Durant les années où Sidney [Poitier] n’a sorti aucun film. Disons en 1962 ou 1963, aucun Noir n’a protesté. Pourquoi ? Parce que nous avions d’autres choses plus importantes contre lesquelles nous lever. Nous étions trop occupés à être violés et lynchés pour nous soucier de qui gagnait le prix du meilleur réalisateur. Vous savez, quand votre grand-mère se balance à une branche d’arbre, le cadet de vos soucis est l’Oscar du meilleur court-métrage documentaire étranger. Chris Rock
Ce film a donné une voix aux survivants. Et l’Oscar amplifie cette voix, en espérant qu’elle devienne une chorale qui résonnera jusqu’au Vatican. Pape François, il est temps de protéger les enfants et de rétablir la foi. Michael Sugar
By going to Cuba while he is still in office, Mr. Obama is showing Havana that he will continue to make enough progress that it will be difficult for the next president to change course from restoring ties with Cuba — and he is proving to Congress that the president still has a lot of executive authority to change foreign policy. Pam Falk (CBS News)
Obama is selling out pro-democracy dissidents in Cuba to take one last contemptuous potshot at Congress. That’s certainly in line with the legacy that he’s building thus far in his presidency. Hot air
Ce n’est peut-être pas une bonne chose pour l’Amérique, mais une très bonne affaire pour CBS. Sérieusement, qui aurait pu espérer la campagne que nous avons actuellement ? L’argent continue d’affluer et c’est marrant (…) Je n’ai jamais vu quelque chose comme ça, et cette année va être très bonne pour nous. C’est terrible à dire mais continue Donald, continue ! Leslie Moonves (PDG de CBS)
Is there some rule that demands that only movie stars, investment bankers, and tech moguls, who live in houses of more than 5,000 square feet or fly on private jets, have earned the right to lecture hoi polloi on their bad habits that lead to global warming? Is barbecuing a steak worse than burning up 5 gallons of aviation fuel a minute?… To watch the Super Bowl, Oscar, or Grammy festivities is to receive a pop sermon from mansion-residing multimillionaires about just how unfair are the race, class, and gender biases of the world in which they somehow made fortunes. In Weimar America, that Will Smith has a 25,000 square-foot mansion, but not a 2016 Oscar nomination, is proof of endemic racism and deprivation. Victor Davis Hanson
Barack Obama is the Dr. Frankenstein of the supposed Trump monster. If a charismatic, Ivy League-educated, landmark president who entered office with unprecedented goodwill and both houses of Congress on his side could manage to wreck the Democratic Party while turning off 52 percent of the country, then many voters feel that a billionaire New York dealmaker could hardly do worse. If Obama had ruled from the center, dealt with the debt, addressed radical Islamic terrorism, dropped the politically correct euphemisms and pushed tax and entitlement reform rather than Obamacare, Trump might have little traction. A boring Hillary Clinton and a staid Jeb Bush would most likely be replaying the 1992 election between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush — with Trump as a watered-down version of third-party outsider Ross Perot. But America is in much worse shape than in 1992. And Obama has proved a far more divisive and incompetent president than George H.W. Bush. Little is more loathed by a majority of Americans than sanctimonious PC gobbledygook and its disciples in the media. And Trump claims to be PC’s symbolic antithesis. Making Machiavellian Mexico pay for a border fence or ejecting rude and interrupting Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a press conference is no more absurd than allowing more than 300 sanctuary cities to ignore federal law by sheltering undocumented immigrants. Putting a hold on the immigration of Middle Eastern refugees is no more illiberal than welcoming into American communities tens of thousands of unvetted foreign nationals from terrorist-ridden Syria. In terms of messaging, is Trump’s crude bombast any more radical than Obama’s teleprompted scripts? Trump’s ridiculous view of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a sort of « Art of the Deal » geostrategic partner is no more silly than Obama insulting Putin as Russia gobbles up former Soviet republics with impunity. Obama callously dubbed his own grandmother a « typical white person, » introduced the nation to the racist and anti-Semitic rantings of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and petulantly wrote off small-town Pennsylvanians as near-Neanderthal « clingers. » Did Obama lower the bar for Trump’s disparagements? Certainly, Obama peddled a slogan, « hope and change, » that was as empty as Trump’s « make America great again. » (…) How does the establishment derail an out-of-control train for whom there are no gaffes, who has no fear of The New York Times, who offers no apologies for speaking what much of the country thinks — and who apparently needs neither money from Republicans nor politically correct approval from Democrats? Victor Davis Hanson
People wonder what accounts for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Maybe the better question is how the Obama years could not have produced a Trump and Sanders. Both the Republican and, to a lesser extent, Democratic parties have elements now who want to pull down the temple. But for all the politicized agitation, both these movements, in power, would produce stasis—no change at all. Donald Trump would preside over a divided government or, as he has promised and un-promised, a trade war with China. Hillary or Bernie will enlarge the Obama economic regime. Either outcome guarantees four more years of at best 2% economic growth. That means more of the above. That means 18-year-olds voting for the first time this year will face historically weak job opportunities through 2020 at least. Under any of these three, an Americanized European social-welfare state will evolve because Washington—and this will include many “conservatives”—will answer still-rising popular anger with new income redistributions. And for years afterward, Barack Obama will stroll off the 18th green, smiling. Mission, finally, accomplished. Daniel Henninger
We’re in the midst of a rebellion. The bottom and middle are pushing against the top. It’s a throwing off of old claims and it’s been going on for a while, but we’re seeing it more sharply after New Hampshire. This is not politics as usual, which by its nature is full of surprise. There’s something deep, suggestive, even epochal about what’s happening now. I have thought for some time that there’s a kind of soft French Revolution going on in America, with the angry and blocked beginning to push hard against an oblivious elite. It is not only political. Yes, it is about the Democratic National Committee, that house of hacks, and about a Republican establishment owned by the donor class. But establishment journalism, which for eight months has been simultaneously at Donald Trump’s feet (“Of course you can call us on your cell from the bathtub for your Sunday show interview!”) and at his throat (“Trump supporters, many of whom are nativists and nationalists . . .”) is being rebelled against too. Their old standing as guides and gatekeepers? Gone, and not only because of multiplying platforms. (…) All this goes hand in hand with the general decline of America’s faith in its institutions. We feel less respect for almost all of them—the church, the professions, the presidency, the Supreme Court. The only formal national institution that continues to score high in terms of public respect (72% in the most recent Gallup poll) is the military (…) we are in a precarious position in the U.S. with so many of our institutions going down. Many of those pushing against the system have no idea how precarious it is or what they will be destroying. Those defending it don’t know how precarious its position is or even what they’re defending, or why. But people lose respect for a reason. (…) It’s said this is the year of anger but there’s a kind of grim practicality to Trump and Sanders supporters. They’re thinking: Let’s take a chance. Washington is incapable of reform or progress; it’s time to reach outside. Let’s take a chance on an old Brooklyn socialist. Let’s take a chance on the casino developer who talks on TV. In doing so, they accept a decline in traditional political standards. You don’t have to have a history of political effectiveness anymore; you don’t even have to have run for office! “You’re so weirdly outside the system, you may be what the system needs.” They are pouring their hope into uncertain vessels, and surely know it. Bernie Sanders is an actual radical: He would fundamentally change an economic system that imperfectly but for two centuries made America the wealthiest country in the history of the world. In the young his support is understandable: They have never been taught anything good about capitalism and in their lifetimes have seen it do nothing—nothing—to protect its own reputation. It is middle-aged Sanders supporters who are more interesting. They know what they’re turning their backs on. They know they’re throwing in the towel. My guess is they’re thinking something like: Don’t aim for great now, aim for safe. Terrorism, a world turning upside down, my kids won’t have it better—let’s just try to be safe, more communal. A shrewdness in Sanders and Trump backers: They share one faith in Washington, and that is in its ability to wear anything down. They think it will moderate Bernie, take the edges off Trump. For this reason they don’t see their choices as so radical. (…) The mainstream journalistic mantra is that the GOP is succumbing to nativism, nationalism and the culture of celebrity. That allows them to avoid taking seriously Mr. Trump’s issues: illegal immigration and Washington’s 15-year, bipartisan refusal to stop it; political correctness and how it is strangling a free people; and trade policies that have left the American working class displaced, adrift and denigrated. Mr. Trump’s popularity is propelled by those issues and enabled by his celebrity. (…) Mr. Trump is a clever man with his finger on the pulse, but his political future depends on two big questions. The first is: Is he at all a good man? Underneath the foul mouthed flamboyance is he in it for America? The second: Is he fully stable? He acts like a nut, calling people bimbos, flying off the handle with grievances. Is he mature, reliable? Is he at all a steady hand? Political professionals think these are side questions. “Let’s accuse him of not being conservative!” But they are the issue. Because America doesn’t deliberately elect people it thinks base, not to mention crazy. Peggy Noonan
Politicians have, since ancient Greece, lied, pandered, and whored. They have taken bribes, connived, and perjured themselves. But in recent times—in the United States, at any rate—there has never been any politician quite as openly debased and debauched as Donald Trump. Truman and Nixon could be vulgar, but they kept the cuss words for private use. Presidents have chewed out journalists, but which of them would have suggested that an elegant and intelligent woman asking a reasonable question was dripping menstrual blood? LBJ, Kennedy, and Clinton could all treat women as commodities to be used for their pleasure, but none went on the radio with the likes of Howard Stern to discuss the women they had bedded and the finer points of their anatomies. All politicians like the sound of their own names, but Roosevelt named the greatest dam in the United States after his defeated predecessor, Herbert Hoover. Can one doubt what Trump would have christened it? That otherwise sober people do not find Trump’s insults and insane demands outrageous (Mexico will have to pay for a wall! Japan will have to pay for protection!) says something about a larger moral and cultural collapse. His language is the language of the comments sections of once-great newspapers. Their editors know that the online versions of their publications attract the vicious, the bigoted, and the foulmouthed. But they keep those comments sections going in the hope of getting eyeballs on the page. (…) The current problem goes beyond excruciatingly bad manners. What we increasingly lack, and have lacked for some time, is a sense of the moral underpinning of republican (small r) government. Manners and morals maintain a free state as much as laws do, as Tocqueville observed long ago, and when a certain culture of virtue dies, so too does something of what makes democracy work. Old-fashioned words like integrity, selflessness, frugality, gravitas, and modesty rarely rate a mention in modern descriptions of the good life—is it surprising that they don’t come up in politics, either? (…) Trump’s rise is only one among many signs that something has gone profoundly amiss in our popular culture.It is related to the hysteria that has swept through many campuses, as students call for the suppression of various forms of free speech and the provision of “safe spaces” where they will not be challenged by ideas with which they disagree. The rise of Trump and the fall of free speech in academia are equal signs that we are losing the intellectual sturdiness and honesty without which a republic cannot thrive. (…) The rot is cultural. It is no coincidence that Trump was the star of a “reality” show. He is the beneficiary of an amoral celebrity culture devoid of all content save an omnipresent lubriciousness. He is a kind of male Kim Kardashian, and about as politically serious. In the context of culture, if not (yet) politics, he is unremarkable; the daily entertainments of today are both tawdry and self-consciously, corrosively ironic. Ours is an age when young people have become used to getting news, of a sort, from Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, when an earlier generation watched Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley. It is the difference between giggling with young, sneering hipsters and listening to serious adults. Go to YouTube and look at old episodes of Profiles in Courage, if you can find them—a wildly successful television series based on the book nominally authored by John F. Kennedy, which celebrated an individual’s, often a politician’s, courage in standing alone against a crowd, even a crowd with whose politics the audience agreed. The show of comparable popularity today is House of Cards. Bill Clinton has said that he loves it. American culture is, in short, nastier, more nihilistic, and far less inhibited than ever before. It breeds alternating bouts of cynicism and hysteria, and now it has given us Trump. The Republican Party as we know it may die of Trump. If it does, it will have succumbed in part because many of its leaders chose not to fight for the Party of Lincoln, which is a set of ideas about how to govern a country, rather than an organization clawing for political and personal advantage. What is at stake, however, is something much more precious than even a great political party. To an extent unimaginable for a very long time, the moral keel of free government is showing cracks. It is not easy to discern how we shall mend them. Eliot Cohen
Three major have-not powers are seeking to overturn the post-Cold War status quo: Russia in Eastern Europe, China in East Asia, Iran in the Middle East. All are on the march. To say nothing of the Islamic State, now extending its reach from Afghanistan to West Africa. The international order built over decades by the United States is crumbling. In the face of which, what does Obama do? Go to Cuba. Yes, Cuba. A supreme strategic irrelevance so dear to Obama’s anti-anti-communist heart. The international order built over decades by the United States is crumbling. Is he at least going to celebrate progress in human rights and democracy — which Obama established last year as a precondition for any presidential visit? Of course not. When has Obama ever held to a red line? Indeed, since Obama began his “historic” normalization with Cuba, the repression has gotten worse. Last month, the regime arrested 1,414 political dissidents, the second-most ever recorded. No matter. Amid global disarray and American decline, Obama sticks to his cherished concerns: Cuba, Guantanamo (about which he gave a rare televised address this week), and, of course, climate change. Obama could not bestir himself to go to Paris in response to the various jihadi atrocities — sending Kerry instead “to share a big hug with Paris” (as Kerry explained) with James Taylor singing “You’ve Got a Friend” — but he did make an ostentatious three-day visit there for climate change. More Foreign Policy The Costs of Abandoning Messy Wars Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad Are Running U.S. Syria Policy With Disasters Everywhere, It’s Time to Take Foreign Policy Seriously Again So why not go to Havana? Sure, the barbarians are at the gates and pushing hard knowing they will enjoy but eleven more months of minimal American resistance. But our passive president genuinely believes that such advances don’t really matter — that these disrupters are so on the wrong side of history, that their reaches for territory, power, victory are so 20th century. Of course, it mattered greatly to the quarter-million slaughtered in Syria and the millions more exiled. It feels all quite real to a dissolving Europe, an expanding China, a rising Iran, a metastasizing jihadism. Not to the visionary Obama, however. He sees far beyond such ephemera. He knows what really matters: climate change, Gitmo, and Cuba. With time running out, he wants these to be his legacy. Indeed, they will be. Charles Krauthammer
Donald Trump has rightly reminded us during his campaign that Americans are sick and tired of costly overseas interventions. But what Trump forgets is that too often the world does not always enjoy a clear choice between good and bad, wise and stupid. Often the dilemma is the terrible choice between ignoring mass murderer, as in Rwanda or Syria; bombing and leaving utter chaos, as in Libya; and removing monsters, then enduring the long ordeal of trying to leave something better, as in Afghanistan and Iraq. The choices are all awful. But the idea that America can bomb a rogue regime, leave and expect something better is pure fantasy. Victor Davis Hanson
The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism. This Super Tuesday, polls show a plurality of GOP voters intend to dive right into it, like the boy in the “Slumdog Millionaire” toilet scene. And they’re not even holding their noses. In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has endorsed the Code Pink view of the Iraq War (Bush lied; people died). He has cited and embraced an aphorism of Benito Mussolini. (“It’s a very good quote,” Mr. Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd.) He has refused to release his “very beautiful” tax returns. And he has taken his time disavowing the endorsement of onetime Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke—offering, by way of a transparently dishonest excuse, that “I know nothing about David Duke.” Mr. Trump left the Reform Party in 2000 after Mr. Duke joined it. None of this seems to have made the slightest dent in Mr. Trump’s popularity. If anything it has enhanced it. In the species of political pornography in which Mr. Trump trafficks, the naughtier the better. The more respectable opinion is scandalized by whatever pops out of the Donald’s mouth, the more his supporters cheer him for sticking it to the snobs and the scolds. The more Mr. Trump traduces the old established lines of decency, the more he affirms his supporters’ most shameless ideological instincts. Those instincts have moved beyond the usual fare of a wall with Mexico, a trade war with China, Mr. Trump’s proposed Muslim Exclusion Act, or his scurrilous insinuations about the constitutionality of Ted Cruz’s or Marco Rubio’s presidential bids. What too many of Mr. Trump’s supporters want is an American strongman, a president who will make the proverbial trains run on time. This is a refrain I hear over and over again from Trump supporters, who want to bring a businessman’s efficiency to the federal government. If that means breaking with a few democratic niceties, so be it. (…) Mr. Trump exemplifies a new political wave sweeping the globe—leaders coming to power through democratic means while avowing illiberal ends. Hungary’s Viktor Orban is another case in point, as is Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A Trump presidency—neutral between dictatorships and democracies, opposed to free trade, skeptical of traditional U.S. defense alliances, hostile to immigration—would mark the collapse of the entire architecture of the U.S.-led post-World War II global order. We’d be back to the 1930s, this time with an America Firster firmly in charge. That’s the future Mr. Trump offers whether his supporters realize it or not. Bill Buckley and the other great shapers of modern conservatism—Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, Robert Bartley and Irving Kristol—articulated a conservatism that married economic dynamism to a prudent respect for tradition, patriotism and openness to the wider world. Trumpism is the opposite of this creed: moral gaucherie plus economic nationalism plus Know Nothingism. It is the return of the American Mercury, minus for now (but only for now) the all-but inevitable anti-Semitism. It would be terrible to think that the left was right about the right all these years. Nativist bigotries must not be allowed to become the animating spirit of the Republican Party. If Donald Trump becomes the candidate, he will not win the presidency, but he will help vindicate the left’s ugly indictment. It will be left to decent conservatives to pick up the pieces—and what’s left of the party. Bret Stephens
The many millions of Americans who are sick of being called racist, chauvinist, homophobic, privileged or extremist every time they breathe feel that in Trump they have found their voice. Then there is that gnawing sense that under Obama, America has been transformed from history’s greatest winner into history’s biggest sucker. (…) Trump’s continuous exposition on his superhuman deal-making talents speaks to this fear. Trump’s ability to viscerally connect to the deep-seated concerns of American voters and assuage them frees him from the normal campaign requirement of developing plans to accomplish his campaign promises. (…) Trump’s supporters don’t care that his economic policies contradict one another. They don’t care that his foreign policy declarations are a muddle of contradictions. They hate the establishment and they want to believe him. (…) Because he knows how to viscerally connect to the public, Trump will undoubtedly be a popular president. But since he has no clear philosophical or ideological underpinning, his policies will likely be inconsistent and opportunistic.(…) In this, a Trump presidency will be a stark contrast to Obama’s hyper-ideological tenure in office. So, too, his presidency will be a marked contrast to a similarly ideologically driven Clinton or Sanders administration, since both will more or less continue to enact Obama’s domestic and foreign policies. (…) Like Trump, Johnson is able to tap into deep-seated public dissatisfaction with the political and cultural elites and serve as a voice for the disaffected. (…) If Johnson is able to convince a majority of British voters to support an exit from the EU, then several other EU member states are likely to follow in Britain’s wake. The exit of states from the EU will cause a political and economic upheaval in Europe with repercussions far beyond its borders. Just as a Trump presidency will usher in an era of high turbulence and uncertainty in US economic and foreign policies, so a post-breakup EU and Western Europe will replace Brussels’ consistent policies with policies that are more varied, and unstable. (…) If Trump is elected president and if Britain leads the charge of nations out of the EU, then Israel can expect its relations with both the US and Europe to be marked by turbulence and uncertainty that can lead in a positive direction or a negative direction, or even to both directions at the same time. (…) Just as Trump has stated both that he will support Israel and be neutral toward Israel, so we can expect for Trump to stand by Israel one day and to rebuke it angrily, even brutally, the next day. (…) So, too, under Trump, the US may send forces to confront Iran one day, only to announce that Trump is embarking on negotiations to get a sweetheart deal with the ayatollahs the next. Or perhaps all of these things will happen simultaneously. Caroline Glick
Les États-Unis semblent ne plus vouloir se laisser absorber par des crises qui ne correspondent pas à leur vision nouvelle de leurs intérêts nationaux. À Washington, les partisans d’un retrait des zones considérées comme « non-stratégiques » impriment leur marque. S’expliquent sans doute ainsi plusieurs épisodes politiques récents, notamment la non-réplique par frappes face à l’utilisation des armes chimiques par le régime de Damas, quelles qu’aient été les déclarations faites auparavant. Les causes de cette attitude font penser qu’il s’agit d’une tendance assez durable. Elle se fonde sur la volonté parfaitement compréhensible de recentrer la politique étrangère américaine sur ce qui est perçu comme ses principaux intérêts, notamment économiques, qui se trouveraient désormais davantage en Asie. Cette évolution s’appuie probablement aussi sur la nouvelle donne énergétique – les États-Unis vont redevenir exportateurs nets d’hydrocarbures. Cela fait suite, j’en suis absolument convaincu puisque cela résulte de conversations que j’ai avec les dirigeants actuels, au lourd traumatisme des interventions en Irak et en Afghanistan, au coût humain et financier extrêmement lourd pour un résultat guère probant. Il faut ajouter à tous ces déterminants la tendance actuelle – ce n’est pas simplement le cas d’ailleurs en Amérique – plutôt « isolationniste » de son opinion publique. Ce choix, qui je le répète est parfaitement compréhensible de la part des dirigeants actuels américains, comporte, compte tenu du rôle majeur des États-Unis, de nombreuses conséquences. Personne n’a aujourd’hui la capacité de prendre le relai des Américains, en particulier sur le plan militaire. Un désengagement américain, compte tenu de la puissance des États-Unis, c’est un désengagement tout court. Ce qui peut laisser des crises majeures « livrées à elles-mêmes ». (…) Nous comprenons parfaitement la réticence américaine à envoyer de nouveau des troupes sur le terrain moyen-oriental. Dans bien des cas, nous jugerions une autre attitude contraire aux intérêts de la région comme aux nôtres. Il ne peut s’agir de cela. Ce dont il s’agit, c’est d’éviter le vide stratégique qui risque de se créer, notamment au Moyen-Orient, et qui est favorisé par la perception, de la part des acteurs, que la vraie priorité américaine se trouve désormais ailleurs. J’entends cette inquiétude chez plusieurs partenaires importants de la France, qui intègrent de plus en plus dans leurs calculs, dans leurs prévisions, dans leurs réflexions, l’hypothèse qu’ils sont ou qu’ils vont être livrés à eux-mêmes dans le traitement de crises qui sont pourtant d’intérêt global. Laurent Fabius (13 novembre 2013)
Kagan — the preeminent neoconservative scholar and author who made headlines when President Obama improbably cited his article on “The Myth of American Decline,” and again when his cover story for The New Republic critiquing Obama’s foreign policy zipped through the West Wing — has had a major influence on Rubio’s worldview. The former adviser to politicians from Jack Kemp to Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton says he spoke with Rubio on and off during his first two years in office, and Rubio cited Kagan’s 2012 book The World America Made in his remarks at the Brookings Institution later that year. In the book, Kagan argues that world orders are transient, and that the world order that has been shaped by the United States since the end of World War II — defined by freedom, democracy, and capitalism — will crumble if American power wanes. But he also posits that the modern world order rests not on America’s cherished ideals — respect for individual rights and human dignity — but on economic and military power, and that its preservation requires bolstering America’s hard power. The National Review (2014)
There is no denying that a globally engaged America comes at a steep price. But the history of our still young nation is full of warnings that a lack of American engagement comes with an even higher price of its own. We only have to look at the bloody history of the twentieth century to see the price that America, and the world, pays when we ignore mounting problems. When we have listened to voices urging us to look inward, we have failed to meet threats growing abroad until it was almost too late. And now, we are on the verge of repeating that mistake once again. Other nations are not sitting idly by waiting for America to, as President Obama termed it, “nation build at home.” Many of our nation’s adversaries and rivals have been emboldened by our uncertain foreign policy. So as instability spreads and tyrants flourish, our allies want to know whether America can still be counted on to confront these common challenges. Whether we will continue to be a beacon to the rest of the world. Just last week I read a speech on this very topic. But it was not delivered by some American neoconservative commentator, but rather by the Foreign Minister of France. He said about us, and I quote the English translation, “Nobody can take over from the Americans, especially from a military point of view. Given the power of the United States, an American ‘disengagement’ – if this would be the proper way to qualify it – is a global disengagement, with the risk of letting major crises fester on their own.” End quote. We are often led to think that other nations are tired of the role America has played in global affairs. But in fact, it is the fear of a disengaged America that worries countries all over the world. (…) Some on both the left and the right try to portray our legacy as one of an aggressive tyrant constantly meddling in the world’s crises. But ask around the world and you’ll find that our past use of military might has a different legacy. Our legacy is a crumbled wall in Berlin. It’s the millions of Afghan children – including many girls – now able to attend school for the first time. It’s vibrant democracies and steadfast allies such as Germany, Japan and South Korea. Our legacy is that of a nation that for two centuries has planted its feet and pushed out against the walls of tyranny, oppression and injustice that constantly threaten to close in on the world, and has sought to replace these forces with the spread of liberty, free enterprise, and respect for human rights. (…) From his first days in office, President Obama has seemed unsure of the role that American power and principles should play around the world. He has failed to understand that in foreign policy, the timing and decisiveness of our actions matter almost as much as how we engage. The President has spoken about the need to shift American foreign policy away from the conflicts of the Middle East and place increased focus on Asia. But our foreign policy cannot be one that picks and chooses which regions to pay attention to and which to ignore. In fact, our standing as a world power depends on our ability to engage globally anywhere and at anytime our interests are at stake. (…) The results have been devastating. We are left with the high likelihood of the worst possible outcome: a divided Syria, with a pro-Iran murderous dictator in control of part of the country, and radical jihadists in control of much of the rest. Our closest allies in the region are now openly questioning the value of our friendship. (…) The President’s failure to negotiate a security cooperation agreement with Iraq was yet another instance in which this administration ambled aimlessly through a situation that should have prompted careful strategic maneuvering. It ensured the return of Al Qaeda to Iraq and the creeping authoritarianism of a Maliki government increasingly in the sway of Tehran. And in Afghanistan, the White House has often shown a lack of commitment that has put at risk the very real gains we and the Afghans have made. Libya, Syria, Iraq and maybe soon Afghanistan are haunting examples of the sad and predictable results that have come when this administration has gotten the policy – and just as importantly – the timing wrong. (…) We should start by acknowledging the fact that a strong and engaged America has been a force of tremendous good in the world. This can be done easily by imagining the sort of world we would live in today had America sat out the 20th Century. Imagine if the beaches of Normandy were never touched by American boots. Imagine if our foreign aid had not helped alleviate many of the world’s worst crises. Imagine if nuclear proliferation had continued unfettered by U.S. influence. It is no exaggeration to say that the majority of the world’s democracies may not exist had America remained disengaged. Marco Rubio (20 nov. 2013)
Attention: un héritage peut en cacher un autre !
A l’heure où obsédé par son héritage et après avoir accordé l’arme nucléaire aux bouchers iraniens, le président Obama prépare, au mépris tant du Congrès de son propre pays que des dissidents cubains, son énième danse avec les dictateurs …
Et où rien ne semble désormais capable d’arrêter le rouleau compresseur Trump tant la révolte d’une bonne partie du peuple américain est grande face au véritable accident industriel que s’est révélé être la présidence Obama …
Pendant que face à la formidable créature – entre soutien, pour le plus grand profit des médias qui prétendent s’en offusquer, d’un ancien leader du KKK et citations de Mussolini – du Dr. Obamastein, les deux derniers recours qui restent ne se sont toujours pas sérieusement attaqué à ses véritables vulnérabilités notamment sur le plan fiscal et surtout se refusent toujours à sacrifier leur ambition personnelle pour le bien de leur pays …
Et que contre le politiquement correct ambiant, des oscars si décriés viennent de remettre tant un pape si volontiers donneur de leçons que nos croisés noirs multimillionnaires de la diversité à leur place en récompensant par deux fois un film dénonçant la longue omerta sur la pédophilie de prêtres catholiques et un réalisateur mexicain …
Comment ne pas repenser à un autre héritage celui-là oublié …
Que rappelaient il y a trois ans tant indirectement le ministre français des affaires étrangères Laurent Fabius …
Qu’explicitement et à quelques jours de distance le futur candidat aux primaires républicaines Marco Rubio …
Suite, entre l’Irak et la Syrie, aux deux des décisions les plus catastrophiques de l’actuelle Administration américaine …
A savoir celui de l’engagement américain du 20e siècle sans lequel le Monde libre actuel n’aurait pas été possible ?
Et donc comment ne pas voir aussi …
Tant pour rattraper ce qui peut l’être des dégâts des deux mandats Obama …
Que prévenir ceux d’une éventuelle et potentiellement tout aussi catastrophique présidence Trump …
La nécessité de la candidature de celui dont les meilleurs politologues américains du moment, comme l’ancien conseiller de Reagan Robert Kagan, pensent et disent le plus grand bien ?
Nov 20 2013
Rubio Delivers Major Foreign Policy Speech At AEI
Rubio: “Diplomacy, foreign assistance and military intervention are tools at our disposal. But foreign policy cannot be simply about tactics. It must be strategic, with a clear set of goals that guide us in deciding how to apply our influence. These goals should be to protect and defend our people, to promote liberty and human rights throughout the world, and to advance the enduring pursuit of peace for all mankind.”
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
“Restoring Principle: A Foreign Policy Worthy of the American Dream”
Remarks As Prepared For Delivery
American Enterprise Institute
November 20, 2013
Thank you very much to AEI for hosting me today. This Institute has been at the center of the debate about American foreign policy for decades, and the work your scholars produce on a daily basis has been a great help to me throughout my efforts on these issues in the United States Senate.
Like so many times before, our country is engaged in a robust debate about the future of America’s role in the world.
As we engage in this debate, those of us entrusted with a role in our government must remember that the nature and extent of our involvement abroad isn’t just some academic discussion. Our decisions directly impact each and every American, often in personal and profound ways.
Over the last twelve years, thousands have lost mothers, fathers, sons and daughters as part of our effort to defeat terrorism and bring freedom to Iraq and Afghanistan. And these sacrifices have left many Americans feeling understandably weary. The effort has taken longer and cost far more than expected, and we are heartbroken each time we learn the name of another brave American who will not return home.
Many are also discouraged by the news coming out of the Middle East. The disputes in this region seem to pit one bad actor against another, leaving us with doubts about whether we should pick a side at all. And despite the sacrifices we have made, America remains the target of hatred and anger in the Arab street.
Add to these concerns the fact that, for many Americans, a focus on other nations seems misplaced when there are so many problems at home. This leads many to question whether our government should spend time and resources on the freedom and security of someone an ocean away. After all, what do we gain from such involvement?
These are all understandable sentiments. And they have created an opening for voices that have long desired to disengage and isolate America from the world. Their rhetoric is more careful than the isolationists of the past. But their actions speak clearly. On issue after issue, these voices have used the increasing uncertainty abroad and the economic insecurity at home to argue that it’s best for America to stay on the sidelines.
There is no denying that a globally engaged America comes at a steep price. But the history of our still young nation is full of warnings that a lack of American engagement comes with an even higher price of its own.
We only have to look at the bloody history of the twentieth century to see the price that America, and the world, pays when we ignore mounting problems. When we have listened to voices urging us to look inward, we have failed to meet threats growing abroad until it was almost too late. And now, we are on the verge of repeating that mistake once again.
Other nations are not sitting idly by waiting for America to, as President Obama termed it, “nation build at home.” Many of our nation’s adversaries and rivals have been emboldened by our uncertain foreign policy.
So as instability spreads and tyrants flourish, our allies want to know whether America can still be counted on to confront these common challenges. Whether we will continue to be a beacon to the rest of the world.
Just last week I read a speech on this very topic. But it was not delivered by some American neoconservative commentator, but rather by the Foreign Minister of France. He said about us, and I quote the English translation, “Nobody can take over from the Americans, especially from a military point of view. Given the power of the United States, an American ‘disengagement’ – if this would be the proper way to qualify it – is a global disengagement, with the risk of letting major crises fester on their own.” End quote.
We are often led to think that other nations are tired of the role America has played in global affairs. But in fact, it is the fear of a disengaged America that worries countries all over the world.
Meanwhile, at home, foreign policy is too often covered in simplistic terms. Many only recognize two points of view: “doves”, who seek to isolate us from the world, participating in global events only when there is a direct physical threat to the safety of our homeland; and “hawks”, who believe we should use our mighty military strength to intervene in response to practically every crisis.
These labels are obsolete. They come from the world of the past.
The time has now come for a new vision for America’s role abroad- one that reflects the reality of the world we live in today.
It begins by being proud of what we have achieved as a nation. Some on both the left and the right try to portray our legacy as one of an aggressive tyrant constantly meddling in the world’s crises.
But ask around the world and you’ll find that our past use of military might has a different legacy. Our legacy is a crumbled wall in Berlin. It’s the millions of Afghan children – including many girls – now able to attend school for the first time. It’s vibrant democracies and steadfast allies such as Germany, Japan and South Korea.
Our legacy is that of a nation that for two centuries has planted its feet and pushed out against the walls of tyranny, oppression and injustice that constantly threaten to close in on the world, and has sought to replace these forces with the spread of liberty, free enterprise, and respect for human rights.
These principles are also advanced by other elements of American influence – those that don’t require any military might.
For example, consider the countless lives we’ve saved from the scourge of AIDS in Africa through the PEPFAR program. Or consider the economic mobility created by American trade and investment.
These accomplishments prove that, while military might may be our most eye-catching method of involvement abroad, it is far from being our most often utilized. In most cases, the decisive use of diplomacy, foreign assistance, and economic power are the most effective ways to achieve our interests and stop problems before they spiral into crises.
Our uses of these methods should vastly outnumber our uses of force. But force used with clear, achievable objectives must always remain a part of our foreign policy toolbox. Because, while we always prefer peace over conflict, sometimes our enemies choose differently.
Sometimes military engagement is our best option. And sometimes it’s our only option.
In those instances, it must be abundantly clear to both our allies and our adversaries that we will not hesitate to engage unparalleled military might on behalf of our security, the security of our allies and our interests around the world.
Diplomacy, foreign assistance and military intervention are tools at our disposal. But foreign policy cannot be simply about tactics. It must be strategic, with a clear set of goals that guide us in deciding how to apply our influence.
These goals should be to protect and defend our people, to promote liberty and human rights throughout the world, and to advance the enduring pursuit of peace for all mankind.
A strategic foreign policy vision based on these principles is what I hope to offer here today.
In order to do this, we must first admit that this administration lacks a clear strategic foreign policy.
From his first days in office, President Obama has seemed unsure of the role that American power and principles should play around the world. He has failed to understand that in foreign policy, the timing and decisiveness of our actions matter almost as much as how we engage.
The President has spoken about the need to shift American foreign policy away from the conflicts of the Middle East and place increased focus on Asia. But our foreign policy cannot be one that picks and chooses which regions to pay attention to and which to ignore. In fact, our standing as a world power depends on our ability to engage globally anywhere and at anytime our interests are at stake.
But this administration’s lack of an overriding vision of our role in the world has impeded our ability to do this effectively. And nowhere is this failure more evident than in the President’s handling of policy toward Central Asia and the Middle East.
For example, when he first took office, President Obama hoped that kind words would dissuade the regime in Tehran from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. And so in June of 2009, while Iranians were being gunned down by their rulers in the streets, the President hesitated to offer any words of support because he didn’t want to offend Iran’s leaders.
Also that summer, he waited for months before agreeing to provide our commanders in Afghanistan with the troops they requested. He also put a time limit on the surge of forces, which undermined our efforts and invited our enemies to wait us out. He seemed to regret the tough rhetoric of his campaign, when he promised day after day that Afghanistan was a “war we must win.”
In early 2011, when waves of peaceful protests began to sweep dictators from power across the region, this administration’s lack of a strategic foreign policy left it uncertain of how to respond.
When a peaceful revolution was met with brute force in Libya, the President hesitated for months before helping to overthrow the Qaddafi regime. And afterward, he provided almost no support to those Libyans who wanted to establish a representative, law-abiding government. As a result, chaos replaced tyranny and four Americans, including our ambassador, were murdered with impunity. And now Libya is becoming a safe haven for terrorists and a source of instability in the region.
The debacle in Syria also illustrates the cost of President Obama’s lack of a strategic foreign policy. More than two years ago, I urged the President to exercise American influence at a time when we clearly had the ability to shape the outcome of the Syrian war – not through military action, but by working with an opposition that was not yet dominated by an influx of Al Qaeda-linked extremists.
But it was only when Bashar al-Assad employed chemical weapons, blatantly crossing the President’s own red line, that the conflict finally got a measurable – though very small — response from the White House. But by then, it was too late.
Because he never took the time before to explain how and why the conflict in Syria should matter to America, he was unable to rally the nation to support military intervention. I voted against President Obama’s plan for military action because he had no strategy beyond symbolic missile strikes. Nor did he explain what would happen following these strikes, which were publicly promised to be “unbelievably small,” when Assad would inevitably emerge to boast that his regime had survived our use of force. Ultimately, the President was forced to abandon these plans and turn to Vladimir Putin to broker a solution.
The results have been devastating.
We are left with the high likelihood of the worst possible outcome: a divided Syria, with a pro-Iran murderous dictator in control of part of the country, and radical jihadists in control of much of the rest. Our closest allies in the region are now openly questioning the value of our friendship.
Our best options now are to alleviate the strain on our allies in the region through additional humanitarian assistance, to explore other ways of pressuring the Assad regime with sanctions, to cut off financial flows to extremists in the opposition, and to see if we can still find moderate elements to train and equip.
The President’s failure to negotiate a security cooperation agreement with Iraq was yet another instance in which this administration ambled aimlessly through a situation that should have prompted careful strategic maneuvering. It ensured the return of Al Qaeda to Iraq and the creeping authoritarianism of a Maliki government increasingly in the sway of Tehran. And in Afghanistan, the White House has often shown a lack of commitment that has put at risk the very real gains we and the Afghans have made.
Libya, Syria, Iraq and maybe soon Afghanistan are haunting examples of the sad and predictable results that have come when this administration has gotten the policy – and just as importantly – the timing wrong.
Now, clearly we can’t undo what’s been done. But we need to ask ourselves, “What can we do about this going forward?”
We should start by acknowledging the fact that a strong and engaged America has been a force of tremendous good in the world. This can be done easily by imagining the sort of world we would live in today had America sat out the 20th Century.
Imagine if the beaches of Normandy were never touched by American boots. Imagine if our foreign aid had not helped alleviate many of the world’s worst crises. Imagine if nuclear proliferation had continued unfettered by U.S. influence. It is no exaggeration to say that the majority of the world’s democracies may not exist had America remained disengaged.
Next we must acknowledge that there are threats to America today that are just as dire, just as pressing as any we faced in the last century.
Guided by these two realities, we must construct a strategic foreign policy that keeps Americans safe, promotes our national interests, and remains true to our guiding principles of liberty and human rights.
Such a strategy must be based on the idea that our highest priority is the safety of the American people. That is why there is no more important use of our influence and power than to prevent rogue regimes and terrorist groups from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. If states with sinister intentions, or that are under the influence of extremist groups, were to acquire nuclear weapons, they would become largely immune to external pressure. And they would surely spark other nations to join this so-called “nuclear club.”
This new arms race would dramatically increase the chances of nuclear war and render most of our other foreign objectives meaningless.
Consider Iran’s desire to gain nuclear weapons and North Korea’s continued investment in its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Both threaten regional and global stability, and of course the safety of billions around the world, including here in America.
When it comes to Iran, we should make no mistake: its leaders want nuclear weapons because they want to become the most dominant power in the Middle East.
Many in the region are looking to us for leadership. But too many of our allies and strategic partners see our foreign policy as a riddle and our actions as inconsistent with our rhetoric. They only see movements toward disengagement and feel that we’re overly eager to negotiate a deal with Iran.
We must demonstrate a willingness to maintain an unwavering position of strength in all talks, because Iran’s goal at the negotiating table has never been peace, but rather to win relief from sanctions without making irreversible concessions. We need to make absolutely clear to Iran’s leaders that sanctions will continue to increase until they agree to completely abandon any enrichment or reprocessing capability. We must also remember that those sitting across the table from us, however modern they may seem, are the representatives of a brutal regime that continues its sponsorship of terrorism and deprives its people of their fundamental rights.
Another key to tackling the challenges posed by these nuclear rogues is maintaining an effective deterrent, not merely hoping that unilateral disarmament will lead the Irans or North Koreas of the world to follow our lead. We should seek to establish flexible, adaptable groups of like-minded states to counter the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction, rather than solely relying on arms control agreements that are often not worth the paper they’re written on.
We must also address the threat posed by those regimes that may lack advanced capabilities, but that remain determined to undermine our strategic interests.
For example, we have seen the strong grip that anti-American sentiments have on some Latin American governments. Venezuela and Bolivia in particular have developed a troubling affinity for Iran. And Cuba was recently caught trafficking in weapons systems with North Korea in blatant violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions.
Despite these actions, the White House has remained passive as these nations and their anti-American allies assault the freedom of their own people and undermine the stability of their neighbors.
But this administration has shown more than just a reluctance to stand up to our enemies; it has also shown a reluctance to stand with our friends.
Look no further than Latin America to see examples of the benefits of rewarding our friends. Our support of our democratic allies in Colombia and Mexico are two examples of how patience and principles pay off.
We need to build on this progress by considering a new security agreement for the Western Hemisphere that includes our Canadian and Latin American partners and allows us to work together to solve the more difficult problems facing our region.
For instance, we should consider ways to expand cooperation among our security forces. This would enable us to better focus our efforts to stop illicit human, narcotics and weapons trafficking in the hemisphere.
On the energy front, the Western Hemisphere needs to establish itself as a democratic, peaceful and stable alternative to the Middle East. Approving the Keystone pipeline and authorizing the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Agreement are good first steps. We should also continue to cultivate the shale revolution here in the United States and leverage it to increase our geopolitical presence.
We’ve seen that great things can be achieved when the United States partners with key allies. This lesson extends to Asia as well, where the bedrock of our interests in furthering peace, security, liberty and prosperity is our alliances with democratic governments.
This administration’s rhetorical focus on the Asian region is welcome. But as China rises and becomes increasingly assertive, many of its neighbors look to the United States’ handling of events in the Middle East – and the cuts to our defense budget – and remain unconvinced that America is going to be there if the going gets tough.
This is unfortunate, because there are real success stories in the region. Japan is a perennial reminder of how democracy and free enterprise can transform a foreign power from a dangerous adversary into a lasting friend. Now, the Abe government is examining ways in which Japan can use its military outside of narrow self-defense missions. We should wholeheartedly support these efforts.
Taiwan shows that traditional Chinese culture and democracy can coexist and even flourish. We should explore ways to deepen our relationship with Taiwan through bilateral trade agreements and by working together on economic reforms so that they can eventually join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Together with Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, and others, our goal is not to “contain” China. But rather to ensure that China’s rise remains peaceful.
We celebrate the fact that millions of people in China have emerged from generations of poverty into the middle class. We remain hopeful that China’s leaders would use their growing influence to engage as a responsible world power. But we cannot ignore their increasingly assertive and illegitimate territorial claims. And we cannot ignore the human rights violations that happen as a matter of state policy.
Our renewed focus on Asia does not need to come at the expense of our longstanding alliances in Europe. We can and must do both.
In Europe, we need to build on the expanding community of close American allies that are essential economic and strategic partners. Key to this goal is ensuring that our efforts to engage with Russia do not undermine our allies, many of whom face threats from their much larger neighbor to the east.
We must establish a consistent willingness to speak out when the Russian government steps over the line, particularly with regard to human rights abuses.
This should be part of a broader initiative on America’s part to retain our legacy as the world’s leading defender of human rights. For all the progress we have made in promoting the dignity of every man, woman and child, there are still outrageous human rights abuses occurring in all parts of the world — yes, even here in America.
Consider modern day slavery in the form of human trafficking, which subjects the most vulnerable to a life of bondage and abuse. This is a problem that America must do more to combat, not just abroad but in our very own backyards. Modern day slavery exists in every state in America, including my home state of Florida.
Another human rights outrage that remains prevalent around the world is the systematic, often violent persecution of religious minorities. Christians in particular are increasingly targeted for persecution throughout the world. Protecting the rights of every person to worship in accordance with their faith must always be a clear priority of the United States, and that will require us to speak firmly to our adversaries and frankly to our friends.
Furthermore, when it comes to human rights and humanitarian causes, we must put our money where our mouth is by conditioning our foreign assistance to reflect our values and interests.
Consider the good that America has done to alleviate suffering in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. Our nation is providing the Filipino people with desperately needed humanitarian assistance, and has deployed some of our men and women in uniform to assist with the effort. Our people are also demonstrating how the power of private charitable giving can be just as influential as our government aid dollars.
Also on the foreign aid front, I am currently working to ensure that our assistance to Egypt is conditioned so that it advances our long-term goal of a stable, democratic Egypt, something that will not be possible if we recklessly cut all assistance to that country.
For all the good that American foreign aid does, I believe there is an even clearer and bolder gift we can offer to the cause of human rights. And that is the spread of liberty.
America’s success in remaining a beacon for freedom has been due in part to our extensive public diplomacy efforts.
But we should continue to come up with creative ways to utilize new technologies that aid in the spread of news and information. Because ultimately, as we’ve seen with the Arab Spring, ease of communication and the spread of knowledge has proven a surefire way to spark the fire of liberty.
But tyrants know this, too. Cuba is a case in point.
They have successfully worked to restrict their people’s access to information in a variety of ways, including strictly controlling Internet access. We should transition our information programs from focusing only on content to focusing on access as well, particularly access that’s not subject to regime scrutiny.
In addition to easing the flow of knowledge and communication around the world, we need to ensure progress is made in easing the flow of commerce. Expanding free and fair trade will create job opportunities for our own people and will have a profound impact in lowering poverty abroad. Concluding TPP with our Asian partners and TTIP with Europe should both be top priorities given their potential to reinvigorate our alliances in key regions and spread economic opportunity at home.
Congress must avoid the false allure of protectionist policies. America’s economic might has always been linked to our openness. We can work to maintain this openness by extending access to our Visa Waiver Program to key allies such as South Korea, Poland, and others in Central Europe.
We must find ways to make the visa application process less burdensome for those wishing to travel and do business in the United States. For instance, many Brazilians are interested in visiting Florida’s tourist attractions, but take their business elsewhere due to onerous visa procedures. Simplifying this process would be a positive move toward friendly nations and a boon to our nation’s economy.
These proposals I’ve just discussed are investments in our future. All are tools that can be utilized to prevent crises and, if necessary, respond once they occur. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, diplomacy and global engagement will fail to prevent or solve a threat to our security. And in those instances we need to have the world’s most advanced intelligence capabilities.
We must respond to the valid concerns of Americans who are alarmed by reports regarding their civil liberties, but we must distinguish these reasonable concerns from conspiracy theories sparked by Edward Snowden. This man is a traitor who has sought assistance and refuge from some of the world’s most notorious violators of liberty and human rights.
Our intelligence programs need to be carefully monitored and controlled. But we do need them. Because terrorists don’t use carrier pigeons. They use cell phones and the Internet, adapting the latest technologies to aid their malign intent. We need to be prepared to intercept the messages of those who wish us harm, while not interfering in the affairs of ordinary citizens.
Those of us tasked with providing oversight to these programs, starting with the President, need to be honest with the American people about the daily threats that we face. We must explain why these programs, in a limited and carefully managed form, are necessary to protect the security of all Americans.
Similarly, our fiscal challenges at home have even caused some, including a few Republicans, to question why so much defense spending is necessary. I believe the Department of Defense, like any government agency, should be efficient and eliminate all waste from its budget. But the fact is that President Obama has been making dangerous cuts to the defense budget since entering office. Our uniformed military leaders and the past three Secretaries of Defense all agree that these cuts, when coupled with those imposed by sequestration, threaten military preparedness.
This would lead to the same problems we faced in the 90’s. These massive cuts will tempt our adversaries to test us, scare our allies, and leave America vulnerable to attack.
To lift the sequester we must find a real, lasting solution to the true cause of our growing national debt: the unsustainable path of important programs like Medicare and Social Security.
None of this will be easy. It will be tempting to think we can ignore chaos abroad and shift more resources to projects at home.
But America must not fail to recognize her vital role in the world.
During the 20th Century, our power, our influence and most importantly our example, has been the preeminent driver of the spread of liberty and peace throughout the globe.
But now we find ourselves in a new century. And voices in both parties argue that we can no longer afford to play this role. And that even if we could, it is not our place to do so.
But this is not a new argument. It is an old one. It is a failed one.
History has proven time and again that when a powerful nation loses or abandons its role in the world, it leaves behind a vacuum that other nations will rush to fill.
And so I ask you: if America stops leading, who will fill the vacuum we leave behind? Is there a candidate nation for this role that can offer the security and benevolence that America can? Is there any other nation we can trust to spread the values of liberty and peace and democracy? There is not.
In our hearts, Americans understand this. But we are tired from the conflicts of the last decade. We are frustrated that our efforts are so often unappreciated. And we wonder – with all the problems that need addressing here in America – why should we focus so much energy abroad?
The answer is that foreign policy is domestic policy. So much of what happens here at home is directly related to what is happening abroad.
When liberty and economic prosperity spread, they create markets for our products, visitors to our tourist destinations, partners for our businesses, investors for our ideas, and jobs for our people.
But when liberty is denied and economic desperation take root, it affects us here at home. It breeds radicalism and terror. It drives illegal immigration. It leads to humanitarian crises that we are compelled to address.
Many understand this. But we are made anxious by the polling and trends that show an increasingly skeptical public. It is important for those of us that share this vision for an active America to remember that we need to bring the American people with us. Americans, especially those outside this city, need their leaders to make a compelling case for the importance of international engagement.
This is important because, in the end, these successes abroad belong to the entirety of the American people. It is the American people who for generations have manned America’s military, defended our freedom and built our economic might. It is the American people who’ve engaged the world through private, charitable, and religious efforts, and have represented this country overseas in greater ways than any diplomat can hope to.
The darkness of tyranny and oppression always seems to spread with discouraging ease. Sadly, this darkness will always be a dominant force in our world. But we must never allow it to become the dominant force in our world.
We can do that. Because as we’ve seen, the light of liberty can drive this darkness away. It can illuminate the potential of a nation. It can brighten the stability of a region. It can reveal the hope of a lasting peace.
Every American can agree that the light of peace and liberty would benefit our world. But who will spread it if not America?
There is no other nation that can. And that is why, despite the challenges we face here at home, America must continue to hold this torch. America must continue to lead the way.
October 6, 2014
Meet their 2016 candidate, Marco Rubio. The neocons are back. That is, at least in Marco Rubio’s world. The Florida senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate has, since his election in 2010, regularly consulted with and sought the advice of top neoconservative writers and policymakers, several of whom served in the administration of George W. Bush.
His loose circle of advisers includes former national-security adviser Stephen Hadley, former deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, Brookings Institution scholar and former Reagan-administration aide Robert Kagan, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, and former Missouri senator Jim Talent.
To this group, beating back the rising tide of non-interventionism in the Republican party is a top priority, and they consider Rubio a candidate, if not the candidate, capable of doing so. “I think it’s very important that any isolationist arguments be defeated well and be defeated early,” says a neoconservative foreign-policy expert who talks with Rubio frequently.
Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, a war in Israel, and the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have in the course of a few months made the American public, and especially Republican-primary voters, more hawkish. Some argue that these events have dimmed the prospects that Kentucky senator Rand Paul, who has carved out a niche for himself as the leading non-interventionist in the Republican party, could seize the nomination. Unquestionably, the crises have boosted Rubio’s stock.
“We’re in an international crisis of really significant proportions, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades,” says the Brookings Institution’s Kagan. “We’ve all been very sympathetic to people worried about going crosswise with the Republican base, but I really think we’re past that. From my perspective, I’m only going to be interested in people who are willing to say the hard things.” For Kagan, that includes arguing for an increase in the defense budget and being frank both about the need to use force when necessary and about America’s role as the world’s preeminent power.
But it’s not just current events that have drawn serious foreign-policy thinkers to Rubio. Since his election four years ago, the first-term senator has consistently articulated a robust internationalist position closest to that of George W. Bush. His outside advisers say he impressed them from the beginning as somebody who took foreign affairs seriously; since then he has built up a record of accomplishment during his four years in the Senate, where he serves on the foreign-relations and intelligence committees.
The experts I spoke with made it clear they have not signed up with Rubio, and nearly all speak with, and speak highly of, other potential candidates. But it is Rubio who garners their highest praise.
“From very early on he was clearly someone who was deciding to take foreign policy seriously,” says Kagan, “I thought he spoke remarkably intelligently.”
Elliott Abrams first spoke with Rubio when he was running for the Senate in 2010. “We had a mutual friend who said to me, ‘He has no experience in the Middle East, but obviously it’s a big issue in Florida, would you be willing to talk to him?’” Abrams says. “We got on the phone, and he said, ‘Let’s do it this way: Let me tell you what I think about the Middle East, and then you tell me what I’ve left out that’s important and what I’ve got wrong.’” Rubio, Abrams says, didn’t have anything wrong. “I was really impressed,” he tells me. “I don’t think there are very many state politicians who could have, off the cuff, done a six-or-seven minute riff on the Middle East.”
Rubio’s disciplined and methodical approach to foreign policy — he has articulated his views over the past two years in several speeches around the world — presents a stark contrast, say multiple foreign-policy experts, to that of his tea-party colleague Ted Cruz. A Cruz adviser last week told National Journal that the Texas senator will almost certainly mount a presidential bid in 2016 and plans to run on a “foreign-policy platform.”
“Whereas Rubio clearly has some views that he has considered and articulated, my sense of Cruz is that he is much less formed by conviction,” says one foreign-policy expert who has met with both potential candidates. “His background was really more on the domestic side.”
Cruz has repeatedly said he embraces a Reaganite foreign policy. He made headlines in recent weeks for walking out of an event when a group of Arab Christians booed his vocal defense of Israel, and he has used his seat on the Armed Services Committee to travel abroad during his time in office. But those I spoke with were, across the board, unimpressed. They universally characterized his worldview as shallow, opportunistic, and ever shifting to where he perceives the base of the party to be.
A former senior Bush administration defense official criticized the Texas senator in particular for his failure, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, to advocate for raising the defense budget. “He’s basically not done anything that I’m aware of to put an end to the hemorrhaging in the Defense Department, so it rings a little hollow,” he says. “It’s one thing to posture, it’s another thing to have a consistent policy. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t develop one. I don’t want to write him up as a lost cause, but he has a long way to go before he could be considered on the same bar as Rubio, considered to have a coherent world view.”
Over the summer, Rubio was briefed on the findings of the National Defense Panel, led by former Missouri senator Jim Talent and former undersecretary of defense for policy Eric Edelman, and the senator used a major speech last month to sound the alarm about the recent cuts to the defense budget and argue for ramping it back up.
Kagan — the preeminent neoconservative scholar and author who made headlines when President Obama improbably cited his article on “The Myth of American Decline,” and again when his cover story for The New Republic critiquing Obama’s foreign policy zipped through the West Wing — has had a major influence on Rubio’s worldview.
The former adviser to politicians from Jack Kemp to Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton says he spoke with Rubio on and off during his first two years in office, and Rubio cited Kagan’s 2012 book The World America Made in his remarks at the Brookings Institution later that year. In the book, Kagan argues that world orders are transient, and that the world order that has been shaped by the United States since the end of World War II — defined by freedom, democracy, and capitalism — will crumble if American power wanes. But he also posits that the modern world order rests not on America’s cherished ideals — respect for individual rights and human dignity — but on economic and military power, and that its preservation requires bolstering America’s hard power.
Rubio has echoed that view over the past two years. “We should start by acknowledging the fact that a strong and engaged America has been a force of tremendous good in the world,” Rubio said in Washington, D.C., last year. “This can be done easily by imagining the sort of world we would live in today had America sat out the 20th century.” He pushed back in December last year, in a speech he gave in London about the lasting importance of the transatlantic alliance, on those he described as “weary from decades of global engagement.” In Seoul, South Korea, a month later, he lamented that many in Congress are “increasingly skeptical about why America needs to remain so active in international affairs.”
Rubio’s views are strikingly similar to those that guided George W. Bush as he began navigating the post-9/11 world. “Foreign policy is domestic policy,” Rubio told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute in November of last year. “When liberty is denied and economic desperation take root, it affects us here at home. It breeds radicalism and terror. It drives illegal immigration. It leads to humanitarian crises that we are compelled to address.” It was Bush who in his 2002 National Security Strategy argued that “the distinction between domestic and foreign affairs is increasingly diminishing,” because “events beyond America’s borders have a greater impact inside them.”
The key difference, according to Kagan, is that Bush, who campaigned in 2000 on a platform of scaling back American involvement in the world, “had a revelation after September 11,” whereas Rubio comes by his position more organically.
However unfairly, Bush’s approach to foreign affairs has become inextricably associated with the invasion of Iraq, and few Republicans are willing to stand wholeheartedly behind it anymore. I asked a Rubio aide if the senator fears associating himself too closely with the Bush clan or with Bush’s foreign policy, and whether Rubio might be making himself vulnerable to an attack that a Rubio presidency would be George W. Bush’s third term. No, the aide replies, adding that “a lot of the foreign-policy issues that the next president is going to deal with are different than they were 20 years ago.”
Regardless, Rubio may indeed become vulnerable to the charge that he is another neocon like Bush, surrounded by some of the same people and informed by essentially the same views.
The day when Republican-primary voters go to the polls is still a long way off, but it feels as if a number of conservative foreign-policy thinkers have already cast their vote.
— Eliana Johnson is Washington editor of National Review.
Staring at the Conservative Gutter
Donald Trump gives credence to the left’s caricature of bigoted conservatives.
In the late 1950s, Bill Buckley decreed that nobody whose name appeared on the masthead of the American Mercury magazine would be published in the pages of National Review. The once-illustrious Mercury of H.L. Mencken had become a gutter of far-right anti-Semites. Buckley would not allow his magazine to be tainted by them.
The word for Buckley’s act is “lustration,” and for two generations it upheld the honor of the mainstream conservative movement. Liberals may have been fond of claiming that Republicans were all closet bigots and that tax cuts were a form of racial prejudice, but the accusation rang hollow because the evidence for it was so tendentious.
Not anymore. The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism. This Super Tuesday, polls show a plurality of GOP voters intend to dive right into it, like the boy in the “Slumdog Millionaire” toilet scene. And they’re not even holding their noses.
In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has endorsed the Code Pink view of the Iraq War (Bush lied; people died). He has cited and embraced an aphorism of Benito Mussolini. (“It’s a very good quote,” Mr. Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd.) He has refused to release his “very beautiful” tax returns. And he has taken his time disavowing the endorsement of onetime Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke—offering, by way of a transparently dishonest excuse, that “I know nothing about David Duke.” Mr. Trump left the Reform Party in 2000 after Mr. Duke joined it.
None of this seems to have made the slightest dent in Mr. Trump’s popularity. If anything it has enhanced it. In the species of political pornography in which Mr. Trump trafficks, the naughtier the better. The more respectable opinion is scandalized by whatever pops out of the Donald’s mouth, the more his supporters cheer him for sticking it to the snobs and the scolds. The more Mr. Trump traduces the old established lines of decency, the more he affirms his supporters’ most shameless ideological instincts.
Those instincts have moved beyond the usual fare of a wall with Mexico, a trade war with China, Mr. Trump’s proposed Muslim Exclusion Act, or his scurrilous insinuations about the constitutionality of Ted Cruz’s or Marco Rubio’s presidential bids.
What too many of Mr. Trump’s supporters want is an American strongman, a president who will make the proverbial trains run on time. This is a refrain I hear over and over again from Trump supporters, who want to bring a businessman’s efficiency to the federal government. If that means breaking with a few democratic niceties, so be it.
Mr. Trump is happy to indulge the taste. “I hear the Rickets [sic] family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me,” Mr. Trump tweeted Feb. 22 about the Ricketts family of T.D. Ameritrade fame. “They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!” What happens when Mr. Trump starts sending similar tweets as president? The question isn’t an idle one, since the candidate has also promised to “open up the libel laws” as president so he can more easily sue hostile journalists. Is trashing the First Amendment another plank in making America great again?
No wonder Mr. Trump earns such lavish praise not only from Mr. Duke or Vladimir Putin, but also from French ur-fascist Jean Marie Le Pen, who once described Nazi Germany’s gas chambers as “a detail of history” and now says that if he were American he’d vote for Mr. Trump, “may God protect him.” With the instinct of house flies, they recognize the familiar smell, and they want more of it.
Mr. Trump exemplifies a new political wave sweeping the globe—leaders coming to power through democratic means while avowing illiberal ends. Hungary’s Viktor Orban is another case in point, as is Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A Trump presidency—neutral between dictatorships and democracies, opposed to free trade, skeptical of traditional U.S. defense alliances, hostile to immigration—would mark the collapse of the entire architecture of the U.S.-led post-World War II global order. We’d be back to the 1930s, this time with an America Firster firmly in charge.
That’s the future Mr. Trump offers whether his supporters realize it or not. Bill Buckley and the other great shapers of modern conservatism—Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, Robert Bartley and Irving Kristol—articulated a conservatism that married economic dynamism to a prudent respect for tradition, patriotism and openness to the wider world. Trumpism is the opposite of this creed: moral gaucherie plus economic nationalism plus Know Nothingism. It is the return of the American Mercury, minus for now (but only for now) the all-but inevitable anti-Semitism.
It would be terrible to think that the left was right about the right all these years. Nativist bigotries must not be allowed to become the animating spirit of the Republican Party. If Donald Trump becomes the candidate, he will not win the presidency, but he will help vindicate the left’s ugly indictment. It will be left to decent conservatives to pick up the pieces—and what’s left of the party.
Rubio Echoes Neoconservative Views in Foreign Policy Address
Nina Burleigh , Emily Cadei
Appearing before an elite foreign policy crowd in New York, Marco Rubio looked and sounded like the recipient of a Rotary Club scholarship reciting his essay—even leading off with a reference to JFK. “President Kennedy, like most presidents before and since, understood what our current president does not,” the Florida senator opened. “American strength is a means of preventing war, not promoting it. And that weakness, on the other hand, is the friend of danger and the enemy of peace.”
The youthful Republican with the muscular foreign policy appears to be the designated rehabilitator of the neoconservative philosophy, which took a beating after the Iraq War. Although he might be better called a neo-neocon, Rubio is willing to tweak the playbook to suit the times. He flip-flopped on Iraq, saying he wouldn’t have supported the invasion knowing the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction was bad. (In March, when asked on Fox, he supported it.)
Rubio has been burnishing his foreign policy credibility with a slot on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, showing up even at sparsely attended meetings. He has been outspoken on international human trafficking and relations with Latin America. In the midst of the Arab Spring, the rookie senator was an early supporter both of bombing Libya and arming Syria’s rebels. And with concerns about national security rising again—particularly among Republican voters—his neo-neocon views have helped him seize the spotlight and boosted his standing in the 2016 presidential campaign.
In New York on Wednesday, the senator called for more American leadership in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations. He made his case in both military and moral terms and denigrated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy as “a disaster.”
“Today, our nation faces a greater threat of terrorist attack than any time since September 11, 2001,” he wrote in an op-ed this week supporting the Patriot Act’s data collection programs. As a candidate, Rubio is reportedly close to receiving significant financial support from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, a leading GOP fundraiser and hawk.
In his speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, he presented “three pillars” that he said would be the foundations of his foreign policy if elected. He called for bigger military budgets and an extension of the Patriot Act’s bulk data collection program; support for America’s economic activity abroad, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a promise of military action to back up any challenges to American interests abroad; and third, “moral clarity to back up America’s core values”—a nice-sounding if vague goal that includes ensuring repressed minorities and women abroad know that America is aware of their suffering.
He painted the Obama administration’s foreign policy as weak and confused. Answering a question from the audience about Clinton’s record as secretary of state, Rubio charged that she had “misunderstood Putin,” waited too long and did too little on Libya, and had been “negligent” toward Latin America. He called her “the chief architect and spokesman of a foreign policy that will go down in history as a disaster.”
Rubio was a vocal presence on the Senate floor during last week’s Iran sanctions debate, trying to toughen a bill giving Congress the right to review any nuclear deal. His “poison pill” amendment—requiring Israel to recognize Israel as a condition of any agreement—failed, but it gave him a platform to prove his being simpatico with the hard-line leaders in the Jewish state. He’s also been speaking out about the need to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the part of the 2001 law used to authorize the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk collection of phone records, first exposed by Edward Snowden. There’s bipartisan support for reform of that law, and one of Rubio’s 2016 rivals, Senator Rand Paul, has promised to filibuster the reauthorization debate. But Rubio has strongly supported the spy agency.
After his speech, in an interview on stage with Charlie Rose, Rubio exhibited an easy but firm grasp of numerous international complexities, from the shifting national alliances and failed states in the Middle East, to Chinese claims to islands in the South China Sea, to Castro’s Cuba. He called Putin’s use of military might a fig leaf to cover that country’s failed economy.
He passed up a chance to criticize either the man who is likely to be his main foe in the crowded GOP primary, Jeb Bush, or his brother, President George W. Bush. Asked whether he would have invaded Iraq, knowing what we know now, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, Rubio said no—an answer that Jeb Bush couldn’t bring himself to utter earlier this week. Rubio managed to throw in a good word for W. too. “Not only would I not have been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it,” he said.
Rubio tossed off a few dubious claims. One was charging that Obama is holding back on attacking ISIS to avoid challenging Iran. When Charlie Rose pointed out that American drones have reportedly killed two of the self-proclaimed caliphate top leaders, Rubio contended that the U.S. position against ISIS still hasn’t been aggressive enough.
The president, Rubio said, had always “viewed American engagement abroad as a cause of friction. The notion was that we had problems around the world because there were grievances against the United States because of something we had done,” he said. “Iran’s problem with America is not just grievance, it’s ideological. It’s their belief that they want to be a dominant power in and export their revolution.”
Rubio then repeated a contention he made previously—and for which the Washington Post awarded him “three Pinocchios”—that Obama didn’t “firmly support” Iranians who wanted democracy during the so-called Green Revolution of 2009, when Iran’s leaders rigged the election. In fact, Obama publicly criticized the Iranian electoral process. “Rubio appears to have created a cartoon version of the White House reaction to the Green Revolution,” the Washington Post commented when he first made the same claim.
An audience member asked whether his view of Iran matched that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I view them as the same threat he does, but the difference is he lives a lot closer to them than I do.” Iran’s leaders have long publicly called for eliminating Israel, and Rubio noted that one of its leaders even issued a detailed tweet about how to accomplish that.
It was a measure of Rubio’s momentum (polls show his numbers up in Iowa, New Hampshire and nationally) and how seriously he is taken that the room was packed with big-name journalists and marquee foreign policy figures. Among those who lobbed questions at him were New York lawyer Zoë Baird, nominated by Bill Clinton for attorney general, but whose bid was withdrawn over unpaid nanny taxes, and conservative British author Niall Ferguson, who asked whether “radical Islam” is the ideological equivalent of the communist threat that Kennedy and Reagan faced.
Communism tried to create nation-states, Rubio replied, whereas radical Islam differs in that it can’t govern. “They do a terrible job of picking up the garbage, and providing services, but they are very brutal.” He said the key was to deny them safe havens—Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa. “We cannot allow safe havens to emerge anywhere in the world…where these groups can set up camp and establish themselves,” Rubio said.
Journalists were not allowed to ask questions, but as Rubio was shaking hands, one asked him whether he had changed his mind on the Iraq War. Rubio ignored the repeated question, and retreated with a small entourage to a safe haven of his own, an anteroom near the stage.