Foreign Policy Follies

To keep my blood pressure down and preserve some semblance of sanity, I have not watched the Republican debates or listened to the candidate speeches. I’ve read the newspaper accounts, especially their foreign policy statements, and I am appalled at the ignorance of what’s being said and the degradation of what passes for political discourse.

Particularly alarming to me are the false claims about American weakness and the dangerous calls for more militarism. America’s standing in the world has indeed declined in recent years. This is not because we are weak militarily, however. The United States continues to spend more on its military than any other country, three times more than China and seven times more than Russia. Rather, we are less respected because we have used military force so cavalierly and ineffectively with such harmful consequences for so many years.

Also outrageous is the claim that the Obama administration is somehow responsible for the rise of ISIS. No mention is made of the disastrous U.S.-led invasion of Iraq which shattered the state, divided Sunnis against Shias, and sparked a massive insurgency that led to the rise of Al Qaeda and later ISIS.

It is also worth noting that the decision to withdraw American forces from Iraq was based on a 2008 security agreement between the Bush administration and the Maliki regime in Baghdad. The Iraqi government firmly rejected requests by U.S. military officials to allow American forces to remain in the country.

One additional point: Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 largely on the basis of his unequivocal pledge to end the war in Iraq. Many of us applauded him for fulfilling that promise. That’s how democracy is supposed to work.

Let’s hope our democracy is strong enough to withstand the new wave of military jingoism and can pursue more peaceful approaches for achieving American greatness in the world.