Printed letters, September 10, 2013

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On February 1, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) published an op-ed piece wherein he accused Secretary of Defense nominee (former Republican Senator and decorated Viet Nam veteran) Chuck Hagel of “shifting his positions” regarding cracking-down on state sponsors of terrorism, on preventing a nuclear Iran, and on defending Israel.  Thus, Cruz considered Hagel to be insufficiently “hawkish”, anti-Iran, and/or pro-Israel.

Cruz also wrote that “Hagel’s nomination has been publicly celebrated by the Iranian government”.  After fact-checking Cruz’s claim, PolitiFactTexas found it “worse than incorrect.  It’s ridiculous.  Pants on Fire!” (i.e., a flat lie).

On February 12, before the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to confirm Hagel, the McCarthy-esque Cruz used sleazy innuendoes to smear Hagel’s honesty, integrity, and patriotism by baselessly insinuating that speaking fees he’d disclosed had originated from unspecified “radical groups”, from Saudi Arabia, and/or from North Korea.

Now that President Obama has called for military enforcement of the international norm banning Assad’s use of sarin gas against Syrian civilians, Cruz is singing a different tune.  Even though failure to punish Assad’s violation of the chemical weapons ban will likely embolden Iran and other “state sponsors of terrorism” – thereby threatening the security of Israel and the U.S. – the hyper-partisan Cruz now opposes “hawkish, anti-Iran, and/or pro-Israel” retaliation against Syria, apparently because President Obama is “for it”.

Thus, the McCarthy-esque Cruz—along with neo-isolationist Senator Rand Paul (R-KY),  Congressman Scott Tipton, and letter-writer T. Streff—now finds himself squarely allied with Beshar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, and (of course) Iran, whose Islamist Mullahs are undoubtedly “celebrating” their new-found “position shifting” friends.  Politics makes strange bedfellows.   

Barack Obama is President today because he opposed the Iraq War ab initio.  Partisan opportunists like Cruz obviously lack that judgment.

While American public opinion can be swayed, courageous leadership cannot.  Assad and Putin both know that.

As Ray Lashley properly points out, the current debate over Syria is reminiscent of the toxic partisan political environment preceding World War II, when U.S. popular opinion was overwhelmingly isolationist and FDR risked impeachment by surreptitiously arming Britain to resist Hitler.  Like FDR, President Obama is “on the right side of history”.

Democratic President Woodrow Wilson conditioned U.S. involvement in World War I on allied acceptance of “Fourteen Points” – which included creating a League of Nations.

However, isolationist demagogues in the U.S. fostered the notion that we’d been drawn into WWI by duplicitous Europeans, and must never be so gullible again.  Consequently, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected America’s membership in the League.

Wilson promoted “national self-determination” for ethnic populations inhabiting defined territories.  While the allies applied that principle in dismembering the Austro-Hungarian Empire and (arguably) in the Balfour Declaration (creating a Zionist homeland), Britain and France (eager to expand their colonial empires) violated it elsewhere – particularly as to the disintegrated Ottoman Empire.

Republican sabotage of America’s leadership role in the League of Nations – and later disdain for the United Nations—contributed to subsequent world events, including German revanchism, Italian and Japanese expansionism, World War II, Viet Nam, the Bosnian/Kosovo intervention, the Iraq War, and now the civil war in Syria.

Barack Obama is President of the United States today because he early-on opposed the Iraq War, while then-Senators Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden voted for it.

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 because he expressed commitment to principles of international law and respect for the world community – thus impliedly rejecting both paranoid isolationism and the lawless jingoism of his predecessor.

Thus, Syria is setting the stage for a 2016 presidential campaign in which Hillary Clinton and/or Joe Biden – both more “hawkish” than President Obama – will debate America’s proper role in the world with neo-isolationist Rand Paul and/or opportunist Ted Cruz.

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