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Kasich’s Weird Global Paternalism

Molly O’Toole reports on Republican divisions over foreign policy on display in Cleveland this week:

Kasich clearly blamed Trump for what he described as an increasing attitude of “let’s just take care of us, let’s just pull the shades down, let’s lock the doors and let’s not take care of the rest of the world, let’s just take care of ourselves.”

Given Kasich’s own meddlesome and reckless foreign policy proposals, it doesn’t surprise me that he describes opposing views this way. What struck me about this statement was its tone-deafness more than anything. I assume most Republicans, like most Americans, aren’t interested in just “pulling the shades down” and ignoring the rest of the world, but many of them understandably and rightly object to policies that focus on “taking care” of other parts of the world at our expense and instead of looking after our own country.

One might ask why it is the job of the U.S. government to “take care of the rest of the world” in the first place. There are hundreds of other governments available to “take care” of their respective countries and presumably they have a much better idea of how to do that than anyone in Washington. More to the point, it isn’t and shouldn’t be the role of our government to “take care” of other countries, and I suspect when it is phrased this way other nations would resent the assumption that they need the U.S. to “take care” of them.

If Kasich holds Trump responsible for public disillusionment with an activist foreign policy, he’s wrong again. Trump is taking advantage of that attitude, but he is not the cause of it. It is fifteen years of desultory foreign warfare combined with domestic neglect and dysfunction that have made so many people receptive to any messenger–no matter how flawed–who even hints at not squandering American lives and wealth in unnecessary conflicts that provide the U.S. with nothing but additional headaches and costs. If Kasich and his colleagues still can’t grasp that, they’re even more out of touch with the country than I thought they were.

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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