Tonight’s GOP debate was a reminder of how skewed America’s political culture has become. Political scientists clamor to explain this shift with what they call “polarization” but this does little in the way of explaining the very obvious disagreements in the party, but also how remarkably similar they are, in fact. Decades ago America was described as having two sects of one party- the business party. We see this even today.
Despite all of the attacks amongst Republicans, what surprised me was the accusations against the Obama administration for perpetuating sectarian conflict. This is something that both parties have primarily agreed upon for decades, that and the support for private corporations. To many, these frank remarks may seem like a step in the right direction- make no mistake that they are calculated. For example, statements made by Senator Ted Cruz who actually attacked the typical neocon positions.
We can expect there to be very little discourse on the heart of these matters. I had a chance to talk to Professor Noam Chomsky about the state of the Middle East a few days before this debate, and we discussed the growing threats to the region and to Syria. Chomsky explained that “the Wahhabization of Sunni Islam, based in Saudi Arabia, is one of the most dangerous phenomena of the age. It’s not only the Arab world. One of the most dangerous cases, as long known, is Pakistan”, says Chomsky, referring to Patrick Cockburn’s observation.
We can fully expect Republicans to not address these substantial issues at all, including such non-interventionist candidates like Rand Paul. Yes, Paul may not like intervention but he will not condemn the Saudi regime for their support for global terror. The other part of Chomsky’s statement is the very real danger of nuclear terror as the result of the Pakistani government relinquishing their arsenal to terrorists. In his speech in New York, Chomsky said that the biggest threat for nuclear terror was in Pakistan where radical Wahhabi groups constantly encroach on government outposts. This is exacerbated by the Obama administration’s drone campaign in the region. Where is any mention of this in the criticism of Obama’s foreign policy? Paul’s close friend, congressman Thomas Massie (my local congressman), wrote back to me his non-support for the Iranian nuclear deal. Both men believing Iran to be an active threat against the United States.
We all remember the recent engagement between Russia and Turkey, and as Turkey is a NATO ally, why was this not addressed in a foreign policy debate? There was discussion about a “no-fly zone” but nothing actually pointing directly towards Erdogan and the Turkish regime. Chomsky had this to say on President Erdogan:
“He’s very dangerous. He’s rolling back the democratic gains of recent years and reintroducing harsh autocracy in Turkey, and is playing a very dangerous game in Syria, tacitly supporting ISIS by allowing the borders to stay open, openly supporting the al-Qaeda affiliate (al-Nusra), attacking the Kurds who are the main ground force combatting ISIS and defending their own territories and more. Not a pretty picture.”
He goes on to say that “so far, NATO has been silent or supportive of Turkish actions.” We see that with today’s GOP debate- silent and/or supportive. It would be very easy for a political opponent of Obama to attack him with being the supporter of a regime that is actively doing business and hosting the same radical groups that attacked the World Trade Center and are ravaging the mid-east region, but they simply will not do that. Though it is easy to assume that there is a gap between both Republicans and Democrats, as far as what matters, they have all too much in common.