As the Trump administration cruises into year 3 with a robust list of achievements and an even longer list of things they will never let happen on their watch, the conversation turns naturally to foreign policy; not least because it was such a mess under the 8 years of Obama that it’s taken the last 2 years to simply clean some of it up.
Now that the cleanup has begun, debate has percolated in conservative circles about just what kind of foreign policy the U.S. should embrace. Do the neoconservatism and nation-building of the Bush years fit the geopolitical landscape of today, with a civil war in Syria, a burgeoning strategic alliance developing with the admittedly brutal Saudi regime, and Venezuela teetering on the verge of ousting Maduro?
What about the isolationist tendencies of some libertarian and moderate Democrats such as Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who both lean toward blaming U.S. military presence for the bad behavior of some foreign countries, and both of whom would like to bring all (?) the boys home as fast as possible?
Is there a middle point on this spectrum and should the Trump administration find it and pursue it?
Not a middle ground per se according to Sen. Ted Cruz (but more on that in a minute), who gave a fantastic speech Wednesday at The American Enterprise Institute on which direction he believes foreign policy under the Trump administration should move. Cruz calls his himself a “non-interventionist hawk,” or essentially someone who believes that the best way to deter having to intervene is by letting allies, problematic allies, and foes alike know that if the U.S. makes the decision to intervene it will be with ferocity, but that we won’t attempt to bomb nations into Democracy. And while that sounds like a middle ground between interventionism and isolationism, Cruz himself says it isn’t.
Because they don’t lie on the same axis, Cruz says. His approach is, alternately, another point on the triangle.
Josh Hammer has a great summation of the address over at The Daily Wire:
Since joining the U.S. Senate in 2013, Cruz’s foreign policy has consistently been in the wide chasm between Ron Paul-style isolationism and Dick Cheney-style moralistic interventionism. Cruz has been blisteringly hawkish on true national security threats to the United States and our core allies — his stances on the Shiite supremacist Iranian terror regime mullocracry and the Sunni supremacist Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas alike both come to mind — but as a doctrinal rule, he has generally been warier of the risk of prolonged military deployments.
Cruz tore into both the isolationists and the Wilsonian interventionists: “Some have never met a country they didn’t want to invade. Others have never met a theater they didn’t want to abandon.”
The Senator begins by lamenting the Senate’s abdication of responsibility in matters of foreign policy and in the end answers a question many conservatives have been asking: where is the soul of the GOP on matters of foreign policy?
Cruz believes it should be a balance between using “crushing military force” in the face of extremely dangerous enemies like Iran and a willingness to use the American bully pulpit, economic sanctions, and vocal condemnations of abject humanitarian abuses rather than American troops to send a message about American principles.
In short, he’s resurrected and updated Reagan’s mantra of “peace through strength”.
The entire speech is embedded below and is a must-watch.