Senator Lindsey Graham has just declared his candidacy for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, and with it goes any chance of the Republican Party having any kind of reasonable, nuanced debate about foreign policy and a pragmatic approach to dealing with the threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Da’esh). Graham has said publicly that he believes we need another surge, and that we should deploy 10,000 troops to Iraq to fight ISIS.
Instead, that discussion is doomed to descend into a obsessive whirlwind of bellicose fearmongering and ultra-nationalistic delusions of American exceptionalism. It’s that very same attitude that worked our nation into a war frenzy and allowed Cheney, Bush, and his neo-con administration to embark on the doomed war of profit that killed thousands of our soldiers, bankrupted our nation, and threw an entire region into a hellish vortex of chaotic violence. Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum and all the other longshot candidates will all be attempting to out-hawk each other, whipping up a frenzy of Islamophobic hatred amid their relentless jingoistic posturing.
While ISIS is certainly a threat to the United States in the grand scheme of thing, the group is first and foremost preoccupied with their campaign against the Levantile regimes, the Gulf state monarchies, and the collective Shi’a population of the Middle East, whom they regard as heretics. The Republican Party’s attempts to paint ISIS as a threat on the level of the Soviet Union gives the extremist group way too much credit, and is merely part of a larger campaign to terrorize the American people into supporting them. Alex Ward of National Interest recently concluded that the ISIS threat is way overblown: “The threats facing the American homeland today, mostly of the ‘lone wolf’ variety, are threats the United States has faced for years.”
It represents the last desperate grasp of the evangelical right to maintain any degree of relevancy in a world that has moved into the future while they stubbornly remain rooted in the past. Under their logic, the gay marriage amendment, the refusal to allow discrimination against gays, abortion rights in America, and the rise of ISIS are used to portray American Christianity as “under attack” by the apostate liberals and dangerous foreigners.
Behind Graham and the Republican war hawks are the vast corporate interests who profit from America’s ill-advised foreign wars. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 saw a huge privatization of duties that are normally conducted by the military, given to companies connected to the Bush Administration with no-bid contracts. Dick Cheney’s Halliburton made $39.5 billion. These corporate interests will spend big to elect a war hawk President to the White House- with catastrophic consequences.
Lindsey Graham’s announcement speech today was full of warmongering rhetoric, with gems like “Simply put, radical Islam is running wild — they are large, they are rich, they’re entrenched…but the biggest threat of all is the nuclear ambition of the radical Islamists who control Iran…there are no moderates in Iran.” Such statements reveal that Graham is either deliberately misleading the American people, or is entirely ignorant of Iranian politics- the current President, Hassan Rouhani, is the most moderate president that Iran has ever had. The very fact that nuclear negotiations have been successfully concluded shows that the Iranian regime wants to rejoin the diplomatic community and work with us to deal with ISIS.
But it would appear there will be no rest for Graham and FOX News until the United States goes to war with Iran, the consequences of which would be unimaginably horrific. We cannot let the propaganda of war and hate take over the rational discussion of how to deal with an alarming foreign policy threat.