Since Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol announced that he wants writer, lawyer, and decorated Iraq War veteran David French to mount a third-party presidential run, political media has been abuzz with speculation and commentary on the out-of-left-field right-wing candidate. While reporting on French's experience (or lack thereof) and how he'd match up to Donald Trump has abounded, most commentators have failed to mention French's hawkish foreign policy ideas, which unfortunately may be what will most attract conservatives to him if he becomes an independent candidate.
French is a dream candidate for journalists — his beliefs, faux pas, and inconsistencies are all documented in his writings for National Review and in his 2015 book Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore. We can, for example, pinpoint every time he's written something transphobic (I'll warn you, it's quite often) or terrifyingly Islamophobic. To those interested in him as a candidate, this seeming transparency is undoubtedly a plus. If pundits (or competitors) want to comment on his views, all they have to do is look them up.
It's through this published transparency, though, that a startling portrait takes shape of a man who not only justifies our nation's past atrocities, but also glorifies them. French's warmongering opinions are as diverse as they are documented. Below are some of his strongest stances, and what he has to say about them.
"The Moral Necessity" Of The Hiroshima And Nagasaki Bombings
French has not minced words in his support of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. So much so that he criticized President Obama's appeal to our shared humanity during his visit to Hiroshima just a few days prior to Kristol's announcement. He shared the conservative view that the president's visit to Hiroshima was weak, and went further, in great detail, about why Japan "deserved" to have the A-Bomb dropped on them, and claimed that it saved (American) lives and did Japan a favor:
In deciding to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Harry Truman made perhaps the most critical — and wisest decision — of any American commander-in-chief in our history. He saved lives. He ended the great calamity of World War II. And, ironically enough, he even saved Japan — leaving behind enough of a country and enough of a people to allow them to rebuild and re-imagine themselves as the great nation they are today.
The Islamophobia That Fuels His Views Of Middle Eastern Foreign Policy
Never one to miss an opportunity to mention his time in Iraq during the height of the American invasion, French said that his views on Islam were shaped during his time in the Muslim world. He echoes common beliefs about the "barbarism" of Muslims in a piece about why so many Americans dislike Islam:
I expected the jihadists to be evil, but even I couldn’t fathom the depths of their depravity. And it was all occurring against the backdrop of a brutally violent and intolerant culture.
He regularly espouses narrow views on Islam and Muslim-majority nations, making statements that, taken in another context, could be used to criticize right-wing American radicalism, and decries the the idea that Islam is a "peace-loving and tolerant" faith as a myth:
To understand the Muslim edifice of hate, imagine it as a pyramid — with broadly-shared bigotry at the bottom, followed by stair steps of escalating radicalism — culminating in jihadist armies that in some instances represent a greater share of their respective populations than does the active-duty military in the United States.
His Support Of Torture Of "Terrorists" And "Jihadists"
- Terrorists don't deserve the same legal protections as other prisoners of war.
- Extending legal protections to "jihadists and terrorists" cheapens American lives (I know, I don't get it either).
- "There are still lines we cannot cross."
This specific editorial was rife with the idea that the mistreated prisoners in the torture report are not "lawful prisoners of war" but terrorists. In his conclusion, French tries to justify this moral hypocrisy and completely misses the mark:
It is moral to treat unlawful combatants differently — and worse — than lawful prisoners of war. It is moral to value American lives and use all lawful means to honor and defend those lives.
While the #NeverTrump movement certainly highlights the absolute insanity of a potential Trump presidency, considering French as a candidate is an upsetting return to the old-guard ideas of warmongering and bigotry. He may be more knowledgeable on foreign policy, but that doesn't make him any less of a threat to world peace, which seems to be a non-issue to Republicans for and against Trump.