The Lesson of Ted Cruz’s Two Foreign Policy Victories

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Foreign Policy

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We often hear the political class bemoan Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) supposed recklessness for blowing up the status quo in Washington and not reaching across the aisle.  These naysayers should pay attention to Cruz’s two recent foreign policy victories and learn from them.

As we reported several weeks ago, GOP leaders were planning to capitulate to Democrats on the IMF bailout by allowing them to slip the provision into the Ukraine aid package.  On March 13, Senator Cruz sent a letter to Senator Harry Reid warning that he planned to block the bill if the IMF provision remained.  While only a few Republicans joined him from the onset, and some like Senator John McCain even lambasted him, Cruz harnessed his megaphone to rally Americans all over the country and embarrass those who supported this provision to weaken our nation’s power on the world stage.

Ultimately, Republicans in the Senate and the House were forced into joining the fight, and Democrats were pressured to drop their demands.

Hence, this is the power and prerogative of one Senator to be a voice, not just a vote in the Senate.

Fast-forward a few weeks and Senator Cruz got wind of another issue that needed to be addressed – one which would have been ignored by senators in both parties.  The government of Iran decided to appoint Hamid Aboutalebi as their ambassador to the United Nations.  Aboutalebi was one of the leaders of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, one of the deeds for which the current regime has never been held to account.

Following the rules of past senators, Cruz could have joined the chorus of merely denouncing the appointment.  And indeed the Obama administration called the nomination of Aboutalebi “extremely troubling.”  But Cruz was the one who took the initiative to actually send a definitive message to Iran by introducing legislation (S. 2195) to ban him and other known terrorists from being granted visas to enter the U.S., even for the purpose of serving at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

While this was an initiative publicly supported by many members across the aisle, it was only Ted Cruz’s high profile campaign to elevate the issue that embarrassed Democrats into considering the floor.  Shortly thereafter, Chuck Schumer co-sponsored the bill.  Yesterday, the bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

The man who is regarded as the most combative conservative in the Senate managed to pass a bill through a Democrat-controlled Senate without a vote.  That is true leadership.  Working across the aisle doesn’t mean putting a Republican stamp on liberal policies, as the political class wishes to happen on a daily basis.  It means harnessing our leverage and political megaphones to inspire, convince, and even shame the other side into supporting our causes.