A revived GOP is definitely a bad thing if the party leadership is intent on embracing the same old ideas that lost them power in the first place. Some Republicans, buoyed by their victory in the midterm election, appear to actually believe that the results were an endorsement of the foreign and security policies of George W. Bush. As few candidates even mentioned America’s wars the assumption that the vote was an endorsement of the Bush doctrine is more than a bit of a stretch. Congressman Buck McKeon of California (I did not make that name up) has already called for developing “appropriate metrics” to reassess the timing of the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan, presumably to permit the engagement there to morph into a series of surges and become the longest in history, exceeding the ten years the Greeks spent in front of Ilium. Buck will likely head the House Armed Services Committee. He and other leading GOPers are defining “success” as eliminating use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base, the same objective as Barack Obama, avoiding the fact that the terrorists are actually in neighboring Pakistan and the war is only being fought to prop up a corrupt regime possessing little popular support. They are ignoring at their peril the domestic opinion polls that suggest that Afghanistan is both unpopular and increasingly regarded as a mistake, like the equally protracted involvement in Iraq. And Republicans are also bundling an assertive policy on Afghanistan with a more belligerent approach to solving other problem areas to include Iran, the increasingly popular Yemen, and the always entertaining Somalia. And then there is Cuba.
It is to be hoped that some of the Tea Party Republicans will put the brake on such policies but agitation by zealots like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who will chair the Foreign Relations Committee, will be hard to resist, particularly as she cares passionately about putting Cuba and Iran in their respective places while most other congressmen could care less and will go with the flow. Many Republicans in the House will reflexively support any policy that involves shooting guns and dropping bombs on mud huts somewhere in the third world.
And the Republicans will inevitably wrap their foreign policy into a new phase of the global war on terror, which means that the extralegal warfare taking place wherever Central Command and CIA deem it appropriate will get a new lease on life, not that Obama has been a laggard in that regard. But the mystery element in the mix is the Tea Party GOPers. Will they wake up to the fact that American empire is the driving force for budget deficits, big government, and infringement of constitutional liberties – all the things that they despise? What is the possible educational process that one can use to inform them of that linkage? Who will explain that the war on terrorism that has been taking place over the past nine years has been counterproductive, creating more terrorists than it is eliminating because of the heavy handed American presence overseas? Who indeed. Some believe that a natural cognitive process will somehow reveal to one and all that the whole system is broken, not just the part that does not relate to national security, but I fear that the thinking on the issue is already compartmentalized to such an extent that the obvious connection will never be made. Such a pity. Two more years of Republican obstruction and saber rattling before the party again disappears into the darkness will be succeeded by some Democrat like Hillary Clinton who will in turn make the GOP look good. And so the cycle continues on and on. It’s change you can believe in.