ideology guides my thinking. It does not replace it. I believe that this job is about solving problems. And, there is never only one prescription to right every wrong. Napoleon Bonaparte was certainly the most brilliant military strategist of the 19th century and… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Chaos in Washington

If I were to tell you things were chaotic in Washington last week, you might correctly exclaim, “So, what else is new?”. But, things seem to be even more chaotic than normal right now. I submit the following rundown for your consideration:

The President announced his latest strategy for Afghanistan in which he tries to thread the policy needle by giving a timetable for some withdrawal, but at the same time keeps more troops there throughout his term than at any time during the Bush presidency. I don’t think he succeeded in pleasing anyone with this plan – certainly not this Member of Congress. He also still has not indicated what it is we are now fighting for and what the desired end-state looks like. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is largely out of Afghanistan. Are we nation building? I think we are and I don’t think that is worth $2 billion a week and more American lives. I also believe you either fight wars with all you’ve got, or don’t fight them at all. Vietnam taught us that. The President seems to want to fight half a war. Speaker Boehner criticized the President’s speech and basically called … Read More