Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Republican Presidential Candidate Rick
Santorum's plans for America:
More Wars, Decline, Divisiveness, and Intolerance
By Lawrence Davidson
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 13, 2012
Lawrence Davidson argues that Rick Santorum, a candidate for
the Republican presidential nomination, represents “a dangerous, intolerant,
noisy, in-your-face” trend in US politics and that if he and his followers
are allowed to win, “the result will be ever greater divisiveness and
decline at home, and war abroad”.
Former Pennsylvania Senator
Rick Santorum is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who
is fast coming to the fore. He won the Republican primary in Iowa (albeit by
only 34 votes) in early January and in February won the primaries in
Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. So, as the question goes, who is this guy?
Santorum is a self-styled "true conservative", right-wing, Christian
fundamentalist of Catholic background. In 2005
called him "one of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals". That is
still certainly true today. Santorum believes that religious values (at
least his religious values) should play a large role in shaping government
policies. For those not sure what this means, Santorum has a list of
Rick Santorum the moralist
“...when Santorum says religious values should play a
greater role in government policy, he means that there
should be lots of laws regulating your personal life,
particularly your sex life. This is pretty typical of
religious fundamentalists, particularly American Christian
ones. They just can’t leave other people’s bedrooms alone.”
1. Santorum wants "a
blanket ban on abortions". The fact that the US had this very same
prohibition up until 1973, and the result was black market abortions that
killed not only foetuses by also lots of pregnant women, seems to have
escaped the former senator.
2. Santorum wants a
ban on gay marriages.
He would likely bring back antiquated anti-sodomy laws as well. "If the
Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within
your home, then you have a right to bigamy, you have a right to polygamy,
you have a right to incest, you have a right to adultery. You have a right
to anything." When Santorum gets on the subject of homosexuality, one can’t
help noting a tinge of hysteria, along with a generous helping of illogic
Santorum would probably try to ban other related activities, such as the
use of contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. He certainly wants to get rid of
What this adds up to is that when Santorum says
religious values should play a greater role in government policy, he means
that there should be lots of laws regulating your personal life,
particularly your sex life. This is pretty typical of religious
fundamentalists, particularly American Christian ones. They just can’t leave
other people’s bedrooms alone.
Rick Santorum the economist
On the economic side of the ledger, Rick Santorum takes a slash-and-burn
1. There should be a
five-trillion-dollar cut in the federal budget (but defence spending
would be held at present levels). In order to realize this Santorum would do
away with, greatly reduce or freeze the Environmental Protection Agency,
health-care reform and medicaid, subsidies for housing, food stamps, job
training, energy and education. He would "reform" medicare and social
security in draconian fashion and pass a balanced budget amendment. One
might agree that the present US federal deficit verges on the insane and
still find Santorum’s cure equally crazy. For instance, just about holding
exempt defence and "security" spending when combined they make up 20 per
cent of the budget and are notorious for waste, redundancy and corruption,
makes no sense.
“If you reduce the debt by slashing expenditures
Santorum-style while refusing to increase taxes, you will
eliminate almost all of society’s safety nets. That means
increasing poverty and all its attendant miseries. You will
also make infrastructure maintenance much more difficult.”
2. There should be an
financial and other regulatory laws. This is true insanity. Regulation
is the only thing that makes capitalism an enduring system. Eliminate it and
you have financial crashes, dangerous sweatshop working conditions, falling
wages and benefits, runaway corruption and theft and, ultimately,
depression. That Santorum cannot understand this suggests that he has
substituted a discredited free market ideology for history.
3. As a
nation Americans should "live
within our means" and if we do so "future generations will have a
brighter future unburdened by oppressive debt and high taxation". These are
fine slogans, but in practice they probably spell eventual revolution in the
streets. If you reduce the debt by slashing expenditures Santorum-style
while refusing to increase taxes, you will eliminate almost all of society’s
safety nets. That means increasing poverty and all its attendant miseries.
You will also make infrastructure maintenance much more difficult.
Someone should tell Mr Santorum that the US population is not over-taxed.
Out of sixty two industrialized countries, the
ranks 28th in terms of its income tax rates. It is, of course, possible
to over-tax a people to ruination. It is also possible to under-tax a people
to ruination – to tax so low that you can’t assist the less fortunate or fix
the pot holes and keep the bridges from collapsing. If Santorum was to get
his way the nation would not have his predicted "brighter future". More
likely it would be a future of more poor and more pot holes. That might well
lead to disillusionment with the capitalist system among both the lower and
middle classes. Personally, I have no objection to such growing
disillusionment. I would, however, like to minimize the suffering and
violence that surely goes along with it.
Rick Santorum and foreign policy
When it comes to
foreign policy, Santorum is a warmonger plain and simple.
1. As to Iran, Santorum would "work with Israel to determine the proper
military response needed" to put a end to that country’s nuclear weapons
programme. It seems not to matter to the former senator that every US
intelligence agency that has ever investigated this issue has determined
that there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.
2. As to Syria, Santorum would go after the strongman (Bashar al-Assad)
"covertly or otherwise". Does that mean that Santorum act-alikes at the helm
of other nations could use the same logic to go after a US president?
3. As to Iraq, Santorum would "continue to stabilize Iraq", presumably
by re-invading the country. This belies the fact that it was the American
policy of draconian sanctions and ultimate invasion that destabilized Iraq
in the first place.
4. As to Afghanistan, Santorum would set no
timelines or limit resources "in the war effort". Yet, if al-Qaeda is as
weakened as Washington claims, there seems to be little point in more war.
If a stable and competent Taliban government reappears in Afghanistan, it is
unlikely to invite future attacks by providing a haven for terrorist
organizations. On the other hand, this ongoing war is almost certainly
providing a breeding ground for more terrorists.
“...Rick Santorum ... is stuck in the past. It is he who,
like some political ecclesiastic, wants to regulate everyone
else’s lives. If Mr Santorum simply changed hats, he could
be a Saudi cleric.”
5. As to Islam, Santorum believes it is a religion that is "stuck in the
seventh century". With rare exception, such as Saudi Wahhabism, this is
untrue. Actually, it is Rick Santorum who is stuck in the past. It is he
who, like some political ecclesiastic, wants to regulate everyone else’s
lives. If Mr Santorum simply changed hats, he could be a Saudi cleric.
Compared to people like him, most Muslims are much more tolerant and
6. As to Israel, Santorum takes an uncritically
approving position on the Zionist state. This makes sense when you realize
that Israel is essentially a religious state–a nation on the brink of
becoming a theocracy.
Rick Santorum is a religious ideologue. He
wants to turn the US into a "faith-based" Christian country through the
imposition of those "family values" he personally has decided are God-given.
He believes that America’s founding fathers would agree because they were,
supposedly, men of faith just like him. Quoting the Declaration of
Independence to prove this point, Santorum
reminds us that it
says that people "are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
rights". From this he concludes that rights come from God and not from
government. Government’s role is simply to implement and protect those
The truth is that the man who penned the Declaration,
Thomas Jefferson, was nothing like Rick Santorum. He wasn’t even a
Christian. He was a
Jefferson’s phrasing was meant to impress a wider world in an age when
religion was interpreted in a more literal fashion than it is in today’s
United States. Jefferson certainly did not mean for Americans to take the
notion of God-given inalienable rights literally. After all, he was a slave
number of Americans who respond positively to Rick Santorum’s message is
probably in the range of 20 per cent. In terms of the Republican Party, they
probably represent about one-third of the membership. Being ideologically
driven, these people are motivated to vote. And, that is significant in a
nation where voting turnout is traditionally low. So, Rick Santorum is
certainly representative of a politically active part of the US population –
a dangerous, intolerant, noisy, in-your-face part. If we let him and his
followers get their way, the result will be ever greater divisiveness and
decline at home, and war abroad. That is a choice for the rest of us.