America First – or World War III

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“IF you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.”

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So said Rand Paul, looking directly at Gov. Chris Christie, who had just responded to a question from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as to whether he would shoot down a Russian plane that violated his no-fly zone in Syria.

“Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it,” blurted Christie: “I would talk to Vladimir Putin … I’d say to him, ‘Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.’

“Yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling … we have in the Oval Office … right now.”

Ex-Gov. George Pataki and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum would also impose a no-fly zone and shoot down Russian planes that violated it. Said Gov. John Kasich, “It’s time we punched the Russians in the nose.”

Carly Fiorina would impose a no-fly zone and not even talk to Putin until we’ve conducted “military exercises in the Baltic States” on Russia’s border. Jeb Bush, too, would impose a no-fly zone.

These warhawks apparently assume that President Putin is a coward who, if you shoot down his warplanes, will back away from a fight.

Are we sure? After the Turks shot down that Sukhoi SU-24, Moscow sent fighter planes to Syria to escort its bombers and has reportedly deployed its lethal S-300 antiaircraft system there.

A US Marine Corps aviator describes the S-300: “A complete game changer for all fourth-gen aircraft [like the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18]. That thing is a beast and you don’t want to get near it.” There are press reports that an angry Putin has ordered the even more advanced S-400 system moved into Syria.

Is Putin bluffing? Are we prepared to ride the up-escalator, at the top of which is nuclear war, if Putin, who has been boasting of his modernized nuclear forces, is also willing to ride it rather than back down?

Uber-hawk Lindsey Graham wants to send tens of thousands of American troops to fight ISIS, and refuses to work with Iran, Russia, or Syria’s Bashar Assad to crush our common enemy ISIS.

Graham prefers “allies,” like the Saudis and Gulf Arabs.

But both have bailed out of the air war on ISIS, and sent troops and bombers instead to attack the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Result: The Houthis have been in retreat and al-Qaida and ISIS are moving into the vacated territory.

Another Mideast base camp for terrorists is being created — by us.

“I miss George W. Bush!” wailed Graham in the undercard debate.

How many other Americans are, like Graham, pining for the return of a Bush foreign policy that gave us Barack Obama?

Yet, now, a rival school is taking center stage in the Republican presidential campaign, rejecting the knee-jerk hostility to working with Putin. Not only does Rand Paul belong to this school, so, apparently, do Donald Trump and his strongest challenger, Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz had previously disparaged the legacy of the “neocons” who prodded Bush into war in Iraq and championed a democracy crusade in the Middle East. In Las Vegas, he spoke of a new national-interest-based foreign policy, a policy that puts “America First.”

“If we topple Assad … ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen national security interests. And the approach — instead of being … a democracy promoter, we ought to hunt down our enemies and kill ISIS rather than creating opportunities for ISIS to control new countries.”

Cruz rejects the Manichaean worldview of the neocons and their reflexive hostility to Russia, and appears willing to work with a Russian autocrat to crush a monstrous evil like ISIS, as US presidents did in working with anti-Communist dictators to win the Cold War.

Midway through the debate, Trump cut loose with a sweeping indictment of mindless American interventionism in the Middle East:

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off. …

“We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what? It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess. I wish we had the 4 trillion dollars or 5 trillion dollars. I wish it were spent right here in the United States on schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart!”

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4 Comments

  1. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    20 December 2015

    A Filipino-American friend of mine, an intellectual of the first rank who resides in Chicago and runs a successful business there, seriously suggests the equivalent of a MARSHALL PLAN for all those Middle Eastern countries which are the fertile breeding grounds of all kinds of what the world describes as “terrorists.”

    Such a Marshall Plan is designed to deal with the root cause of TERRORISM, which is widespread and chronic poverty for millions of people who see engaging in TERROR as the only avenue to express their hopelessness. their desperation and their anger, lashing out indiscriminately and murderously at all those who are better off economically and socially than they are.

    I suggest fleshing out his suggested Marshall Plan, to include all wealthy countries of the world, with an initial funding of $1 trillion. The overarching objective is for the Marshall Plan to create the economic and social conditions which will lift millions in the Middle East from widespread and chronic Poverty, as well as to make it possible for those millions to have a clear and decisive say in the kind of political process that ensures the establishment of a Government in which they are active and responsible stakeholders.

    I further suggest that this new Marshall Plan, to be led by the United States, should have a life of ten years.

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  2. There are times that dictator like Assad and Sadam Hussein stay where they are rather than forcibly remove them. They can control the mess. Thousands of Americans will die if not for President Obama. If the republicans are in power, the United States will be at war. Ex president Bush will have to answer to God on all the bad decisions he made.

  3. Right, Gloria! It should be balanced in the name of Press and Speech Freedoms, so readers can have a better perspective and analysis. Unlike our prevalence Yellow Press controlled by oligarchs na nakatikim ng kulong from they called Dictator kasi sobrang gahaman sa lahat ng bagay pati orinola ni Pres. Quirino at imbentong “what are we in power for” ni Spkr Avelino ay mga tsismis ng Yellow Press na mga alila nila.

  4. Gloria M. Kuizon on

    Very good, Manila Times, that you now have other columnists frothe US other than those from the Washington Post. I hope you are not replacing the Washington POst guys with the Creators Syndicate writers. Keep both groups!