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Obama’s Foreign Policy and the Loyal Opposition

Henry Nau at the Hoover Institution has written an incisive summary of the opposition to President Obama’s foreign policy coming from the smart rather than the antediluvian wing of the GOP:

Obama’s foreign policy is inordinately piecemeal, even picayune. It lacks a vision that draws connections between specific issues, such as terrorism, and the broader American interest to protect and promote freedom. The loyal opposition, by contrast, connects the dots between terrorism and authoritarian challenges to American and global freedom. . . .

Meanwhile, American allies are restless, especially Israel and Japan. They know that if America retreats, it will be a game changer in their respective regions. Yet Obama appears to be doing just that. He is playing it fast and loose on the diplomatic scene as the U.S. economy idles and military resources are withdrawn from around the world. The little light that pundits saw between Obama’s foreign policy and that of his opposition in the recent election is about to become a glaring gap, as America drifts and instability around the world increases.

Nau’s strongest contention is that Obama’s policy goals cannot be reached without spending more on defense than the President is willing to countenance: The President needs to embrace either a more modest foreign policy or a more robust defense budget. Military cutbacks beyond those that stem naturally from the winding down of wars and the post-9/11 buildup could weaken his hand in negotiations and hamstring U.S. efforts in Asia if allies come to think the “pivot” is all talk without any real or serious commitments.

Certainly counter-arguments can be made, but Nau has staked out some ground on which thoughtful opponents of the Administration can unite. The GOP is still adjusting to the post-Bush era, and the struggle between the Tea Party, old school establishment types and the neocons is very far from over. The in-fighting can and even should continue until the party has sorted itself out, but the themes that Nau articulates are likely to keep popping up as the GOP turns its thoughts to the future.

Read the whole thing here.

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