The GOP’s fractured foreign policy

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Debate points out foreign-policy divide among Republicans.

Many of the lefty writers who analyzed Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate at the Venetian suggested that had the event been promoted as if it were a Vegas show, the marquee might have read “Fright Night,” or perhaps “Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid.” The New Republic’s Jeet Heer claimed that while conservatives scoff at student demands for so-called safe spaces, they like the concept when it comes to sealing themselves off from jihadists: The Republicans might consider themselves as the party of freedom, but their true identity, as Tuesday night’s debate made clear, is the party of fear… The best articulation of this culture of fear…can be seen in the 1 percent doctrine as articulated by Vice President Dick Cheney…In effect, Cheney was calling for the United States to become one giant safe space, even if it meant massively overreacting to threats abroad. Bush championed, most are wary of being pegged as isolationists, particularly given Americans’ heightened fears of terrorism. “The fundamental debate is, well, if Bush did too much and Obama did too little, what’s the right amount of international engagement?” said Richard Fontaine, a former foreign-policy adviser to Sen.

Heer stated that hyping concerns about terrorism has worked before for the GOP: “With both academia and journalism cowed, the years after 9/11 were a golden age for Republicans, when they were able to push a large part of their agenda, not just in foreign policy but often domestically as well. So it’s no surprise that Republicans keep returning to the well: Stirring up anxiety in the electorate has been so profitable for them.” According to Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, the debate demonstrated yet again that jihadist groups have driven Republicans crazy (bolding added): [T]he first half of the debate was roiled by repeated invocations of fear, the celebration of fear, the demand that people feel and react to their fear. GOP leaders believe voters disappointed with President Barack Obama’s foreign-policy stewardship will be reluctant to elect his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. This was logically joined to hyperbolic and ridiculous claims about ISIS… Politically, the GOP has an interest in whipping up this kind of hysteria. First, though, Republicans must work out their own divisions, which could be viewed most clearly in Tuesday’s debate through the prism of the rivalry between Florida Sen.

But a substantial number of people in this country also clearly need this fantasy vision of a great clash between good and evil which is in its own way only slightly less apocalyptic and unhinged than the philosophy of ISIS itself. One of the most striking contrasts centered on how aggressive the U.S. should be in seeking to topple Middle Eastern dictators, some of whom have been bulwarks against Islamic extremists. Cruz cast himself as a realist, arguing that while autocrats like Syrian President Bashar Assad don’t share American values, their potential cooperation in fighting extremism is preferable to taking a chance on whoever might replace them. “If we topple Assad, the result will be ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests,” said Cruz. The candidates didn’t even bother to conceal their glee at having an opportunity to play at being caveman, bragging about how they were going to beat their vaguely defined enemies with very big sticks.

He argued that Assad’s iron grip on power in Syria has allowed Islamic State to thrive and said he “will not shed a tear” if he is pushed from power. The Florida senator reiterated his position Wednesday during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, saying, “This idea that we can lead from behind, or in the case of Sen.

Cruz, not lead at all, will just leave more of these vacuums in other parts of the world.” Most of the candidates have called for more aggressive action, though their plans have largely lacked specifics or been similar to steps the Obama administration is already taking. Esquire’s Charles Pierce challenged a premise that’s widely held, and not only by Republicans: “The first priority of a president is not keeping the country safe.

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