Back To The (Bush-Cheney) Future

Apr 26 2012 @ 12:33pm

An excerpt from Rubio's "Bush-Cheney on steroids" foreign policy speech delivered at Brookings yesterday:

I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. … I disagree with voices in my own party who argue we should not engage at all. Who warn we should heed the words of John Quincy Adams not to go "abroad, in search of monsters to destroy". I disagree because all around us we see the human face of America’s influence in the world. It actually begins with not just our government, but our people. Millions of people have been the catalyst of democratic change in their own countries. But they never would have been able to connect with each other if an American had not invented Twitter.

So why aren't these technological tools not more effective than military occupation of places we will never understand or control? Michael Brendan Dougherty calls it the "most hawkish foreign policy speech since Woodrow Wilson": 

This is a prescription for endless war. It is also patently untrue. Not even the Soviets could bring peace to all the small hamlets of Afghanistan, and we haven't been able to do it either, despite being vastly more sophisticated, wealthier, and spending much longer in that nation. If our security depends on the safety of villages in Pakistan, a basket-case nation in Asia that has received an enormous amount of American aid and protection since World War II, we can never consider ourselves safe. 

But that is the point. If that is your criterion for safety, you have to have a permanent global hegemony and a massive military (afforded by more borrowing from China or slashing medical aid to the old and the poor). Rubio also failed to mention Iraq. Surprise! The Iraq war never happened. It was an illusion. Getting a Shiite soft autocrat in power, alongside the man who killed more Americans than any single actor, Moqtada al Sadr, is a success! It only cost around a trillion dollars, killed and maimed thousands of young Americans and created a sectarian bloodbath that took up to 100,000 lives. What's not to like?

Even Friedersdorf is taken aback by the total denial of anything that happened between 2003 – 2011. Joshua Keating interpreted the speech as unexpectedly "bipartisan" in nature. Ryan Lizza is in the same ballpark:

Everything about the speech was meant to send a message of bipartisanship. He was accompanied by Joe Lieberman, the hawkish ex-Democrat, and introduced by Brookings President Strobe Talbott, deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration. He began by noting that he often partners with Democrats in the Senate, and he name-checked Bob Kagan, the author and foreign policy thinker most famous these days for being mentioned by Barack Obama as his major influence.

Lieberman is not bipartisan on foreign policy. He's a neocon fanatic, as is Kagan. Larison notes

Rubio’s nods to multilateralism in the speech were mostly perfunctory. His impatience with the multilateral response in Libya was obvious, and his insistence that more can and should be done by the U.S. in Syria puts him clearly at odds with what Obama has been doing. His comments on U.S. policies toward Russia, eastern Europe, and Latin America could have been penned by a Romney campaign staffer, and his alarmism over Iran is typical of what we have heard from most of the Republican presidential field.

Which is to say: neoconservatism has never gone away, it remains unreconstructed in the minds of many, and the Iraq war and endless drain in Afghanistan has taught the GOP nothing but to do more of it, everywhere.