Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What about foreign policy?

by Peter Henne

I just wanted to throw in my foreign policy two cents today. As I have said before, there has been depressingly little in terms of foreign policy debates this election season, primarily due to the dearth of internationally-oriented thinking on the Republican side. I first noticed this back in the primary season, specifically the PA race, when the Republican candidate--Pat Toomey--was pretty harsh in his critique of Democrats Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak but barely mentioned anything involving international affairs.

The reason for this is the nature of Obama's foreign policy. He is generally similar in substance to George W. Bush but different in style. He's disengaging from Afghanistan and Iraq, but after increasing the number of US troops in the former; he has also greatly stepped up drone attacks against suspected AQ members in Pakistan. As Dan Nexon, at the
Duck of Minerva, argued recently, this kind of steals Republican talking points. What they are left with are confused contortions (such as former Bush official Marc Thiessen's argument that Obama shouldn't be killing terrorists, since it prevents us from torturing them) or silence.

That is not to say that the outcome of this election will be unimportant concerning US foreign policy. I pointed out
one example last week, but Nexon has helpfully provided a few others:
  • a Republican Congress may kill New START, an essential arms control deal that basically extends Reagan's policies
  • a Republican Congress will greatly complicate efforts to streamline military spending
  • and a Republican Congress' generally hostile attitude towards Obama will make any sort of foreign policy consensus impossible

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