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Monday, April 10, 2017

Is U.S. Foreign Policy Undergoing Political Realignment?

So posits Bill Scher on RealClearPolitics today:

If you thought America had become hopelessly polarized along partisan lines, reactions to President Trump’s Syrian strikes would prove you wrong.
Some prominent Democrats supported Trump for deploying the military on humanitarian grounds, while some strict constitutionalist Republicans complained that the president struck hastily without asking for congressional authorization. People on the left and right are encouraged to see Trump put some distance between America and Russia … and people on the left and right question whether the Syrian government was really behind the chemical weapons attack against a rebel-held province.

Being that he is the Bill Scher we've come to know and love, he can't help bring in references to Presidents almost none of you ever think about (but I love that stuff):

Intra-party foreign policy divides are nothing new. President McKinley’s 1898 imperialistic grab of the Philippines, driven by then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, drove some of their fellow Republicans into the newly formed Anti-Imperialist League. In 1915, the isolationist Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned in an audacious but ultimately futile attempt to stop President Wilson from expanding the military and renouncing any possibility of entering the Great War. Isolationist Republicans found themselves marginalized in their own party once Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower snatched the 1952 presidential nomination away from Sen. Robert Taft.

Read the whole thing.

Scher has more about this on Friday's episode of the This Is Not Normal Podcast.

I've been trying to avoid paying too much attention to foreign policy since the economy crashed in 2008; there's just been too much to focus on here, plus the Obama administration just seemed level-headed and like they had our foreign policy under control.

I don't like that I have to devote brain cells to this, but between Syria, North Korea, and Somalia, and having our military and nuclear arsenal in the hands of a mad puppet who's having his strings pulled by Vladimir Putin and has no impulse control, I have to deign to follow these stories. A little more from Bill:

What it means to be a Democrat and what it means to be a Republican is changing before our eyes. As Trump learns on the job, party platforms will inevitably evolve in response. However, leaders in both parties would be wise to proactively develop and define their respective foreign policy philosophies. Doing so would not only help them influence a shallow and potentially malleable president, but it would also ensure their views are rooted in reality, and not political expediency.

I'm not sure he's right; the Democrats have had a hawkish wing that's ebbed and flowed in my lifetime (and has been mostly at an ebb lately), and he Republicans have been warmongers as long as they hold the Presidency or a Democratic President doesn't want to go to war. I don't expect that to change much. Trump is President and the few Democrats that have always wanted to bomb the Middle East continue to do so, and the Republicans who have also wanted that (nearly all of them) will likely support anything Trump wants to do in that part of the world as long as they see his actions there cheered on by the media and buoying his ratings a little.

Something to keep an eye on, though... I'd love to see the Dems be the peacenik party all around. I know there are reasons occasionally for military action, but we consider that action a lot more often than with which I'm comfortable.

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