This Ben Carson statement on Russia and Syria in his interview yesterday sums up what Republican hawks routinely get wrong on foreign policy:

And even though Putin came in there and said he was going to fight ISIS, he’s really fighting the anti-Assad forces. What we need to be thinking about is how do we oppose him? [bold mine-DL]

Carson also repeated his support for a “no-fly zone” in Syria. He never makes clear why he thinks that the U.S. “needs” to be doing any of this. He takes it for granted that a Russian action in Syria demands a counter-measure from the U.S., but this seems to be a product of reflexive hostility and nothing more. It has nothing to do with Carson’s priority of “battling the global jihadist” [sic], and at best represents a distraction from that and at worst works at cross-purposes with it. Since the “anti-Assad forces” include the Nusra front and groups that are in league with them, it doesn’t make sense on his own terms that Carson cares about this. If he is concerned primarily with combating jihadists, opposing Russian moves in Syria is a waste of time and resources. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge the potential dangers of pursuing a policy of opposing Russia in Syria, but just automatically assumes that is what the U.S. ought to do.

Carson emphasized his interest in opposing Russia elsewhere:

We need to give Ukraine offensive weapons. We need to reestablish a missile defense system in the eastern bloc of countries so that we oppose him. Let’s keep him on the run…

I suppose Carson deserves some credit for not hiding behind the misleading “defensive weapons” phrase when calling for a measure intended to kill Russians, but otherwise he is just on hawkish autopilot here. The missile defense line is a ridiculous holdover from GOP attacks from six years ago, and seems to serve no purpose except to signal hostility to Russia. Like the other hawkish candidates, Carson has embraced mindless and unnecessary confrontation as the core of his foreign policy and as an end in itself.

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