Posted by Kevin Hack on March 24, 2016 in Blog
As his nomination to be the Republican Party’s candidate of choice becomes increasingly more likely, critics of Donald Trump have continued to emphasize the decidedly bigoted nature of his “security” proposals, specifically as they pertain to Latino and Muslim Americans. Senator Ted Cruz, Mr. Trump’s strongest remaining competition for the Republican nomination, has been gaining reluctant support from the Republican Party. Sen. Cruz’s own record, within and beyond the Senate, has hardly been without its own examples of bigoted behavior. With the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C. and the tragic attacks in Brussels earlier this week, Sen. Cruz’s foreign policy is a good place to start.
Sen. Cruz opened strong in his remarks at the AIPAC conference on Monday with a simple “God Bless AIPAC,” later followed by “Palestine has not existed since 1948.” The speech goes on but the tone barely changes. A failure to recognize Palestine may, for many cynics, seem natural given a history of tacit U.S. support for Israel across the political spectrum. But Sen. Cruz’s willingness to dismiss a tradition of American Presidents at least paying lip service to peace negotiations and the two-state solution is worrying, especially when a candidate like Donald Trump is (or was) willing to address it more reasonably.
Sen. Cruz’s hardline remarks are nothing new. He has been an ardent advocate for increasing U.S. military aid to Israel in the Senate, regardless of Israeli compliance with U.S. diplomatic efforts with regard to Iran. Sen. Cruz has proudly expressed his willingness to abolish the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) mission to Washington, D.C. and has even introduced legislation to that effect. Sen. Cruz has gone as far as to propose criminalizing criticism of Israel by withdrawing federal funding from American schools and universities that engage in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, withdrawing support for the United Nations for its “anti-Israel” bias, and even promised to “reassess U.S. policy towards the Palestinian Authority.” Once again, the term “two-state solution” does not appear, nor does any mention of the importance of returning to negotiations. Sen. Cruz’s plan to immediately shift the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be the crowning of a radically unbalanced and diplomatically imprudent foreign policy on the conflict.
Sen. Cruz’s broad foreign policy remains unclear on long term strategy; though Cruz has repeated ad nauseam that he will be “tough on Islamic terrorism.” His past statements include: "You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops” in response to a question about the civilian costs of carpet bombing ISIS, and “When I asked General Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs, what would be required militarily to destroy ISIS, he said there is no military solution. We need to change the conditions on the ground so that young men are not in poverty and susceptible to radicalization. That, with all due respect, is nonsense.” Sen. Cruz is a civilian lawyer with no experience in the military.
There is an argument to be made that many Presidents have leaned on the foreign policy credentials of their cabinets in order to make up for their own deficits in experience. Sen. Cruz has been happy to remind the electorate that Secretary Clinton is just as culpable in President Obama’s foreign policy as the President (what Sen. Cruz calls “the Obama-Clinton doctrine”). In that arena, too, Sen. Cruz has surrounded himself with a team of advisors who promote xenophobia, paranoia, and indiscriminate aggression in its highest profiles. The underlying fault across Sen. Cruz and his advisers is a continued emphasis on the nature of global extremism as “radical Islamic terrorism” and their failure to divorce Islam as a massive, diverse, religious community from a terrorist agenda that attempts to assume the mantle of that community. That point will certainly inform Sen. Cruz’s foreign and domestic policy in the future, as it has in the past. That’s why Sen. Cruz’s latest policy position – “patrolling and securing Muslim neighborhoods” in the U.S. – is not a huge surprise. As Sen. Cruz moves forward in the Presidential race, concerns over the policies that misrepresent and discriminate against Muslims will continue to be unsettling.