Republican hawks plan new foreign policy agenda for US
The Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate and increased representation in the House will strengthen the role of war hawks in Congress and bring in many newcomers who also approve a more aggressive war plan for the U.S.
The new members do not take office for another two months but they together with Senator John McCain and Senator Bob Corker are already meeting in secret. In the new Senate they will no doubt chair powerful Senate committees. Senator McCain confirmed the meetings and said that there were discussions on starting to send arms to Ukraine. McCain will be chair of the Armed Services Committee and will have on board many hawkish allies. Given Obama's weakened position he may decide to escalate US involvement on many fronts even though the president still will have plenty of power to veto legislation he does not approve. As a lame-duck leader during the next two years, some foes of the US may feel that Obama's power is so diminished that they will be less cowed by any threats from him. As Aaaron Miller of the Wilson Centre put it:
“The world sees a lame duck with his authority undermined. It will be the perception of a diminished President who will have a difficult time sailing the already difficult waters of Washington.”There are some issues that the Republicans and Obama may agree on. One is increased support for funding the fight against Ebola. Obama says that he will also seek support from Congress for more military engagement in Syria. He can probably easily obtain this, especially if he is willing to increase involvement considerably to please Republican hawks. Senator McCain even wants boots on the ground beyond the 1500 or so that are already there. The Republicans may also be quite willing to give Obama fast-track authority in negotiating the two huge trade deals with Europe and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Obama may face even more difficulties negotiating a deal with Iran before the deadline later in November. Any deal will need Congressional support and Congress could very well vote it down. Senator McCain reported he has had discussion with Bob Corker and Richard Burr both Republicans. Corker is likely to be chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Burr of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. McCain as mentioned earlier will be chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.The discussion concerned the development of a new national security agenda. The shape of McCain's proposed new policy will bring the US into more conflict around the globe:
“Burr and Corker and I will be working closely together on everything. For example, arms for Ukraine’s [government], examination of our strategy in the Middle East, our assets with regard to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in the region, China’s continued encroachment in the South China Sea.”Ron Paul the libertarian and father of Senator Rand Paul tweeted: “Republican control of the Senate = expanded neocon wars in Syria and Iraq. Boots on the ground are coming!” William Kristol who edits the conservative Weekly Standard agreed saying:
“I think Ron Paul told the truth. And the truth is that his son had a bad election season and the Republicans who were elected are various species of hawks and not Rand Paul-like doves.”Senator McCain said that one of his first projects on the Senate Armed Services Committee will be to end sequestration since it requires military budget cuts across the board. This could clear the way for increased military spending. The Republicans also want to explore the role of the US intelligence community in negotiations with Iran. Republicans would like to impose even more sanctions on Iran.They also are against Iran for its support of Assad and Hezbollah. Senator McCain complained:
“The Iranians are helping [Syrian dictator] Bashar Assad,” McCain added. “They are the ones that got the 5,000 Hezbollah guys into the fight [against Syria’s rebels], they are gaining more and more influence in Baghdad. And we somehow believe we make a nuclear deal with them and that will lead to other areas of cooperation.”While McCain will no doubt support the US role against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria he would like a new Authorization of the Use of Military Force. The present act was passed back in 2001 and referred to action against Al Qaeda and its affiliates. Obama had claimed that this gave him the authority to act in Iraq against IS without Congressional approval but many legal scholars questioned the claim since the IS was booted out of Al Qaeda and has fought against Al Qaeda in Syria.