Wacko Birds vs. Angry Birds split in today’s tumultuous GOP has
tended to distract from the split-within-the-split when it comes to
Tea Party types and foreign policy.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), representing the
anti-interventionist strain, has
insisted from the get-go that the Tea Party is an explicit
rejection of neoconservative belligerence. While that seemed like
wishful thinking in 2011, the notion gained more plausibility by
September 2003, when many TP groups and politicians went all-in
against the Obama administration’s
neocon-backed attempts to use force in Syria. When Paul’s
ambitious and considerably more hawkish Wacko Bird Senate
colleagues Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida)
joined the doves on Syria, it was a telltale sign that the
intervention was doomed.
Well, that was then. Vladimir Putin’s thuggish takeover of
Crimea and menacing gestures toward Eastern Ukraine are generating
a lot of hawk-talk about the alleged consequences of American
“weakness,” and its possible embodiment in
anti-interventionists like Paul. On
ABC News yesterday, O.G. Wacko Bird Ted Cruz made it
“I’m a big fan of Rand Paul. He
and I are good friends. But I don’t agree with him on foreign
policy,” Cruz said. “I think U.S. leadership is critical in the
world. And I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to
deploy military force abroad. But I think there is a vital role,
just as Ronald Reagan did… The United States has a responsibility
to defend our values.” […]
“A critical reason for Putin’s aggression has been President
Obama’s weakness,” Cruz told Karl on “This Week.” “That Putin fears
no retribution… [Obama’s] policy has been to alienate and abandon
our friends and to coddle and appease our enemies.”
“You’d better believe Putin sees in Benghazi four Americans are
murdered, the first ambassador killed in service since 1979, and
nothing happens,” Cruz added, echoing comments by
other Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “You’d better
believe that Putin sees that in Syria, Obama draws a red line and
ignores the red line. You’d better believe that Putin sees all over
When asked about Russia’s record of aggression before Obama
became president, including its invasion of Georgia during the
presidency of George W. Bush, Cruz instead slammed Obama […]
Rand Paul, who
one year ago went to the Heritage Foundation to unveil what he
portrayed as his Reaganesque vision for foreign policy,
did not take kindly to Cruz’s co-opting of the Gipper, writing
a Breitbart.com column titled “Stop Warping Reagan’s Foreign
Reagan clearly believed in a strong national defense and in
“Peace through Strength.” He stood up to the Soviet Union, and he
led a world that pushed back against Communism.
But Reagan also believed in diplomacy and demonstrated a
reasoned approach to our nuclear negotiations with the Soviets.
Reagan’s shrewd diplomacy would eventually lessen the nuclear
arsenals of both countries.
Many forget today that Reagan’s decision to meet with Mikhail
Gorbachev was harshly
criticized by the Republican
hawks of his time, some of whom would even call Reagan
In the Middle East, Reagan strategically pulled back our forces
after the tragedy in Lebanon in 1983 that killed 241 Marines,
realizing the cost of American lives was too great for the
Without a clearly defined mission, exit strategy or acceptable
rationale for risking soldiers lives, Reagan possessed the
leadership to reassess and readjust.
Today, we forget that some of the Republican hawks of his time
criticized Reagan harshly for this too, again, calling
him an appeaser. […]
I also greatly admire that Reagan was not rash or reckless with
regard to war. Reagan advised potential foreign adversaries not to
mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.
What America needs today is a Commander-in-Chief who will defend
the country and project strength, but who is also not eager for
Regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for example, there is
little difference among most Republicans on what to do. All of us
believe we should stand up to Putin’s aggression. Virtually no one
believes we should intervene militarily.
So we are then faced with a finite menu of diplomatic measures
to isolate Russia, on most of which we all agree, such as sanctions
and increased economic pressure.
Yet, some politicians have used this time to beat their chest.
What we don’t need right now is politicians who have never seen war
talking tough for the sake of their political careers.
Tart, substantive exchanges like that are one of the reasons I
lament the GOP’s decision to
condense its 2016 presidential nominating schedule. The
Republican Party’s approach toward foreign policy is up for grabs,
and with it the party’s potential popularity. Surely on questions
of life and death, more debate is better than less.
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