Putin’s grand scheme dividing his biggest threat,the GOP
CREDIT: Wiki Commons
As the Ukraine situation devolves into an uncertain future it is having the effect of clarifying the U.S. domestic political picture. By highlighting the Republican Party’s divide on future American foreign policy, Russia’s intervention into Ukraine has pit two strong elements of the GOP coalition against one another.
The two factions, the so-called neocons who have in the past held great sway over Republican Party policy and politics and the rising power within the GOP of the more libertarian elements on the right, have not as yet reached a means for peaceful coexistence and the Ukrainian crisis highlights this divide. Unlike the schism which has been created between the “establishment” and the grassroots “Tea Party” element of the GOP this foreign policy divide cuts across all elements of the Republican Party landscape. In 2010 as the Tea Party swept the Republicans into power in the House it was also primarily responsible for sending two of the GOP’s rising stars to the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul from Kentucky. Although Rubio’s light has dimmed somewhat with the grassroots due to his foray into the immigration quagmire, he is still seen by most on the right as an articulate spokesman for individual freedom and a champion for constitutional conservatism. Rand Paul has spent much time and effort in an attempt to reach out and draw new constituencies into the GOP fold, primarily the youth, which he hopes to attract to his libertarian philosophies and principles. Both Senators are considered not only to be rising stars in the Republican Party, but also potential 2016 presidential candidates. These two “Tea Party” senators though have vastly different views on the Ukrainian situation. Rubio put out a Press Release on the crisiswhere among other points he recommended:
…. We should also stand with Ukraine as the interim government attempts to deal with these provocations. This includes immediately providing the lethal assistance they requested weeks ago. We also need to take measures to reassure our allies in Central and Eastern Europe by deploying more alliance assets to their territories to reinforce our NATO commitments to their security.
Rubio’s statements on and prescriptions for the Ukrainian situation virtually mirror those of Senator John McCain (R-AZ) perhaps this generationsleading spokesman for the neocon viewpoint. Given his background as the son of Cuban immigrants, it is not surprising that he would have a more aggressive stance on international matters as it relates to foreign tyrants. When Senator Tom Harkins (D-IA) recently took to the Senate floor and gave a speech praising the Cuban healthcare system, Rubio responded with an impassioned and well received rebuttal showing not only his gifts as an orator but his sincere passion in regards to tyrannical foreign regimes. At the same time that Rubio is promoting the Right’s typical response to foreign interventions and bullying by tyrants such as Putin, Rand Paul is counselling what for the GOP is a new direction in foreign policy. Paul has put out only one press release on Ukraine, which in itself is telling, and that was back on February 28, 2014. In the statement the Kentucky Senator took a more “internationalist” tone calling on the Russians to remember “that stability and territorial integrity go hand in hand with prosperity.” Since his initial formal response, Paul has made statements that indicate that he has absolutely no desire to be drawn into what he sees as a European problem but would use every non-military tool at the United States disposal to punish Russia. In an op-ed for Time he set out what a Paul Administration would do in response to Russia’s aggression, though slightly more aggressive than the Obama Administration’s feeble response, it is far from the cold warriormentality which has dominated GOP policies for the past several decades. Perhaps most telling in his opinion piece he attempts to remind his Tea Party base what America’s biggest enemy is, and it is not Putin:
America is a world leader, but we should not be its policeman or ATM. At the end of the day, I still agree with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen — the greatest threat to America’s security is our national debt. Russia, the Middle East or any other troubled part of the world should never make us forget that the U.S. is broke. We weaken our security and defenses when we print money out of thin air or borrow from other countries to allegedly support our own.
Two “Tea Party” Senators with different views of how the United States should proceed in what still is a hostile world in the twenty-first century. The foreign policy debate between the factions was ongoing but under the surface of other policy matters, Putin through his aggression has just brought it to the surface. It is not that Marco Rubio does not believe in fiscal responsibility or that Rand Paul does not believe in a strong national defense both men believe in both. What this particular schism brings to the fore of Republican politics is more about priorities and tactics than divisions. The fact that some are attempting to paint either man as somehow not “right” enough because of their differing priorities is actually counterproductive. both men represent views which reflect their different backgrounds and has nothing to do with either man’s commitment to the constitution or the nation. Personally I might prefer one man over the other as President, but I have no doubt that either man would lead the nation in a different and better direction than it is heading now and upon that there ought to be no debate on the right.