Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris immediately propelled foreign policy to the front of the 2016 presidential campaign – the Democratic debate turned on a dime to focus on foreign policy, and GOP hopefuls dominated Sunday talk shows promoting their own aggressive plans to wage war on ISIS.
In his newest web video Marco Rubio goes as far as to resurrect familiar September 11 rhetoric to assert that the West’s war against ISIS is more than just geopolitical turbulence – it’s a “clash of civilizations.”
‘Why do they hate us?’
Flashback to September 20, 2001. President George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress where he officially declared a “war on terror” – a war that continues to define American foreign policy today.
He famously raised the question that many Americans were asking in the confusing days after September 11: “Why do they hate us?”
“They hate our freedoms,” he presumed. “Our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Unknown to most Americans at the time, this ideology would echo throughout the next 14 years of warfare.
‘They hate us because of our values’
Marco Rubio revived a key component of the Bush Doctrine on Sunday when he told ABC’s This Week that the war against ISIS was “a clash of civilizations.”
He fleshed out that argument more in this video, saying, “They hate us because of our values. They hate us because young girls here go to school. They hate us because women drive. They hate us because we have freedom of speech – because we have diversity in our religious beliefs.”
How Will the Attacks in Paris Influence the 2016 Race?
A poll released by Reuters on Monday found that “63 percent of Americans were fearful that a Paris-style attack could happen near them,” suggesting that national security would take a more active role on the 2016 campaign trail.
Rubio was criticized for subtly conflating “radical Islam” with Muslims in general; but some of his fellow Republicans were even less concerned about making the distinction.
Bobby Jindal, presidential hopeful and governor of Louisiana, signed an executive order Monday to prevent Syrian refugees from being settled in his state. Twenty-six other governors have since followed his lead.
Sen. Ted Cruz proposed only allowing Christian Syrian refugees into the U.S. arguing, “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”
In a September Gallup poll, Republicans enjoyed a 52 percent to 36 percent edge over Democrats on which party would do a better job of protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats.
With that dynamic, expect the terrorist attacks in Paris to haunt the 2016 campaign trail for some time to come.