Nuechterlein Wants Foreign Policy To Play Bigger Role in 2012 Elections
Donald Nuechterlein is a political scientist whose writing can be found in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In an article published today, he says that because of an assumption that the 2012 presidential election will focus on domestic issues, pundits and reporters are paying scant attention to where the candidates stand on foreign policy issues and the GOP candidates themselves largely content themselves to say what they think that Republican voters committed enough to vote in caucuses and primaries will want them to say.
He surveys the situation and here are a few excerpts:
The media’s near-obsession with the Republican candidates campaigning for their party’s nomination is instructive. As a result, serious challenges in Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and China get secondary attention, especially on TV news.
In their numerous TV debates, Republican contenders, with two exceptions, sound like cold warriors showing they can be more bellicose than Barack Obama in defending U.S. interests abroad, as defined by themselves.
The two exceptions are Ron Paul, who wants America essentially to withdraw from the world, and John Huntsman, a former ambassador to China, whose foreign policy statements show moderation, compared with his Republican rivals.
On perhaps the most critical issue confronting the US foreign policy-national security apparatus, the activities and aims of the Chinese government, Nuechterlein shows that for the accusations of Obama as an appeaser, he is engaging in what we would call foreign policy realism vis a vis China and at lease one GOP presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman, supports Obama on this:
As for China, probably the most important U.S. national interest today, the president, as well as Secretaries Clinton and Panetta, is building a coalition of Asian states that, hopefully, will persuade Beijing to rein in its nationalist groups that insist on extending China’s sphere of influence into Northeast and Southeast Asia. Clinton’s well-publicized visit to Burma is part of the strategy, as is the new agreement with Australia to base U.S. troops at Darwin on its north coast. India will be part of this containment policy. But diplomacy, not military confrontation, is Obama’s method of dealing with China, whose trade America needs. Republican Jon Huntsman supports this policy.
Nuechterlein goes on:
The question remains, however: Will foreign policy play a major role in next year’s presidential race?
If the economy improves by summer 2012 and voters feel more confident about their personal financial situation, foreign policy may get more attention. However, the public’s disenchantment with the high cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will make it more difficult for any politician to engender voter enthusiasm for new armed interventions abroad.
Read the whole thing.
It would be nice to hear more substantive conversations on foreign policy coming from the Republican candidates.
[I have a personal blog here.]