Why foreign policy reluctance must be part of the realignment of the GOP
Pigeons and realigners have the same enemies.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) speaks during a House Republican Leadership press conference at the U.S. Capitol on February 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Al Drago / Getty Images)
There are essentially two directions in which the emerging reorientation in republican politics can go: a brain trust for a presidential campaign by Marco Rubio or something similar. In this case, it is likely that it will take the path of “compassionate conservatism” or some invigorating force in Congress in two years’ time, much as the orthodoxy of the small government revitalized the Tea Party congressional wave. I would prefer the latter, and the election of Congressman Jim Banks to head the Republican Studies Committee is a promising sign. But so far, foreign policy has pushed domestic policy into the background, so here are a few words to prioritize the former a little more.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that a willingness to break with foreign policy consensus is the most credible sign that a reorganizer is willing to learn from the past. In all of our conversations about building a new elite, we can determine whether it is indeed a new elite and not just a new cohort joining the old one. President Trump’s stance on the wars has been hugely popular, even if his performance has not been convincing, and his Republican enemies in Congress are also the most relentless defenders of the national security state. Listen to Jeff Sessions interview on TAC Right Now for what a politician sounds like when he has actually learned something.
However, Congressman Mike McCaul, senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has learned nothing. Last week he went on CNN to demand that Trump dispel the fake QAnon insurrection that someone in the huge homeland security bureaucracy had predicted (probably the vaunted “intelligence community,” considering the first mention of March 3rd as a significant date in the press from the Deep State’s favorite press channel, PoliticoNatasha Bertrand). The willingness of old Natsec dinosaurs like McCaul to be played like this just has to stop. And we can assume that when Republicans are ready to be carried away by the deep state, they cannot rely on fighting the expansion of a lively surveillance state.
For political reasons, the military-industrial complex is occupied through the same problems of corporate consolidation and concern that exist in other sectors, and the consequences are even greater because they have the potential to compromise our security. It is also an area where the normal free market logic inherently does not apply, as the sector is created and sustained by government spending. Now that the Air Force has approved the F-35 is a mistakePerhaps we could even consider imposing consequences on companies that have dragged the American taxpayer away. We want Republicans who hold Boeing accountable and not join their board of directors like Nikki Haley.
However, the GOP’s turn in a more nationalistic direction is led by others who have advocated more cautious foreign policy in the past, often libertarians and allies of the magazine. By and large the pigeons, especially those in the libertarian area, at reason, the Koch network and elsewhere are extremely skeptical of the nationalist turnaround. On the other hand, the institutions associated with the realignment have either largely ignored foreign policy or have a Hawkian past: Claremont, for example, or the Hudson Institute, which at times moderated the podcast that coined the term The Realignment at all.
We should welcome changes of mind in any of these places, but I wonder if some of them protest too much against their attacks on libertarians. In this area, sincere reorganizers should be ready to overcome their disdain for libertarians as there is simply no other reluctant camp to turn to. It does not exist. As for libertarians, they should consider how to make profits on the foreign policy fronts that they actually like. Our board member Will Ruger’s willingness to work with the Trump administration paid more dividends than a thousand Cato policy papers. Had he been confirmed, he would have been less likely to have slowed Afghanistan’s withdrawal than anyone else who might be considered for the position. And as new congressmen are looking for staff to come up with a new nationalist vision for the GOP form, it is very important that pigeons get in there and help them because if they don’t, Liz Cheney will steer the party’s foreign policy agenda .
It is also important that reluctance be emphasized in the future as a battle to address China looms large. Even on these pages, there is disagreement about how serious this threat is, but for my part it appears to be more serious than the ones our eternal wars in the Middle East were intended to address. Regardless, it’s not difficult to envision a scenario where the blob would instead move its significant institutional resources to China. This is already happening; We may regret the treatment of Uyghurs in China, but it is the hand of American soft power that makes sure we hear about it and it is important to take this into account. Any problem looks like a nail to the hammer of the blob, and we cannot expect the confrontation with China to be handled with any more skill than the Iraq war. My litmus test for a politician or a political mandarin is this: Before they talk about a military response, they must have a plan to separate the United States from its economy in a way that will benefit Americans.
This is key: China needs to be addressed first and foremost because our economic ties with that communist power have negatively impacted working Americans, not because of a major ideological battle with communism. We are fed up with their crusades and we don’t want to let the same people lead another.
There are some subtleties to be done about Europe. The Italian Georgia Meloni did a little bit in her interview for the magazine last week. European populists are having a hard time finding a line on the United States, and the question remains whether the powers that be in the United States will tolerate any resumption of European national sovereignty. I doubt it, which is all the more why Americans have to criticize NATO.
The kind of voters who voted for Bernie and Trump in 2016 like low-key foreign policy. It’s popular, and it’s also popular to run against the blob. If you put a low profile on the realignment, it becomes clear that the dark murmuring in the liberal press about Josh Hawley’s incipient fascism has more to do with protecting the interests of the elite than with any kind of criticism in good faith. The self-proclaimed defenders of democracy do indeed defend their own status as managers, and when they go up against the permanent state of war it becomes clear. There is no problem where there is a greater gap between what employees want and what managers need. The managers say they want democracy, so we give it to them.
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