WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump is a demagogue who exploits anger and fear to advance his own media stardom in the pursuit of political power. But at least one thing he said during Tuesday's Republican presidential debate was true.
"We have spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, ... if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges and all of the other problems, our airports and all of the other problems we have, we would have been a lot better off -- I can tell you that right now," Trump said. "We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East -- we've done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away, and for what? It's not like we had victory. It's a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess."
Trump's observation isn't uniquely insightful. It's an obvious truth. And during the 2004 campaign, anti-war Democrats had no problem making such criticisms of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Now the Obama administration has overseen seven more years of expensive overseas debacle, yet few of the 2016 candidates from either party are interested in criticizing the entirety of U.S. foreign policy post-9/11. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and, as secretary of state, was a key strategist in the removal of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which created a power vacuum that has fueled violent radical groups.
As for the GOP candidates, they're happy to slam President Barack Obama, but far less eager for broader-picture rethinking. The Republicans -- including Trump -- remain virulently hawkish on foreign policy, with the sometime exception of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Zach Carter is a co-host of the HuffPost Politics podcast "So That Happened." Subscribe here, or listen to the latest episode below: