This week has been an interesting one on Fox News with both Megyn Kelly and Charles Krauthammer going full out after Rand Paul. Paul’s poll numbers are rising while the other GOP hopefuls are declining and this concerns the pro-war wing of the GOP. It’s getting later and later in the game and the big government GOP candidates are not gaining the traction that it was assumed they would gain. That this attack from Fox coincides with a spate of neoconservative attack ads from the “Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America” (Check this website out) in early primary states, is probably not a coincidence.
What is particularly absurd, objectively speaking, is the assertion by Charles Krauthammer (someone for whom I have a significant degree of respect) that Paul has more in common with Obama on foreign policy than the pro-war, big government wing of the GOP. This is obviously not true. For the most part Obama and the neoconservatives have been quite close on policy. The war in Libya. The proposed (but halted thanks to the American and British people) bombing of Syria. The arming of “moderate” rebels in the Levant. The drone war in Yemen. Etc. Aside from the talks with Iran, which is a desperate attempt by the president to establish some sort of “legacy,” Obama has been Bush II lite. Obama’s policy has basically been a neoconservative policy. Even if Netanyahu and the President don’t like each other.
Look, this is what it comes down to. There are some in the GOP who consider Israel very nearly part of the United States. An Iranian bomb is therefore a threat, almost, to the US.
Such a bomb would be a threat to the USA, but it is a relatively small threat. The Iranians know that they would be obliterated, would cease to exist as a civilization, if they ever deployed such a weapon against an American interest.
An Iranian bomb IS absolutely a threat to Israel. One nuclear bomb could destroy the state. (Though Israel would also turn Iran into a sheet of glass in an exchange.) And an Iranian bomb is a threat which many believe we have kept Israel from addressing unilaterally. People forget that the Israelis probably did the world a favor by taking out a nuclear facility in Iraq in the early 80s. (An action Rand Paul’s dad supported by the way.)
So whether holding the Israelis back on a similar strike in Iran is wise I am unsure. I am sure however that $3.1 billion in foreign aid to Israel holds a lot of sway in a country which is basically 3 cities and some suburbs. There are a lot of people in Israel who get paid thanks to the American taxpayer. And this may be what the neocons fear most after an Iranian bomb. There is the fear in Jeruselem and in Tel Aviv that Rand might not keep the money spigot to Israel as open as it has been. (That Sheldon Adelson has openly declared war on Rand Paul further makes this argument.)
This second fear may be pretty legitimate in fairness, though Paul has moved to mitigate this fear. In a Paul presidency it is likely that the foreign aid blank check to Israel (and everyone else) would no longer be entirely blank like it would remain in a Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton administration. Paul would probably lean on the Israelis, if slightly. The Israelis don’t like to be leaned on.
But that’s fine. They can not like it.
Fundamentally this election is about the direction of THIS COUNTRY not Israel. Israel is a friend. The only democracy in the region. An ally. But it should not be the number one issue in the USA. Israel should certainly not be the issue on which an American presidential election turns. That would be ridiculous. But for some Israel is the number one issue and they want to make it so for everyone else.
The Middle East is huely important. But it is not the most important issue by a good measure. That we have a languishing economy and an ever encroaching government (which is one of the main reasons our economy continues to languish) impacts the lives of most Americans far more than anything going on in Israel, Saudi Arabia, or Iran. That neighborhood is important. It should be a prominent part of the presidential election conversation. But in the end it is not our neighborhood.
I think most of voting America agrees with me. I also think that if a less “robust” foreign policy means that the stock of a few defense contractors goes down they’re cool with that too.