Sen. Ted Cruz dismissed the White House's strategy for the Syrian crisis, saying he could not support a military strike because President Obama sought to fight for international principle rather than America's national interests.
Assad "is a monster, and he should be universally condemned," Cruz said Wednesday at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "[But] the president's objective was wrong because it was directed at this international norm" against the use of chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, Cruz said that 99.13 percent of the calls to his office have urged him to vote against a military strike.
The president's policy, the Texas Republican said, was "let's go defend international norms rather than the United States of America." Obama has countered such criticism by arguing that a strike that deterred future use of chemical weapons would be in America's interest.
Rather than use military force against Syria, Cruz said the United States should cut off financial aid to Iraq to pressure that government to ban Iranian plans from using its airspace, a move that would prevent Iran from further resupplying the Syrian government. The U.S. should also force a United Nations Security Council vote condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, reinstall a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe despite Russia's objections and approve the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan over China's objections.
Cruz didn’t get deep into the philosophical roots of his foreign policy views, putting himself "somewhere in between" Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a libertarian anti-interventionist, and foreign policy hawks like Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. But Cruz did lay out a rule of thumb for military funding.
“The weapons our soldiers use should not be older than the men and women who risk their lives to use them," Cruz said.
His own brand of populism was on full display at Heritage. Cruz spent nearly as much time deriding the "intelligentsia," "the university faculty lounge" and the press as he did praising President Ronald Reagan's handling of the Cold War.
“Bullies and tyrants don't respect weakness or appeasement," he said, calling for “clear, simple, categorical terms” to threaten Iran with military force over their nuclear weapons program.