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Why Cruz Represents The Worst of Both Worlds on Foreign Policy

Matt Lewis cheers on Ted Cruz’s foreign policy and defends it from some recent Beinart criticisms. Inevitably, he celebrates Cruz for being like Reagan:

But overall, Cruz is emulating Reagan’s style — a clear sense of America’s moral authority, with a realistic appraisal of what we can do militarily.

Lewis seems to have missed Beinart’s point. The problem Beinart identified with Cruz’s positioning is that he is usually in lockstep with hard-liners when it comes to (wrongly) assessing threats and reliably endorsing the use of force, but has no interest in any of the political conditions of the countries that he wants the U.S. to bomb. The fact that Cruz thinks bombing anyone back to the “stone age” is the right way to combat terrorism shows that he prizes sounding tough and belligerent over giving any thought to the consequences and efficacy of the military action he supports. In one of the quotes in the Beinart piece, we are told that Cruz “wants to dismantle and destroy ISIS.” At the same time, he is dismissive of all of the local political factors that could either undermine or bolster ISIS, and that’s probably because he doesn’t care very much about the substance of the policy problems and just wants to strike the right hawkish pose.

Cruz’s view is more or less what Paul Miller described as “killing lots of people and then going home,” except that the approach Cruz favors would make it unlikely that the second part–going home–ever happens. Cruz really does represent the worst of both worlds in that he wants to intervene in the affairs of other countries while remaining oblivious and indifferent to their political realities. That isn’t a “middle ground” between Bush and Obama or between McCain and Paul, but rather a dangerous and mindless foreign policy of “shoot first and don’t ask any questions.” It’s as if Cruz looked back at the caricature of Reagan that Reagan’s opponents created and chose to become that caricature in real life.

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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