Ted Cruz Stakes Out Bold Foreign Policy Vision to Rand Paul's Right
In what may have been his most significant foreign policy speech to date, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday positioned his Reaganesque foreign policy views between the hawkish Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) and what he described as the dovish Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY), while blasting President Barack Obama as a fool on the international stage.
Speaking at the second annual Uninvited II national security forum across the street from the Conservative Political Action Convention, Cruz brutally mocked the Obama administration's description of Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an "uncontested arrival." He called this yet another example of Obama's "tortured semantics" which have weakened America and emboldened its enemies in a way that Reagan could not have imagined.
Breitbart News Network co-hosted the Uninvited II summit at which Cruz was speaking.
Cruz said that the Obama administration has used the term "kinetic action" to describe its Libya failures, "spontaneous protests" to describe the terrorist attacks in Benghazi that killed four Americans, and a "display of international unity" to describe the nuclear deal with Iran that has elsewhere been described as a "historic mistake."
"These are the words of fools," Cruz said.
He said such equivalence has "left the world wondering whether he will defend the liberties that Americans hold dear and act to protect the interests of the United States."
He further criticized Obama for saying that Putin has a "different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations," quipping that he did not think Putin consulted his team of lawyers before going into Crimea.
Cruz said that his foreign policy views were modeled after Ronald Reagan's and were between the neoconservative views of John McCain and the libertarian beliefs of Paul, a potential 2016 rival who has been working to differentiate himself from the so-called isolationist views of his father, former Rep. Ron Paul.
Cruz said he agreed with McCain that a nuclear-armed Iran posed the greatest threat and on the need to stand with Israel. Meanwhile, he said he agreed with Paul on the lack of a clear case for intervention in Syria.
Cruz mentioned that Vladimir Putin said in a New York Times op-ed that "American exceptionalism is a dangerous thing" and said he felt that Obama may have taken Putin's words a little too much to heart.
"It has been dangerous to tyrants and dictators throughout the course of history when the American people understand we are exceptional and defend liberty on the global stage," Cruz said.
Cruz praised Reagan for understanding the "undeniable truth that the Soviet empire was an evil empire" and being able to say it in a way that everyone could understand.
Seeming to invite a comparison to the way his leadership in the Senate has been received by official Washington, Cruz mentioned that Reagan was "resoundingly criticized for his lack of nuance."
Reagan did not care that the foreign policy apparatchiks were "aghast" at such "simplistic reason" when Reagan went to the Brandenburg Gate and said things like, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Cruz added.
"Where's that clarity today? "Cruz asked. "History teaches that appeasement leads to more and more violence."
After saying that "no rational person is interested in a shooting war between the United States and Russia," Cruz offered a variety of solutions to the brewing overseas conflict, saying America should "immediately sign a free trade agreement with Ukraine" and export liquefied natural gas there, which would create jobs at home and lessen Russia's ability to use its natural resources as "economic blackmail."
He said Russia should have been expelled from the G8 for its actions in Crimea and Ukraine and the Magnitsky Act should be enforced. He also said that reinstalling the anti-missile defense in Eastern Europe that Obama canceled in order to appease Putin and Russia should be another priority.
"This is a time when liberty is imperiled," he said, noting that when U.S. leadership recedes from the world that the spheres of influences of Russia, China, and Iran advance.
Cruz also said that America should have stood with Kiev's protestors and blasted Obama for ignoring the "thuggish tactics" that are being used in Venezuela to imprison opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
After calling Iran the greatest national security threat, Cruz said that "under no circumstances will the nation of Iran ever be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon." He warned of the catastrophic damage that could be done if Iran exploded a nuclear weapon over America's atmosphere.
"What this administration doesn't understand is that weakness and appeasement only invite military conflict," Cruz said.
On North Korea, Cruz said that the Obama administration was replaying the mistakes of the Clinton administration of the 1990s when the North Korean regime negotiated with the Clinton administration and ended up building more nuclear missiles. He said Iran is ultimately more dangerous than North Korea because Iran glorifies death and even suicide in the name of Islam, while North Korea's leaders have always had a rational objective of wanting to stay in power and realized that they would be taken out if they ever used nuclear weapons.
Cruz said Americans do not want the military to "build Democratic utopias across the world" and the job of the military is to "hunt down and kill our enemies."
If America does intervene abroad, Cruz said, it should use "overwhelming force and get the heck out."
Cruz said that Americans fought to end the Nazi slaughter and against the Soviet gulags in the Cold War. He said the "legacy of America" was "standing up against brutality and oppression and calling evil by its name."
Americans, Cruz said, will never hesitate to "stand up to defend the safety of our wives and husbands and sons and daughters."
"That is what America has done for centuries, and that is what I believe America will do for centuries more," he said.
Frank Gaffney, a Reagan administration official who founded the Center for Security Policy, introduced Cruz as an "exemplar of what we're looking for" in the form of "considerable intellectual ability and leadership skills." Gaffney also said that Cruz possessed that old "peace-through-strength chromosome that seems to have been bred out of the DNA of the Republican Party."