National Review / Digital
The Foreign Policy That Wasn’t
It would be nice to have one for a change


Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a problem criticizing Barack Obama’s foreign policy: Even after nearly four years, the president has no definable foreign policy. The Obama administration has, instead, only a mishmash idea that a declining America must “lead from behind” and accept a more passive role in world affairs — a notion reflective of America’s rising indebtedness, inevitable defense cuts, and uncertainty over the morality of its international involvements, past and present. (President Obama not only apprehends this situation correctly but also bears some of the blame for it: He has added $5 trillion to the national debt, has slashed new oil-and-gas production on federal lands, is willing to accept almost $1 trillion in projected defense cuts over the next decade, and has been apologetic abroad for supposed American sins.)

The result is a sort of make-it-up-as-we-go-along reactiveness, as the administration goes into panic over each new crisis. Is America still in reset mode with Vladimir Putin, or finally repelled by his knee-jerk anti-Americanism and crackdown on human rights? Were the once-reviled Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols — such as Guantanamo Bay, renditions, military tribunals, drones, and preventative detention — necessary after all, but only with politically correct packaging such as the phrase “overseas contingency operations,” the attempt to put 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial in a civilian court, and outreach to the elite of the Muslim Brotherhood as they seek to assume power in the Middle East?

September 10, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, NO. 17

Republican Convention Special
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Sean Trende reviews An American Son: A Memoir, by Marco Rubio, and The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Roig-Franzia.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Queen of Versailles.
  • Richard Brookhiser evaluates the transatlantic exchange.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .