Ben Carson on Foreign Policy: Not Credible

Ben Carson is a doctor. He has zero experience with foreign affairs. This does not make it wrong for him to speak on foreign affairs. It simply means he has to present clear and cogent arguments. He can’t tell us to trust his expertise.

Unhappily, Carson doesn’t seem to have clear or cogent arguments. He writes in the Washington Times about “Rudderless U.S. Foreign Policy.” OK. So what does he propose?

What has the Obama administration done in response to this aggression by Russia? Not really much, other than impose toothless sanctions on Russian businessmen close to Mr. Putin (but not the Russian president himself) that have done little to make Russia change course. Is this what Ronald Reagan would have done?

Russia is a nuclear power. We even treat Pakistan with respect most of the time due to the fact that they have nuclear weapons. Russia is much more powerful than Pakistan. What about Ukraine (or Georgia) is so vital to our national security that it is worth risking nuclear war?

Carson appeals to What would Reagan Do? But Pat Buchanan argued that Reagan would not be so incautious.

After excoriating Moscow for the downing of KAL 007 in 1983, that old Cold Warrior Ronald Reagan was fishing for a summit meeting.

The point: Every president from FDR through George H. W. Bush, even after collisions with Moscow far more serious than this clash over Ukraine, sought to re-engage the men in the Kremlin.

Whatever we thought of the Soviet dictators who blockaded Berlin, enslaved Eastern Europe, put rockets in Cuba and armed Arabs to attack Israel, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush 1 all sought to engage Russia’s rulers.

Dr. Caron has a Ph.D. in neurosurgery, and I would never doubt his abilities in that arena. But when he says we must support “our interests,” I have to wonder what vital American interest is at stake that was more important than the interests that Reagan was concerned about. I also wonder how antagonizing a nuclear-armed superpower can ever be in the interests of Americans.

In my opinion, Carson’s rhetoric reflects American jingoism more than a rational foreign policy. His editorial strikes me as another attempt to get Republicans to stop supporting Rand Paul. I’m not convinced.