Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Audaciousness of Joe

Joe Scarborough is daring and fearless. He has convinced himself, and wants to convince us.

It began Sunday, when Senator John McCain appeared with Christiane Amanpour on ABC's This Week (transcript here) and revealed

Well, I was more concerned about what the candidates in New Hampshire the other night said. This is isolationism. There's always been an isolation strain, isolation strain in the Republican Party, the Pat Buchanan wing of our party. But now it seems to have moved more center stage, so to speak.

A few moments later, McCain commented

I wonder what Ronald Reagan would be saying today.... He would be saying that's not the Republican Party of the 20th century and now the 21st century. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for all over the world, whether it be in Grenhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifada, that Ronald Reagan had a quick operation about, or whether it be in our enduring commitment to countering the Soviet Union.

This was too much for Scarborough, who on Monday in one of his recurring pieces for Politico wrote

It is laughable to suggest that any Republican who does not support being involved simultaneously in three hot wars is taking up the cause of the John Birch Society, turning their backs on internationalism and calling for bringing our troops home.

That's obvious on its face, but Scarborough couldn't contain himself, remarking

Following the terrorist attack against Marines stationed in Beirut, Reagan’s Defense Department began developing a foreign policy designed to prevent the kind of military tragedies that plagued America from Vietnam through Beirut. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, with the help of Colin Powell, created a conservative approach to military intervention that clearly outlined when military troops should be committed to foreign wars.

The Reagan doctrine limited such events to a limited number of circumstances where the armed conflict is vital to American interests, where our objectives are clearly defined, where our commitment is full and overwhelming and where the war has public support.

These are lovely sentiments. But as this site catalogs, since Ronald Reagan left office there have been 33 terrorist attacks against the United States and/or Americans abroad, not including the under-reported and little understood incident on January 17, 2011 in Spokane, Washington.

It would seem that the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and one intended for the U.S. Capitol on September 11, 2001 (three among the 33) would have some impact on American foreign policy. However, Scarborough, hot for a doctrine developed in the 1980s, apparently doesn't think so.

The acts of terrorism of nearly ten years ago do not of themselves justify the current wars in Libya, Afghanistan, or Iraq, but U.S. foreign policy must be formulated and evaluated in light of conditions as they currently exist, rather than as they existed over a quarter of a century ago.

Scarborough is pleased "Some GOP candidates are finally getting that message.... that there is a there is a middle ground between McCain’s interventionism and Ron Paul’s isolationism." There is, in fact, approximately 80 yards of a football field in that middle ground, room for practically everyone. He concludes

But these days, Reagan finally seems to be more than a punch line for Republican politicians. These days, it seems, a few candidates are actually following the great man’s advice by supporting a more realistic approach to war and peace.

Courageously criticizing a losing GOP presidential nominee, Scarborough sees himself as boldly breaking with a neo-conservative orthodoxy in foreign affairs. But there is nothing so conventional, nothing so politically safe, and nothing so divorced from reality as a Republican pol or pundit ignoring present realities and wrapping himself in the shroud of Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6).

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