An article entitled “Rebooting Republican Foreign Policy” by Daniel W. Drezner in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs Magazine takes the Republican Party to task for the lack of attention and serious Foreign Policy proposals during the 2012 Presidential Election. Drezner especially chides the belligerence and ignorance of the Republican field: a Congresswoman that warned against Hezbollah’s role in Cuba, a former House Speaker that was worried about electro magnetic pulse attacks on the US mainland (and seriously proposed establishing a moon colony), a former businessman that claimed that whether or not he knew who the “President of Uzbeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” was irrelevant, and a former Governor (and seemingly perpetual Presidential Nominee) that “at various points… insulted the Japanese, the Italians, the Spanish, the British, and the Palestinians”, and that repeatedly berated Obama for going on an “apology tour” (a thoroughly fictitious apology tour).
The cure Drezner prescribes for the dearth of Foreign Policy credentials and ideas among Republican is to reject “absolutist ideology”, and to “quit overhyping” threats and demanding military solutions to every problem. These are valid points. However, while I agree that these are important steps in “rebooting” Republican foreign policy, I think Mr Drezner has overlooked a fundamental component of the new Republican Party; the idea that America can function on the world stage without friends. Unfortunately, American exceptionalism and its god-given position as “Globocop” have taken centre stage in the Republican party and were on full display during the campaign. This needs to change.
That Obama going on an “apology tour” can even be considered a significant political attack just shows how little respect Romney and the Republicans have for the rest of the world. But the simple fact is, the United States cannot act unilaterally on the world stage, it needs allies. It was only through a united effort that the relatively painless operation in Libya was possible, and it is only through a global effort that significant pressure can be applied on the likes of Iran and North Korea. Therefore, keeping the rest of the world on America’s side is an important task in effective foreign policy; something Bush failed to do, and something not helped by the abysmal show during the Republican primaries.
By election time Obama was the clear favourite of people outside of America (especially amongst key American allies like Great Britain, Germany, France and Australia). There was no apology tour, but he did engage with us on a greater level. In short, Obama scared the rest of us less than any of the Republicans. If America wants to continue its outsized role in International Affairs it needs to engage with the world. Consequently, if America wants to continue its outsized role in International Affairs it needs a Republican party that is able to engage with the world. America needs a Republican party that takes the rest of us seriously. After all, an effective foreign policy requires friends.