The Washington Post observes that the rise of ISIS has caused Republicans to strike a more hawkish tone on foreign policy. The Washington Post is correct.
Until very recently, few Republicans found much to criticize in President Obama’s retreat from the Middle East and, indeed, from the world at large. An anti-interventionist mood had made significant headway among Republicans and, indeed, seemed to prevail in the ranks.
There were honorable exceptions: Mike Rogers and, of course, Tom Cotton (among a few others) in the House; John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, Bob Corker, and (as much as I hate to admit it) Lindsey Graham in the Senate. But McCain and Graham were more ridiculed than respected for their hawkishness by large chunks of the Party.
This wasn’t just a question of failing to see the rise these groups. It was often a question of being unwilling to support U.S. military action, or even aid, to counter them. The terrorists were viewed as someone else’s problem, not as a threat to the U.S., and certainly not one worth spending money to deal with in the context of our massive debt.
Americans were “war weary,” and the once hawkish Republican Party was too.
Rand Paul is the most obvious (and dishonorable) example. Just two months ago, as the Post reminds us, he wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed chiding those who advocated increasing U.S. troop presence in Iraq and undertaking air strikes. “Many of those clamoring for military action now are the same people who made every false assumption imaginable about the cost, challenge, and purpose of the Iraq war,” Paul sniffed.
Paul now says that if he were president, he would “call a joint session of Congress. . .and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.” Ron Paul was not available for comment.
That’s quite an about-face by the Kentucky Senator. Could it have something to do with the fact that, according to a Pew survey reported by the Post, more Republicans (46 percent) now believe that the U.S. does do little to help solve global problems than believe it does too much (37 percent)? That’s a dramatic reversal from last November when, by a 52-18 margin, Republicans thought we do too much?
Ted Cruz goes further than Paul in his fervor to take on ISIS. According to the Post, he told a meeting of Americans for Prosperity that the U.S. should bomb the Islamic State “back to the Stone Age.”
Was Cruz taking a tough line against ISIS a year ago, when anyone paying attention knew it was emerging as a serious threat, but also knew that Republican sentiment was running against U.S. involvement in the Middle East and elsewhere?
I hope someone will show me that Cruz was taking a hard line. But as I recall, he was focused instead on the possibility of drone attacks by our government against American citizens in the U.S. In fact, he stood side-by-side with Rand Paul in the ridiculous filibuster against this imaginary threat.
How, after 9/11, could Republicans have taken their eyes so far off the ball?
It’s abundantly clear that the Democrats are unfit to deal with the threat that terrorists pose to world order and American security. But there is reason to fear that the Republicans may also be unfit for this purpose.