We Republican hawks have done an utterly execrable job of identifying and promoting vital American interests overseas. Our own base has turned on us and embraced Rand Paul’s isolationism. Barack Obama has done everything but hand blueprints for nuclear weapons to Iran, and the voters won’t listen to us. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, a couple of them might go off in American cities. And if Iran gets them, so will Saudi Arabia, Turkey and everyone else in the region. As Henry Kissinger points out, we came terrifying close to a nuclear exchange when the U.S. and the Soviets were the only prospective combatants, and both sides had good command and control and an interest in avoiding conflict. Create a multi-player game in the Middle East with poor command and control, Kissinger argues, and nuclear war is nearly certain
Read the whole thing, of course.
Part of the problem Goldman describes is cyclical. Americans tend to go through periods of robust engagement with the world, but it never seems to work out as well as initially promised. So we withdraw from the world, which usually ends in a disaster (or worse) bad enough to force us to re-engage.
Our current disengagement is only in part due to GOP hawks doing an “utterly execrable job.” We also have a President deeply uninterested in foreign policy, who lurches embarrassingly from one crisis to the next — reaffirming our current attitude of just wanting to wash our hands of it all.
However it’s difficult to imagine how the timing could be worse for any of it. China and Japan are closer to coming to blows than at any time since 1937 while we casually think about maybe defaulting on refueling a perfectly good aircraft carrier. Russia is teaching the world how to say “revanchism” in Russian. The Middle East is descending into radicalized anarchy, perhaps with nuclear weapons. Important bits of South America look ripe for default or collapse or worse.
Meanwhile, we can’t even make an energy transport deal with our friendly neighbor to the north, for fear of offending a few oil-hating hippies in the Democrat base.
This is normally where I’d sum it all up with something pithy or maybe just sarcastic, but all I can think about is what and how much to drink for lunch.