This is a very smart play by Ted Cruz at a time when Team Rubio is attacking him for votes related to the NSA surveillance plan.
Cruz is positing himself as the moderate between two extremes in the GOP. On one side is the Rand Paul non-interventionist who will never, ever do anything for our national security. That is a too cute by half reduction of Paul’s views, but is also the common perception of his view. The other is with Marco Rubio who Cruz calls a “neocon” willing to invade any country and send troops all over the place whenever and for the slightest cause.
Cruz’s position is more nuanced.
The Texan portrayed himself as a third way between the stalwart, non-interventionist views of Senator Rand Paul and pro-interventionist policies in pursuit of spreading democracy and human rights through the Middle East that Rubio espouses. Cruz’s belief is that trying to democratize those societies can be counterproductive and that U.S. military power should be focused narrowly on protecting U.S. interests.
“If you look at President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and for that matter some of the more aggressive Washington neo-cons, they have consistently mis-perceived the threat of radical Islamic terrorism and have advocated military adventurism that has had the effect of benefiting radical Islamic terrorists,” he said.
It sounds like a reversion back to Jeanne Kirkpatrick diplomacy that served Reagan well. Sometimes you go with the bad dictator who is better than the even worse radicals.
In making the case, Cruz is pointing out Rubio’s support for intervention in Libya and Syria. The former has now provided a safe haven for ISIS and the latter has emboldened Russia. This is a good place for Cruz to be and I also think it is the sweet spot for the GOP.