Tuesday November 17, 2015
Something very odd is going on in Washington. I recently attended and spoke at a conference in Washington on “realism and restraint” as a broad formula to reform US foreign policy. Most presentations reflected that agenda more-or-less but oddly one of the speakers said that it was necessary for the United States to mark its place in the world while “carrying a big stick” while another panelist asserted that it was a core mission of the American people to “help other countries striving to be free.” Both were referring to how the US should comport itself vis-à-vis Russia and one had to suspect that they had wandered into the auditorium by mistake, intending instead to visit the nearby American Enterprise Institute.
That such views should be forthcoming at a conference featuring “restraint” might not in fact be regarded as particularly surprising if one bothers to listen to either the Republican or Democratic so-called debates. Nationalism and American “exceptionalism” are easy products to sell at any time, but recently there has been a strain of bellicosity that is quite astonishing to behold, particularly as only one candidate has ever served in the military, and he was a lawyer. One might call it “Chickenhawks on Parade.”
It is useful to consider in their own words what the GOP candidates said last Tuesday night. Carly Fiorina led the baying pack with “One of the reasons I’ve said I wouldn’t be talking to Vladimir Putin right now is because we are speaking to him from a position of weakness brought on by this administration, so, I wouldn’t talk to him for a while, but, I would do this. I would start rebuilding the Sixth Fleet right under his nose, rebuilding the military — the missile defense program in Poland right under his nose. I would conduct very aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States so that he understood we would protect our NATO allies…and I might also put in a few more thousand troops into Germany, not to start a war, but to make sure that Putin understand that the United States of America will stand with our allies… We must have a no fly zone in Syria because Russia cannot tell the United States of America where and when to fly our planes. We also have a set of allies in the Arab Middle East that know that ISIS is their fight…but they must see leadership support a