Listening to the more vocal voices of the GOP one might think so.
According to Sen. Lindsey Graham, Vladimir Putin’s move into Crimea “started with Benghazi.”
“When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression,” said Graham. Putin “came to the conclusion after Benghazi, Syria, Egypt” that Barack Obama is “a weak indecisive leader.”
Also blaming Obama for Crimea, John McCain got cheers at AIPAC by charging, “This is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy in which nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.”
This “blatant act” of aggression “cannot stand,” said McCain.
How McCain plans to force Putin to cough up Crimea was left unexplained.
Now Marco Rubio seems to be auditioning to replace the retired Joe Lieberman as third amigo. His CPAC speech is described by the L.A. Times:
“[Rubio] said that China is threatening to take parts of the South China Sea ... a nuclear North Korea is testing missiles, Venezuela is slaughtering protesters, and Cuba remains an oppressive dictatorship. He added that Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons and regional hegemony and Russia is attempting to ‘reconstitute’ the former Soviet Union.”
What all these countries have in common, said Rubio, is “totalitarian governments.” Rubio proposes a U.S. foreign policy of leading the world to “stand up to the spread of totalitarianism.”
Not quite as ambitious as George W. Bush’s “ending tyranny in our world,” but it will do.
Where to begin.
First, it is absurd to suggest Putin felt free to restore Crimea to Russia because of Obama’s inaction in Benghazi. And while Castro’s Cuba and Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea are totalitarian, Putin’s Russia is not Stalin’s. Nor is Xi Jinping’s China Mao’s China.
Russia and China are great power rivals and antagonists, not the monster regimes of the Cold War that massacred millions. We must deal with them, and they don’t take direction from Uncle Sam.
As for Iran, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies say it has no nuclear weapons program. Moreover, Hassan Rouhani is an elected president now presiding over the dilution of his 20-percent-enriched uranium in compliance with our November agreement.
McCain points to Obama’s failure to enforce his “red line” in Syria with air and missile strikes, when Bashar Assad used chemical weapons, as the reason Obama is not respected.
But a little history is in order here.
While John Kerry and Obama were ready to attack Syria, it was the American people who rose up and said “no.” It was Congress that failed to give Obama the authorization to go to war.
If McCain, Graham and Rubio think Obama should attack Syria, why don’t they get their hawkish Republican brethren in the House to authorize war on Syria? See how that sits with the voters in 2014.
Last fall, Lindsey Graham was shopping around a resolution for a U.S. war on Iran. What became of that brainstorm? After Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are weary of what all this bellicosity inevitably brings.
Is Russia really reconstituting the Soviet Union?
True, Putin seeks to bring half a dozen ex-Soviet republics, now nations, into an economic union to rival the EU. But where the state religion of the USSR was Marxism-Leninism, i.e., communism, Putin is trying to restore Russian Orthodox Christianity.
There is a difference, as there is a difference between Stalin murdering priests and Putin prosecuting Pussy Riot for blasphemous misbehavior on the high altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
How do we think King Abdullah would have handled the women, had they pulled their stunt in the Great Mosque in Mecca?
While China is indeed moving to claim the East and South China seas, bringing her into possible conflict with Japan over the Senkakus, the GOP is not without culpability here.
It was a Bush-led Republican Party that voted to throw open America’s markets to China. Result: In the last two years, China ran up $630 billion in trade surpluses at our expense, a figure larger than the entire U.S. defense budget for 2015.
Our trade deficits with China provide her annually with enough dollars to finance her own defense budget twice over. Twenty years of such U.S. trade deficits have given the Middle Kingdom the trillions it needed to build the armed forces to drive us out of East Asia.
Are U.S. sailors and Marines now to die defending the Senkakus against a menacing China that the Bush free traders helped mightily to create?
If Sen. Rubio wants to “stand up” to China, why not call for a 50 percent tariff on all Chinese-made goods. Try that one out on the K Street bundlers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Yet Marco Rubio in the primaries would be healthy for America. A showdown between non-interventionists and the neocon War Party, to determine which way America goes, is long overdue. Let’s get it on.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”