Chris Christie’s recent foreign policy remarks were at once ridiculous and alarming. Here is one line from his speech:
We need to stand once again loudly for these values. And sometimes that’s going to mean standing in some very messy, difficult places. Standing long and hard for those things that we believe in.
I would say that this is a caricature of hawkish arguments, but unfortunately it is what most hawkish arguments can be reduced to these days. Christie’s speech was predictably light on details, but then so are most of the arguments he is adopting: whatever is going wrong can be linked to a failure to “lead,” the solution is more “leadership,” and that means more interference in the affairs of other nations. The most laughable part is that Christie wants us to believe that most other nations desire this:
The rest of the world watches in desperation and hope that America will realize and act upon once again its indispensable place in the world.
While there are some governments that are keen to get the U.S. to assume risks and responsibilities that they would rather not take on, it is generally not true that “the rest of the world” yearns for an extremely activist and intrusive America. Indispensability is the myth that proponents of U.S. hegemony promote to make it seem as if other nations welcome our interference and “leadership,” when the truth is that an activist U.S. is not needed or wanted as much as hawks want us to believe. At one point, Christie resorted to some especially goofy alarmist rhetoric. He said that a vacuum created by insufficient activism “is almost never filled by virtue, it is almost always filled by evil.” This reflects a worldview that is almost comically simplistic. Further, he asserted, “No one understands any longer who America stands with or against.” This is a claim that is so obviously untrue that it makes no sense to say it. Christie took almost every worn-out hawkish talking point from the last five years and just crammed them together. All of this reminds us why we should be very glad that Christie’s political fortunes are now much worse than they used to be.