Greg Sargent argues that with the controversy over the Cordoba House, "the Cheney-ites are winning the battle over the future direction of GOP foreign policy." If it's true, it shouldn't be too surprising. Within a complex party, particular issues are often ceded to the group that cares about them the most. And apart from a Likudnik approach to the Middle East, which is now practically universal on the right, lots of Republicans don't have much to say about foreign policy. If you had to describe the prevailing GOP approach to foreign affairs, what would you say? It's hard to know, even with regard to some places where we're rather heavily engaged. What's the Republican position on Afghanistan? On the future of our relationship with China?
The easiest thing to fall back on is the division of the world into good guys and bad guys, which may get you to a Palinesque level of understanding, but it doesn't give much guidance as to what the country should do. For instance, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is bad, bad, bad. But that means we should...what? Invade? It's a complicated question with no good answer. And is China good or bad? Tough one there.
But the neo-conservatives not only care a lot about foreign policy, they specialize in simple answers. And handily enough, their answers will usually be A-OK with a rank-and-file whose current interest in foreign policy extends little further than fear of the foreign horde. You didn't think the Iraq War would discredit them, did you?
-- Paul Waldman
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