Coalitions of the Adventurous?

by Daniel Foster

Kate, I have no doubt that there is a way to read Governor Perry’s statements as evincing a coherent foreign policy, but it’s not the reading that leaps to mind.

We should avoid military adventures and “build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom loving people”? We should build coalitions but not “concede the moral authority of our nation to multi-lateral debating societies”? We should “[take] the fight to the enemy wherever they are before they strike at homeand “only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when our vital interests are threatened”?

Like I said, I know there are ways of cashing out these concepts so you get something consistent (e.g. defining our “vital interests” broadly enough to support preemptive war; have a conception of multilateral legitimacy that includes ad hoc “coalitions of the willing” but is agnostic about the U.N.). But the debate on the Right at the moment is, very roughly speaking, between the Bush Doctrine and good ol’ fashioned realism, and Perry certainly sounds like he’s trying to help himself to both.