“Since WWII, there have been five elected GOP presidents: Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Only Bush II could be called a compulsive interventionist,” writes Pat Buchanan. In the last debate, sounding like Bush II, Marco Rubio said, “There are radical jihadists in the Middle East beheading people and crucifying Christians. The Chinese are taking over the South China Sea. … the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.” In contrast to Rubio, as Buchanan points out, “Donald Trump would talk to Putin, welcomes Russian planes bombing ISIS in Syria, thinks our European allies should lead on Ukraine, and wants South Korea to do more to defend itself.” Rand Paul wonders how we’re going to pay for a $1 trillion increase in defense spending.
“It was George W. Bush who gave the neocons their hour of power,” writes Buchanan and concludes here:
After 9/11, came the invasion and remaking of Afghanistan in our image, the “axis of evil” address, the march to Baghdad, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s doorstep, and the global crusade for democracy “to end tyranny in our world.”
Result: The Republicans lost both houses of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 when John (“We are all Georgians Now!”) McCain was routed by a liberal Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq.
With the exception of Rand and Trump, the GOP candidates appear to believe the road to the White House lies in resurrecting the attitude and policies of Bush II that cost them the White House.
From Marco and other voices on stage one hears: Tear up the Iran deal. Confront Putin. Establish a no-fly zone over Syria. Assad must go. Send offensive weapons to Kiev. More boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Send U.S. troops to the Baltic and warships to the Black Sea. Confront China in the Spratlys and South China Sea.
Responding to that audience in Milwaukee, most GOP candidates appear to have concluded that bellicosity and bravado are a winning hand in the post-Obama era.
Yet, those nationalist strongmen Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping do not seem to me to be autocrats who are likely to back down when told to do so by Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush or Carly Fiorina.