As Ted Cruz surges in the polls, and as he is increasingly seen by many as a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination, now seems a good time to examine his proposal for how to deal with the growing threat posed by Daesh.
In a nutshell, his proposal is as follows: Bomb them into oblivion.
Lest you think this is a caricature, take a look at a recent address he gave to a crowd of 1,500 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Cruz then, in recent appearance on Fox News, said that “we need to listen to the judgment of our military leaders.”
The problem for Mr. Cruz is that many who have military experience have laughingly expressed their dismay at his statements.
Robert Scales, a retired Major General, told the New York Times that “carpet-bomb” is “just another one of those phrases that people with no military experience throw around.”
The New York Times Editorial Board concludes their analysis with a scathing rebuke of Cruz’s proposal:
“Ted Cruz, a man who thinks he’s qualified to be commander in chief, decries terrorists’ taking of innocent lives while agitating for bombing that would kill thousands of noncombatants and radicalize thousands more. What he’s saying shows an utter lack of fitness to command America’s armed forces.”
A fact that should terrify those who want to both destroy ISIS and avoid reckless conflict, however, is that much of the hard-line right shares Cruz’s simplistic approach to a complex problem.
Commentary such as that offered by retired lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters in an appearance on Fox Business, in which he angrily proclaimed that President Obama is “such a total pussy,” has come to characterize the GOP’s reckless approach to foreign policy.
It is an approach driven by willful ignorance and pandering. Cruz, Trump, and others say what their admirers want to hear, cultivating a climate of false promises and wishful thinking.
The threats we face are real, and the world is a complex place. Cruz and others want to make it simple, and they continue to rely on an irrational faith in the effectiveness of brute force.
In maintaining this faith and by making promises they can’t uphold, they weaken America’s national security and fuel the emerging feelings of anger and fear among the population.
“This is not a time for gestures or machismo,” as the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement to parliament.
But “gestures” and “machismo” are major driving forces among the modern Republican party and, unfortunately, they hold great sway with much of the public.