Like many libertarians and conservatives, I am quite eager to see President Obama in the rearview mirror of American politics. He has been far worse than I expected. Although I expected trouble on the domestic front, I figured he’d operate with a lot more restraint in the realm of foreign policy. Instead, we’ve been given both a fairly ill-managed escalation in Afghanistan and a foolish war in Libya that has been executed in a manner unbecoming of a democracy governed by the rule of law (especially in terms of proper executive-legislative relations).
Given my hope of seeing the Ryder truck at 1600 Pennsylvania asap, I have been a bit excited about the possibility of Rick Perry winning the nomination since he would be a formidable general election candidate. However, there are more than a few potential downsides to a future Perry presidency. Chief among them could be his foreign policy approach.
Like the last Texan in the White House, Perry seems ready to embrace a very assertive foreign policy that would seem only to add a bit more internationalism to the basic neoconservative approach. At least that is what Josh Rogin sees in his crystal ball. And in my opinion, the unilateralism (to a point) was/is one of the few endearing features of neoconservatism in foreign policy.
In an interesting but thinly sourced piece at Foreign Policy, Rogin describes some of the elements of Perry’s thinking on foreign policy and notes that the Texan’s approach is basically, as one unnamed source put it, “hawk internationalist.” Particularly disturbing is that Perry is talking to folks like Douglas Feith and has “called for higher defense budgets, warned about the rise of China, criticized the effort to reset relations with Russia, and said that North Korea and Iran represent ‘an imminent threat with their nuclear ambitions.’” Wow, John McCain, Jr.!
But is this really the right course correction to make in the face of Obama’s foreign policy? Do we really want Bush II, II? Or do we want to head in the direction we’ve seen many conservatives and libertarians map out in this post-Iraq, budget-constrained world? Namely, a world in which the United States adopts a more restrained vision of its place in the world and the budget to go along with such a new, more realistic grand strategy. In an age without a true peer competitor and where U.S. efforts to shape the world are as likely to blow-up in its face or drain its budget at minimal gain as work to America’s advantage, isn’t “restraint” (or “offshore balancing” or “strategic independence”) the recipe for securing core national interests and extending the US’s unique power position as long as possible?