Why, then, would the Republican Party, with a chance to sweep it all in 2016, want to return us to the nightmare days of George W., which caused America to rise up and throw the party out in 2006 and 2008?
Do Republicans really believe that America wants a return to the Cold War with Moscow and new and larger hot wars in the Middle East?
With President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry seemingly about to conclude a deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear program, House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to use the State of the Union podium to call Obama and Kerry naive and trash their deal as paving the ayatollah’s way to an atomic bomb.
For the U.S. House to invite a foreign leader to come into its chambers and see that leader, on national television, mocking U.S. foreign policy to wild cheering was something few of us expected to see in our lifetimes.
Came then the astonishing letter drafted by Tom Cotton, a 2-month-old senator, that was signed by 47 Republicans. Sent to the ayatollah and mullahs, the Cotton letter instructed Iran that any deal signed by Kerry might not be worth the paper it was written on.
Congress could reject the deal, said the 47, and a new president in 2017 could cancel it with “the stroke of a pen.”
The letter’s purpose was the same as Bibi’s purpose—to scuttle, sabotage and sink any U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. But if there is no deal and Iran returns to enriching uranium to 20 percent, we are on the road to war.
Is this what America has to look forward to if it votes GOP?
Another Middle Eastern war, with a country twice the size of Iraq, to strip the country of weapons of mass destruction it does not have?
Didn’t we just do that at a cost of 4,500 dead, 35,000 wounded warriors and $1.7 trillion?
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, mulling a presidential run, has called Kerry “delusional” and charged Obama with timidity. Why? Because, said Lindsey, “he didn’t call Putin the thug that he is.”
Is this what America wants, a president who will call the ruler of Russia, who has thousands of nuclear weapons and is supported by 85 percent of its people, a “thug”? Is that presidential leadership?
How does name-calling at that level advance U.S. interests?
At the Munich security conference in February, Sen. John McCain compared the negotiations in Minsk, Belarus, among German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin to what happened in Munich in 1938.
Yet the Minsk truce is holding. Ukrainians are not dying, as of today. And the Germans are meeting to bail out Ukraine and prevent that bankrupt country from going belly up.
Yet last week, McCain said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier belongs “in the Neville Chamberlain school of diplomacy.”
Said McCain, this “is the same guy that refuses—and his government—to enact any restrictions on the behavior of Vladimir Putin, who is slaughtering Ukrainians as we speak. He has no credibility.”
A former presidential nominee, McCain is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Does he speak for the party?
Will America applaud an arms airlift to prod a destitute Ukraine into fighting Russia to reimpose Kiev’s rule over the Russian-speaking Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea, in a war Ukrainians cannot win and NATO Europe will not fight?
If Putin should respond to U.S. weapons pouring into Ukraine by seizing Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and establishing a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, what would the Republicans do?
Yet undeniably, inside the GOP, the day of the hawk is again at hand. Sen. Cotton, whose tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan give him a street cred that other GOP hawks do not have, is making no apologies, not backing down, driving the debate and being emulated by the GOP presidential hopefuls. Sen. Rand Paul signed his letter, as did Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
And the Republicans are betting, probably correctly, that the invitation to Bibi to dis Obama and elevate the menace of Iran will sit well with a Jewish community that historically votes Democratic.
But short-term gains could be canceled out by long-term losses.
If Kerry comes home with a deal to which Germany, Britain, France, Russia, China and the U.N. Security Council have signed on, will Congress spend two years trying to scuttle it? Will Congress refuse to lift sanctions on Iran even if all our principal allies have done so?
In addition to bellicosity, the GOP seems to suffer from inconsistency. Even as it seeks to strip Obama of his power to close a deal with Iran, it is trying to give him a blank check to fight ISIS.
And who is fighting the Islamic State today in Tikrit, Iraq?
The Shiite militia and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with gracious permission of Pat Buchanan (March 2015).