Bill Kristol, as you may know, is unashamedly calling for war, or at least a new Cold War:
A war-weary public can be awakened and rallied. Indeed, events are right now doing the awakening. All that's needed is the rallying. And the turnaround can be fast. Only 5 years after the end of the Vietnam war, and 15 years after our involvement there began in a big way, Ronald Reagan ran against both Democratic dovishness and Republican détente. He proposed confronting the Soviet Union and rebuilding our military. It was said that the country was too war-weary, that it was too soon after Vietnam, for Reagan's stern and challenging message. Yet Reagan won the election in 1980. And by 1990 an awakened America had won the Cold War.Breitbart's Joel Pollak is even more bellicose, and not just toward Russia:
Vladimir Putin seizes the Crimea, so we blockade the Bosporus. Iran defies the UN, so we sink its Persian Gulf fleet. China expands its air defense zone, so we start downing Chinese fighters. North Korea fires some missiles, so we send a CIA assassin with Dennis Rodman's entourage on the next basketball trip.We should count ourselves lucky that there isn't more of this, at least so far. More typical is this, from Jeff Jacoby:
Why is has any of this become unthinkable? We're the world's lone superpower--since when did we become such complete wimps?
... As long as we will be hated by tyrants anyway, why not do something truly worthy of fear by our enemies?
But by now Putin knows better than to take anything this administration says seriously. Sure enough, the monetary sanctions Obama ordered Monday were so ludicrously minimal -- they targeted only 11 individuals, bypassing Putin and his top financial backers -- that Kremlin insiders laughed....Yes, we shouldn't "go wobbly," but "no one" wants war, so we should show Putin we mean business by ... by ... by doing what Obama is doing, only much more so! Sanctions, but more of them! Or something like that....
This is no time to go wobbly, but when it comes to foreign policy, wobbly is what Team Obama does best....
No one expects or wants the United States to go to war over Crimea. But when will it dawn on the president that a US foreign policy based on retrenchment and accommodation makes the world more dangerous, not less?
Luckily for us, most right-wing critics of Obama are more like Jacoby than like Kristol or Pollak -- at least so far. I think, in part, that's because Obama is willing to proceed in a careful, stepwise fashion, even at the risk of looking "weak" -- which leaves plenty of room on his right for conservatives to make demands short of war. If Obama were desperately trying to strike an effective "grand bargain" with the saber-rattlers, conservatives would feel the need to get to his right by demanding a full-on war, or at least a full-on Cold War, because we know that, on the right, the proper thing to do is whatever Obama isn't doing.
I'm not sure how long this situation will hold. The Obama approach requires us to have patience and the willingness to tolerate an extend period of foreign policy anxiety; right-wing fantasies, by contrast, involve Hollywood victories that are exciting and fun and cost-free to the Good Guys. By the 2016 primaries, if not by this year's midterms, I expect most Republicans to be talking like Kristol and Pollak -- maybe even Rand Paul, that grubby opportunist, who'll let his ambition trump his so-called principles. Let's hope the public remains wearier of war than John Wayne-ish right-wingers.