It’s been a tough season for anyone looking for sanity in the area of foreign affairs. No one will even ask a candidate of either party about the United States’ involvement in and support of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Several of the leading foreign policy voices in the Republican field are touting a plan for committing U.S. ground troops to Syria, and defeating every side of a three-way civil war there. Chris Christie’s bid to become relevant this week involved promising to shoot down Russian warplanes over Syria.
A political class that is ignorant about foreign policy is probably just one of the unfortunate side effects of living in the world’s most powerful nation, particularly one in which most politicians have never fired a shot in anger while serving in the military. In America, a few nerds will castigate you in their columns if you make foreign policy mistakes. At worst, your party could temporarily lose its congressional majority. A politician in a smaller nation knows that a bad foreign policy decision may very well end with him kicking helplessly at the end of a rope.
Perhaps that is why the one man who has said anything sensible on the topic is the former Marine who once had a grenade tossed at him in a misbegotten war.