Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Are Republicans Bored With Foreign Policy?

One reason why the GOP "Pledge To America" doesn't include much interesting stuff about foreign policy, as Jonathan Bernstein mentions, is that Obama's major foreign policy views probably don't sound that objectionable to a lot of them. Republican enthusiasm for the Iraq War isn't running that high -- according to some Republicans in Congress, all their colleagues in the party think the war was a mistake. So withdrawal there doesn't bother them that much. Some kind of 'surge... then eventually withdraw at some ambiguous future time' plan on Afghanistan probably suits their tastes reasonably well too.

The negative way to say all this is that Obama is just doing Republican-lite foreign policy. The happier way to put it is that the GOP base, for its own reasons, isn't that excited about foreign policy right now. And the fewer things they're excited about, the better off we all are. The best we can hope for in the long term is that some kind of "once burned, twice shy" effect persists, reducing their enthusiasm for expensive and bloody military adventures.

I wonder if high levels of Republican enthusiasm for more war against Islamic countries could've ever persisted under an Obama administration. Part of the flavor of the whole thing for the GOP base was that George W. Bush, Great Man of History and American Patriot, would lead the warriors of the West against the terrorist menace. But you lose a lot of the exciting racist flavor of the thing if you're charging into battle behind Barack Hussein Obama who you think might be a Muslim born in Kenya. Maybe you grumble about how Obama's timidity will make us lose or whatever, but you're really not all that excited about fighting more wars while Obama is president.

This explanation plausibly and depressingly suggests that Republicans will be willing to charge into battle again as soon as they get a president they like.

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