The Next Wave of Foreign Policy Hawks
Jim Antle considers some of the implications of a Republican takeover of the Senate. Here he comments on the possible effects on foreign policy debate:
There might be another Marco Rubio, however, in Tom Cotton: the Arkansas Republican Senate candidate is articulate, fiscally conservative, and quite hawkish. Cotton is also a combat veteran. He is almost certain to prevail against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in a state where Obama is deeply unpopular. With him in, and the relatively civil libertarian Udall possibly out, will it change the complexion of the Senate on important foreign-policy issues like nuclear negotiations with Iran?
In addition to Cotton, the newest class of incoming Republican senators seems to be pretty reliably hawkish. Rubio made a point of praising Dan Sullivan’s foreign policy views, and Sullivan has shown that his views closely line up with those of Rubio and others like him. Sullivan has learned his boilerplate lines very well. Here is a sample:
Moreover, this tepid approach to global leadership diminishes America’s standing in the world and signals weakness, and weakness is provocative. The last six years of failed leadership have emboldened nations that would like to fill the void of American global leadership.
Unless Begich pulls out a surprise victory in Alaska tomorrow, we’ll be hearing a lot more of this from Sullivan in the years to come.
Colorado Republican Senate nominee Cory Gardner is something of a mixed bag. His foreign policy voting record in the House is not very extensive, and on the whole it is fairly conventional and not very good. On the plus side, he did vote against authorizing the use of force in Libya back in 2011, but then that was a measure that most Republicans also voted down. He has voted in favor of NSA surveillance reform, and has been praised by no less than Justin Amash on this count. However, Lucian McMahon pointed out last month that Gardner’s voting record on civil liberties is not as good as civil libertarians would like.
Unfortunately, Gardner’s campaign has also indulged in the most shameless demagoguery against his opponent’s view of the threat posed by ISIS. Udall correctly stated that ISIS doesn’t pose an imminent threat to the U.S., and Gardner and the NRSC are outraged that Udall knows what he’s talking about. On the question of arming “moderate” Syrian rebels, Gardner joined the majority in getting this one wrong and voting yes. Gardner is predictably opposed to reductions in military spending, and his position on withdrawal from ongoing wars (“it is important that we do not leave a region until it is secure”) means that he would probably vote to extend military deployments indefinitely. His position on Iran is to rule out containment. On almost every issue, Gardner has been a conventional hawk, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when he votes this way in the Senate. Replacing one of the better Democratic senators on foreign policy and civil liberties with Gardner definitely represents a step backwards on both sets of issues.