Sunday, March 27, 2016

Terror Reminds Us of What's At Stake

Just when it looked like we were going to spend the spring being subjected to the GOP food fight about wives and Supreme Court blockades and keeping swarthy people out of the country, along comes a cold sweat, fear-inducing, terror-in-the-night event in Belgium to focus us on what's really at stake in this election.

So let me be clear: Hillary Clinton is far and away the best, most knowledgeable, temperamentally suited candidate to lead this country through our foreign policy challenges. The Republicans will talk about Benghazi and e-mails, but when push comes to shove, and it already has, Clinton has the smarts and the cold-eyed sense of reality that befits a Commander in Chief.

To prove the point, Donald Trump revealed the members of his foreign policy advice team prior to the attacks, and the response was overwhelmingly negative, to the extent that many in the Republican Party are genuinely afraid at what advice Trump is receiving. Even if he shifts to more established experts in the fall, how can he change his positions and make them stick, given the nature of what he's said so far? Further, Trump also said that he would be in favor of having the United States pare back its influence and footprint in Japan and South Korea at a time when China is making aggressive moves in what it considers to be its back yard. He is clearly a man who has not thought through many of his policies to the consequences stage and he continues to act as though the world will tremble and submit to his will should he (shudder) ever become president.

I'm not sure if Ted Cruz's policies are worse, but they certainly aren't better than Trump's. Cruz's default strategy is to carpet bomb a group that has embedded itself into the fabric of a community that is at once devoted to it and terrified of its rule. This would result in a huge number of civilian casualties and the deaths of thousands of innocent people. He now wants to add a totalitarian element to his policy that would enable law enforcement officials to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods in the United States.

I understand patrol, as bad as that is, but what does secure mean? Since most Americans who are radicalized are done so over the Internet, does that mean an extra layer of surveillance? Wiretapping? Issuing subpoenas to service providers to give up Internet browsing histories? Other chillingly McCarthyistic ideas?

The world is a very dangerous place and it's made more dangerous by people who talk tough with little thought behind their words. Defeating ISIS and other radicals will take time and it will require that the United States have a clear, sober, realistic strategy to carry out. Neither of the GOP front-runners has such a strategy.

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