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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Establishment Terrified Tea Party Won't Back Unnecessary Wars

Sunday, 29 December 2013 13:30
Written by  Thomas R. Eddlem 

The interventionist establishment is terrified that a reinvigorated Tea Party may prevent new unnecessary wars and foreign military interventions in the coming years, according to an article in Democracy magazine. 

The article — “R.I.P. Republican Internationalism” by Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb and Michael Kramer —  frets that “a common thread emerges: a Tea Party-wide reluctance to engage with the world, except for those they view as true U.S. friends, such as Israel.”

The authors of the article — reposted on the website of the center of America's political establishment, the Council on Foreign Relations — say that Americans can “count on three consequences then. First, a stronger, even more vociferous Tea Party. Second, a growing isolationist, anti-world impulse among its adherents. Third, much rougher opposition for any President wanting to conduct necessary business abroad.”

By “necessary business,” Gelb and Kramer mean ground wars and air strikes in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. And woe to those who oppose such foreign interventionism, since they risk being branded “isolationist” and “anti-world” — as the authors do in their article. Of course, the epithets are not accurate, since it is neither “isolationist” nor “anti-world” to want to stay clear of foreign quarrels.

Gelb (a retired New York Times correspondent) and Kramer fear that the Tea Party — which has continued to show strength and resiliency after the media trumpeted its death this past fall — “will threaten what remains of the Republican Party’s great tradition of internationalism and further strain the ability of any U.S. President to conduct diplomacy, to negotiate, and to compromise. To Tea Party members, these three staples of a successful foreign policy are akin to unilateral disarmament.”

Gelb and Kramer describe the Tea Party as a movement led by persons dedicated to “opposition to free trade, immigration reform, and attempts to resolve disputes involving Iran, Syria, and China with diplomacy.” Of course, it's not diplomacy that non-interventionist Tea Party members oppose, but unnecessary war and the “entangling alliances” that George Washington warned about in his Farewell Address.

Like the misstatements on war, Gelb and Kramer also mischaracterize Tea Party leaders on the issue of international trade: “Some, like Senator Rand Paul, have talked only about the ‘take’ — threatening a trade war with China in the quixotic hope that such a stance will cause Beijing to pressure nations like North Korea to bend to U.S. wishes.” But the only “trade war” Rand Paul (shown above) has called for is an increase in global trade. Paul told Washington, D.C.-based WMAL on September 11, 2013 that he wanted to trade with China, and to use diplomacy to encourage them to get their client states to stop subsidizing terrorism:

It’s in our self-interest to trade with China and to trade with Russia. But they need to be aware that that trade is dependent on them trying to get their client states to cooperate. And I think if that lever were used and if Russia could be convinced, and China convinced, that it’s in their self-interest to help bring these rogue nations back from the brink, then I think it’s possible that could happen.

In short, Paul favors the use of diplomacy over war, something neo-conservative and establishment interventionists have long opposed.

The authors particularly lament the electoral defeat of interventionist senators such as former Indiana Republican Richard Lugar,  who “represented Republican internationalist realism, and [whose] defeat was devastating, symbolically and practically. The Tea Partiers are now gunning for others formerly considered conservative stalwarts, such as Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Lamar Alexander, and Thad Cochran, four senators rightly seen as at least semi-internationalists.” 

Lugar, McConnell, and Cochran were in the Senate during the 2002 Iraq war vote (Graham and Alexander had yet to be elected), and all three voted for this unnecessary war. Yet Gelb and Kramer mourn the possible loss of their impact on foreign policy. Finish reading =>