On Sunday, Republican presidential candidate and truant Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) had the gall to say publicly what is very clear to the rest of us – that the Republican Party is shamelessly exploiting the recent terrorist attacks in Paris to whip the American people into a xenophobic frenzy and gain political advantage over his less pugilistic rivals on the other side of the aisle.
Rubio told FOX News Sunday‘s Chris Wallace that “I obviously am not happy about the events that happened last week in Paris. But I think it’s a positive development that it suddenly has forced Americans to confront more carefully the issue of national security because it is the most important thing a President will do and it is the most important function of the federal government. I hope that we focus on that note more, not just for political advantage but because the world has become a very dangerous place. It’s not just radical jihadists, it’s Chinese military buildup, it’s Russian aggression, it’s the North Koreans, it’s Iran’s desire to acquire nuclear capability.”
It’s a tacit admission that the Republican Party is blowing the fears of terrorism way out of proportion in a disgusting bid for political credibility. Though he may not realize it, it’s also an acknowledgement of the fact that the Republican Party has very little domestic credibility to run on, and are putting all their eggs squarely in the “vote for me or we will all die in a fiery liberal apocalypse” basket.
Let’s be very clear here. We are in no more or no less danger from radical jihadists than we were before the Paris attacks. Iran does not want a nuclear weapon; they want their sanctions removed and for their economy to have a place in the free markets that Rubio loves so much. The North Koreans have been quiet for years and, like most totalitarian regimes, is consuming itself and collapsing from the inside. The Russian intrusion into the Syrian Civil War and the Chinese island-grabs in the South China Sea are very real concerns, but, please, Mr. Rubio, tell us your master plan of how you would confront these threats. I will assume it will involve some absurd braggadocios about showing “strength” and being “tough,” and possibly some bombs?
The Republican Party’s approach to foreign policy is fundamentally flawed, obsessed with displaying raw strength and bullying our way across the world. Terrified of showing weakness, they regard any defiance to the power of American empire as a dangerous heresy, one to be stamped out in a purifying crusade of exceptionalism. There is no consideration of the instability they leave in their wake or the alienation they inspire. The key to solving the refugee crisis and the threat of Islamic terrorism requires addressing the roots of the problem, which will require addressing a myriad of issues beginning with peace and elections but also includes climate change and poverty. It will not be solved through fearmongering and jingoistic delusions of neocolonial conquest.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.