In the years since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Republican Party's base has grown increasingly wary of engagement overseas -- to the point where Republican primary voters in 2012 were split straight down the middle about whether the United States should intervene in world affairs whenever America's interests are challenged. And since 2010, when he rode the Tea Party wave to Washington, Rand Paul has quickly emerged as the standard-bearer for his party's noninterventionist wing. The freshman senator from Kentucky -- son of libertarian leader Ron Paul, the congressman who waved the come-home-America flag as an also-ran in this year's Republican presidential primaries -- has called for a "foreign policy of moderation" that "works within the confines of the Constitution and the realities of our fiscal crisis." He has also argued that a "more defensive foreign policy" is in the long-term interest of a Republican Party whose support is increasingly concentrated in the American South. "I think that would go over much better in New England than the typical 'we have to bomb everybody tomorrow' policy that you hear some Republicans have."
In practice, these views have translated into opposition to the Patriot Act, military intervention in Libya, aggressive rhetoric against Iran, and increases in defense spending. This year, Paul also held up a government-funding bill and several ambassadorial confirmations in an effort to cut foreign aid to Egypt, Libya, and Pakistan. "We send billions of taxpayer dollars abroad and what do we get in return?" he asked in September after the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. "Disrespect, disdain and, ultimately, violence." Plenty of Americans are starting to agree.
As Indonesia's finance minister from 2005 to 2010, Sri Mulyani Indrawati won high praise for tough-minded reforms -- from dismissing corrupt tax officials to nearly quadrupling the roll of income-tax payers -- that helped the country of 250 million beat back the global financial crisis with annual growth rates averaging 6 percent. Now that she's a managing director at the World Bank (and its most senior woman), Sri Mulyani is peddling her wares to the rest of the world, offering advice on economic growth for those countries hoping to replicate the Indonesian miracle.
Her prescription is simple: sensible fiscal cutbacks plus policies that encourage growth -- the tried-and-true methods of breaking down barriers to trade, investment, and innovation. At a March speech in Beijing, for instance, she cautioned that China's rise could be in jeopardy unless it allowed more, and more equal, competition. In a bit of role reversal for an official from a former Dutch colony, Sri Mulyani has also dispensed words of wisdom to debt-saddled Europe: Countries like Greece and Spain should get their balance sheets in order and then worry about building up their economies, she says -- but the two go hand in hand. Call it the Indonesian model.
Sri Mulyani has good reason to put her country on a pedestal: Indonesia has the world's third-fastest-growing consumer base after China and India, and it is predicted to surpass the likes of Britain and Germany to become the world's seventh-largest economy by 2030. So forget the BRICS, she says, and find a way to put another "I" on the list of the world's most successful emerging economies.