Fox Business Network offers economic news, but the GOP debate was dominated by foreign policy, with the candidates vying with each other to paint the darkest prospects for the United States. “The world is being torn asunder,” Jeb Bush declared. America, according to Marco Rubio, faced a war to the death with radical Islamic terrorism, with either the republic perishing or its foe.
Two thing are striking about this apocalyptic talk. One is that the threat inflation is extreme. ISIS is a group that does a lot of harm to those who live under it but it is far too weak to pose a genuine military threat to the United States; this is even more true of the various other terrorist sects. They are capable of murder but not controlling an industrial land mass. They are far weaker than even Iraq under Saddam Hussein, let along the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.
Secondly, though, it’s clear that the Republicans love talking about foreign policy because they feel it is their strongest card. Ted Cruz was thrown a soft-ball question on the economy, but immediately went to the recent detaining of U.S. naval vessels by Iran. There are clear signs that the GOP doesn’t think it can beat the Democrats on the economy this year, so foreign policy, and the alleged weakening of the United States under President Obama, will be the main argument it tries in the fall.