‘Isolationist,’ much like ‘neocon,’ is quickly becoming a meaningless label used to smear opponents.
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes that Ted Cruz “outdid himself last night in his courting of the Trumpkin base,” sinking “further into the far-right brew of isolationism and xenophobia.” And to prove this contention, Rubin grabs hold of two words Cruz used, “America” and “first,” to claim that the Texas senator is signaling support for 1930s/40s-style isolationism.
This is a pretty popular accusation on the hawkish Right. Having watched the debate, though, this seems to be, as Trump might put it, unfair. What I heard wasn’t a case for isolationism but one against Middle Eastern democracy-building—a project that’s been a persistent and bloody failure; one that’s sidetracked foreign policy from its “first” task, which is defeating the enemy.
ou can certainly disagree with my assessment, but I’m relatively sure that merely holding a skeptical view of Middle East entanglements doesn’t make anyone a potential America First Committee recruit. Yet, here’s American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka quoted in Rubin’s piece:
Good for Ted Cruz for being honest. He doesn’t want to be anywhere in the world, doesn’t want America to lead, and harkening back to the likes of Pat Buchanan and Charles Lindbergh is truth in advertising for him.
Whether or not Cruz was dog whistling at Trump fans—and obviously he’s trying to lure them—nothing he proposed at the debate comports with Pletka’s observation. Not even close. For one thing, Pat Buchanan opposed the first Gulf War while Cruz proposes it as the ideal display of American military power. When a CNN moderator queried Cruz about his earlier desire to want to “carpet bomb” ISIS (and what isolationist doesn’t support massive, indiscriminate bombing of foreign lands, right?), he answered:
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Source: The ‘Isolationist’ Smear