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Cruz’s Preposterous Foreign Policy Team

Jacob Heilbrunn sums up [1] my reaction to Ted Cruz’s list of foreign policy advisers [2]:

If Cruz was seeking to burnish his bona fides as the new Joseph McCarthy of the GOP, whom he physically resembles, then he has done well. But his motley crew of advisers further tarnishes the Republican party.

Cruz has cobbled together a group of conspiracy theorists and fanatical hard-liners to advise him on foreign policy. This is not very surprising for anyone that has listened to the senator talk about foreign policy issues for very long, but it’s worth noting. He has criticized interventions in Libya and Syria, and he has faulted neoconservatives for their dangerous support for regime change in the past, but on many other issues he has no disagreements with neoconservatives at all. When Cruz disagrees with them, he often does so for hawkish nationalist reasons that lead him to endorse a different set of reckless and irresponsible policies.

The presence of Frank Gaffney and Andrew McCarthy among his advisers is not at all surprising, but it confirms what we already know about Cruz. Cruz’s main objection to regime change in some predominantly Muslim countries stems from his obsession with exaggerating the threat from jihadist and Islamist groups, and he shares that obsession with these advisers. Gaffney is also responsible for inspiring Cruz’s interest in the imaginary threat from EMPs, which along with hallucinating Muslim Brotherhood takeovers of the government is one of his major preoccupations [3].


Heilbrunn mentions that Gaffney has been waging a long-running smear campaign against Grover Norquist, but the more significant lie [4] that Gaffney has been spreading for years is that U.S. foreign policy is being directed by the Muslim Brotherhood. That is just one of his many absurd claims over the years [5]. This is the sort of unhinged, obvious nonsense that is usually not even worth addressing, but since one of the top two Republican candidates for president is listening to someone like this it worth calling attention to it. Cruz has proven once again that he has terrible foreign policy judgment, and he disqualifies himself by indulging the worst sort of conspiracy theorizing and alarmism.

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24 Comments To "Cruz’s Preposterous Foreign Policy Team"

#1 Comment By Lee On March 18, 2016 @ 3:12 am

The Cruz apple doesn’t fall very far from the Goldman Sachs and “W” Bush NeoCon tree. It’s all a ruse, er…Cruz.

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 18, 2016 @ 3:12 am

What a gaffe Gaffney is. At least Trump only watches Bolton on Fox TV. You need to be inoculated for rabies before personally meeting up with some of these foam-flecked war dogs.

#3 Comment By cecelia On March 18, 2016 @ 4:00 am

The irony of Cruz and other right wingers obsession with EMP’s is that our electrical grid is vulnerable in many ways and so rebuilding it would be a sound idea. But it is precisely those GOPers who fantasize about EMP’s who obstruct any attempt at rebuilding the grid.

Cruz demonstrates once again that for an allegedly intelligent guy – he really does not handle facts very well.

#4 Comment By Ian G. On March 18, 2016 @ 9:12 am


For a religious fanatic like Cruz, facts are annoying things that tempt one to stray from the One True Path and must be ignored or actively fought.

I still haven’t figured out how exactly Trump is supposed to be more dangerous than Cruz to this country. I don’t care so much that Trump is an ignorant vulgarian. Ted Cruz might be intelligent and refined, but then again, so was Ted Bundy.

#5 Comment By Uncle Billy On March 18, 2016 @ 9:20 am

Cruz is a very smart guy, Princeton undergrad, Harvard law, but I think that his hard line Evangelical religion prevents him from engaging in any real independent, critical thinking. he is clearly not an out of the box thinker. He just spouts slightly modified neocon talking points. What’s so smart about that?

#6 Comment By Chris Chuba On March 18, 2016 @ 9:21 am

I always got the sense that Cruz was triangulating on foreign policy. While he is against toppling Assad he was equally obsessed, along with the other Hawks, in kicking the Russians out of Syria …

The link above is Cruz’s own op-ed. How does it make sense to oppose toppling Assad and to also crush his material support? He also cites the usual platitudes regarding American Exceptionalism when referring to Putin’s NYT editorial.

I think it’s past time for us to start listening to other countries rather than talk past them and maintain a belief in our own infallibility. Putin actually said that the destruction of govt institutions leads to instability and our version of Exceptionalism tramples on local sovereignty and international law. Ted Cruz made is sound like Putin fears the U.S. Exceptionalism like a vampire fears sunlight.

We don’t necessarily have to agree with other countries but we need to start listening.

#7 Comment By Clint On March 18, 2016 @ 10:10 am


Members of Cruz’s National Security Advisory Team include Frank Gaffney, Andrew McCarthy, Michael LeDeen, Elliot Abrams.

Cruz is a career Lawyer/Politician financed by Neoconservative Big Money Donors, who was with The Bush Administration, from Bush Election Committee, to Bush Transition Team.to Bush Federal Trade Commission, to Bush Justice Department

#8 Comment By collin On March 18, 2016 @ 10:13 am


I have never trusted Cruz as being a foreign policy realist even after his pushbacks against Obama on the Syrian bombing. I felt it was simply Jim Antle’s point about Rand Paul foreign policy which “Made the most sense only when it was against President Obama” Basically Cruz was against the Syrian because Obama was for it and showed little of his foreign policy instincts.

Considering Ted Cruz will tear up the Iranian nuclear deal Day One, that proves to me Cruz has neoconservative foreign policy instincts.

#9 Comment By sherparick On March 18, 2016 @ 11:04 am

I don’t know if Gaffney really believes his crap or just playing the Big Con. As for Cruz, I prefer the term “fundamentalist” to the broader term of Evangelical Protestant. Fundamentalism by definition means the crushing of all critical thinking about matters of faith and reducing reason to just an instrument to do battle with the unbelievers. Cruz is very much about a Christian Dominionist and his use of “Religious Freedom” is very Orwellian. To him it means the the freedom to impose his particular and heretical brand of Christianity on the rest of us and punish the wicked. That the Republicans could put ither Trump or this guy in the White House is mind blowing.

#10 Comment By Roy Fassel On March 18, 2016 @ 11:41 am

Cruz: “If we allow our leaders to be selected from non-believers we shouldn’t be surprised when our leaders don’t share our values. So what I’m working to do more than anything else is energize and empower the grassroots and do everything we can for Christians to stand up and vote biblical values.”

Followed by this…



#11 Comment By Beat The Devil On March 18, 2016 @ 11:45 am

At this point the correlation between losing primaries and having prominent neocons on your foreign policy team is very clear.

Voters don’t like candidates with neocon foreign policy advisors.

But what with the Washington Post’s hysteric call for the GOP to use insiders and convention rules to keep Trump from being nominated, and what with the role the neocons play in the GOP establishment, Cruz could be making a smart tactical move.

In fact, if Trump is ultimately denied the nomination it will have been the neocons who did it – they have attacked him consistently and vociferously from the outset. Now that the field has narrows, this makes them Cruz’s natural allies. But only up to the start of the convention: if Trump were neutralized at the convention the neocons would immediately drop Cruz in favor of a more pliant tool on a second or third vote.

Cruz needs to understand that the neocons don’t care how Israel-friendly he is. They take rabid pro-Israel talk for granted. They don’t want friendliness. They want control. And they only get control from malleable, ignorant, or dumb candidates (e.g. Dan Quayle, G. W. Bush). Cruz is many bad things, but malleable, ignorant, and dumb he is not.

#12 Comment By Nature’s Way On March 18, 2016 @ 11:55 am

It’s like watching what happens after a termite-infested tree is split open. The termites rush about for a while, angry and confused, then start wriggling toward another source of food.

#13 Comment By Liam On March 18, 2016 @ 12:12 pm

This is about the pivot to Cruz 2020.

#14 Comment By KD On March 18, 2016 @ 1:09 pm

Does anyone have any sense of the impact of the “anonymous” threat to Ted Cruz re prostitution scandal, or DailyKos reporting on judicial requests to release the names of 815 clients of DC Madame Paulfrey, as well as records from 40 other DC escort services, which Paulfrey’s lawyer claims is relevant to the presidential election?

Does anyone care anyway about some “family values” politician involved in “missionary work” with escorts?

#15 Comment By SteveJ On March 18, 2016 @ 1:30 pm

Well regime change in these areas promotes extremism. Democracy with a capital D and extremism go hand in hand. That Cruz recognizes this is a plus. To wipe this recognition aside by stating that the threat of the extremism that results from such absurd policies is inflated strikes me as a bit convoluted.

The regime change was not in our interests. Cruz recognizes this. And that is a welcome development.

#16 Comment By jamie On March 18, 2016 @ 1:31 pm

Both Cruz and Trump seem to be tuned-in to the foreign policy ideals of the base voters.

Republican base voters don’t reject foreign wars and belligerence out of a principled belief in non-interventionism, they reject foreign wars because we lose them, and they are desperate for someone who will promise them victory, or at least a “muscular” and antagonistic foreign policy that will not carry the stink of defeat or weakness.

Trump and Cruz both offer a foreign policy that would give America the indulgence to topple whatever regime we wish, and murder whomever we please; the only innovation over Bush II is it simply provides a rhetorical framework to explain away and shift the blame when the inevitable reverses occur. And this is mostly about positioning in media — in the case of Cruz, we can crush Assad with sanctions and by supporting his enemies, but as long as we never have “boots in the ground” we take no blame for the chaos of power-vacuum that follows him in debellation.

#17 Comment By Myron Hudson On March 18, 2016 @ 1:36 pm

At dinner last night my neighbor and I agreed that the biggest part of Trump’s success is the incredible poor quality of his competition.

#18 Comment By American Red Tory On March 18, 2016 @ 2:20 pm

Gaffney is every bit as paranoid, and every bit as much a conspiracy theorist, as Alex Jones.

Yet Jones is rightly viewed as a fringe figure, whereas Gaffney is admired and consulted by supposedly mainstream major-party politicians. What gives?

#19 Comment By SteveM On March 18, 2016 @ 2:27 pm

BTW, Gaffney runs a typical 501c “non-profit” Think Tank Pimp Tank in DC, (The Center for Security Policy).

And as usual, Gaffney is paid over $300,000 a year for merely gas-bagging the fear monger scripts written by Crony defense contractors that fund his Center.

Several years ago Gaffney and other Neocon stooges simultaneously wrote a bunch of articles in the Washington Times and other Neocon outlets about the critical need for more missile defense. (Venezuela targeting San Antonio with Iranian missiles was a potential threat.) I mean out of nowhere, those guys concurrently decided that there was an existential missile threat to the United States. What a coincidence…

Make no mistake, those calculated mind dumps had the Lockheed and Raytheon rubber stamps all over them.

I knew that Cruz was a strange, cronied-up duck out of the box. Nice to see that this information confirms it.

#20 Comment By cecelia On March 18, 2016 @ 4:20 pm

Isn’t LeDeen the guy who wrote the fraudulent report that Italy had sold Sadaam Hussein yellowcake? The report Bush used as part of the WMD excuse to invade Iraq?

But people will vote for Cruz. Unbelievable.

#21 Comment By W.E.B. Dupree On March 18, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

Funny stuff by Heilbrunn. Sometimes you have to either laugh or cry… or run from the room screaming.

“Rise of the Conspiracons” could be the title of the next Transformers movie.

#22 Comment By Student On March 18, 2016 @ 6:13 pm

Yep, Cruz is a wacko. His professed current positions on illegal aliens and TPP would soon be discarded, but not the twisted reasoning on foreign policy. Just another Bush machine operative.

#23 Comment By JR On March 18, 2016 @ 6:46 pm

Intelligence does not always equal sound judgement. Cruz is clearly bright and articulate, but his judgement is bewilderingly rotten.

He’s not a serial failure like W Bush was, and in that sense has little to prove with a reckless foreign policy. And let’s face it; Bush wasn’t very bright…especially for an Ivy League history major. So a plausible case can be made that he was duped to a degree by Cheney and the Neocons; more likely his “daddy issues” played a big part as well.

Cruz is pure ideologue…and a sanctimonious worm to boot. If you liked the Bush II years, by all means vote for him…it’s exactly the same only with a double-helping of “Jesus sauce.”

Cruz in a nutshell: Vote Jesus/”values” and get pure Mammon-worship as policy and an utterly demented foreign policy.

#24 Comment By Mike On March 19, 2016 @ 5:27 pm

The Cruz team is disappointing. I voted for him even though I prefer Trump because I am concerned Trump won’t be there in the end. After seeing the neocon nut foreign policy team I am Trump almost all the way. The Cruz FP team does look like George W. the sequel and I don’t think the “conservative” movement or the GOP can take another round of pointless wars.