By David Beilstein
Republicans are torn up at President Obama’s nomination of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense this past week. The former Nebraska senator was once upon a time on Republican presidential nominee George W Bush’s shortlist for Vice-President, and one of the first voices to offer foreboding warnings about the mess Iraq was becoming.
The knock against Hagel from Republicans was (and is) he is not a team player. That becomes truer now – taking up a possible cabinet position in a far left Democratic administration.
But here is where the trouble starts for the GOP.
What do Republicans mean by Hagel not being a team player? Is it because he saw the way Combatant Command and the Bush administration was handling Iraq? Afghanistan too?
Is it because he wanted accountability here?
Having served in Vietnam, the former Nebraskan senator knew what a troop sump looked like – and Iraq became one, unnecessarily, for years. Afghanistan did as well. Sure, it got worse under President Obama, but that isn’t argument for Republicans… it’s an argument against how President Obama has handled Afghanistan. No protests there.
Some moons ago, General David Petraeus rescued a losing situation but the problem is it never should have gotten so bad. So desperate. Despite the general’s hard won surge and subsequent leadership successes, the American people by huge majorities do not think the American excursion into Iraq was a wise policy – not at all. Such is another problem facing Republicans: a bellicose attitude toward the use of the U.S Military when they mishandled two wars, already.
It leaves little spark. Little muse.
The 2012 campaign illustrated American voters have no confidence when it comes to Republican foreign policy (or anything else). It’s been popular to blame the American people for this. But Republicans have had a large hand in screwing up the public’s perception of their own party. They have not led with competence. They asked government to be paternalistic when liberty of the individual means behaviors and values they dislike; they have spent money on massive big government programs while masquerading as limited government charlatans – and, the GOP has been an aggressive subsidizer of progressive income taxes while trying to argue for free market principals and fight against class warfare.
In our world, GOP foreign policy stances sound good; defend Israel, stop Iran; peace through strength. But when the expression of GOP policy looks anything but strength or peace there is major problems. Major disconnection. Hence, a major loss of faith has been built up within the American public toward the GOP.
And that’s not the American people’s fault. Republicans likely to attack Chuck Hagel for an honest assessment of a war(s) being lost – well, it is not going to score many points with voters. Honestly, I cringed when Mitt Romney answered questions about foreign policy. Sure, Obama’s foreign policy (minus increased attacks on Islamic-fascists) has been damning (it’s social engineering on a large scale) – but bad as Obama’s foreign policy is, it does not automatically make Republican’s foreign policy prudent.
That’s a false dilemma fallacy.
Republicans have a lot of nerve taking a more aggressive stance toward the world militarily when they scuttled the warship. It’s not going to play; and it’s playing far, far, less sympathetically to diverse groups of people who voted for actual peace through strength policies resonating out of GOP ranks in the 1980s, early 1990s.
Likewise, the Ron Paul and Gary Johnson vote is growing – it’s growing because Republicans have too easily bought into utopian philosophical ideas about the use of American military might (that we can transform the world into democratic “platoons”) rather than a perspective intimating from the Framers of this once free republic – one where military might is used to destroy enemy threats and secure American way of life. The quixotic foreign policy of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson is less than wise also, but elements of it are more inline with the Founding Father’s ideas about the role of American military prowess in the world. Thus, Republicans can blast Chuck Hagel all they want. It’s not going to matter. The American people see the alternative (how Republicans would do things militarily) as even less attractive, less wise – creating more war, less peace.
As with economic matters, so goes foreign policy. That’s what Tuesday, Nov. 6 was all about.