October 30, 2013
Do not be fooled by the title folks. I have not gone off to the dark side with Lindsey Graham and John McCain. I am not saying that folks like Rand Paul need to be, not just ignored on foreign policy, but ostracized from the levers of power because of his stance on foreign policy. No what I am saying is that the TEA Party has failed to get on board with the disasters that have befallen the US in the realm of foreign policy since 2010.
There have been many US foreign policy failures but not one of them can, or should, be placed at the feet of the TEA Party faction in the US Congress. Much to the chagrin of Dov S. Zakheim writing last week at The National Interest the TEA Party has not had one hand in delaying the much touted "pivot" by the US toward Far East Asia. Nor have they been involved with the shrinking of the US presence in the Middle East causing former allies to either be toppled by revolts or turning toward Iran instead of shunning them. Neither have they advised that the president claim a red line that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad not cross regarding the use of chemical weapons just to not follow through with carrying out threats of force once crossed.
No the TEA Party has had not one hand in the foreign policy failures of the Obama administration. In face, according to Prof. Vali Nasr of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and assistant to former ambassador Richard Holbrook who was the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2009 to December 2010 when Holbrook passed away the US has been making foreign policy missteps prior to the TEA Party taking office in Congress after the 2010 elections. In his book Dispensable Nation, Prof Nasr explains that failure to address Pakistan's role in the War on Terror with little more than drone strikes in Pakistan territory began a windfall of Middle East allies beginning to turn away from the US.
Nasr also goes on to explain that the US "pivot" toward Far East Asia was supposed to ease the concerns of allies in that region about the increased expansion of China's sphere of influence. Because of this, China has ceased the initiative with confronting small regional allies over things like territorial waters and claims to islands. Missteps in the Middle East by the US has also opened the doors for China to make headway there too. China has used hard currency deals to purchase oil outside the rubric of the global oil market. They have established numerous resource extraction deals across the Middle East. And they have nurtured an increasingly warm relationship with Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey giving China's influence reach all the way to the eastern Mediterranean.
The TEA Party's vision for foreign policy may be considered inadequate by some, but one thing it is not is responsible for the increasingly isolated position that the US now finds itself in. No, that mantle belongs solely to the Obama administration itself.
As mentioned above, Vali Nasr explains how the seeds of this bleak harvest came to be sown. Now the black fruit of those seeds are blooming. First, thanks to the major missteps in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has now declared that it is starting to looking to move beyond the once strong diplomatic relationship with the US. The ostensible reason for this split is failure by the US to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. However, that excuse is merely the last straw from the Saudi perspective.
Lastly, and most ominous, is the call by China to "de-Americanize" the globe. Primarily they are looking for another reserve currency for the world that is not the US dollar. For any great power, the ability to either control or have a very hefty hand in shaping global economic policy is the truest mark of that power. Threats to the prominence of the US dollar by the likes of China--a state that was a decade ago considered to be a developing nation--is a large example of the loss of stature by the US on the global stage. On some level this can be attributed to a sluggish economy that is quantitatively easing its stock market higher while it does nothing real to grow GDP at 3 percent annually. The TEA Party has nothing to do with this.
Considering how the future looks for US prospects on the global stage, it seems a bit arrogant and condescending for the people who are either implementing the policies that are causing the US the most damage or advocating for them in the press to make any claims against the TEA Party's vision for foreign policy. After all, when Secretary of State John Kerry was asked if he needed other foreign ministers to help him pay for a meal due to the government shutdown, he could have explained that he did not because he was essential personnel.
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