Published for Shadow Government at Foreign Policy, January 2, 2013
In the January/February issue of Foreign Policy, Danielle Pletka outlines how the Republican Party should position itself on international affairs in the wake of Mitt Romney’s resounding defeat in the 2012 election. “If the GOP is to stand for something more than lower taxes and smaller government” Pletka writes, “it must return to the moral vision of a world in which the United States helps others achieve the freedoms it holds so dear.”
So what’s the right path forward for a battered GOP? Here’s what contributors to FP’s Shadow Government blog had to say about Pletka’s argument — and the global posture the party should adopt in the future.
Peter D. Feaver:
The most important thing Republicans need to understand about U.S. foreign policy today is that Republicans are out of power and Barack Obama is in power.
That may seem obvious, but much Republican commentary seems to ignore it. Much of the post-election commentary seems divorced from the political reality that, especially in the area of national security policy, Democrats hold not just an advantage, but a decisive one (politically, that is, not substantively). Yes, Republicans hold the House, and Democrats lack a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But Obama has a much stronger political position than, say, George W. Bush enjoyed in 2005 (let alone 2007), and while second-term Bush faced great constraints on what he could do domestically, he was able to overcome those constraints in the national security arena. Obama will likely be able to prevail at least as often as Bush did.
Republicans will be able to influence foreign and national security policy, but only on the margins. We can and should make the case for key priorities — restoring U.S. leverage in the Middle East, thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, matching resources to goals in the Asia-Pacific, etc. — but we should recognize that Obama will have his way, and his way will likely increasingly diverge from what Republicans would wish him to do.
If the dominant theme of Obama’s first term was continuity — despite campaigning against Bush foreign policy, Obama continued far more of it than either side would like to admit — the dominant theme of the second term may well be change. In the coming years if not months, Obama will likely face pivotal decisions on Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and defense cuts, and on each one he is showing signs that he will decide in ways quite different from how a President Mitt Romney might have done. I am not sure what Republicans can do to change that trajectory.
View full post and others’ thoughts here.