Global Risks and Realities

A Stark Choice: Ted Cruz’s Jacksonian Americanism vs. Marco Rubio’s Wilsonian Internationalism

I. A Tale of Two Candidates

Here’s a question: During the recent Libya coup—that is, the Obama administration-orchestrated effort to topple Muammar Qaddafi from power in 2011—which prominent American made the following statement:

When an American president says the guy needs to go, you better make sure that it happens because your credibility and your stature in the world is on the line.”

Was it a) Hillary Clinton? b) John Kerry? c) Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)


The preceding article is thought-provoking, focused as it is on theoretical templates of foreign policy ideology. Nevertheless, it fails to square the circle and presents a false “stark choice” for the 2016 presidential election.

We face a far different world than the one Woodrow Wilson faced, a world where the “invade them, then invite them” strategy is truly unworkable. Before WWII migrants received no social benefits paid for by the host population, and mass migrations were largely marked by easily assimilated races and ethnicities, either because of the size of the influx, or their cultural background. (In other words, white Europeans, whether German, Jewish, Italian, Irish or Russian.) In addition, the “invade them, then invite them” strategy has truly been a disaster for most of the world.

The Jacksonian view probably does not need to be updated in the annals of humanity: if you wage war, wage it to win until the enemy is thoroughly defeated. It worked for the Romans as well as the WWII Allies. Then one can decide whether or not to be generous in victory. There are no nice ways to fight winning wars and the result has been wars we retreat from without achieving the objectives for peace. Then, in guilt we open the doors to invite the poor populations we let down. Thus, the burden falls upon the magnanimity of American exceptionalism, paid for by average Americans across the nation. The elites, from Turtle Bay to Foggy Bottom, do not pay the price of their failures.

The Jacksonian view obviously makes more sense in the 21st century of globalization: wage war to thoroughly defeat enemies where they reside (with regrettable but inevitable collateral damage) and then allow native populations to rebuild at home, rather than become global refugees. Immigration is truly only for those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of leaving their old life and culture behind to adopt that of their new nation. Immigration is not a revolving job fair, it is a personal identity transformation. Of course, we have made this migration problem all the more intractable with multiculturalism and a central bank policy that favors US$ assets – making the US a magnet for economic survival for the rest of the world. (Prepare for the Chinese invasion because it’s already here.)

Anyway, the stark choice will be between the failed Wilsonianism of the Clintons and Bushes vs. a more robust notion of nation-state interests by whomever wins the GOP nomination. I have no doubt that Rubio or Cruz can fit their foreign policy into that new reality. There is little chance Hillary Clinton can.