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|Former Congressman Cooksey delivers remarks on U.S. foreign policy|
For the past 16 years, the U.S. military has been commanded by two presidents who have no military experience, while two closely aligned factions in Washington dominate the country's foreign policy decisions.
That was the thrust of a speech former Congressman Dr. John Cooksey delivered Tuesday at the regular meeting of the Monroe Lion's Club.
During his speech, Cooksey provided attendees with an insider's look at the forces that shape American foreign policy, including what he termed "outside" influences that attempt to shape the way the United States conducts business with other nations.
Cooksey said forces such as the president, Congress and the U.S. Military were designed to shape American foreign policy, but he also suggested outside forces attempt to drive policy in different directions.
One contributing factor that has allowed such outside forces to impact U.S. policy has been a run of ill-prepared leaders, Cooksey said.
"We've had 16 years of presidents who spent no real time in the military and didn't know how to use the military as an effective tool of foreign policy," Cooksey said.
Cooksey was referring to President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton.
Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War but was never deployed overseas. Clinton avoided service during the war by studying abroad.
Cooksey said the last president to have wartime military experience was President George H. W. Bush, who served as an Army aviator in World War II.
Cooksey warned that forces attempting to influence American policy should be approached with caution, as their motives are not always clear.
Those groups include domestic groups like the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation, domestic Arab-American political action groups and a number of groups outside the United States, Cooksey said.
Cooksey said another sector to watch are two groups of prominent political and cultural leaders in Washington who are interested in influencing American policy abroad.
Cooksey termed the groups neo-conservatives and theo-conservatives.
"They all have advocated expanding our role in the Middle East and all want to protect Israel," Cooksey said.
"In Washington, everyone knows who they are but they just refer to them as the neo-cons or theo-cons," he added.
While closely aligned, Cooksey noted one distinction between the two groups is the role religion can play in government policy.
"Theo-conservatives feel the church should have a role in shaping our foreign and domestic policy," Cooksey said.
A Republican, Cooksey served three terms in the U.S. House, representing the 5th District of Louisiana, from 1997-2003.
A veteran, Cooksey served as a flight surgeon in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, including a stint in Southeast Asia.