City of Brass

City of Brass


No, they aren’t serious

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The following is the key foreign policy critique made of Obama by Republicans, in this case well-summarized by GOP Representative Mike Pence:

On the foreign stage, the American people know that weakness arouses evil. They know that bowing and kowtowing to foreign dictators only diminishes our standing in the world. And they know that standing idly by while the Ayatollahs in Iran crush innocent civilians, clamoring for free elections, is totally inconsistent with our history of standing with those who stand for freedom around the world. Ronald Reagan didn’t stand before the Brandenburg Gate and say, “Mr. Gorbachev, that wall is none of our business.” The American cause is freedom and in that cause we must never be silent again.

Daniel Larison rightly labels this “idealistic claptrap” but then worries that Pence might actually mean what he says:

what worries me is that Pence may actually think this is a serious criticism of Obama’s foreign policy. In 1956, our President did not confuse the American cause with the cause of Hungarian rebels, admirable and courageous as those rebels were, and WWIII was avoided. Indeed, it was the empty rhetoric of rollback fanatics who led those Hungarians to believe that they would receive U.S. support if they rose up. They believed the fantasy that “the American cause is freedom,” and they were killed as a result. That is precisely what Pence is urging our government to do with respect to Iran. In other words, he is calling on our government to give Tehran a pretext for even bloodier repression.

I think that the GOP’s hagiographic myth of Reagan as Slayer of Communism has power like any myths, and that the GOP is invoking that myth in much the same way that shamans invoke the spirit world – as a totem which they can use to give them power over their foe. The sad irony here is that Republicans don’t really believe in the Freedom that they asccribe to Reagan, but would in practice follow the same Kissinger-ian realpolitik as reagan actually did – those political dissidents who represent a threat to regimes we disfavor would be hailed as champions of freedom and those who threaten regimes we favor would be denounced as terrorists. Invoking “freedom” as a critique of our foreign policy towards Iran in particular is so unbelievably and simultaneously synical, hypocriitical, and ignorant that there’s it’s breathtaking. Almost, in a perverse way, admirable really.

I don’t think that Pence really believes what he is saying – like the rest of the GOP, he hasn’t spent any substantial effort in formulating a principled, pragmatic foreign policy based on key ideals (though he pretends to). Instead, foreign policy is just another blunt object with which to batter the great Satan. When this club wears out they will simply reach for another at hand – and all such clubs will be retired when someone acceptable is in power again. The intervening damage done to our nation’s self-interest and our political discourse in the interim are, of course, of no concern.

It would frankly be rather comforting if Pence did believe what he says, because then at least he would beguided by principles which could be appealed to. Instead, it’s frightening how noble principles like freedom are nothing more than – if you’ll pardon the vulgarity – nothing more than whores to be used and disposed of by the Republican political leadership.

Related – the GOP’s critique of domestic policy is equally fatous.



Advertisement
Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Comments are closed.



Previous Posts

Vote now in the (delayed slightly) Brass Crescent Awards!
Voting in this year's Brass Crescent Awards is now underway, after a few months' delay. Here's the explanation from the official site: We would like to sincerely apologize for the delay in this year's voting. The reason for the delay was that we did not have sufficient blogsphere nominations as w

posted 10:30:42pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Midamar halal beef - charged with fraud
This is disturbing news - the company Midamar, well known for its halal meat products, has been charged with fraud for falsely advertising its beef as halal to Muslims: The indictment said the companies told customers its cattle were slaughtered by hand by specially trained Muslim slaughtermen w

posted 10:45:40pm Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

men should accept blame; women should assert agency
The following rant was posted on Facebook by a friend of mine, and I have her permission to reproduce it in its entirety. Systems of patriarchy are sometimes so entrenched, we just accept them as part of normal daily interactions. Popular discourse often maintains that it's men who do such and s

posted 10:56:12pm Dec. 01, 2014 | read full post »

My first day of wearing rida to school
Zainab Jamali is a teenaged Muslim American girl in Los Angeles. As a member of the Dawoodi Bohra community, she recently took her misaq (an oath marking the symbolic pas

posted 10:08:13am Nov. 11, 2014 | read full post »

Muslims en masse for Modi at Madison Square
Newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to a huge crowd of Indian expats in New York City on Monday night, outlining his vision of India's future and mak

posted 4:29:29pm Oct. 01, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.