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.