Thursday, 04 December 2014

Beware the Republican Internationalists

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Anyone who expects the new Republican majority in the Senate to slam the brakes on Barack Obama’s meddlesome foreign policy may be in for a big disappointment. According to an op-ed in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal, most of the new senators will be supporting more U.S. intervention around the world, not less.

The piece by Matthew Kaminski, a member of the Journal’s editorial board, carried the title, “The Revival of the GOP Internationalists.” In it, he says that John McCain (R-Ariz.) is elated that at least five of the newly elected senators — David Perdue in Georgia, Dan Sullivan in Alaska, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Thom Tillis in North Carolina — are all “pro-defense internationalists.”

Kaminski quotes McCain as gloating, “We picked up allies. I did not see Rand Paul pick up one.” Sadly, that is probably true, as so many superb candidates got sandbagged in the primaries.

McCain, who has long been considered one of the most ardent internationalists in the Senate, is now slated to become the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. As such, Kaminski points out, he will be in a powerful position to promote an “assertive” foreign policy.

When this happens, it will mark be a significant change for the Republican Party. Kaminski notes that in recent years the non-interventionalists in Congress (Kaminski prefers to use the derogatory but inaccurate label “isolationists”) won many of the foreign policy debates in recent years. He writes:

The tea-party turks said no to the 2011 intervention in Libya and last year’s proposed bombing strikes on Syria. No to electronic surveillance, data mining and drone strikes. The GOP signed off on steep budget cuts for the Pentagon.

Hmmm, do you see anything there that didn’t have the support of a healthy majority of your fellow Americans? I don’t.

But according to Kaminski, all of that is about to change. He says: “In giving them majorities in both chambers, Americans voters will expect a responsible and mature GOP strategy for a world in turmoil.”

You can bet that by “responsible and mature,” Kaminski means getting even more involved in the affairs of other countries. Kaminski’s piece opens with the line, “John McCain is happy.” It concludes with this:

“The current leadership in Washington, never mind in Europe, isn’t rising to the challenge. There’s an opening here for the right kind of Republican.”

You’ve got to know that for Kaminski and his masters at the Wall Street Journal, McCain and his fellow internationalists represent “the right kind of Republican.” Kaminiski says that Ted Cruz’s name may be added to this list.

The article notes that McCain has just returned from this year’s gathering of the Halifax International Security Forum, where he has been a regular for several years. This year, he was joined by Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has been a staunch critic of Obama’s foreign policy. McCain is quoted as saying that Cruz “is very much an internationalist.”

But Kaminski isn’t about to give Cruz a free pass into respectability; he had to take a final cheap shot at the Tea Party favorite: “The Cruz positions are either evolving, inconsistent or merely opportunistic.” And then he added, “You might call that the prerogatives of a ’16 hopeful.”

Pretty snarky, wasn’t he?

For a much better statement of what our foreign policy should be, read to the words of our first president. Here is what George Washington said in his farewell address:

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.

That standard served us well for the first 120 years of this country’s existence. Maybe someday we’ll elect more men and women who will try to return us to it. But if McCain has his way, it won’t be in the new Senate.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.


Chip Wood was the first news editor of The Review of the News and also wrote for American Opinion, our two predecessor publications. He is now the geopolitical editor of Personal Liberty Digest. This article first appeared on and has been reprinted with permission.

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