About the Putin-envy of Republican presidential candidates

Summary: There are many candidates vying to become the Republican’s Presidential nominee, but they offer a narrow range of policies — especially in foreign affairs. Here Bill Astore describes where they wish to take America. Unlike Putin, they’re serious.

The idol of the Republican Candidate for President!

Putin riding a bear

How Republicans Talk About Foreign Policy

By William J. Astore, from Contrary Perspective, 9 October 2015
Reposted with his generous permission

At the New York Times, Robert Draper had a fascinating article last month on how Republican candidates for president are positioning themselves on foreign policy.  Rand Paul excepted, all of the Republican candidates are calling for a more “aggressive” U.S. foreign policy, one that promises more military interventions and higher military spending.  The goal is apparently to show more muscle than President Obama, who has been “weak,” according to these same Republicans.

The language here fascinates me.  Again and again in Draper’s article, you see references to “a more muscular foreign policy.”  Showcasing muscles appears to be a favorite trope of Republican advisers, as is the need to be more “aggressive” overseas (Obama, of course, is viewed as being passive and timid).  Republicans according to Draper favor the “aggressive promotion of American values” (whatever those are), an aggression that will somehow avoid recklessness (good luck with that).  So, ISIS will be aggressively “destroyed,” even as the Middle East is stabilized by infusing it with “American values” (freedom? democracy? human rights?) promulgated by (as near as I can tell) American military muscle.

To cite just one example, consider this political ad featuring Senator Lindsey Graham, seen in his Air Force reserve uniform, highlighting his promise to “destroy” ISIS.

A muscular and aggressive foreign policy to destroy America’s enemies: If that excites you, vote Republican.  But consider the cost of this love affair with muscles and aggression.  And then ask yourself: Are they not the real “American values”?

All this talk of bulging military muscles and coldly calculated aggression: the ideal candidate for gung ho Republicans is not the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan.  It’s an American Vladimir Putin.


William J. Astore

About the author

William J. Astore (Lt. Colonel, USAF, retired) is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and Professor of History at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. He now edits The Contrary Perspective.

He has written about military history, the history of science and technology, and religion.He has written about military history, the history of science and technology, and religion. His articles at TomDispatch are widely reposted. He wrote Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism with Dennis Showalter (2005), and Observing God: Thomas Dick, Evangelicalism, and Popular Science in Victorian Britain and America (2002).

For More Information

Don’t believe there is Putin-envy on the Right? Read “Putin Rising” by G. Murphy Donovan at the Small Wars Journal. Donovan is the former director of Research and Russian (Soviet) Studies under James Clapper when the DNI was chief of Air Force Intelligence. He is also the former senior USAF Research Fellow at RAND Corporation, Santa Monica. This thinking on the Right shows (again) that something is very wrong in the conservative community of America.

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The actual Putin photo

Putin riding a horse

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