Whither GOP Foreign Policy?

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Whither GOP Foreign Policy?

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Ago 20, 2013, 1:20pm

An interesting article was recently posted on the National Interest's website regarding the splits in the Republican Party that have opened up recently over foreign policy. The author, Kevin Lees, identifies three intraparty fights over foreign policy that we are likely to see between now and 2016. As one of those rare voters who actually bases his decision primarily on the foreign policies of the presidential candidates, I readily admit that I find this party squabble quite fascinating.

On the three fights identified I generally come down on the side of: 1) Security (though not nearly as much as someone like Dick Cheney would); 2) Multilateralism (contrary to what Lees seems to be implying, you don't have to work through the UN for some effort to be multilateral, but it does help); and 3) Realism (though in fact I'm a self-described constructivist).

A word, though, about Lees's last fight: Liberalism vs Realism. As theories of international relations, liberalism and realism seek to explain: 1) why conflict occurs between states, and 2) how to lessen the likelihood of such conflict occurring. The implementation of one theory versus the other won't necessarily lead to an increase in the use of military power as a foreign policy tool. There are schools of thought within each theory that could lead policy makers to increased use of the military versus other schools within the other theory.

For example, neoconservatism, which seeks to alter foreign domestic political orders into liberal democratic ones, is, in effect, a sub-school of the democratic-peace-theory school within liberalism. While exporting democracy doesn't necessarily have to be done by force of arms, that is the means that neoconservatives advocate for doing so. And so while they generally adhere to a liberal interpretation of international relations, neoconservatives believe that the way to prevent future conflict is to forcibly convert foreign states to a liberal democratic order if they cannot be changed otherwise.

Ago 21, 2013, 12:24pm

A good article, that at least attempts to lay some guideposts. I also vote for executive based on two things: first and foremost, presidential appointments (those likely to be brought into key and often long-term, intractable positions – judicial and administrative; second is foreign policy, which is almost impossible to predict without consideration of who will make up the administration, and who’ll be at the head of state and intelligence (see my first point).

We can weather any figurehead for a maximum of 8 years, but the people they bring in – Supreme Court justices among them – will outlast the executive who appointed them. That’s where good can be done or damage sustained.

Having said this, I think the US electorate tends to vote on domestic issues and – judging by the state of current affairs, and pending no large-scale foreign terrorist attack on our soil – foreign policy won’t be a deciding factor in 2016. I think both parties are inclined to ad-hoc reaction than to any strategic plan. If the economy remains stagnant, and with the economic threat of health care (ACA) looming – spending will be the big issue.

Bodes well for Rand Paul, I think (if not the UN). I hope we can get a sense of who’d come in with him and how he’d tailor his scaled-back non-interventionism. You have to think it would be pretty toothless – far less aggressive but more accountable than the present approach of the Obama administration – talking sweet syrup and platitudes while beefing up illegal intelligence efforts and unilateral drone warfare.

Editado: Ago 21, 2013, 2:58pm

More on "Whither...?"

Learning from our mistakes, a brief NR interview with Colonel Gian Gentile, U.S. Army, author of Wrong Turn: America's Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency. I offer it here, because I think conservative voters are more likely to evaluate political directives and policies based on military outcome and efficacy.


from it: An honest look at what the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the U.S. in blood and treasure, and at the current state of affairs in those places, causes serious doubt that counterinsurgency has worked as an operational method to achieve policy aims at a reasonable cost.

It just may be Rand Paul's moment.