Crossroads: America's Future in a 'World on Fire'
WASHINGTON -- Pundits and politicians gathered at the Willard Hotel near the White House this week to contemplate America's future overseas in a dangerous, war-torn world.
Taking up the question of what America's foreign policy should look like, keynote speaker and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz declared it shouldn't look like today's, with America no longer a robust leader of the world.
"Into that vacuum have stepped nations like Russia, like China, like Iran," Cruz said. "And it has not made the world a safer place."
Cruz even joked about President Barack Obama's lack of leading on the world stage.
"Just a few months ago, Jimmy Carter criticized this president for being weak on foreign policy," Cruz stated. "Holy cow!"
Another Republican lawmaker, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, laid out the stark contrast in visions for American strategy.
"On one hand, there's a view that we only act when it's in our absolute core interest: in essence if Canada or Mexico is invading us, then we're going to act; otherwise, nowhere else really," Kinzinger said.
"And then you have the belief -- and more what I am - which is an engaged America is good for the whole world," he added.
Cruz's and Kinzinger's remarks bookended a panel discussion sponsored by Concerned Veterans of America and The Weekly Standard.
A couple of panelists urged caution when it comes to waging war, even the war on terror.
"Let's not double-down on some of the failures of our past," counseled William Ruger, with the Charles Koch Institute. "Before we jump into something, let's try to remember some of the lessons since the end of the Cold War."
There was talk that America often takes actions without considering what the reactions might be. For instance, James Carafano, with the Heritage Foundation, brought up the evil acts of ISIS terrorists.
"I look at beheadings as kind of their response to drone strikes," Carafano commented. "We do a drone strike and say, 'Ha, we can reach out and touch you.' And they say, 'Oh yeah, dude, well watch this,' and they cut somebody's head off. And they say, 'Look, we can reach out and touch somebody, too.'"
But because brutal groups like ISIS can threaten the world, some panelists said no matter how much war-weary Americans may not want 'boots on the ground,' it may be absolutely necessary.
"It is the job of our military to hunt down our enemies and kill them before they kill us," Cruz stated.
Discussing efforts against ISIS, Michael Hanlon, with the Brookings Institution, said, "I think we might have to contemplate doing a few weeks of sustained, Special Operations raids with Iraqi special forces once the counter-offensive begins."
Cruz insisted that in "a world on fire," America must engage - because there is no alternative.
"These problems are insoluble without American leadership," the senator said.