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Ted Cruz’s Foreign Policy and the “Paul-DeMint Caucus”

Jim Antle comments [1] on the growing number of Tea Party-aligned conservatives in the Senate:

Even with a growing Paul-DeMint caucus in the Senate, there is always a risk that the GOP’s small-government fervor will once again prove evanescent. We’ve seen Republicans who decried Hillarycare as a socialist plot embrace Romneycare and Medicare Part D. We’ve watched them oppose war in Kosovo and then cheerlead for it in Iraq. What will today’s Obamacare opponents favor tomorrow? Will those who were against intervening in Libya march to Iran and Syria?

Some of those questions can’t be answered yet, but there is at least a provisional answer to the last one. Antle mentioned Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul in the article. There is some evidence available that tells us what each one’s position would be concerning military action in Iran. Cruz’s views are the least developed, but based on what he has said so far there isn’t much reason to expect him to be skeptical about future military interventions. His answer in this voter guide [2] that I have cited previously suggests that his foreign policy would be much more like Rubio’s than Paul’s:

Iran and North Korea present perhaps the greatest danger in the modern world, specifically nuclear weapons (and the threat of nuclear weapons) in the hands of two of the world’s most murderous regimes. We must pursue all means necessary to contain that threat. International sanctions should continue to pressure the Iranian and North Korean elites to decide it’s in their best interests to abandon nuclear weapons – and, ideally, overthrow their current regimes [bold mine-DL]. In the meantime, Iran and North Korea must understand they face a threat of overwhelming force if we see any evidence that they might pass nuclear weapons on to terrorists or threaten us with nuclear blackmail.

The good news is Cruz was still willing to speak in terms of containment and sanctions rather than immediately calling for military action, but that’s not saying much. Otherwise, he is reading from the interventionist script. Pursuing “all means necessary” certainly leaves the door open to military action in the future, and his “threat of overwhelming force” remark indicates that he would be willing to support a large-scale war against both countries if he sees evidence that they “might” do either of the things he mentioned. (Why any government would hand off any of their nuclear weapons to a third party is something that hawks never attempt to explain, because the idea makes no sense.) It isn’t clear how Cruz reconciles his goal of U.S.-sponsored regime change in both countries with an effort to persuade these regimes that they should not have a nuclear deterrent. We can hope that Cruz adopts a less confrontational view once in office, but the early signs aren’t good. If Cruz is going to promote the cause of limited government, it appears that this will not extend to the government’s activities overseas.

DeMint was against the Libyan war, but that had more to do with the war’s lack of Congressional authorization than it did with the war’s goals. Mike Lee’s objections were similar [3]. Since Congress never did anything to protest the illegality of the Libyan war, opposition to it didn’t require any votes to be cast. It isn’t certain that many Republicans opposed to the war on constitutional grounds would have still been against the war if Obama had gone through the formality of requesting authorization. When it comes to Iran, DeMint and Lee are more predictably [4] hawkish [5]. The short answer is that their skepticism of the Libyan war tells us very little about their views on Iran policy, and it seems likely that they would oppose military strikes on Iran only if they were launched without consulting Congress.

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2 Comments To "Ted Cruz’s Foreign Policy and the “Paul-DeMint Caucus”"

#1 Comment By Imissbuckley On August 7, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

I agree with you on Cruz and DeMint, I disagree with you about Lee. Lee’s record on national security and foreign policy seems to put him closer to Paul than DeMint or Rubio for that matter.

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#2 Comment By GBH On August 8, 2012 @ 12:51 am

None of these people seem to have the slightest understanding or concern about what wars against their preferred opponents actually entail. At least in Korea, actual war would immediately result in a chaotic evacuation of Seoul, one of the largest cities in the world, which is entirely vulnerable to attack due to its relative proximity to the North. This would create an extraordinary strategic problem unless the US was willing to go nuclear almost immediately, which no one in their right mind would recommend as an option short of absolute necessity. The uncertainties of war seem to be entirely lost on the neocons and their allies, since most of them dodged any direct involvement in actual military service, and have no understanding of the issues involved in real war planning as opposed to arm chair generating at which they excel. Much the same applies to Iran, as it did for Iraq. There is no comprehension of what they are going to get into, and thus on sense of what calculations need to be made before you commit. War is sometimes inevitably, and even necessary, but it is the mark of a fool who thinks they can just go off and engage in war without consequences. The list of great nations that have been laid low by an over confidence in regard to war is long and will probably get longer as the neo-cons continue their takeover of the US defense establishment.