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Andrew Jackson Lives
The New Foreign Policy Consensus

A new consensus is forming about the future of U.S. foreign policy. As we noted yesterday, former U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk has joined the growing ranks of Democrats who oppose the Administration’s rapprochement with Iran. Dan Drezner, writing in the Washington Post, elaborates on a point we’ve been making for a while here:

First, Obama’s foreign policy is going to have very few defenders over the next two years outside of the White House. With the partial exception of Rand Paul, all of the Republicans are going to be way more hawkish than Obama. This means you’re going to hear variations on this theme from the GOP for the next two years. As for the Democrats, all the extant evidence suggests that Hillary Clinton is more hawkish than Barack Obama.

So the criticisms of Obama are all going to come from the same direction, and they’re going to come from both Democrats and Republicans. Furthermore, these criticisms are not going to come just from the candidates — they’re going to come from every foreign policy wonk who’s advising them/aspiring to work for them. This doesn’t mean these critiques are necessarily wrong. The bipartisan nature of the critique is likely to persist, however.

There are many reasons for this absence of support—for instance, Hillary Clinton’s preeminence in the Democratic field, and, some might argue, the hard lessons learned trying “reset” initiatives over the past few years. But the consensus on foreign policy is also trending right, and away from the President, because of the steady re-emergence of the Jacksonian impulse since the ISIS beheadings this summer.

This rightward tilt is happening not only at the highest levels of the foreign policy establishment, but also in the wider public as well. As William Galston, an editorial board member here at TAI, points out at Brookings:

The guiding principle of the Obama administration’s policy may be summed up simply: No boots on the ground. Advisors and Special Forces as needed, but no large and long-term deployments of ground forces. That principle has shaped the administration’s response to events in Libya and, more recently, to the rise of ISIS.

But according to today’s CBS Poll, the American people have shifted away from their former caution and favor the use of American ground forces to combat ISIS. As recently as last September, only 39% favored that course, while 55% were opposed. Today, 57% favor ground forces; only 39% remain opposed.

The classic mistake of America’s enemies is to confuse the hesitancy and delicacy and half-heartedness of American peacetime and small-war policy with our true nature. Judging by trends in both establishment and public opinion, the time of temporizing may be drawing to a close.

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  • LarryD

    A copy of one of Mead’s essays on the Jacksonian Tradition. See also The Jacksonian Tradition and the War in Iraq, an editorial by John Moser.

    Perhaps the most important detail is that Jacksonians view war as a binary state. If its necessary, go for nothing less than victory. Don’t “Draw a Line”, “Send a Message”, smash the enemy flat. Break their will. If it’s not worth doing that, then we have no business fighting at all. So far, we have not had a Jacksonian leader in this war. Bush was somewhat Jacksonian, but he blinked away from naming the true nature of the enemy, though he may have understood it.

    Goldman, A.K.A Spengler, believes it will take another Thirty Years War to “pacify” the Middle East. That it will take killing two generations of Islamists, before the Middle East can have its own “Peace of Westphalia”

  • Tempus Fugit

    …We, Americans, should STOP invoking religion, in politics and in daily life! Most of the founding fathers were deists, NOT christians!
    “Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles are a parody of the Sun God and the twelve signs of the Zodiac!”
    … Tommy saying that………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Jesus NEVER existed?

  • Arkeygeezer

    “This rightward tilt is happening not only at the highest levels of the
    foreign policy establishment, but also in the wider public as well.”
    Looks to me like the foreign policy establishment is looking to stir up some action so that they can be relevant. I don’t think that the American people share that vision.

    We should not commit our troops to a losing war on the ground in the middle east. What have we to gain? Is any interest of the United States in jeopardy? If the foreign policy establishment is so anxious to have boots on the ground, I hope that they all will volunteer to go personally, and enlist their families with them.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    As a Jacksonian I am against another fruitless attempt to exterminate the Jihadists. The fact is the Jihadists are continuously being spawned by Islamic Culture to replenish the Jihadists that fall. With Obama’s abandonment of the seedling of Democracy America planted in Iraq at such great cost in Blood, Treasure, and Time, no Strategy remains to drain the swamp of Islamic Culture and stop its spawning of new Jihadists (this strategy was working as the Arab Spring proves). A new Strategy is needed, I recommend “Divide and Conquer”, encourage the Sunni Jihadists to focus all their resources on killing the Shiite Jihadists and vice-a-versa. This will make innocent westerners safer by leaving the Jihadists with no resources left to support attacks in western countries. With this strategy the Jihadists will still be getting killed, while the West expends almost no Blood, or Treasure.
    The only exception to this Strategy would be the reduction of Iran to prevent the Theocratic regime from getting nuclear weapons. If timed properly to when the Shiite Jihadists are in the ascendant the “Divide and Conquer” strategy would remain in place even while Iran is crushed. To reduce Iran a bombing campaign focused on Iran’s entire soft target energy industry, power plants, pipelines, refinery’s, tank farms and tankers would be destroyed, putting Iranians all on foot and in the dark.
    In conclusion, as a Jacksonian I’m against any war that doesn’t have a clear objective for victory, and so I’m against throwing American troops in between the Sunni Jihadists and Shiite Jihadists, just so they can both attack the American Infidels.

  • FriendlyGoat

    As I’ve pointed out before, The Republican Congress is at liberty to declare war on The Islamic State in a constitutional manner. Call your Congressman. Ask him to get this done. Ask him to also declare war on Iran in a constitutional manner. Take careful note of the “thank you for expressing your views” message you get back.

  • AaronL

    I recomment two articles by an Israeli military strategist – Ron Tira.

    1. Can Iran be Deterred?

    2.Yes they Can: The U.S. Can Prevent Iran from Getting the A-Bomb–(behind a free registration wall)

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