"The GOP Is Leaderless on Foreign Policy."
Yes, but... So Romney failed to win the presidency and the GOP has no obvious foreign-policy leader. There's still an opportunity to articulate strategy for America's place in the world in the absence of clear ideas from the White House. Indeed, Republican stewardship of foreign policy was a hallmark of Bill Clinton's years, when the country had a Democratic president seemingly content to allow the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan, slaughter in the Balkans, genocide in Africa, terrorism against the United States in Africa and the Middle East, and clear steps toward a nuclear program in Iran. Back then, Congress led where the White House would not, articulating policy on issues like NATO enlargement. Can it happen again? What should Republican priorities be?
Let's start with American leadership. It is sheer malpractice to subcontract foreign policy to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as the United States did in Libya, allowing those countries to choose whom to arm and whom to marginalize among various Libyan groups. The same is now happening in Syria. If America cannot arm the rebels, having waited so long that their ranks are now riddled with terrorists, it can surely identify who the terrorists are and work to marginalize them. It can set benchmarks for aid to Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen to ensure that it's supporting only those who are committed to free people and free markets. It can yet again force the president to tighten the embargo on Iran, as Congress has done multiple times.
The United States can provide its allies in Asia with the aid and military support they need to face challenges from China, while agreeing that everyone has a shared interest in Chinese prosperity. It can revive its lagging partnership with India and incentivize further economic reforms in New Delhi, recommitting to a long-term economic and strategic relationship. It can push the president to rationalize his strategy in Afghanistan and better explain his decisions about how many troops should remain and when the rest should leave. America can double down on Russia's neighbors, supporting genuine democracy in Georgia and providing a clearer path to integration with the West to Eastern and Central European countries that still fear Russian domination and manipulation. The United States can help allies like Taiwan and Israel defend themselves with aid, intelligence, and arms if need be.
Congress alone is capable of pushing each of these priorities. It will fail in some cases and succeed in others. But for the Republican leadership in the House and the powerful Senate GOP minority, now is a chance to reinvest in genuine American leadership that meets challenges before they become threats, asserts priorities with allies before they despair of America's leadership, and most importantly, reverses the catastrophic cuts to defense before the United States becomes a country that cannot adequately defend itself or deter enemies.
That is the right path forward not only for the country and for the world, but for the Republican Party. If the GOP is to stand for something more than lower taxes and smaller government, it must return to the moral vision of a world in which the United States helps others achieve the freedoms it holds so dear. There are some without a compass for whom America's moral purpose and strategic direction are a matter of continual course correction. But if there's no vision America stands for, then there's nothing worth fighting for. America can indeed nation-build at home -- and abandon the world it has shaped and led. It's up to Republicans to make sure that doesn't happen. Let's get to work.
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