A poll on Friday by Public Policy Polling perfectly encapsulates the Republican presidential race so far: “30% of Republican primary voters nationally say they support bombing Agrabah.” That would be the fictional country in Aladdin.
Republican voters, urged on by the Republican candidates, are now eager to bomb anywhere that has a Muslim-sounding name regardless of whether or not it comes from a cartoon. While the poll itself may be amusing, it’s not exactly surprising given the cartoonish levels of tough-guy militarism that spews from the mouth of every Republican candidate as they try to one-up each other on who would start more wars harder and quicker.
Ted Cruz has spent the last two weeks calling for a “carpet bombing” of the Middle East in an attempt to destroy Isis, saying he wants to see if “ sand can glow in the dark .” He defended this call on national television Tuesday while outright avoiding the question of whether that means he’s prepared to kill the hundreds of thousands of civilians that live in Isis’s de-facto capital of Raqqa, Syria.
Donald Trump, in between his calls for banning Muslims here at home, also called on American forces to commit war crimes by killing the families of terrorists. His meaningless calls to “bomb the shit out of Isis” naturally have led all the other candidates to trip over each other in an attempt to find more and more colorful adjectives to describe how their bombs would look.
Chris Christie, whose whole campaign seems based around trying to sound like he could beat the other candidates up for their lunch money, was perhaps the most absurd: he threatened war with both Russia and China during the last debate. Christie claimed he was totally willing to start World War III with Russia over a No-Fly Zone in Syria and would shoot down Russian pilots immediately. His reason? To avenge the thousands killed by Assad, and the “millions running around the world, running for their lives.” So Christie’s position is: we will start World War III to save Syrians, but we draw the line in at allowing 5-year-old Syrian orphans into the United States .
Lost in the insanity of the rest of the debate where candidates were calling for carpet bombings, the killing of civilians and games of chicken with the world’s largest nuclear power was also Christie’s call for all out cyber-war with China . Apparently under a Christie presidency, the US would immediately respond to any hacking by the Chinese government has done by doxxing the entire country, essentially turning the United States government into Anonymous: “What we need to do is go at the things that they are most sensitive and most embarrassing to them; that they’re hiding; get that information and put it out in public.” I’m always for more government transparency, but the chances of this spiraling out of control and leading to actual war is hard to overstate.
On top of all this, it’s such a foregone conclusion that many of these candidates will happily rip up the Iran nuclear deal and send us down a path of war with them that hardly anyone even asks them anymore.
Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko has a handy chart where he is tracking all the people and places each presidential candidate has said he or she wants to bomb. He reminds us that Ben Carson has not only promised all of the above, but to also unleash drone strikes in Mexico.
It’s worth noting that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is just as militaristic, or more so, than most of the Republicans when it comes to Isis and Iran. She has at least refrained, however, from calling for World War III with Russia or launching drone strikes in Mexico.
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