In defense of Ted Cruz's "militaristic pessimism"

It’s fashionable in Washington circles to portray Cruz as a sammy glick who is often wrong, but never in doubt. But when it comes to foreign policy, Cruz’s middle ground is prudent — a logical response to the last decade or so of adventurism and impotence — which is why it’s surprising to see Beinart portraying Cruz’s foreign policy as extreme.

When Beinart writes that Cruz’s foreign policy unites the GOP’s “interventionists” like McCain, and the “isolationists” like Rand Paul, by “embodying the worst of each,” it makes for good copy. But is it really the worst of each? Couldn’t this just as easily be called a middle-of-the-road position? After all, almost exactly a year ago, Cruz himself argued that his foreign policy was “somewhere in between” McCain and Paul.

Cruz is a political animal, and there are indeed political benefits to the space Cruz is attempting to occupy. But let’s not pretend his is an incoherent worldview, either. If his overarching leitmotif is something Beinart derisively describes as “militaristic pessimism,” the good news is that, unlike Paul — whose positions seem unpredictable (depending on the latest news) and capricious — one can sort of anticipate Cruz’s foreign policy stances.