RNC 2016: Johnny Isakson on America’s role in the world

U.S. Sen.  Johnny Isakson speaks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Jan. 18. (Jonathan Phillips / Special)

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson speaks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Jan. 18. (Jonathan Phillips / Special)

CLEVELAND — The theme for Monday night’s program at the Republican National Convention is “Make America Safe Again,” and the speeches will include messages from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and veterans now in Congress including Sens. Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton and Rep. Ryan Zinke. But the theme of security was already very much on people’s minds in light of the attacks on law enforcement in Dallas and Baton Rouge and by terrorists in Nice and Orlando.

“We need to do whatever it takes,” U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., told me Monday morning.  “If it takes boots on the ground and special forces to go into Raqqa, after the head of ISIL, we need to do it. If it takes a higher level of intelligence, domestically in the United States, then we need to do it. The people who would perpetrate evil against our citizens, and our homeland, or against our law enforcement, need to understand we all are gonna do whatever it takes to destroy them. If they ever think we won’t, and right now they think we won’t, they’ll take advantage of us.

“We had a policy in Iraq, containment. All containment has done is allow them to develop offshore, out-of-the-country terrorism in America and other places — France, Belgium, places like that. We’ve done nothing to defeat ISIL. What we’ve done is contain them and left them up to their nefarious activities. That’s the wrong strategy. We can’t afford that in this country to have this election end with more of the same.”

Isakson’s stance notwithstanding, it’s not clear Republicans, much less all Americans, are broadly on board with a “whatever it takes approach.” At a panel discussion on anti-Semitism Monday morning, Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill, described the quandary.

“There’s a disquiet right now, I think, that we have as a country,” Roskam said. “We’ve got to sort this out. And the disquiet is along the lines of, what is our role as Americans in the world? And there are different voices out there in the American political spectrum … there are some voices that are on the libertarian end of the spectrum who say this: Look, the United States is not very effective at international realm, and it’s very expensive for us … so since we’re not very good and it, and it’s expensive, let’s just not do it. They don’t like to be called isolationists, but that’s exactly what they are; they’re the voices saying, recede back.

“On the other end of the spectrum, which tends to more of a leftist perspective — not all liberals think like this by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s where they find their following — and it’s this: The United States is actually a bad influence in the world, the United States is a malevolent nation that’s poorly motivated, and when the United States is involved, bad things happen, and so therefore the United States should recede, because it doesn’t have the moral authority.”

Roskam said he rejected both of those positions. “The world is hungry for American leadership on a foreign-policy basis,” he said. “This doesn’t mean boots-on-the-ground leadership and all these things, but it does mean unambiguously the United States needs to lead. And hopefully what comes out of a political campaign in 2016 is that we sort that out. Because if the United States is receding from its place on the world stage — and I think we are; we’ve seen this over the past seven years — we’re leaving so much good influence on the table.” He later pointed out the ramifications for lesser American leadership will not just be felt in security, but also in trade.

I think you have to put Isakson’s and Roskam’s comments relatively close to one another on the entire political spectrum, but there’s still a good bit of daylight between them. Will Monday night’s speakers narrow that gap and bring some clarity to where the GOP stands on this? We’ll have to wait and see.

Reader Comments 0

34 comments
lvg
lvg

US and Iraq allied with Iranian military  to retake Mosul. GOP wonder boy George turned Iraq over to the Shiites And Iran. what sayeth the Buffoon who is our Senator about that?

MarkVV
MarkVV

This is what I find so bewildering. Here is a forum for people to exchange ideas and arguments. One would expect that such people have at least a minimum of intelligence and integrity. And then you see comments, that show the absolutely lack of either.

Sen. Obama, in the context of a political fight, said that in the political fight of his campaign, his side would bring bigger political weapons. Metaphorically, “If They Bring a Knife to the Fight, We Bring a Gun.”  It had nothing to do with any real violence, and everybody did, or should have understood that.

And now, in the context of actual killing of policemen, somebody filled with ghastly and sickening hate, combined with no intelligence whatsoever, comes with an accusation that this metaphor, used eight years ago in a political campaign context, somehow “caused the cops to get shot over the weekend.”  

With the experience of other comments of the same person, one may be horrified, but not exactly surprised. But what is truly surprising is when another commenter, an ardent supporter of conservative causes but someone who usually demonstrates some degree of rationality, steps in to support this travesty.  With that, one might really be pessimistic about the future of this country, if there are more people like that around.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

"ISIL", for real?  Johnny is the first person other than Obama, Earnest, Kerry, and the State Dept mouthpiece I have ever heard use that term.  Even Hillary says ISIS, come on Johnny.


Johnny is obviously Mr Inside (think Army's Doc Blanchard) to Davy Perdue's, perceived Mr Outside.  How could we in Georgia be so lucky?  Right!


It is long past time to take any steps necessary to rid the world of this plague of radical Islamic terror.  Time to declare war and get on with it, as the rest of the Islamic nations don't appear that they will ever assume the responsibility, unless the USA or NATO take the lead and do most of the heavy lifting.  These coalitions that Obama and the left fantasize about are long on pretense and mostly missing in action when the lead starts flying.  Putting together a coalition is just a diversion to distract us from doing litttle or nothing.  It takes about one day to find those willing to actually commit troops and do some of the killing.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@RafeHollister " It takes about one day to find those willing to actually commit troops and do some of the killing."

?????

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@MarkVV @RafeHollister You call them together and say who is with us?  Not complicated, those who don't raise their hands can't be depended on to do much of anything significant.  Simple, right?

TheBrewer
TheBrewer

@RafeHollister


Obozo is a muslim. Of course he cares about Isis or whatever he calls that group nowadays. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@TheBrewer  "Obama caused the cops to get shot over the weekend."

An idiotic comment, but not surprising considering the source. 


RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@MarkVV @RafeHollister @TheBrewer When you are the "leader" of the free world you don't make a divisive statement supporting escalating violence.  For a person in his position to do so was idiotic.

TheBrewer
TheBrewer

@MarkVV @TheBrewer

"An idiotic comment, but not surprising considering the source. "

Blah, blah, blah. Mark, you must be under the impression that I care what you think. You're so obsessed with me and it's really creepy. Get help, ma'am.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

I thought the guns were supposed to protect us from government oppression. African Americans feel oppressed and are fighting back. Isn't that just exercising your second amendment right?

There is clear video evidence of the oppression. Why aren't Republicans FOR fellow Americans standing up for themselves? This is what Republicans, not liberals, preach and why Republicans are for assault weapons, right?

If you are against what happened in Dallas and Baton Rouge, then how can you be a Republican?

MarkVV
MarkVV

@RafeHollister @MarkVV @TheBrewer What is idiotic to apply a proverbial saying like the above to a completely different situation, and then to make a monstrous leap like the one TheBrewer made. I was not surprised seeing such idiocy from TheBrewer, but I would have considered you to ea on a slightly higher level. Evidently, I was wrong. 

TheBrewer
TheBrewer

Has Hiltlery KKKlinton picked a running mate?

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

If not being World Policeman by jumping headfirst into every brushfire means we're "receding" then maybe we should recede a bit.

At least let's have a valid reason - something better than fake WMDs for example - before we commit American lives and treasure to another misadventure.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

“whatever it takes approach.”


Easy to take that approach when its somebody else's Son or Daughter doing the fighting. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Hedley_Lammar If your son or daughter died at Ft Hood, San Bernandino or Orlando or you saw them as hostaages and later beheaded on TV, you might think why hasn't someone done "whatever it takes" by now.

MarkVV
MarkVV

And it is not only that Isaakson lies when he say “we have done nothing.” It is an insult to the military leadership of this country, and even more importantly, to every member of the Armed Forces who risks his/her life in Iraq/Syria, when that is called “nothing.”.

lvg
lvg

That  Buffoon Isakson  doesn't realize it is because Obama has been so aggressive in Drone attacks on Terrorist leaders and ease of internet recruiting and pro -ISIS web sites that it is spreading to US for lone wolves. Is he going to ban the internet?  Ban future drone assassinations?  Apologize for terrorists and civilians killed by US in past seven years?

And how exactly is  US President going to invade parts of Syria when there is no Congressional Use of Force Resolution? Executive fiat?

TheBrewer
TheBrewer

@lvg

"That  Buffoon Isakson"

Mark? Mark, should Ivg be banned?

MiroM
MiroM

@TheBrewer @lvg You do not have to keep demonstrating that you do not understand the difference between the filth and vulgarity of your comments and what other people do.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@TheBrewer @MiroM @lvg MiroM expressed the same thought I would have had had I come here first. It is up to Kyle to decide where to draw the line.

TheBrewer
TheBrewer

@MarkVV @TheBrewer @MiroM @lvg

LOL, you're too funny, Mark. You cried your whittle eyes out to Kyle the other day demanding that he ban me for calling Obozo, Obozo and here you are defending your fellow left winger when she called someone a buffoon. No wonder Kyle makes fun of you.

MarkVV
MarkVV

What is most striking about Johnny Isaakson’s remarks quoted, is the banality of them “We need to do whatever it takes.” If it takes this we have to do it. If it takes that, we have to do it. Naturally, he does not say what it is, only “if it is.”

And then the lying. “We’ve done nothing to defeat ISIL.” Really? All those air strikes, Special Operation actions, drone strikes, all that he calls “nothing?” That is a politician blowing hot air, that’s all.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

I'm not sure that actually aligns with Trump.  Trump says he is going to force other people to do it.  IE, force NATO to do their jobs and work with neighboring states.  That's almost exactly what we are doing now.  Its why France and Turkey keep getting hit.  


The whatever it takes methodology only works if you go as far as genocide.  Any strategy you take, even boots on the ground, is containment. As soon a you leave, the problem arises again.  The only way to truly defeat an enemy is to kill them all.  


In this sense, its impossible to "win" because "Radical Islam" is a concept.  Anyone, anywhere can be radicalized.