Ted Cruz: Let’s face it, neocons like Marco Rubio bear some of the blame for Benghazi

posted at 4:41 pm on December 1, 2015 by Allahpundit

Rubio wanted a fight with Cruz over national security. Well, he’s got one.

Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

“Senator Rubio emphatically supported Hillary Clinton in toppling [Muammar] Qaddafi in Libya. I think that made no sense,” Cruz told Bloomberg Politics in a wide-ranging and exclusive interview during a campaign swing through Iowa. He argued that the 2011 bombings that toppled the Libyan leader didn’t help the fight against terrorists. “Qaddafi was a bad man, he had a horrible human rights record. And yet … he had become a significant ally in fighting radical Islamic terrorism.”

“The terrorist attack that occurred in Benghazi was a direct result of that massive foreign policy blunder,” Cruz said during a drive eastward from a town-hall event near Iowa City to another in the town of Clinton…

“If you look at President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and for that matter some of the more aggressive Washington neo-cons, they have consistently mis-perceived the threat of radical Islamic terrorism and have advocated military adventurism that has had the effect of benefiting radical Islamic terrorists,” he said…

On Syria, Cruz inveighed against Rubio and Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of state, for supporting a no-fly zone and arming “the so-called moderate rebels.” “I think none of that makes any sense. In my view, we have no dog in the fight of the Syrian civil war,” he said, arguing that Rubio and Clinton “are repeating the very same mistakes they made in Libya. They’ve demonstrated they’ve learned nothing.”

Rand Paul’s sitting in a dark room somewhere with a glass of bourbon wondering why no one cared about this attack on GOP hawks the previous 8,000 times he made it. He ran through the same points Cruz did against Rubio on TV just a few weeks ago. And now here’s Cruz, gobbling up more of his libertarian support by throwing down with the Senate’s most aggressive interventionists.

Cruz is right, of course, that Rubio supported regime change in Libya “full-throatedly.” I haven’t reviewed Rubio’s positions systematically but after watching him for four and a half years, it sure seems like he’s never met a regime-change idea he didn’t like. On the other hand, what is Cruz’s foreign policy? He told Bloomberg that it’s simple as can be: If doing something would keep America safe, we should do it, and if it makes America more vulnerable, we shouldn’t. That’s appealing as a bit of Trump-ian barstool common sense but it’s also a form of begging the question. The whole point of Rubio’s beef with Cruz over the USA Freedom Act is that, in Rubio’s view, limiting bulk collection of Americans’ phone records makes America less safe from terror attacks. If the point is to keep the country safe, Cruz should be a surveillance maximalist like Rubio is. Same deal with intervention. Rubio would tell you that intervention in a chaotic situation abroad is usually the wiser play to guarantee America’s safety since it gives you some control over events on the ground and it deters aggression by your enemies by reminding them that you’re not afraid to use your military as needed. If we had left Saddam in place in 2003, maybe he and Iran would be in a nuclear arms race right now. Maybe he’d be working on ICBMs that would reach the east coast of the United States. Would that be a better outcome than ISIS?

Cruz’s foreign policy vision has always seemed to me less like a vision than a political compromise. Since the beginning of his Senate career, knowing that he’d run for president eventually, he’s tended to describe his approach in terms of what it isn’t rather than what it is. In 2013 he framed his view as “somewhere in the middle” between John McCain and Rand Paul (as was Reagan’s, Cruz was eager to claim). There’s … a lot of room between McCain and Paul on most FP issues, but then Cruz has always preferred strategic ambiguity in right-wing intramural battles. The point of the McCain/Paul (or Rubio/Paul) contrast is to signal to hawks and doves that they can each trust him not to go too far in the wrong direction towards nation-building or isolationism. Post-Iraq, it’s risky to bet too heavily on either extreme in a Republican primary. It’s a play for votes, in other words, more so than a specific philosophy designed to help voters predict how he’d respond as president to a particular foreign policy challenge. The reason he sounds so Paul-ish in attacking Rubio today is, I think, simply because he’s eager to put Rubio back on defense on FP. Rubio accused him of weakening the country by backing the USA Freedom Act, now Cruz is giving him both barrels in reply by claiming that Rubio, in enabling Obama’s and Hillary’s disastrous intervention in Libya, weakened the country to the point where it left an ambassador vulnerable to murder. That’s excellent politics given the prominence that Benghazi has on the right as a signature Hopenchange failure. And it’s only possible because Cruz has taken care to show off his hawkish side on other high-profile FP issues, most notably his rally against the Iran deal in D.C. a few months ago. Calling him a weakling will be harder than it will be to call Paul one, which is one big reason why it seems silly for Rubio to come after him on foreign policy. It’s hard to imagine Cruz being successfully framed as too dovish to be trusted, especially when Paul’s out there to provide him with an easy contrast.

But I don’t know. If it bothers you to nominate someone whose foreign policy approach is largely ad hoc beyond “do what Reagan would do, whatever that might be,” maybe you’re uncomfortable with Cruz. My own feeling is that Cruz as president would err on the side of hawkishness simply because that’s what American foreign policy in both parties tends to do (better to have voters see you as trying and failing in a foreign crisis than doing nothing) but would be less hawkish than a McCain-style aggressive interventionist like Rubio. That seems like a good place to be politically in a Republican primary four years after the troops left Iraq, but we’ll see.


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Comments

Yet again, Cruz is relying on a low information voter base that does not know what a “neocon” is. A neocon (or “new” conservative) is a defense hawkish Democrat who switched to the GOP such as Jeane Kirkpatrick. As far as I know, Rubio was never a Democrat who switched to the GOP.

Cruz is throwing out a word that he believes many will take as a general pejorative without knowing the definition of the word because he understands his voter base will not know what it means. He understands that his voter base will simply say “Well, if Ted used it that way, it must be a bad thing”. This is what happens when we have a dumbed down right wing.

crosspatch on December 1, 2015 at 7:47 PM

Yet again, Cruz is relying on a low information voter base that does not know what a “neocon” is. A neocon (or “new” conservative) is a defense hawkish Democrat who switched to the GOP such as Jeane Kirkpatrick. As far as I know, Rubio was never a Democrat who switched to the GOP.

Cruz is throwing out a word that he believes many will take as a general pejorative without knowing the definition of the word because he understands his voter base will not know what it means. He understands that his voter base will simply say “Well, if Ted used it that way, it must be a bad thing”. This is what happens when we have a dumbed down right wing.

crosspatch on December 1, 2015 at 7:47 PM

Basing the definition of “neo con” entirely on “those who switched to the GOP” is missing the point.

“Neo-cons” are people like Irving Kristol, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer etc.

It is primarily about being hawkish and naive on foreign policy, believing in nation-building and foreign adventurism, particularly in the middle east.

A “neo-con” is also very pro immigration and soft on illegal immigration.

Rubio follows the policies of the “neo-cons” precisely, even if he isn’t a “new conservative” convert himself.

Redstone on December 1, 2015 at 8:33 PM

Rubio is McCain…he would have us in WWIII. And he would have the NSA listening to and collecting the data on law abiding citizens. Someone should tell Marco that the U.S. was warned by Russia, numerous times, about the Boston bombing brothers. The NSA missed their many communications.

Rubio talks about security but advocates allowing illegals to pour across the southern border and allowing tens of thousands of Middle East Muslim refugees in the country. This is a fight he will not win. As for Trump, the man has no principles and stands for nothing. He has already said he will allow amnesty but his sycophant fans are as deaf and dumb as ever.

fight like a girl on December 1, 2015 at 8:42 PM

This is the definition of a neocon…

: a former liberal espousing political conservatism
: a conservative who advocates the assertive promotion of democracy and United States national interest in international affairs including through military means

Reagan was not a neocon. McCain, Graham, and Rubio are neocons.

fight like a girl on December 1, 2015 at 8:51 PM

“Since the beginning of his Senate career…he’s tended to describe his approach in terms of what it isn’t rather than what it is.”

No kidding. And according to various interviews over the years, what it “is” is an oblique restatement of the liberaltarian view that we should refrain from “adventurism” but pander to the unwashed hawk with Overwhelming Force!! and then bug out immediately like a Progressive President, because “exporting our ideals” & “nation building” is so much worse than retaining the ground you’ve gained and actually stabilizing the country instead of letting it revert back to a terrorist haven. Or whoever you may have just defeated.
Which coincidentally, is precisely the same reason Libya is such a disaster.

What a schmarmy, self-important little weasel Ted is.

Same guy running around the country castigating the GOP cartel for appointing judges he whole-heartedly endorsed as well, right?

Of course it is.

Recon5 on December 1, 2015 at 9:08 PM

Cruz’s mistake was to try to define himself as to what he is against.(Nice post Allah) But that opens him up to the critics who are asking (quite rightly) what are you for? Rubio’s positions on foreign policy and national security can be attacked, but because they are ‘positive’ he and his supporters can and due hit back equally hard at Cruz and his supporters. It’s the old story of trying to attack something with nothing. Cruz’s position is vapor, and got exposed on contact. Even if you disagree with Rubio, by not having a counter you concede the augment. Tactically stupid, and politically careless. Cruz’s first real big mistake in this campaign. It is not fatal, but a couple more like this on national security will be fatal to his campaign.

flackcatcher on December 1, 2015 at 9:09 PM

If it bothers you to nominate someone whose foreign policy approach is largely ad hoc beyond “do what Reagan would do, whatever that might be,” maybe you’re uncomfortable with Cruz.

I am not uncomfortable with Cruz. But this does not seem accurate. Personally, these two gentlemen would do well to sit down and air it that way.

J.B. Say on December 1, 2015 at 9:14 PM

If it bothers you to nominate someone whose foreign policy approach is largely ad hoc beyond “do what Reagan would do, whatever that might be,” maybe you’re uncomfortable with Cruz.

I am not uncomfortable with Cruz. But this does not seem accurate. Personally, these two gentlemen would do well to sit down and air it that way.

J.B. Say on December 1, 2015 at 9:14 PM

Reagan can’t make it.

Buttercup on December 1, 2015 at 10:04 PM

Why would they be Poland? Poland is an actual ally of the West, Mexico is just a leech.

nobar on December 1, 2015 at 6:48 PM

I suppose you’re not familiar with how WW2 started, are you?

TBSchemer on December 1, 2015 at 10:25 PM

“The terrorist attack that occurred in Benghazi was a direct result of that massive foreign policy blunder,” Cruz said…

That’s just wrong. As someone else already posted, Obama and Hillary are responsible for the terrorist attack. There’s plenty to complain about when it comes to Rubio, but he’s not responsible for Benghazi. I’m really disappointed.

Misha on December 1, 2015 at 10:31 PM

I suppose you’re not familiar with how WW2 started, are you?

TBSchemer on December 1, 2015 at 10:25 PM

Yes, Germany invaded an ally of the former Allies of WWI (pre-seperation from Russia at that time, of course).

Where does Mexico fit into this WWII comparison?

nobar on December 1, 2015 at 10:33 PM

flackcatcher on December 1, 2015 at 9:09 PM

War mongering is not “positive”. Rubio, McCain and Graham wanting to get us into WWIII is not positive.

I know several people who are now supporting Cruz because he isn’t a neocon and he is against the NSA collecting data on all Americans. I want to thank Rubio and his supporters for pointing that out.

fight like a girl on December 1, 2015 at 10:34 PM

nobar on December 1, 2015 at 10:33 PM

Leave TBSchemer along. Don’t pick on people with IQs under 30.

bw222 on December 1, 2015 at 10:55 PM

Yes, Germany invaded an ally of the former Allies of WWI (pre-seperation from Russia at that time, of course).

Where does Mexico fit into this WWII comparison?

nobar on December 1, 2015 at 10:33 PM

If Trump is leading the US into the next world war, then Mexico is Poland. Get it?

TBSchemer on December 1, 2015 at 11:14 PM

If Trump is leading the US into the next world war,

And who is going to rush to Mexico’s aid?!

Jesus, you really don’t know a damn thing about history.

nobar on December 1, 2015 at 11:21 PM

And who is going to rush to Mexico’s aid?!

Jesus, you really don’t know a damn thing about history.

nobar on December 1, 2015 at 11:21 PM

Most of South America, along with Russia. China will also use the distraction of a North American war as an opportunity to invade Taiwan and other neighbors.

TBSchemer on December 2, 2015 at 12:08 AM

Most of South America,

You mean the same parts of south america that hate mexico equally as much?

Get real. They have no problem with using mexico to their ends but they will never defend them in war.

along with Russia.

Go on, please elaborate your insane conspiracies.

China will also use the distraction of a North American war as an opportunity to invade Taiwan and other neighbors.

TBSchemer on December 2, 2015 at 12:08 AM

That won’t be our war and it will be over quickly nonetheless.

nobar on December 2, 2015 at 12:17 AM

Bye bye, Mr. Cruz. You have just talked yourself into irrelevance.

unclesmrgol on December 2, 2015 at 12:58 AM

Cruz is right about Rubio, but it may not play all that well in a party that tends to lean towards interventionism.

moebius22 on December 2, 2015 at 1:34 AM

I didn’t think anything could get me to like Ted Cruz let alone prefer him to Rubio. He still strikes me as a greasy politician. But, this attack hits home. Hmm.

evergreen on December 2, 2015 at 7:47 AM

Neocon:

1. Someone who is actually a Big Government Leftist that doesn’t want to be called one.

2. Favors invading every single nation that is in the news and spending ten times the amount of taxes collected every year.

3. Is NOT a conservative in any way, shape, or form.

ConstantineXI on December 2, 2015 at 8:10 AM

Cruz is beginning to sound a lot like a member of the Paul family.Let’s blame America first,huh?

redware on December 2, 2015 at 11:16 AM

I take this is a pro-Cruz post. I will decline, however, to call for Ted Cruz in 2016! as I have repeatedly done in the past (This time!).

Seriously though, this is one of the areas where I’m unhappy with Cruz, but I don’t need someone I agree with 100% of the time in office, I just want someone who will undo as much of the Leftist programs as possible.

Going into Iraq and dismantling Saddam’s ability to breathe and therefore his ability to pursue nuclear weapons was not a foreign policy blunder. Staying to nation build was a political blunder, because it put our troops at risk physically and again POLITICALLY. Democrats constantly used them as political capital, “We need to get our boys out of harm’s way!” and “These monsters are committing crimes against humanity!”

Iran’s “insurgency” was an opportunity created by our decision to experiment with Nation Building light. If we had gone full Imperialist Britain, maybe…just maybe we could have been able to shout down the idiot anti-Military types with proof positive of success. We half-assed it though because we didn’t collectively want to own Iraq. This was the death to Compassionate Conservatism, the real reason Jeb Bush is un-electable today and McCain could not beat an incompetent radical upstart like Obama in 2008.

Cruz side-steps this conversation, I think because he knows the media will rise up against him if he tells the hard truth about the direction American might should have been used in retrospect. We should have deposed Saddam then left after collecting the scientists and weaponry we found. Then, we should have left until the next monster came into power and began to threaten US interests and security.

TYCapitalism on December 2, 2015 at 2:24 PM

I would like the nomination to be between Cruz and Rubio. As much as Trump has touched a nerve with the public, I believe these two gentlemen would serve the country well. Although I agree with Cruz’s principles and conservative view points, I still think Rubio is best suited to win in a national election. Purely subjective but, that’s my view point! P.S. Please stop with all the hate for Rubio. You would think he is no different than Hillary. Remember that stupidity got Barack elected again. Romney was certainly not perfect but, a hell of a lot better than who we have now. I know a lot of jerks on these posts are probably indirectly responsible for our present POTUS. Keep that in mind no matter who wins the Republican nomination. LOL

whsiii on December 2, 2015 at 8:43 PM