Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 29, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE GOP'S FOREIGN POLICY....Moira Whelan notes that none of the Republican candidates in Wednesday's debate so much as mentioned the word "Annapolis":

Not only that, these guys were allowed to skate by with only sweeping assertions about "radical Islam" and the like. Not a single candidate was asked to address in detail what they would do to address the challenges we face...except to say that we should face them. No policy proposals, no tough ideas, just rhetoric.

That's because the Republican Party doesn't have a foreign policy anymore. For some reason, CNN chose to air only two questions directly related to foreign policy last night, which may seem irresponsible at first glance but actually turned out to be a sign of prescient good judgment on their part. After all, the first question produced nothing but bluster from Rudy Guiliani ("The most important thing to do is to make certain that we remain on offense against Islamic terrorism"), some followup bluster from John McCain ("If we'd done what the Democrats said to do six months ago, al-Qaeda would be telling the world they beat America"), and then some up-the-ante bluster from Duncan Hunter ("I will never apologize for the United States of America").

The second question produced — surprise! — some bluster from Fred Thompson ("Islamic terrorism has declared war on us in Western civilization"), more bluster from McCain ("This is a transcendent challenge of our time"), and yet more bluster from Tom Tancredo ("We are living in a world where we are threatened"). Ron Paul tried to break the mold, but only got booed for his efforts.

Nickel summary: Stay on the offense, never surrender, and never apologize, because Western civilization is under threat from the transcendent challenge of our time. See how easy it is? I've just written an entire section of the 2008 Republican platform for them. No need to thank me, though. I'm doing it for the children.

Kevin Drum 1:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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"Nickel summary: Stay on the offense, never surrender, and never apologize, because Western civilization is under threat from the transcendent challenge of our time. See how easy it is? I've just written an entire section of the 2008 Republican platform for them. No need to thank me, though. I'm doing it for the children."

Very good Kevin. Now can you do the same thing for your own party's foreign policy platform?

Posted by: Chicounsel on November 29, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Meant to add to first post: "Because none of your candidates seem to have any ideas of their own"

Posted by: Chicounsel on November 29, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I've always thought Ron Paul is stone crazy, but props to him for risking the wrath of those drooling maniacs by trying to tone down the bluster.

Posted by: mmy on November 29, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Nickel summary: Stay on the offense, never surrender, and never apologize, because Western civilization is under threat from the transcendent challenge of our time."

Translation: send America's children to fight and die in resource wars to ensure that US-based multinational oil corporations will control and profit from the world's dwindling supplies of cheaply-extractable high grade oil until it runs out.

In reality, there is a broad bipartisan Republican-Democratic consensus on foreign policy, which is that the US military should serve the private financial interests of America's ultra-rich neo-fascist corporate-feudalist ruling class, which in the peak oil era of the early 21st century primarily means military domination of the world's oil reserves.

For the foreign policy elites of both parties, that is the "transcendent challenge of our time." The "Islamic extremism" threat is bullshit to bamboozle the rubes.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 29, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Who knew that the radical isolationism of the Republicans before Eisenhower would be so welcome today?

Posted by: freelunch on November 29, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel wrote: "Because none of your candidates seem to have any ideas of their own"

Can you honestly say that Dennis Kucinich doesn't have any ideas of his own? I'm not asking if you agree with his ideas. But I don't think you can honestly say that he doesn't have any ideas of his own.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 29, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Right on the money, Kevin. Now, as for them Dems, how about a foreign policy that is not unilateral, not military might, that gets out of Iraq, doesn't invade Iran--that seeks an accord the with Muslims, etc.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on November 29, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Foreign policy pragmatism never sounds very good on the stump, but it works pretty well, Chicounsel. You don't need to demonize Moslems or threaten a trade war with China to make things work. You just need to have practical approach to the problems and be willing to work with others to solve problems. It may not be stump material, but it is what works.

Posted by: freelunch on November 29, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

You're right Kevin, it's too bad the Republican candidates can't come up with good ideas like traveling the world in the first year of office shaking hands in photo ops with Kim Jong Il, Fidel Castro, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I wish those types of foreign policy visionaries existed on the GOP side of the aisle.

Posted by: Homer on November 29, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: freelunch: Who knew that the radical isolationism of the Republicans before Eisenhower would be so welcome today?
Nothing radical about minding your own business and taking care of your own. G. Washington was right about avoiding foreign entanglements.

Posted by: Luther on November 29, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that this is bad news for the Dems, for where will they crib their foreign policy from if the Republicans don't have any?

Posted by: gregor on November 29, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, the answers were just sound bites, but that doesn't mean that they didn't have content. Many Americans favor withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Guiliani implied that as President he would continue fighting. You can disagree with his position, but it is a position.

McCain was entitled to boast that he was right. He recommended a surge in troops long before it became our policy. The surge is working. American and Iraq casualties have continued to decline in November.

Hunter's "never apologize" line also had content. Many people think the US should apologize, because they think we have treated Muslims and Arabs badly. IMHO we have treated them very well indeed, in many ways:

-- The US gives full rights to all Arab and Muslim immigrants. We encourage their full participation in American society. It's easy to take this for granted, but most European countries wouldn't meet this test. In fact, most or all Arab countries won't let Palestinian have full citizenship.

-- Bill Clinton acted to end the slaughter of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia

-- Our military were the first to bring significant aid after the Indian Ocean tsunami

-- We ended the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

-- Our rapid victory allowed food relief at a time when widespread starvation was imminent.

-- We rescued the Kuwaits from being conquered by Saddam

-- We ended Saddam's misrule of Iraq

-- We have given Afghan and Iraq citizens an opportunity to live free in a democracy.

-- We provided large amounts of reconstruction money to Iraq

-- Over the years, the US has provided enormous amounts of financial aid to Egypt and to the Palestinians.

I want a President who will be proud of all the good America has done. YMMV.

Posted by: ex-liberal on November 29, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Luther,

I'd be very happy if we withdrew all of our troops to within our borders. The bit that was radical was the complete denial on their part that anything that happened anywhere else could possibly affect us and their willingness to engage in trade wars how wrong they were.

The US needs to be involved in the rest of the world, but it needs to stop electing people who are so stupid that they don't know when the army is not the answer.

Posted by: freelunch on November 29, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Old man never-liberal,

Once you start talking about people collectively I know you are full of it. That includes your vague 'many people' and 'Muslims' and 'Arabs.'

Sheesh. Could you possibly generalize more?

Posted by: Tripp on November 29, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, who was the kook in Paul and McCain's exchange on Iraq in last night's debate? My point isn't really to dispute that Paul is a kook on some issues, just to dispute that this makes him in any way different from the rest of the GOP field.

Posted by: Crust on November 29, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Careful Kevin, I'm pretty sure 'always attack, never defend' is a trademark of Scientology.

Posted by: Tripp on November 29, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Sure, the answers were just sound bites"

Yes, dear, they were, and content-free ones, at that, wholly devoid of substance.

"but that doesn't mean that they didn't have content."

LOL.... Yes, dear, it does. Only a mindless partisan drone would think otherwise.

"You can disagree with his position, but it is a position."

Dear heart, there simply is no foreign policy content there, which is precisely Kevin's point.

"McCain was entitled to boast that he was right. He recommended a surge in troops long before it became our policy. The surge is working."

No, dear, it's not, since a) the decline in casualties has little to do with "the surge" and b) the stated purpose of "the surge," the political reconciliation is not only not happening, there is no sign at all that it will happen.

"Hunter's 'never apologize' line also had content."

Dear heart, mindless jingoistic nonsense is not "content." It's quite telling that you cannot tell the difference.

The rest of your post was just the usual mindless drivel and off-topic non sequiturs. Do feel free to come back when you've got some actual "content" to provide, won't you?

Posted by: PaulB on November 29, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Bomb every country that we owe money to! That'll show 'em! We may be bankrupt, but we still got a lotta bombs and missiles!

Posted by: Gay Old Potty on November 29, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"I want a President who will be proud of all the good America has done."

Yes, dear, we know: "My country, right or wrong." But there's a second part to that quote that mindless jingoists like yourself never can seem to remember: "if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." I want a president who lives by the entire quote. YMMV.

Posted by: PaulB on November 29, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lax at 2:06 PM:
- We rescued the Kuwaits from being conquered by Saddam
We spent blood and treasure to restore the Kuwaiti monarchy. Totalitarianism.
-- We ended Saddam's misrule of Iraq
And replaced it with Bush's misrule. 4,000,000 refugees, 1,000,000 dead, cholera, death, destruction, chaos.
-- We have given Afghan and Iraq citizens an opportunity to live free in a democracy.
Nope, you've installed a puppet government in Afghanistan and a pro-Iranian one in Iraq. Check with all segments of society to see how free and secure they've become.
-- We provided large amounts of reconstruction money to Iraq
No, you've provided large amounts of no-bid money to Republican supporters, but the Iraqis now have less electricity, pure water, sanitation, schooling and security than they had under Saddam
-- Over the years, the US has provided enormous amounts of financial aid … to the Palestinians
Are you calling cluster bombs "financial aid?" [I glad you approve of Carter's deal for peace with Egypt]
I want a President who will be proud of all the good America has done
Pity that description never seems to apply to Republican presidents. Just think of the death squads in the Reagan era alone. The shame he brought to America.

Posted by: Mike on November 29, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

A singular determination to bomb the fuck out of brown people is not a foreign policy.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 29, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Short GOP Campaign message: Fear the M&Ms (Mexicans and Muslims).

Posted by: Bill H. on November 29, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it interesting that in "ex-liberal"'s dubious paen to the good the US has allegedly done for Arabs and Muslims (which he, naturally, conflates), the topic of the US's policy towards Israel is conspicuous even by its absence...

Careful, "ex-liberal" -- your neocon agenda is perilously close to showing again.

Posted by: Gregory on November 29, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

"The US gives full rights to all Arab and Muslim immigrants. We encourage their full participation in American society."

Unless, of course, they send money home, make phone calls to their relatives, go to Mosque with someone they might not know or express opposition to the current US government policy. Then they can be thrown in jail without charge.

Keep trying ex-liberal, just by luck of the draw you might get something accurate evenually.

Oh, and of course, the rights of actual US citizens are somewhat compromised as well.

Posted by: JohnN on November 29, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Nickle summary of the Dem foreign policy:

Lay prostrate on the sidewalk outside the UN and pull a Wayne and Garth, wailing "we are not worthy..."

I don't think my characature is any less fair than your's, McCain, especially, has been much more lucid than Hillary or Obama. [I no longer support McCain, BTW] If fighting third world fanatics diverted from fighting the corruption and incompetence of their own cultures to trying to destroy ours isn't the transcendent FP issue of our lifetimes, what is.

Posted by: m insensitive on November 29, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Oh come on, Kevin. The GOP has a foreign policy. It consists of the following:

TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR-TERROR....

(Repeat ad nauseaum)

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on November 29, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm doing it for the children.

'cuz Wu-Tang is for the children.

Posted by: Thlayli on November 29, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Nickle [sic] summary of the Dem foreign policy: Lay prostrate on the sidewalk outside the UN and pull a Wayne and Garth, wailing "we are not worthy...""

Dear heart, do tell us where you can find a single Democratic politician or pundit saying anything even remotely like that, won't you? We'll be right here, waiting.

"I don't think my characature [sic] is any less fair than your's [sic]"

Yes, dear, but that's because, alas, you're a partisan moron. You see, dear, unlike you, Kevin actually backed up his "nickel summary." You, on the other hand, simply made shit up. That's why he's paid for his gig and you're pseudonymously trolling.

"If fighting third world fanatics diverted from fighting the corruption and incompetence of their own cultures to trying to destroy ours isn't the transcendent FP issue of our lifetimes, what is."

Dear heart, just what chance do you think these "third world fanatics" have of "destroy[ing]" our culture? That's just silly. Not only are they not a "transcendent [sic] FP issue," Bush's elevation of them to that exalted position has actually enhanced their status and their effectiveness, as well as harming our own national security!

Posted by: PaulB on November 29, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

My solution to 9/11:

Put lockable hatches on commercial airplanes.

Rebuild World trade towers using a plan that has them all in a row, 2 short towers, 1 tall one, 2 more short towers.

Actually find, prosecute and hang Osama Bin Laden. No real need to make a circus out of it. Enbalm the body and donate it to the Smithsonian.

Total cost, 1.5 trillion dollars less then this retarded bullshit that Shrubs is doing. And yet, i cant really imagine any jihadists being emboldened either.

Simple, easy effective. Or as we gamers like to say: thnx gg no re.

Posted by: Aaron on November 29, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK
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