GOP Still Trying to Claim National Security Cred

Doug Bandow, former special assistant for policy in the Reagan administration and currently senior fellow at the Cato Institute, discusses recent Republican attempts to play the national security card on the Obama administration, as well as the Democrats in congress. Writing at the Cato-@-Liberty blog, Bandow says,

I have a lot of bad things to say about both parties on foreign as well as domestic policy. But it’s hard for me to imagine the previous eight years of Republican governance as a golden era for national security.

First there was 9/11. Perhaps it is too much to expect the Bush administration to have prevented the terrorist atrocity, but the administration did nothing over the Clinton administration to improve American defenses to prevent such attacks. Then there was diverting troops and attention from Afghanistan before that war was finished, to invade Iraq. The Iraq debacle occupies a category all its own. Policy towards North Korea was spectacularly misguided and incompetent: refusing to talk to the North for years as it generated nuclear materials, before rushing to embrace Pyongyang while offering few immediate benefits to entice the North to change its behavior. The results of this strategy were, unsurprisingly, negligible.

Refusing to talk to Iran had similar consequences. Washington refused to engage Syria, even though Israel was willing to talk to Damascus. The Bush administration further tightened the embargo against Cuba, again achieving nothing. The administration also continued the Clinton administration’s policy of estranging Russia by expanding NATO ever closer to Moscow, incorporating countries that are security black holes, offering geopolitical conflicts with no corresponding military benefits.

In the midst of all this, the GOP in both the executive and legislative branches led a sustained assault on civil liberties and limited, constitutional government even when doing so did nothing to forestall another terrorist attack.

The worst thing the Obama administration can do is maintain the status quo in American foreign policy – something they are already doing. While Obama will undoubtedly adopt a more nuanced and subtle style in dealing with the rest of the world, the fundamentals — an empire of military bases and self-designation as the “indispensible nation” — will remain in place. Republicans will argue that Obama is weakening the country, but, after watching those same Republicans do everything they could to accomplish that goal while posturing as “Republican Rambos”, that claim will defy all logical credibility.

Bandow concludes, “The Democrats may prove to be worse on all counts. I’ve long learned not to assume that things could not get worse.” But if the Republicans claims that they can keep the country safer than the Democrats turn out to be true, then the United States is in serious, serious trouble.

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