May 3, 2011

The GOP’s New Foreign Policy

  1:35 pm

As a foreign policy neo-con, the thought of having our Party change course on foreign policy is more than a little discouraging. I firmly believe that the United States needs to be an active promoter of democracy and freedom in the world. However, the politics of foreign policy makes it so that this foreign policy viewpoint is not a winner anymore. After a decade in Afghanistan and almost as many years in Iraq, the American people are tired of interventionism and democracy promotion. These feelings have been accelerated with the death of Bin Laden “we got the S.O.B., let’s declare victory and leave.” So, with all the rapid changes taking place throughout the world, it’s time for the GOP to chart a new course on foreign policy.

Let me say at the start that isolationism is a nonstarter. Burying our head in the sand and ignoring the rest of the world is not an option. The GOP is not, nor ever will be the party of Ron Paul isolationism. As I stated previously though, we aren’t going to be the party of the neo-con foreign policy either. So, where do we go?

I think the best possible compromise for the GOP is to go back to the foreign policy ideas of the George H. W. Bush years. The first President Bush, with his vast experience in the foreign policy arena, was no isolationist, nor was he the idealist that his son turned out to be. President Bush’s foreign policy was above all practical and driven by what might be called enlightened self-interest. The first President Bush was not above intervention, look at the First Gulf War or Operation Just Cause in Panama, but he also didn’t deploy troops to help the Romanian’s as they toppled Nicolai Ceausescu. He certainly was delighted by the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union, but was also cautious about getting too optimistic about the events happening in Eastern Europe.

In short, I think the Republican Party needs to chart a middle way between a neo-con foreign policy and the isolationism of Ron Paul. Returning to George H. W. Bush’s enlightened self-interest may be just the sort of policy that the Republican Party can advocate and the American people will accept. It isn’t my ideal foreign policy, or that of most other Republicans, but it may be the type of foreign policy that can guide the Republican Party in the near future.



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The original CNN article from 2007 is a good read showing Mike’s foresight. (And McCain’s ineptness.)

While the killing of Osama bin Laden has buttressed President Barack Obama’s credibility, it may also serve to help a possible 2012 GOP candidate with limited foreign policy credentials … Mike Huckabee.

In November of 2007, CNN reported,

Sen. John McCain condemned Mike Huckabee Monday for saying that, as president, he would strike at terrorists inside Pakistan’s borders with or without permission from the country’s leadership.

McCain called Huckabee’s comments naïve and said the former Arkansas governor lacks military experience needed to lead.

… On Saturday in South Carolina, Huckabee said if there was an “imminent threat” inside Pakistan, he would take military action there, even if it meant violating Pakistan’s sovereignty under international law.


OBL was an imminent threat?


Good article. Anything that takes the neo-cons down a peg is good by me. 😉

But we do need a foreign policy with a budget. For instance, I don't think we need troops in South Korea or Germany anymore.



You don't consider a guy who had previously struck (without warning) the Twin Towers (twice), embassies in Africa, and a US warship to be an imminent threat?

This is why people don't take hardcore Rombots seriously...... everything they think, say, or believe is conditioned by whether Huck or Mitt said it.

Good grief.


Imminent threat is not a justification to go into Pakistan to get OBL. No one disagree with the idea that we should be able to invade any country's sovereignty anywhere if needed to quash an imminent threat. McCain does. Everyone does. Clearly this was Huckabee backtracking after saying something stupid in the first place. I'm happy that Obama went into Pakistan to get OBL, but the justification for that was not thatch posed an imminent threat, because he didn't.


4 - No, I do not. He was a fugitive and a war criminal who should have been hunted down as he was. Obama was right to go into Pakistan to get him. His ability to cause imminent harm to the US had been virtually eliminated though. There was nothing imminent about the threat he posed.

Huckabee's statement was stupid. Do you think McCain would be against going into a sovereign country to eliminate an imminent threat? Of course he wouldn't! He was not a peace-nick.


Good post Jonathan. I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, (before the OBM victory). I think you are onto a good start.


Polutico's Andy Barr is starting to "get it." This is what is needed now.

'Sarah Palin outlined a more detailed foreign policy agenda Monday night than she had before, arguing the mission that killed Osama bin Laden perfectly exemplifies a proper use of American force.

Palin shied away from attacks on the president and instead articulated her own “common sense” classic realist foreign policy.

Palin clearly stated a foreign policy philosophy that she says dates back to the Reagan administration – but in many ways came off as a five-point version of the Powell Doctrine.

First, Palin said, “we should only commit our forces when clear and vital American interests are at stake. Period.” That point led to her second, dismissing nation-building as a “nice idea in theory,” but not the “main purpose” guiding American foreign policy.

Palin continued down that track by insisting that a president must be able to articulate “clearly defined objectives” before foreign interventions – a standard she has recently Obama failed to live up to in Libya. As her fourth point, Palin declared that “American soldiers must never be put under foreign command.”

Palin’s concluding statement deviated somewhat from ideology she had been espousing, as she stated that while “sending our armed forces should be our last resort…we will encourage the forces of freedom in the world.” That last point is somewhat consistent with the non-interventionist ideology Palin has been growing fond of in recent weeks – but also provides her a clever escape clause from her stated theory that has allowed her to criticize Obama for, as she has said, acting too slowly in Libya.

“We can’t fight every war, we can’t undo every justice in the world,” Palin said. Sunday’s attack on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was “an effective use of force,” Palin said, unlike the “ill-defined” mission in Libya.

Palin demonstrated a seriousness Monday that many Washington pundits would posit she lacks...

Still, Palin was pitch perfect – seamlessly idealizing the “common sense principles” that she preaches while at the same time elbowing her perceived opponents.'



OBL was still very much the leadership of AQ. He was in charge, and was living in safety. We had a responsibility to end him, regardless of treading on the sovereignty of another nation. As far as i'm concerned, they were harboring a fugitive, and are responsible for that. Yes, he was an imminent threat.


I don't think McCain would have been against going into Pakistan to get OBL either. He said as much yesterday. The idea that Huckabee was right and McCain was wrong is a load of crap.


I definitely think we need to return to the Bush 41 foreign policy. He wasn't a nation builder(like his son), and that is the biggest difference. We shouldn't be anchored down in these countries for long periods of time....because eventually we will leave, and when we do they always pass anti-liberty laws. Iraq already has anti-christian laws in place. As far as i'm concerned, those people deserved Saddam, and we should have just blown him up instead of invading.


9 - I don't believe that is true. He was a figure head with little involvement with the operations of AQ. AQ is pretty weak right now anyways. Eliminating OBL has not really made us safer at all. It is a victory that I celebrate, but it is almost entirely a symbolic victory.


What strikes me is Palin's five point outline is exactly what Johnathan calls for in this article.

She is dead right again.


"The idea that Huckabee was a load of crap."

And therein lies the essense of Rombotony; if you want to know if something is true, good, wholesome, accurate, or right, see who said it. If is was Huck, then no.

This is also why almost all Rombots- and only Rombots among conservatives- love mandates. "We know they are good because Mitt says so, and he's not wrong about anything!"


15 - Why not tell me where I am wring rather than create some absurd straw man about Romney supporters? Where am I wrong?


The Bush 2000 foreign policy platform of a more humble foreign policy might be a good start.


The reason we don't need nation building any more is the internet, which is taking down more dictators than the U.S. ever could.

But we do need human intelligence and black ops throughout the middle east.


Excellent point Metro.


Obama trails only one Republican- Mitt Romney- in a hypothetical match up in the state. Romney has a 48-44 advantage against him. This makes Arizona the third state in the last month, along with Nevada and Pennsylvania, where we’ve found Romney as the only Republican who leads Obama.

Mitt Romney 48% — Obama 44% (+4)

Obama 46% — Mike Huckabee 44% (-2)




"which is taking down more dictators than the U.S. ever could."

And thanks to organic content development, it's free! Which is nice. Since we're broke.



"Why not tell me where I am wring rather than create some absurd straw man about Romney supporters? Where am I wrong?"

I mentioned that already, in #4.

You didn't agree that Bin Laden was a threat. I'm not sure what he would have to blow to convince you.


First of all, 14: I agree, Peter Schweitzer is a pro.

Regarding foreign policy, I don't think we need a "neoconservative" "realist" or "non-interventionist" foreign policy. What we need is a grand strategy. We need a clear definition of what our objectives are, and the means by which we will achieve them. I'm not wild about a "nation-building" or a "no nation-building" ideology; let's see which strategy serves our aims in a given circumstance.

But, more on this soon; I have a whole series of posts on grand strategy planned, but I've got a wedding in eighteen days and it's eating up a lot of time. It's my own, so I can't say that I really mind. :) :) :)



Congrats on getting hitched!!!!


MWS, Rombot is what we would call a hack.



But his moniker shows that he is at least partially self-aware.



The Rombots were taking a victory lap about one year ago over a Florida poll.

....and then things changed. They will again. In what ways? Who knows?



Matt, Mitch is now up to 3% and a year ago he was an asterisk. That's some Mitchmentum right there.



If he continues to compound at an annualized Infinity%, he's going to be tough to beat........



I saw the link the first time.


Romney is ahead of Huck by 12 in Huck's new home state. I'm guessing Huckabee enjoys the Florida Campaign from a beach towel on the private beach access he will have behind his new mansion.


Nice try. :)

ARG is a garbage poll. Look at the bottom of the pollster rankings..


PPP's very good though.

And either Huck (-2 is well within the margin of error) or Mitt will beat OBAMA IN ARIZONA, imho.

Btw, how close is Palin and the others to Obama? 😉


Well we can quit speculating, Chris Matthews on MSNBC just stated categorically that Mitch Daniels was NOT going to run.


Matthew Kilburn

Unlike many, I don't think Iraq was a mistake - nor, however, do I believe its a replicatable scenario. Iraq was the relatively unique situation where foreign intervention was really the only thing that could dislodge saddam...

Moving ahead, we still need to promote and advance freedom and democracy - but more through pulling the strings. That means organizing, education, training, funding, and potentially arming pro-democracy rebels. It also means forming a military alliance of democratic countries that could challenge the UN in terms of authority. Thirdly, we need to bring our trade and eocnomic policies as much in line with our military policies as possible - we still have to buy oil from the Saudis, but I see no reason we can't start reducing our trade with other dictatorships, like China. Finally, we should really push our allies to adopt democratic reforms - for example, encouraging the Saudis to create a democratic legislature that could offer proposals and advice to the King...without throwing a nation with hardly any experience in freedom headlong into republican governance.


36 - You are the biggest hypocrite I know. Congratulations!


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