Presidential candidates are eager to demonstrate their capacity for international leadership, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) may not have fully thought through his new idea. NBC News reported last night:
As part of a broad national security plan to defeat ISIS, Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich proposed creating a new government agency to push Judeo-Christian values around the world.The new agency, which he hasn’t yet named, would promote a Jewish- and Christian-based belief system to four regions of the world: China, Iran, Russia and the Middle East.
According to a report in the Toledo Blade, the struggling Republican presidential hopeful argued, “U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering opponents’ propaganda and disinformation. I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share.”
In fairness to Kasich, it’s not entirely clear where’s he going with this. I’ve seen some reports suggesting the governor intends to use the government to push some kind of religio-political message on people who may not want to hear it, though given the wording of the quote, Kasich seems to envision some kind of taxpayer-financed agency pushing generic pro-Western propaganda – which in Kasich’s mind, is effectively synonymous with promotion of “Judeo-Christian” values.
Or maybe he meant something else entirely. It’s sometimes hard to tell with him.
Whatever the intended message, Kasich’s idea raises some questions. For example, why does he make a distinction between Iran and the Middle East? What would a Kasich White House say to China when Beijing says it doesn’t really appreciate the United States pushing “Judeo-Christian Western values” in its country?
Does Kasich envision some kind of publicly financed religious component to this message, and if so, does he recognize the constitutional prohibitions on that sort of thing?