Election 2016

The Rubio/Cruz Foreign Policy Blues

Here's a crazy idea: How about we don't subsidize the Mubaraks or bomb the Qaddafis?

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In the battle between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to define the GOP's Middle East policies, Rubio the superhawk has been consistently worse. But that doesn't mean Cruz is actually good. Consider these comments from last night's debate, in which the Texas senator offers a reasonable point about the disastrous consequences of the Libya war but then runs roughshod over an important distinction:

Marco 'n' Ted's Excellent Adventure
CNBC

[L]et's go back to the beginning of the Obama administration, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led NATO in toppling the government in Libya. They did it because they wanted to promote democracy. A number of Republicans supported them….[W]e were told then that there were these moderate rebels that would take over. Well, the result is, Libya is now a terrorist war zone run by jihadists.

Move over to Egypt. Once again, the Obama administration, encouraged by Republicans, toppled Mubarak who had been a reliable ally of the United States, of Israel, and in its place, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came in, a terrorist organization.

Cruz uses the verb topple in both of his examples, but he's conflating two rather different situations. NATO really did topple the government of Libya. There was a revolution in progress, but the revolutionaries appeared to be losing; then the West swooped in with military support, tipping the scales in the rebels' favor. In Egypt, by contrast, the Obama administration's chief contribution to the revolution was to inform Mubarak, whose regime received heavy doses of American aid, that it would no longer stand behind him. There is a basic, fundamental difference between withdrawing support for a government and dropping bombs on it, yet Cruz speaks as though they're the same thing.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio's response to Cruz was even more confused:

To begin with, Moammar Qaddafi and the revolt against Qaddafi was not started by the United States. It was started by the Libyan people. And the reason why I argued we needed to get involved is because he was going to go one way or the other. And my argument then was proven true, and that is, the longer that civil war took, the more militias would be formed and the more unstable the country would be after the fact.

If Cruz is giving Washington too much credit for what happened in Egypt, Rubio is giving it too little credit for what happened in Libya. Yes, a revolt was already underway there when the U.S. intervened; and yes, this rebellion was more violent than most of the other Arab Spring movements. But it was far from clear that Qaddafi "was going to go one way or the other," and that certainly wasn't how the intervention was sold to the public. If you look back at Rubio's own statements at the time, they're full of calls to "limit the regime's ability to wage war against its own citizens" and to stand with "the Libyan people, who simply yearn to usher in a new era of freedom." That is not the sort of thing you say if you think a dictatorship is bound to fall no matter what.

At any rate, given that Libya is engaged in a civil war right now, for reasons directly related to the fall of Moammar Qaddafi, it's a little perverse to claim that NATO's bombs made the country more stable than it otherwise would have been.

So if you want to subsidize the world's Mubaraks, Cruz may be your candidate; if you want to bomb the world's Qaddafis, you'll probably prefer Rubio. If you don't want to do either, you're going to have to look elsewhere.

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  1. Here’s a crazy idea: How about we don’t subsidize the Mubaraks or bomb the Qaddafis?

    But we have to DO SOMETHING!!!

    1. I’m not sure what foreign policy options you leave on the table when you take away State’s checkbook.

      1. Hitler?

      2. Exactly.

        1. I SUPPOSE YOU’RE GOING TO WANT FEMA TO DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN HANDING OUT CHECKS TOO. Or what about Global Warming? No checks to stave that off, either?

          1. Actually, according to pretty much every climate conference, writing checks is precisely what everyone claims will fix global climate change.

          2. He hates the children, don’t waste your time.

          3. I support handing out checks…to me.

            Now fork it over, or I spoiler the new Star Wars for you.

            1. It’s a reboot. Old Han Solo comes back in time to help young, black Han Solo shoot Greedo first with some red matter. Lens flares got in his eyes the first time.

              1. Oh, so you’ve seen it too. Personally I liked the further explanation and exploration of midichlorians the best; they really went into detail about it.

                1. I enjoyed the delving deeper into the inner workings of parliamentary procedure in the galactic senate.

              2. Don’t forget Jar Jar Binks leading a rag tag fleet of imperial warships as they flee the Rebels Alliance on a quest to find the 13th colony named Earth and rebuild the Empire

    2. Even a computer knows how to do nothing while doing something: NOP.

      Give us a NONE OF THE ABOVE choice for every elected office, and any district where that wins would stop collecting every government action in that district, including collecting taxes and maintaining roads.

      Hell, I’d love it even if the government kept on taking all the money they do now, but just burned it instead of DOING SOMETHING.

      1. Oh, bureaucrats are very good at executing NOP. The problem is that the enforcers are very bad at executing it. So you get stuck in deadlock waiting for a permission slip from someone with no interest in giving it to you while someone with no interest in leaving you alone stands in your way.

  2. Wait a minute… this isn’t a Trump article? When are we going to have another Trump article?

    1. Oddly enough, I was just over at my niece’s – I go over there to watch her kids after they get home from school before she gets home – and I flip on the TV and it’s on CNN – which usually with the kids there it’s on Nickelodeon or Disney or something, which are nice channels, I got nothing against Nickelodeon or or Dis….I mean, they’re fine channels they’re just not news channels – of course, some people would say CNN isn’t a news channel but whatever, I’m not gonna, I mean, you know, CNN’s fine, it’s fine, it’s a fine channel just not, you know, but so anyway, I’m sitting there watching TV – a nice TV by the way, very nice TV, made in Korea I believe where they don’t put pot metal and radioactive waste and whatever like the Chinese do and then they sell them all over here and take all our money and don’t buy anything from, I mean, how dumb is that that all our trade with China is us giving them all our money instead of using it here to provide jobs for for, but whatever, it’s just insane. So I’m sitting there watching CNN and Donald Trump’s on and he’s speaking and he’s got this, I don’t know, manic way of, kinda scatter-brained, kinda going off on 20 different tangents all at at and kinda never completing a single thought or sentence or or whatever and it’s like his mouth is on auto-pilot and his brain has no idea what the hell’s going on and I’m thinking that’s a good metaphor for something but I can’t quite you know but whatever.

      1. Donald Trump’s on and he’s speaking and he’s got this, I don’t know, manic way of, kinda scatter-brained, kinda going off on 20 different tangents all at at and kinda never completing a single thought or sentence or or whatever and it’s like his mouth is on auto-pilot and his brain has no idea what the hell’s going on and I’m thinking that’s a good metaphor for something but I can’t quite you know but whatever.

        You just now noticed that?

        1. I think he just now perfected it.

  3. Here’s a crazy idea: How about we don’t subsidize the Mubaraks or bomb the Qaddafis?

    Well, it’s official. Jesse Walker hates the children and wants the terrorists to win.

  4. If you want both, there’s Hillary.

    1. Clinton/Rubio 2016

      The ultimate neocon dream team.

  5. If you don’t want to do either, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

    Rand Paul?

    1. That’s just crazy-talk.

    2. No, the answer is still Hitler.

  6. “So if you want to subsidize the world’s Mubaraks, Cruz may be your candidate; if you want to bomb the world’s Qaddafis, you’ll probably prefer Rubio. If you don’t want to do either, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.”

    Well, which of the two is more cost-effective?

  7. We are going to war in Syria in 2017 unless by some miracle Rand winds up in the White House. The only question now is what should I invest in to profit off of this foolishness. I’ve done a bang up job betting that healthcare costs would spiral upwards post Obamacare.

    1. We are not going to war in Syria in 2017. We are going to war in Syria in 2016 so Obama can leave a huge stinking mess for whoever follows him so he can point and say “We never had this kind of huge stinking mess when I was in charge.”

  8. No lack of Congressional funds is going to keep me from my meddling! /Granpa President

  9. Here’s a crazy idea: How about we don’t subsidize the Mubaraks or bomb the Qaddafis?

    Fair enough. But I don’t think we should necessarily rule out bombing the Kardashians.

  10. OT: Mistrial declared in the first Freddie Gray trial (no reason given yet, but guessing it’s due to jury deadlock)

    1. I am glad I just bought stock in Molotov Cocktails.

    2. Couldn’t stack the jury with enough pig boot lickers?

  11. I think we should continue to haphazardly involve ourselves in civil wars.

    1. The Hillary campaign welcomes you!

      1. Similar to many other members of the Hillary campaign I have no self-respect, so I am pretty sure I would fit in just fine.

  12. The Trump article has nearly 400 comments. And people ask why Trump is winning. People cannot get enough Trump. Love him or hate him, you want more of him!

    1. 400 is low, he must not have said anything about Syrian refugees.

      1. He’s running out of material. He should hire me as his campaign manager.

        Donald: So, Hype, the peasants are getting restless. I know they want more of me, you know, because I’m me. People love me!

        Hyperion: I’ve got it Donald. You’re going to say that as an immediate economic boom, we’re going to build some yuuuuuge factories and we’re going to take all the idle orphan children and the children of those illegal immigrants and we’re going to fire up those factories, to make America great again!

        Donald: I like it! You sure that’s going to work?

        Hyperion: Hell yes, just say it already.

    2. That guy is going to square off against Hillary Clinton for the right to lead you and the rest of the sort-of-free world.

  13. “They did it because they wanted to promote democracy. A number of Republicans supported them….[W]e were told then that there were these moderate rebels that would take over. Well, the result is, Libya is now a terrorist war zone run by jihadists.”

    We were told that selling airbags for cars instead of buggy whips would increase profits. Three quarters later, our profits are down becasue of expenses associated with the transition, and our buggy whip business still isn’t growing!

    Obviously, we should forget the transition entirely–the future is making our buggy whip business grow!

    There’s an excellent argument to make for keeping your business private if you can (instead of going public) precisely because having to obsess about the next quarter or two, rather than the long term, can make you do stupid things. Forgoing excellent opportunities because your shareholders can’t see past the short term costs is one of those stupid things.

    If the fact was that Libya wasn’t going to stop being a jihadi factory so long as Gaddafi was in power and made it impossible for average males to be prosperous and have a family with his thuggery and incompetence, then the jihadi factory that was Libya wasn’t about to stop manufacturing jihadis so long as Gaddafi remained in power.

  14. I have a better idea. Stop buying oil from the Middle East. Take our military out of all other countries and get rid of the Army all together. Set our priorities to protect this country and to hell with the rest. We are in no danger here if we mind our own business. It works great for the Swiss

  15. Three points:

    1) We’re seeing inter-generational social change throughout North Africa and the Middle East similar to what we saw happen in Europe during the Reformation and the Thirty Years War. Anyone who thinks that any move me make has to be successful in the short term in order for it to be a success is missing the boat. Social change as dramatic as what is happening in North Africa doesn’t play out over the course of a couple of months or years. The Reformation didn’t happen that quickly either.

    2) Barack Obama did not decide to overthrow Gaddafi. He did not commit troops to Libya. He did not invade Libya. The Libyan people decided to overthrow Gaddafi, and the Libyan people, along with the assistance of the UK, France, and Qatar (the latter on the ground), were determined to do what they did–with or without us. Not everything that happens in the world is up to Barack Obama.

  16. 3) The alternative to the U.S. providing air support and air traffic control between various NATO countries was not the status quo. If the U.S. hadn’t joined the coalition against Gaddafi, at the very least, Libya might look like the Syrian Civil War right now. This is to say, it is not clear that Libya would be less of a security threat to the U.S. if we hadn’t become involved–even in the short term–than it would have been with Gaddafi’s head on a pike where it belongs.

    I.e., I’m not convinced that having a vicious dictator like Assad to fight against makes ISIS less dangerous than they would be otherwise. Regardless, if the Libyan people simply were no longer willing to submit to Gaddafi anymore, then Libya today wouldn’t look like Libya did before the Arab Spring. It would probably look like Syria–and that would be bad for American security.

    1. Interesting and true points Ken (it should also be noted that parts of Eastern Libya are run by some secular strongman guy). Don’t expect Reason to let facts and judgement get in the way of its narrative however.

  17. Here’s a crazy idea: how about we stop bombing Syria and Iraq and wait to find out if there are any groups there that embrace human rights and democracy and secular education for their children and declare this publicly and help them if they ask for it. And what about the ones who swear fealty to the West and consecrate the union with a towering sand monument? Fuckem.

    1. We’ll get to that after ISIS and Nusra aren’t problems anymore.

      1. That’s not how it works but thanks for revealing your hand. 🙂

  18. US Politics, best politics money can buy!

    http://www.GoneAnon.tk

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