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Inveterate Antipathies and Passionate Attachments

Jim Antle’s article on the foreign policy of realists and Tea Partiers sums up the last two months of the Hagel debate very well:

Chuck Hagel’s confirmation process has been the most depressing episode in the Republican foreign-policy debate since George W. Bush was president, not least because the debate is still constrained by terms set by John McCain and impersonators such as Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte.

Probably the most depressing aspect of this episode is the extent to which most of the new Senators aligned with Tea Party activists confirmed that they take their cues on foreign policy from more senior Republicans, all of whom endorsed the failed policies Bush administration and then learned nothing from those failures. This isn’t because it comes as a surprise that the prevailing foreign policy views among Tea Party-aligned Senators tend to be nearly as hard-line and hawkish as that of other Republican Senators. That hasn’t been news for some time. What makes this more dispiriting is that some of the Tea Party-aligned Republicans in the Senate are even more inclined to support the party’s ideological enforcement on foreign policy than many of their older colleagues.

Many of these Senators seem to be just as eager to punish even the mildest dissent against foreign entanglements and the warfare state as Bush loyalists were in the previous decade. To add insult to injury, Ted Cruz has the nerve to claim that he’s “considerably less hawkish” than his colleagues and to invoke Washington’s Farewell Address while he does it*. Cruz has evidently forgotten the part of the address in which Washington said that “nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded.” If anything instructive has come out of the spectacle of the last two months, it has been the massive display of “inveterate antipathies” and “passionate attachments” for nations other than our own, as well as how thoroughly these sentiments have driven far more pressing American security issues to the margins of the discussion.

* Cruz begins speaking at approximately 59:35. Reference to Washington and foreign entanglements comes at 1:00:34.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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