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October 12, 2011

Ignoring the Foundations of Power
Posted by Jacob Stokes

James Traub has an interesting piece in FP on how the conservatives running for president haven't thought much about foreign policy. The piece is worth reading, as it nicely pulls together many of the threads those who watch these issues have been observing for a while.

One particularly interesting piece is Traub's discussion of the realignment on foreign policy among different factions of the Party:

The dispute speaks to a striking realignment within the Republican Party's ranks. The Republican establishment has long been defined by non-ideological moderates and "realists" like Brent Scowcroft, Richard Armitage, and Richard Haass. These are the figures, associated more with the first than the second President Bush, whom Huntsman has been consulting and whose views he largely represents. And yet he, and they, are now considered beyond the pale. A new conservative elite has by now almost wholly supplanted the graybeards within the GOP's ranks, and has gravitated to Romney and Perry. The graybeards support the New START nuclear arms deal with Russia negotiated by Obama and ratified this year; the GOP candidates and most of their advisors do not. The old elite supports engagement with China; the new ones regard China as a military threat. In short, today's conservatives see the world as fundamentally more threatening than do the old-school pragmatists... In effect, then, the old center of the GOP has joined with the new radicals of the Tea Party in advocating a policy of Less.

To me, one important aspect of this split is how the new conservative elite essentially writes off the connection between economic strength and national security. That connection has quickly become so clear and generally accepted that it's become a cliche. The new conservative elite pays lip service to this ideal, but then promptly advises a more expensive foreign policy, both in terms of hardware and in terms of tactics (extended COIN, for example). Anything less, in their mind, is "isolationism."

While one might -- and I would -- disagree with the Tea Party's and the traditional GOP's ideas about how to grow the economy, those two groups at least take seriously the connection between the two sectors of our national life.


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National security does not need to be concerned since the US is not as super power and will not have as much influence as before as it is going down economically now. The only moral thing to do is to help American people to find jobs, pay off the debt, and revive the economy.

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The dispute speaks to a striking realignment within the Republican Party's ranks.

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